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    Thursday
    Oct172019

    Letters and Politics - Ancient History Pack

    Occasionally I listen to lectures or watch a documentary series that I find extremely important in their educational and inspirational qualities and potential that I am moved to share the files online and via physical discs containing the MP3 files.  The first series of game changers that I came across were lectures by Alan Watts, the Cosmos series by Carl Sagan, and a compilation of speeches and sermons by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  I uploaded these to my blog, Google Drive, and burned them to discs so that I could distribute them to friends and others. (In the case of Cosmos, which is a ‘made-for-TV’ documentary series, I converted the videos to audio files, and thanks to Carl Sagan’s exceptional narration and elucidation, I feel that not much is lost on the listener for want of the documentary visuals).  There are several other series that I hope to help share in this manner.  They include the ‘PBS Digital Studios’ Eons series, a compilation of Dr.  Jordan Peterson lectures, and a controversial series on Anthropogenic climate change.  With each series, I have tried to improve the aesthetic presentation of the MP3s compilations as well as become more efficient at burning and packaging them.  The latest series, The KPFA Ancient History Pack, originated from the Bay Area’s most valuable radio station – 94.1 FM KPFA. The interviews are compiled from the Letters and Politics program, and I received them as a ‘thank you’ gift for donating to one of their fund drives.  You can listen to and download the lectures by clicking here, or, if we happen to cross paths I can give you one.  Below are some photos of what I thrown together and some behind-the-scenes pictures of where all the magic happens. 

     

    Thursday
    Oct102019

    On Eating People

    Preface:  I was driving up the coast the other day and got to thinking about the whole baby eating controversy that’s been making headlines and memes lately, and I began jotting down some of the things I recalled about cannibalism.  To my surprise, I conjured up numerous thoughts on the subject, and soon had a few pages of my notepad filled up.

    Note to readers:  This entry explores grisly details of a touchy and often morbid subject matter which I attempt portray in a matter-of-fact manner so as to avoid being gratuitous.  My intent was to write and informative article, not to be macabre. 

    To me then it seems most likely that the horror of incest is learned from our culture, and is not part of our biological inheritance.  This is even more obviously true of that other deep horror of ours – cannibalism.  The fact that the incest taboo is very general, even if not quite universal, is used as an argument that it must have some innate basis.  But no one could possibly argue that the man-eating taboo was universal and hence deeply instinctive.  There are too many well-documented accounts of cultures in which the eating of human flesh has been openly sanctioned as a regular or an occasional practice.  Yet the taboo is strong enough so that most of us, I suspect, would die of starvation before we would eat each other.  There are, of course, well-authenticated cases of cannibalism among Westerners at the point of starvation, but surely the cases of Westerners dying of starvation without resorting to cannibalism are more numerous. 

                                                                             -Marston Bates, Gluttons and Libertines, VI: Incest and Cannibalism


    The subject of people eating people has been in the news quite a bit recently.  The latest murmurings of the cannibalism question seem to stem from Magnus Söderlund, a professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, who last month, at a food and beverage industry trade show called ‘GastroSummit,’ allegedly floated the notion that eating dead humans should be considered as one of various metods (along with eating insects and pets) of combating impending food scarcity and climate change (I say allegedly because I cannot find any video footage of his presentation, only articles about it and a Swedish television news program interview in which professor Söderlundis speaking like the Swedish chef from Jim Henson’s Muppet Show). 

    As with President Obama’s former science and technology advisor Professor John P. Holdren (aka “Obama’s Science Czar) – who throughout the 1970s appeared to advocate for forced sterilization and compulsory abortions in effort to counter overpopulation (see Ecoscience, a book he co-authored along with Paul and Anne Elrich) – Professor Söderlund is likely motivated by a genuine concern for how humans can live sustainability on Earth.  Perhaps he’s right in proposing that we must overcome our taboo against cannibalism and that it’s time to jumpstart the “human flesh industry.”  Having said that, it would be wise to err on the side of caution in the event that his premise or conclusion is flawed.  That is to say: we shouldn’t start eating the dead until we know and agree that it’s the right thing to do.  (Tangentially, the two most head-scratching product websites I’ve visited are Transkids, which only recently removed their prosthetic penises and “stand-to-pee” devices for preteens ranging in ages 8 to 13 years-old – a similar age range sexualized at Drag Queen Storytime events, which are probably not as controversial as Drag Syndrome [but possibly as problematic as Ms. Monopoly] – and the Human Leather Company, which apparently had to close their order book due to popular demand, and may not be alone in selling clothing products made from human skin in the traditions of anthropodermia as practiced by some American slaveholders who evidently made shoes the skin of their slaves and a few German Nazis who may have made lampshades from the skin of concentration camp inmates and soap from the fat of human corpses.)  

