Sunday, November 28, 2010

Books I am Reading Right Now...

I read too many books at once, and I always want to do reviews of them, but never get around to it. Actually, sometimes I can't even remember the beginning of a book once I get to the end cause it may have been a year or so since I started it. Seriously. It's not from lack of interest, it is just that I will suddenly decided I want to read one thing or another and jump around, so I figured maybe I would just comment on some of the stuff I am reading now.

Lost Cities of North and Central America (The Lost City Series) by David Hatcher Childress. You can see David as a regular on Ancient Aliens currently (History Channel I believe), and I really have to say I love his books. He is a story teller and explorer. He is not out to prove anything, and he is no armchair theorist. He has traveled the world, and his books relate those travels with both personal stories, legends, theories, and just pure speculation. His books are just filled with crazy amounts of information about ancient cultures, and legends of pre-history, and, well, fun. He will often just run off on rides of wild speculation, and they are enjoyable rides. I am about halfway through this book, and the first half deals mostly with Central America as David travels about and explores ancient ruins, and relates legends about them. He often spends time off the beaten path trying to track down some of the more obscure legends, and never fails to enlighten me to something that I have never heard of before. That is one of the things that most books fail to do, and when an author can repeatedly do such a thing to me, they quickly become one of my favorite authors, as David Hatcher Childress has.

Our Haunted Planet net by John Keel. Published back in 1971, the late John Keel is easily one of my favorite authors. Like Childress, he has traveled the world, has related odd legends and little known information, and is a fantastic story teller. What sets them apart is that Keel does have theories that he supports, and they were way ahead of his time. His primary focus has always been the UFO Phenomenon, but he is one of the very early proponents of the idea that UFO does not mean Extra-terrestrial. Keel very much believes that UFO's are Ultra-Terrestrial, and may very well not be benevolent. Over the years I find myself agreeing with Keel less than I used to, and in some cases it is just a matter of time having proven some of his theories wrong. On other things however, he has shown himself to be dead on. Our Haunted Planet is a collection of strange events and research. Keel is never one to shy away from High Strangeness, and instead feels that the key to things lie in the strangest accounts, not the more 'acceptable' one. This is the second time I have read this work of his, and I find that I am enjoying it the second time through far more than the first for some reason. I lent my first copy to someone and they never returned it, so getting my hands on another I felt it deserved a re-read, and it has been well worth the time to do so.

DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences by Rick Strassman, M.D. I haven't gotten very far in this one, but my interest was peaked while reading Graham Hancock's Supernatural. So far, this is a fascinating book talking about the odd properties of DMT, and recounting the history of research into psychedelic drugs. Very thorough and interesting as Rick relates the accounts of DMT experiments that he was able to conduct, and his theories on what they may really mean. DMT is particularly interesting in that it is produced in the human body, and yet still an illegal substance. Even slightly higher than normal doses of DMT have been shown to cause hallucinogenic states. The question that Rick eventually starts to address, is if these states may have some reality of their own, and not just be in the mind. His theory is akin to retuning a Television set from what he calls 'Channel Normal' to another channel using drugs like DMT. Since DMT is also produced in the human body, another theory is that people who are 'sensitive' may already have slightly elevated levels of DMT, allowing them to tune into alternate realities while still connected to a normal consciousness level. As I said, haven't made it too far into this book, but so far, well worth the read.

The Murder of Christ by Wilhelm Reich. A truly brilliant man. I have never read any of his stuff before. Published back in 1953, Reich was highly persecuted in his time, eventually dying in prison and having all his books burned. Reich suggested that there is another energy field called Orgone, and it is powered, in essence, by sexual energy. In the 1950's, you can see why this may not have gone over so well. He had various experiments proving his theories, and his history and ideas are well worth checking out. This book, however, is not so much about that. In a deep, and slightly hard to read way, Wilhelm explores the life of Christ through his eyes, seeing the repression of sexuality and other psychosis as the main problem in today's society. A view WAY ahead of it's time. The Murder of Christ is the repression of the life force, which Christ wanted us to revel in, not repress as our Western culture in particular does to such a huge degree. Reich was a strange man, and his work is fascinating. I haven't read very far into this yet, in part because it's not such an easy read, he writes in a slightly tedious manner, but it is worth slowly working through so far.

Invisible Residents: The Reality of Underwater UFOs by Ivan T. Sanderson. The Reality of Underwater UFO's is the subtitle to this book, originally published in 1970. USO's as they have often been called are a little known variation of the UFO Phenomenon. There are actually a very large number of UFO sightings where the UFO has been seen to come from or go into the water. Ivan recounts many variations of these, and theories as to what it may mean. It is a bit tedious at times, but interesting none-the-less. The book opens relating a story of an Antarctic expedition where a long silvery object suddenly burst through "no less than 37 feet of ice" causing huge chunks of steaming ice to come crashing down all around them and the water from whence it came to boil. There are quite a lot of interesting stories, and Ivan's theory that there may be a vast underwater civilization that pre-dates ours seems a bit outrageous at first glance, but you never really know. I mean, we have explored so little of our oceans, that we really don't know what is down there. And if there was a civilization down there, and they wanted to not be found by us, they may be able to hide well, especially if they have such a high technology. I don't personally think that is the answer to the UFO mystery, but I also find the idea worthy of thought. This is considered a classic and has been republished by David Hatcher Childress' book company, Adventures Unlimited Press.

A Secret History of Consciousness by Gary Lachman. Gary is the former bass player for Blondie. He is also a intriguing author. I picked this up not sure what to expect, and have been blown away by the novelty of information contained. On the one hand, it is an exploration of the history of theories on the nature of consciousness, but on the other hand, it takes a different turn and looks at the idea that perhaps consciousness was not always what it is today, and where it may evolve to. In parts it suggests that consciousness has evolved in ways we can't even imagine, and not in far antiquity, but even in the last few thousand years. For example, perhaps the reason we can not understand the way the pyramids were built, relates more to the consciousness that built them, not just the technology. It is fascinating and unique. A pleasant surprise for something that I picked up spontaneously at Borders one day. Some of the book reminds me of metaphysics that I have not read in 20 years, and other stuff I have never encountered before. Until I read this, I had all but forgotten the theories of Immanuel Kant, but the reminder was refreshing. I would say, though, there was more stuff here that I have never heard of before than stuff I have. Awesome book.

This isn't all of them. but these are the books I am reading most recently. I may do a full review when I finish them, or maybe just another blog of this sort as I start reading more, or pick up some that I have neglected lately. I also signed up as an Amazon affiliate, so if you think you may buy any of these through Amazon, please use my links.  

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Olmecs and The History Channel

The Olmecs were an ancient South American civilization that predates the Mayans and Aztecs. We know almost nothing about them aside from aside from the fact that they made these enourmous stone heads, that have distinctly negroid features. So lets take a look at how both archeologists and The History Channel take this subject on.

First up, archeology. What do they deduce from the Negroid features? Well, since they know, yes, know, that people from Africa could not have crossed the Atlantic, then the features must not be Negroid. Yes, that is how it works, denial is king. They know no such thing, and instead of looking at this as potential proof of such a journey, they go the other way, the illogical way, because they don't like to have to rewrite history. Now, the history channel's narrator states that the Olmecs are the first structures society in south America, that they just walked out of the jungle and there they were. They state this as fact, despite knowing nothing about them. What I mean by that is this, we have no idea if there were earlier cultures. To be factual, it should be stated that the Olmecs (and if I remember right, we have no idea what they called themselves, we named them the Olmecs) are the earliest South American Culture that we know of. Oftentimes in this field, and especially when the media gets involved, 'facts' are thrown around that simply aren't facts. There may have been earlier cultures that we have yet to discover, or may never discover, that the Olmecs may have evolved from. If all we have from them are their megalithic heads, then who knows how many cultures were there before them that may not have made such lasting structures.