    Professor Söderlund’s propositions would have faded away if it were not for the trolling of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by a woman who references his idea in a stunt at a town hall in which the woman stated, “A Swedish Professor said we can eat dead people, but it’s not fast enough.  So I think your next campaign slogan needs to be this: “We’ve got to start eating babies… Even if we were to bomb Russia, we still have too many people, too much pollution, so we have to get rid of the babies. That’s a big problem. Just stopping having babies is not enough. We need to eat the babies.” Equally comical to the AOC is the behavior of Principal Skinner in The Simpsons Halloween show story Nightmare Cafeteria, which was part of their Treehouse of Horror V episode, where the subject of cannibalism was also breached.  

    Professor Söderlund isn’t alone in the scientific world in his call to consider consuming human meat.  In a tweet last year evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins suggested that producing and lab-grown “clean meat” (cultured tissue grown from animal stem cells in-vitro) could be derived from human cells, and thus by eating synthetic human meat society might overcome its aversion to cannibalism.  I suspect that before trying to cultivate human meat, the clean meat companies will first perfect their chicken and beef products, as Aleph Farms has recently done in outer space.

     

    Humans eating humans is nothing new, but robots eating humans is. Back in 2009 a DARPA-backed project to develop an autonomous robot that could be powered by collecting and combusting vegetation.  Naturally, the idea surfaced that the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot, or EATR – the schematic of which featured a chainsaw attached to the arm of the robot – could feed off of the corpses of soldiers in battlefields, even though this apparently was not the original intention.  In his 1958 book Gluttons and Libertines, zoologist Marston Bates makes the point that eating the corpses of fallen soldiers is distasteful but certainly not as bad as killing them in the first place: Some people only eat corpses, individuals that have been slain in battle or that have died from some other cause.  As in the case of the Donner Party, this seems reasonable enough in the abstract. Maybe we could alleviate the meat shortages of wartime by adding the corpses of soldiers killed in battle to the meat supply? Horrible? Surely it is not as bad to eat someone already dead as it is to kill him in the first place.  Indeed, this business of eating dead bodies is surely no worse than reported instances of necrophilia-mutilation in Mexico where female assassins working for drug cartels drink and bathe in the blood of their decapitated murder victims before having sex with them.  How do the ethics of cannibalization stack up against organ harvesting or the trade in body parts? Beyond this, I think a loose argument could be made that it’s more moral to eat a human who has died of natural causes than to kill an animal for its meat – but I wouldn’t want to be the one making that argument nor do I agree with it.  Cannibalism aside, humans still have a long way to go in our effort to humanely treat the massive number of animals we slaughter, consume, and share the planet with. (Where this Philadelphia Eagles fan’s devouring of horseshit lies along the morality spectrum is unclear.) 

    As Bates makes clear, there’s plenty of evidence of cannibalism throughout history and across the globe among humans and other species of the Homogenus (Cannibalism in other animal species is also well documented).