Now, since all we have are the heads, how do they make this subject last an hour? Well, speculation of course. So they have these huge heads, they know they moved them to where they are, and they have no idea how. So they start by talking to archeologists who tell them that we don't know how the Olmecs moved their heads. We have absolutely no idea. Followed by, well, maybe to speculate we should look at how other cultures moved large stones. Well the Egyptians moved their large stones with large amounts of slave labor. (Ok, problem number one. They did not. This is a theory that is thrown around but has been disproved over and over, in fact the idea that there was widespread slavery in Egypt is wrong, much less that they were used to move their massive stones. Simply wrong) So now let's take this wrong assumption and bind it to our current dilemma.  Now let's test this on much smaller stones. Hey, large amounts of people can move much smaller stones. Great, really doesn't prove or explain anything, but they can treat it like a discovery because it's TV. So, they come back from commercial doing just that, they state that they now know that the Olmecs moved these large heads with large amounts of human labor, as they have now proved. The wording is so important. If you don't know much about this stuff, you will walk away thinking that you know something you don't, because in essence, they are lying to you. They are telling that, that because a whole lot of people can pull a 1/2 ton stone a ways, that the Olmecs did this to move their 20 ton heads, they just used more people. There is no evidence that this is what they did. None. Yet, now, according to this show, Digging for the Truth, we now know how it was done. They don't state that MAYBE it could have been done this way, the narrator says, "We now know that they used many people to pull the stones along..."  But we don't. That is simply a lie.

When they come back, they are talking to an archeologist about how they moved the stones across the water. He tells them, clearly, that they have no idea. They speculate that MAYBE they used boats, but since absolutely nothing of said boats has survived, they can only guess. So with this guess, they make a boat out of the resources that the Olmecs would have had available to them. They barely get their ½ ton stone on three boats lashed together. On the up side, they did not claim that this is definitely how they did it, this time. But they then ‘did the math’ and stated that it would only take 14 much larger boats lashed together to hold one of the 20 ton heads. Yeah, only 14 boats. On top of this, they could barely get the ½ ton rock on the boat, yet clearly you just need more people to get a 20 ton rock up on a boat, right?

I admit, I find these shows interesting. They talked about a dig where they found the heads, and some floors of buildings they found and how one the heads was intentionally buried, a fact that I knew, but had forgotten. The problem with archeology, and oftentimes cosmology, is assumption. For example, the place where they found the heads is the center of the Olmec culture. This is what they state, yet, having found no trace of it anywhere else, how can you really say that. The same with saying that they were the first real culture in South America. They state this as if they know for sure, because it fits with their other theories about human migration. They, however, ignore the facts that don’t fit, like the distinct negroid cast to the heads, implying that they are not part of the typical migration into the area. This is the same behavior that causes Egyptologists to ignore the water damage to the Sphinx, because it disrupts their theories with those pesky facts. And then you let the media get a hold of this information, and it gets cast into a whole new light, despite the FACT that we know little to nothing about the Olmecs, we now have discovered all this new stuff while filming this show. We now know they dragged them like the Egyptians (didn’t) and they made incredibly massive boats to float them down rivers. Yet, despite having the know how to make these massive vessels, they never ventured off into the oceans or anywhere far from home, because people back then simply couldn’t. Despite the fact that I sometimes enjoy these shows, the problem with the misdirection of information, the lying, the assuming, makes them pretty useless. A casual viewer won’t know that, and then they will further on these lies and such. Some of these shows are worse than others. Some episodes are worse than others. So really, if this type of thing interests you, pick up various books on the subject, from various sides. Compare the information and make your own decisions. Sadly, like most other television, even the ‘historical’ documentaries are flash and garbage for the most part now.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Five Points...

So, I happened across this article on Digg earlier.

I felt after reading it, that it needed some commentary.

Number One, Lake Monsters. More often than not, I dismiss Lake Monsters. If one exists, ok, but evidence against them is rather strong, at least as far as what we expect them to be. That does not mean that people aren’t seeing monsters, just that perhaps they are not flesh and blood creatures, there may be a very good, and possibly more interesting explanation. However, number one holds some merit, good.