    There is evidence of the ancientness of cannibalism in the paleontological record.  In the case of the fossils of Pekin man, many of the long bones were split open, and the only likely explanation of this is that they were split by other men to get at the marrow.  Man has long been particularly fond of marrow, which he gets by splitting bones; any other animal would have to chew them.  Each of the Pekin skulls also had a hole in its base – the foramen magnum, which is the weakest part of the skull, had been cut out to get at the brains. Contemporary head-hunters often make a similar break to get at the brains of their victims, which are ceremonially eaten.  A number of Neanderthal skulls have been found with this same kind of opening in the foramen magnum…

    Pekin man and his fellow Homo erectus existed in the Pleistocene epoch roughly between 1.9 million and 500,000 years ago depending on who you ask.   Archeologists believe that they have found evidence of anthropophagy amongst the homo sapiens who lived on Iberian Peninsula 10,000 years ago.  In modern history, cannibalism has been practiced by indigenous peoples in the Caribbean and in Papua New Guinea.  Bates writes: 

    In some parts of the world, but especially on many Pacific islands, man is simply the easiest available source of meat – and native reports also indicate that human flesh is tasty.  Some peoples, like the pre-Colombian Carbis of America, waged war for the purpose of taking captives to be killed and eaten at some later time.  In some cultures only friends are eaten; this, by analogy with in-marriage, or endogamy, is called “endocannbialism.”  In other cultures only enemies are eaten (“exocannibalism”).  Ronald Berndt, in a recently published book, Excess and Restraint, has given a detailed account of cannibal practice among a group of New Guinea mountain people, where government and missions have only recently succeeded in suppressing the custom – or at least driving it underground.  These people were quite blithe about eating human flesh, regarding it simply as a readily available source of meat, otherwise hard to come by expect for their few pigs – there are no large native mammals in New Guinea. 

    Perhaps the most renown story of cannibalism in Greek mythology is that of the Titan Kronos devouring his children out of fear of a prophecy that one would grow up and dethrone him.  Zeus, who was born in secret, eventually did this after forcing his father to vomit out the other children and launching an epic war against the Titans. Spanish painter Francisco de Goya and Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens have portrayed the subject of Saturn Devouring His Son in frightening yet remarkable pieces of art which are housed at the Pardo Museum in Madrid. 

    Paintings by Francisco de Goya and Flemish Peter Paul Rubens

    As in the case of the sixteen survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which crashed on a glacier in the Andes in October 1972, people may resort to cannibalism out of sheer desperation.  In these prolonged emergencies human values and principles are pushed to the brink and repeatedly smashed against the wall of reality to determine how strong their convictions actually are.  Though we would like to think that we would starve to death before eating the flesh of the dead, men and women who have been put in this predicament have understandably buckled, sacrificed their dignity, and opted for violating a principle that they once thought sacrosanct.  I believe, for those of us who were raised with the conviction that eating people is wrong no matter the severity of your hunger, that a strong indication of one’s humanity can be ascertained if an individual maintains their vow against practicing, ordaining, or condoning cannibalism when afflicted by malnourishment during the worst of times.  There is perhaps no greater example of how this conviction was honorably upheld than during Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps during the Second Punic War in 218 B.C.  The Carthaginian general Hannibal led an invasion force of over 60,000 men (not to mention hundreds of pack animals and around 40 war elephants) through the Alps during the onset of winter in the war against Rome.  Half of his men died during the crossing.  According to the Greek historian Polybius, Hannibal’s lieutenant urged the general to permit the cannibalization of the fallen soldiers that lay dead in the snow so that the surviving army may be nourished, and Hannibal said no. Juxtapose the virtue of Hannibal in this living hell to Dante’s account of the Couto Ugolino of Pisa losing his mind in the fictional hell that is The Divine Comedy: Inferno.  In Canto XXXIII, in the sixth circle of Lower Hell, Dante approaches the count who is gnawing on the brain of an archbishop, and recounts how, when he was imprisoned for betraying the city, his sons were also locked up and they begged the hungry count to eat them so as to alleviate their suffering.  Ugolino tells Dante, “I bit my hands in anguish.  And my children, who thought that hunger made me bite my hands, were quick to draw up closer to me, saying: ‘O father, you would feed on us: you were the one who gave us this sad flesh; you take it from us!’”  


    Ugolino and His Sons, sculpture by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Like Hannibal, the protagonists in Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel The Road come down on the side against cannibalism.  In The Road, McCarthy writes “all the store of food had given out and murder was everywhere upon the land.  The world soon to be largely populated by men who would eat your children in front of your eyes and the cities themselves held by cores of blackened looters who tunneled among the ruins and crawled from the rubble white of tooth and eye carrying charred and anonymous tins of food in nylon nets like shoppers in the commissaries of hell.”  Toward the end there’s an exchange between a boy and a man:  

    “Do you have a little boy?”
    “We have a little boy and we have a little girl.”
    “And you didn’t eat them?”
    “No.”
    “You don’t eat people?”
    “No. We don’t eat people.”