Number Two, Hoaxes. Also, good point, hoaxes at this point in time are so easy, not to mention the amount junk we have in our environment that may be misinterpreted. I find the UFO (read that as Unidentified Flying Object, NOT as Space Ship) sightings prior to our ability to fly sometimes more interesting because we know it couldn’t be us. There are plenty of those. Nowadays, hoaxes are so damned easy, and easy to make them look really good. So they are right that hoaxes are a problem, but they don’t argue against paranormal phenomenon, just a fact of culture and technology that it becomes a problem in determining real from fake.

Number Three, Unclaimed Large Cash Rewards. Here is where they lose ground. The problem with said cash awards is this, the die hard skeptics that offer them, make sure that no one will ever pass their tests. Of course they are unclaimed, they are more of a publicity stunt than anything else. If you live in New York City, and one day offer $100,000 to anyone who can bring you a live Moose in the next 5 minutes, good chance no one will, but that doesn’t mean that Moose are not real. Yet that is the logic of such cash prizes. Closed minded skeptics, like James Randi, mentioned in the article, will never see anything as proof. Nothing. Period. They have already made up their minds. No one will ever get the money, because no matter how much someone proves, it will not be enough. So on this point they fail miserably. This is not evidence against the paranormal, this is more a psychological exercise for the closed minded. Being an open minded skeptic is probably the best way to be, but a closed minded one will never learn anything new because they think they know it all already. It is not doubt that they have, but certainty.

Number Four, The Fermi Paradox. If we were to argue that space aliens were here, this may or may not add or detract from the argument. Basically, it is hypothetical. Everything in this point is hypothetical. What if. Sure, Richard Dawkins will tell you he is right, but that’s because he falls into that closed minded skeptic category. He already knows he is right about what he believes, so you can’t really make a point to such a person. Anyways, this is obviously an attempt to dismiss UFO sightings. Not only doesn’t it work on various levels, but any real analysis of the phenomenon does not point to ET, but something altogether stranger and more passive. And when that is comprehended, this whole point is, well, pointless.

Number Five, The God Helmet. This one is interesting. It proves that electromagnetic energy can produce interesting effects on the brain. This is a good point against the paranormal. Other things must be considered, though. Ok, so using this helmet can replicate certain paranormal mindsets. Feelings of others in the room with you, for instance. Two things must be worked out. One, are there? Just because we can’t see them in a normal state of being, by tweaking our brain, the brain in the case assumed to be a receiver, like a television, we tune to something outside the ‘norm’. Two, by pressing on certain nerves, you may feel like a part of you, which is not being touched at that time, is being touched. Does that mean that when it is really being touched it is just an illusion? Of course, you could go deep with this question, but I think we will stay on the shallow side for now. Research has been done that suggests that Ketamine can induce something that resembles a Near Death Experience. That is interesting. However, when someone has a real NDE, there is no trace of Ketamine in their system, so it really doesn’t work as a explanation, now does it? Just because something resembles the effects of something else, doesn’t mean that it is now explained. The people who did the initial research were pretty clear at the end that they did not think that Ketamine was in any way responsible for NDE’s, but that didn’t stop the skeptic army from eating that up and spitting it in everyone’s face. So, is the God helmet interesting? Hell, yes. Does it explain all spiritual states and paranormal experiences? Not even remotely. It is, however a tool that may be used for further understanding about the way our brain interacts with this reality that we share.