    Halloween is upon us, and in a matter of weeks people will be dressing up in costumes meant to invoke fear in others.  We fear ghosts and monsters and the living dead. We fear the unknown and the unfamiliar, such as trekking solitaire under the stars across alien hinterlands, diving alone along a remote coast, or seeing creatures in the wild that we are more accustomed to seeing behind cages, in tanks, or on a television or computer screen. But these are the things we should not fear, for they ultimately do us little harm.  In the 21st century the most monstrous things that happen to us are the things we do to each other.  Our species is by far the scariest creature to have ever walked the Earth, and if we are to fear anything then we should fear the times when human morality drifts far afield, when insane behavior is made normal or institutionalized, and how we will act in the nightmare times of hell on Earth that happen every so often but that most of us are lucky enough to have never experienced and can hardly imagine living through.

     

    Tuesday
    May162017

    Death by a Million Pinpricks 

    We have now seen that a naturalist might feel himself fully justified in ranking the race of man as distinct species; for he has found that they are distinguished by many differences in structure and constitution, some being of importance.  These differences have, also, remained nearly constant for very long periods of time.  Our naturalist will have been in some degree influenced by the enormous range of man, which is a great anomaly in the class of mammals, if mankind be viewed as a single species.  He will have been struck with the distribution of the several so-called races, which accords with that of other undoubtedly distinct species of mammals.  Finally, he might urge that the mutual fertility of all the races has not as yet been fully proved, and even if proved would not be an absolute proof of their specific identity. 

                                                                                                                           -Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, Chapter VII:  On the Races of Man

     

    When you want to destroy someone you always define them as unpeople – not really human – monkeys maybe, idiots maybe, machines maybe, but not people.  

                                                                                                                            -Alan Watts, The Nature of Consciousness, The Myth of the Automatic Universe

     

    However human meanness got started, we know that it has characterized the hominid line for a long time.  I have already mentioned evidence of murder among the Australopithecines and Pekin man.  So it is with a considerable proportion of all the known hominid fossils: over and over again fractures indicate that death was caused by instruments in the hands of fellow-men… Natural or not, the habit people have of killing one another is extraordinary when view in the perspective of the biological community.  I know of nothing comparable among other kinds of animals – even the “wars” among ants are between different species… People have developed endlessly diverse methods of killing one another, and they do it from a wide variety of motives.  As far as methods are concerned, we have the simple brute force of strangulation; the use of hand tools such as knives and clubs; the development of tools that are effective at a distance, such as arrows and rifles; and finally the discovery of really wholesale way of killing with the impersonal blasts of nuclear explosions.  Death may be direct and immediate, as with a knife through the heart; or it may be inflicted surreptitiously by the use, for instance, of a slow-acting poison.  As for motives... 

                                                                                                                                    -Marston Bates, On Being Mean, Gluttons and Libertines

     

     