The problem with the paranormal is, for us to begin to understand it, takes a whole new concept of reality. As long as people try to squeeze it into our current conceptions of how things are, we will not understand. Our narrow belief in how things are does not accommodate many of these phenomenon, which is why you have people arguing that UFO's are space ships, while others arguing, that, despite the evidence of something going on that is causing these experiences, they are somehow not real (aka hoaxes, or hallucinations, or whatever). Both sides are operating in a narrow band of which the true UFO Phenomenon supersedes. That is what the term paranormal means, really. Outside the norm. Someday we may evolve the wisdom to understand many of these things, and then we will look back on what we believe now and laugh at how primitive we were...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pieces and Perceptions

We perceive the world in pieces. This is something that doesn’t occur to most, but it is very true of everyone. We don’t see a complete picture, our brain selects what it will show us, and ignores 99% of the rest. It does this to avoid an overload of information. It is a useful thing, as we would never be able to process everything around us all the time. Because we process everything in pieces, though, we all perceive different things. There is an old story of the three blind men and an elephant. I forget now an exact version of it, but the basics will do. Three blind men are asked to describe an elephant, and one touches the trunk, one the body, and one the tail. They all describe three completely different animals. Yet, despite the fact that their descriptions seem completely wrong to each other, they are all correct in their perceptions. The large snake like trunk is just as right as the bulky large animal, which is just as right as the wispy tail. All three are correct for the pieces they are examining, and oftentimes arguments break out over differences like this. We may say that the one feeling the body is most correct, but that is not actually true, he is only correct for his piece. For someone with vision, their piece is different, they see the whole animal. It doesn’t mean that what they see is any more correct. People get caught up on things like this. People like to be right. And on some level our perceptions are always right. If someone says, “Hey, I heard something…”, and someone else says, Well, I didn’t.”, neither person is wrong. One did hear something, whether it was something outside them or something generated internally, they heard something. They are not wrong, but neither is the person who heard nothing. In another way, if I was to describe what I see, being someone very familiar with the insides of computers, when I open up a desktop computer, versus someone who has never opened up a computer and knows nothing about them, the descriptions would vary greatly. In fact, so greatly, that if you didn’t know we were describing the same thing, you may never realize it. I would be looking at something familiar and ordered, whereas the other would be looking at something strange and messy. Their brains would not isolate out what is important simply because they don’t know. This is true of all facets of life. Life is a selection of pieces. No one sees everything. We can’t.

If you want to take it a step further, what we all really see is waveforms. Vibrations. The physical objects we think we see are not what are really there. And since we can’t jump behind someone else’s perceptions, we don’t know if what we call a couch looks anything like what they call a couch. Their red may be our green, we just agree that such a vibration is the same. If we were behind their perceptions, we may see what we see as green when looking at something red. If that makes sense. Reality is agreement. Those vibrations are red. That is a chair. Somewhere inside our brains convert perceptions of waveforms to vision, sound, feel, smell, etc. We have no idea how this happens, but it does. Our reality is a loose agreement between us. Right and wrong perceptions mean that much less in that understanding.

We all know the type of people who think they know everything. You bring up a subject and they will comment or criticize despite their obvious lack of knowledge. Once again, though, this is a perception. When someone, lets say, less than very self aware, which is most of the planet, gets enough information to form an opinion, they then think, quite innocently, that they now know something about said subject. With some people, this is enough for them to comment, argue, whatever, but it falls to a level of perception again. There are subjects for which, if you look at them for the first time, one may say, well there is not much to learn about that. So they learn a little and feel like they have a grasp of it. The problem comes when the initial perception is wrong. They may have learned 5%, not realizing that there is another 95%, and will readily argue with someone whose knowledge of said subject encompasses 50%. No one can ever be at 100%. The assumption that ones knows more than they do it common. It usually takes a certain amount of wisdom to truly understand how much we all don’t know. This comes with age, sometimes. Too often, it never comes. A 22 year old who has some life experience thinks they know it all. It is common, and understandable from their perspective. They don’t realize that instead of 90%, they experience encompasses 2%. From their perspective, they have experienced a lot. From a 50 year olds’ perspective, they have experienced nothing. Schooling is not a substitute for life experience, but from the perspective of one who has had lots of schooling, they may see it that way. Look at all they know! Look at all they have been told and remembered! Unfortunately, only experience can gain a level of wisdom, remembering what someone taught you does not. Ever. We often dismiss elderly people, we think they have nothing of value to us, because they don’t get that the young already know everything. Culture may change, but that doesn’t invalidate experience and wisdom. Someone in their 50’s may really not understand why there are people who post their entire lives online. In detail. They may also believe this is a very bad thing to do. A kid doing it thinks that they don’t get it. That they are just out of touch. Until someone robs their house when they post online that they won’t be home for a week. Until someone starts easily stalking them because they are posting where and what they are doing every minute. Until they get turned down for a good job because of their facebook page. Until they get their identity stolen. Suddenly the wisdom of the 50 year old who clearly didn’t get it becomes a bit clearer. They’re had much more time to learn their lessons in this world. Good and bad. Their perspective is wider and richer than a 20 year olds’. You can’t skip that part of life, there is no shortcut. Life is pieces, at 20, your piece of perception is so much smaller than at 60.