                There appears to be a recent uptick in the talk about the end of the world as we know it.  This could be a result of the company I keep, whom thankfully are always interested in discussing the fate of humanity, the state of nature, and the meaning (if any) of life, but certainly such conversations are also inspired by the numerous geopolitical conflagrations raging across the globe (compounded by the ostensible pathetic hopelessness exhibited by our political leaders and institutions) and the declining state of the natural world as demonstrated by the consistently deteriorating conditions in almost every ecological system of Earth’s biosphere, which is regularly punctuated by large-scale environmentally destructive industrial disasters.  The perceived forms in which the end of the world shall manifest varies from person to person, and is obviously influenced by predisposing factors such as one’s spiritual beliefs, personal experiences, and station in life, but is often nebulous due the uncertainty granted by myriad variables that would potentially contribute to the destruction of humanity.  This is to say that the way in which the world will end assumes different forms depending on who you talk to, and even then a person may rightfully harbor multiple theories for possible doomsday scenarios which may result in varying degrees of humanity’s downfall, be it merely collapse of civilizations, which would leave room for survivors, or the absolute extinction of the human race, in which there would be no survivors.  Some common forms that that play out in people’s heads include a world war scenario in which the destruction of humankind will take place gradually (perhaps over the course of a century or so, which is virtually nothing a geological time-scale) and involves states going to war against each other and perhaps simultaneously unraveling in internecine civil conflicts.  Environmental decay is also seen as a prominent if not preeminent factor involved in to the gradual expiation of our species, and a Mad Max resource-wars scenario in which edible food, potable water, and clean air are scarce often plays out in conjunction with (either as a cause, an outcome, or independent exacerbating force) circumstances surrounding this anticipated collapse of civilizations.  In both these cases (resource wars or world war sans nuclear holocaust) there is a question of possible survivors, whom may or may not be compiled into bands of marauding cannibals, such as those depicted in the film The Road.  A nuclear holocaust is another possibility that may play out and lead to the destruction of humankind (as well as large cross-sections of life on Earth), and in this scenario the obliteration of the world is rapid, if not instantaneous, and there is little realistic chance wandering bands of mutilated humanoids will roam wide-eyed and drooling across the wastelands of a scorched earth beneath the blackened skies of a nuclear winter.  In both the nuclear holocaust and non-nuclear world war scenarios the end of mankind is perceived as the unfortunate consequence of intractable rivalries between nations whose leaders and countrymen viewed the opposing nation in a light of sufficient difference, as though they were a separate species altogether, so as to warrant the extermination of the other.  Needless to say, human perceptions about the imminence, form, intensity, and impact of any possible doomsday scenario are informed by our connection to data that shapes our outlook on life.  Presently, many of us are inundated with bad news on a regular basis via the internet.  Our ability to constantly be “in the know” may lead to a doomsday paranoia as a result of always being surrounded by negative experiences, similar to fourteenth century European cultures whom believed that the Black Death was a harbinger of the Apocalypse, or the followers of Malthus whom feared a global food shortage and widespread famine as a result of his forgivable yet unaccommodating arithmetic. 

     The Triump of Death, Pieter Bruegel the Elder  , Image from: WikiArt.org

                There is of course another angle from which to view the prospective demise of humankind: that considering all of our present ecological and social predicaments, humans are not facing the end of world as we know it, and that despite the dire state of affairs amongst our species and mother nature, we are doing alright if not better than ever before depending on the metric you are using to measure what index, and furthermore that human innovation and ingenuity will resolve the pressing environmental problems that threaten humanity’s progress and prosperity.  Proponents of this argument point to the downward trend in violence per capita over time – that there appears to be incontrovertible evidence indicating that the percentage of violent deaths from conflict has plummeted since the rise of civilizations.  Also, other major indicators of a healthy society, such as average life span and infant mortality rates trend in a positive direction that bodes well for the general state of humanity.  Yet even if it is the case that one out of ten people are no longer dying in the battlefield or during childbirth, the absolute numbers in some of these metrics for human development have increased.   Take for instance slavery and refugees.  In terms of percentage, there are less people enslaved today compared to most of human history, but in terms of absolute figures there has never been as many people enslaved than there are now.  The number of refugees in the world today is the highest it’s been since World War II, but only if you are looking at absolute numbers.  Be this as it may, I wouldn’t want to be the one trying to explain these statistics to the Syrian whose town has been bombed to rumble or an impoverished family in Lagos.  To the multitudes currently enduring what the great JKF referred to as the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself, the fact that the percentage of humans living in immiseration and violence is less than it has ever been before is irrelevant, and to present these people with such claims would be cynical, arrogant, and misguided.

    Image from: War and Peace, Our World In Data

                The school of thought which promotes the notion that humans have entered the Anthropocene, the geologic epoch marked by homo sapiens’ impact on climate and the environment, may indeed be a correct analysis.  Our imprint on Earth may be evinced in future core samples that contain a layer of earth rich in plastic, concrete, toxins, and synthetic chemicals.  It is probably true that humans, the ultimate apex species, will be responsible for the destruction of the vast majority of present life on Earth due to our exploitation of the natural world, which comes in a wide variety of devastating methods such as excessive pollution and consumption (especially where the seas and forests are concerned), the burning of fossil fuels, the contribution to ocean acidification, increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, habitat destruction and biodiversity loss, so as to render impossible our own existence due to the ecological support systems that we will have annihilated through our myopia, narcissism, avarice, decadence, and stupidity.  (Still, even if we do kill ourselves, there appears to be a conviction among most Earth-scientists that the planet will recover and life in some form or another will go on.)   In this suicidal slow-death scenario, humanity shall experience death by a million pinpricks.  This process is already underway, and implies that the cumulative and synergistic effect of human actions that expand our ecological footprints will result in the eventual death of the biological systems and networks that we depend on for survival, thus leading to our own demise.  In this scenario, a pinprick constitutes a single variable in the constellation of detrimental factors, varying in their degree of intensity, contributing to the gouging and whittling away of the biological foundation sustaining human life on Earth.  Examples of pinpricks, in no particular order, include mass produced items such as every manufactured car, tank, submarine, cargo ship, missile (one tomahawk cruise missile contains around five hundred ounces of silver), airplane, oil, oil or fracking well, bucket wheel excavator, computer, telephone, television, refrigerator, air conditioner, dish washer and dryer, condom, diaper, shampoo and conditioner bottle, fish-shaped soy sauce container, etc.  Pinpricks can come in the form of activities or events such as every time we take a cruise, take a flight, take a shit, flush the toilet, fill up our gas tanks, go on a road trip, go to Las Vegas, rave at Burning Man, race the Daytona 500, crash a car, crash a plane, construct a bridge or building, expand a highway, make a movie, make a diamond ring, throw a bachelor party, have a wedding, have a baby, have an abortion, have a funeral, have surgery, launch a missile, launch a war, launch a startup, drop a bomb, poach an animal, eat a hamburger, catch a fish, step on a piece of reef, and so on.  Although these pinpricks may be fairly innocuous as isolated events, the cumulative effect of the pinpricks performed regularly and ubiquitously amounts to ecocide. 

     Image from: Ocean Conservatory/Susan White/U.S Fish and Wildlife Service

                There is one more point I would like to mention in this drawn-out and occasionally preposterous entry.  While humanity made be said to pulling the rug out from under its feet, as we travel down our current path of unstainable consumption and pollution (according to the UNDP, a child in developed country will contribute as much to pollution and consumption as thirty to forty children in a developing country), struggling to attain homeostasis with the rest of the natural world by balancing-out our use of natural resources with the deleterious effect that extracting and converting these latent energy sources into fuel has on the environment, and are dragging down and taking out many other organisms and species of flora and fauna in this process, in a philosophical sense it could be argued that this is not unnatural.  Human beings are products of the environment, even if we act as a cancer or virus in that environment (which some people and culture may do, but many cultures do not) by presently harming it, we are still creatures that have evolved from the extensive and ancient tree of life.  Even if we end up destroying ourselves, it could still be argued that this is the natural progression of the human experience in nature.  (That said, we should be doing everything possible to prevent our collective suicide and fight the forces destroying the planet from their corridors of power in Wall Street and the Pentagon, the latter of whom are sometimes responsible for killing innocent people in foreign countries.  This battle between those who are inclined toward oppression and slavery and those who are victimized by or opposed it is also natural.) Human beings are natural, and those who try to portray our species as a virus or cancer that must be stamped-out or sterilized are embarking down a dangerous road of the alienation and control of members of or species whom they think lesser than they are.  Having come from the Earth and the cosmos, whichever direction we take as species and however our run in this universe ends is going to be natural (although we do have a say as to how long, prosperous, meaningful, and fruitful it could be).   There is nothing else it could possibly be.  