For anyone who truly wants to understand other people, these things are mandatory. Understanding the difference in pieces and perception, and not trying to force yours on others. People care about different things, perceive differently, assess differently. The trunk of the elephant is very different than the body, but describing either still correctly describe part of an elephant despite their obvious contradictions. There would be far less arguing in the world if we truly sought to see the others perspective. To see what part of reality they are focusing on. One may say, hey that is red, and someone may pipe up and say, no, it’s magenta. Neither is wrong. The former is just focusing on the general color, the latter on the specific shade of that color. Yet an argument may break out about it. We share this reality, on loose agreement, and that is something we need to understand and accept, and remember.

Monday, January 18, 2010

In Silence...

Names have power. You can call those names again and again, and no one answers. The key is, it's not just the names, it's the passion behind them. The vibrations are different, and that is where the power is. Many things have been misunderstood through the ages, castrated in some cases. Turned into meaningless rituals, all passion carefully and completely removed.

It seems at times that the vibrations are stronger in the darkness. Maybe it is just a trick of the mind, perhaps it’s the absence of those burning rays from the sun. You call the names into the pitch blackness, powerful, and sometimes the black becomes liquid. To touch it, to feel that new substance is unique, yet comforting... At least to some of us. It can be a door, but beyond that door, there is no simple way back, not as you are.

It can be that demons torment us in our sleep. No, they torment us in our dreams. There is a difference. They chase us down dark hallways, through ever narrowing passages, and we think we manage to escape. We are the intruders though, not they. We are the ones reaching out our minds, they are not coming to us. What is it that we really fear in them?

I sat once, at the shore of a dark lake, full moon above, reflecting the cool perfect surface. I could hear them sing, faintly, off in the vast distance. I lost part of myself, crashing down to the rocks I sat upon. I watched omni-dimensional beings poke through the surface, begging me to feel, and lose a bit more...

Led into a cave, where the music was loud. So loud. They sang in such mesmerizing beauty, such perfection, and such sounds, like nothing one can really hear. They resonate with your soul. Reminding you of something long lost, long forgotten.

There is a tipping point. Between here and there. A tightrope to be walked. You can call the names, and bring it closer to you. You can risk it all, and move closer to them. Risky, though, as the demons are always lurking. Any doorway will do.

The moon can shake the sky, and balls of fire drip down like rain. Images in the sky are never what they seem, they are always hiding another dimension, another reality to themselves. There is a magnificent view from the tightrope. Startling. Ineffable. Our minds are limited, more so than we know. There in lies the pleasure of it all, the expansion, the limitless creativity and exploration. So often one in the same. From that tightrope, up so high, there also lie the trappings of madness. You have to be mad, to walk across at all. The fall, drops you to the furthest reaches of the abyss.

So call the names all you want. It is stale and hollow without the spirit of the thing. Without the fire and passion. Without the understanding. A dragon’s breath, however, opens doors, and a trek through the underworld is good for the soul. Torn to shreds, assailed from all sides, and worn through. Ripped away and left, dead and dying… as it should be. Learn the gates, learn the names, and learn the proper meaning of sacrifice. Else, say nothing. In silence. Remain.