    The Sun, image from Wikipeda/Nasa

    Tuesday
    May022017

    Alan Watts and Martin Luther King, Jr. on Nuclear War

    Featured below is a video I put together using iMovie and featuring excerpts from Alan Watts lectures and Martin Luther King, Jr. Speeches.  The background song is First Snow by Emancipator.  The Alan Watts excerpts are from three different lectures titled The Myth of the Automatic Universe, The Veil of Thoughts, and Do You Do It, or Does It Do You?  The Martin Luther King audio excerpts are from two different speeches: Love Your Enemies and The Drum Major Instinct.  I dropped the initial project which involved transcribing a portion of the Do You Do It, or Does It Do You?  lecture, but since I transcribed it already I figure I may insert in this journal entry since it’s featured in the iMovie.  The excerpt can be starts around the 19 minute point of the lecture.

     

     

               At the moment we stand at a time in history where we’re beginning to think of the great countdown at the end of the human race.  Terrifying possibility, that through atomic energy we may obliterate this planet and turn the whole globe into a star.  Maybe that’s the way all the stars started.  Imagine, you know, this great thing coming up, the countdown at the end: seven, six, five, four, three, two, one… Paaarrrrrummm!!  Poof! (sucking sound) Poosh!  Where have you heard that before? When you sit on the seashore and you hear the waves going in and out, and you don’t stop to think: that’s what you are doing.  That’s what the whole business is doing, and there are places where the wave mounts and mounts and it gets too big for its boots or whatever and it spills and breaks.  We could do just that.  But uh, it’s very important to realize that that’s what you are doing because then you don’t get panicky about it.  And the person who’s going to press that button is a person who is going to be in panic.  So if you realize that that’s what it is and it doesn’t really matter if the whole human race blows itself up, then there’s a chance that it won’t do it.  That’s the only chance we have not to do this thing which attracts us like a kind of vertigo, like person who looks over a precipice and is all set to throw himself over, or a person who jumps out of a plane and they’re skydiving and forgets to pull the parachute ring because he gets fascinated with a target – it’s called target fascination – he just goes straight at it, you see?  So we can get absolutely fascinated with disaster, with doom.  Or you know… all the news in the newspaper is invariably bad news.  There is no good news in the newspapers, people wouldn’t buy a newspaper consisting of good news.  Even the free press is full of terrible news, except the San Francisco Oracle. 

               The fascination, you see, for this doom might be neutralized if we would say, “Well, why bother about that?  It’s just another fluctuation in this huge, marvelous, endless chain of our own selves and our own energy going own.”  See here’s the problem, because of our myopia, because of our… the way we’ve, as it were, restricted consciousness to focus upon just that certain little area of experience that we call voluntary action – that’s us, and everything else happens to us.  Now that’s obviously absurd.  Let’s suppose you take in your hand one of those toys, a gyroscopic top.  And you suddenly notice the minute you get this in your hand that it has a kind of vitality to it.  It seems to resist you, it starts pushing you in a certain way, see?  And sometimes you’re with it, and following it, and then sometimes you see… It just as if you’ve held a living animal in your hand.  You know, you pick up a hamster, you know, or a guinea pig, and you hold this little thing and your hand – it’s always trying to escape.  So the gyroscope always seems trying to escape your hold.  Now in exactly the same what, what you’re experiencing all the time – all sorts of things are getting out of control and doing this you don’t expect – it’s trying to escape your hold.  Alright then don’t grab it so hard.  And you’ll discover that this living thing that you’re feeling – like the gyroscope top – it’s your own life.  

    Thursday
    Apr132017

    Alan Watts - On Individual Suicide and Humanity's Survivial 

    Here's a video that I made with iMovie that features footage from the film Samsara, music from the band Moderat (the song is titled Therapy), and portions from the Alan Watts Out of Your Mind lecture series.


    The Alan Watts audio you hear have been extrapolated from five different lectures in Out of Your Mind series, and the specific lectures are titled: "A Game that's Worth the Candle, The Fundamental I, A Re-Examination of Common Sense, Every Incarnation is This One," and "An Independent System."

    For links to the full Out of Your Mind audio lectures, as well as other free Alan Watts audio files please click here or on follow this link:  

    http://www.dividedcore.com/humanity/2016/1/10/carl-sagan-martin-luther-king-and-alan-watts-audio-files.html

    Thanks for checking out this video, which is the first of hopefully many eventual future compilations I'll attempt.