Thursday, January 30, 2014

10 Bizarre, Anomalous Notes

1. I don’t think things like Katy Perry’s demonic Grammys imagery show she’s in league with the Devil, but the oddly-gratuitous and somewhat discordant use of such symbolism in pop and hiphop videos lately does at least suggest that some record execs figured it might be time to recycle some of the old devil-worship aesthetic tropes from 1970s heavy metal.  I’m not convinced it works as well for the likes of Kanye West as it does for, oh, say, Ronnie James Dio here.

2. Devil’s advocate/devil Michael Malice can be found on Reddit at 2pm today discussing his new book, Dear Reader, about the tyrannical Kim Jong Il.  Malice’s dark heart can also be found pining after Disney’s Maleficent as played by Angelina Jolie, but you can hardly blame him.

(And if you want more conventional right-vs.-left figures, I see that tonight at 7:30 the recently indicted Dinesh D’Souza, on his site, will do a debate with former fugitive Bill Ayers.  The real crime, of course, is what’s legal.)

3. Earlier this month I mentioned that despite my ardent skepticism, I must at least admit there have been odd sightings of flying black triangular craft, be they military or otherwise mundane.  There’ve apparently been well-documented sightings in Belgium going back twenty-five years as well.  Beats me.

4. If instead of cautious skepticism, one assumed all the most dire UFO claims you’ve ever heard were true -- and crammed them all into an intense, rock-video-paced nineteen-minute video -- the result would be quite simply the most dramatic video I’ve ever seen...and HERE IT IS (brace yourself).

5. Despite remaining ever the evidence-demanding, materialist skeptic, I’m keeping my mind open by reading the avowedly mystical Ken Wilber’s 1986 book Eye to Eye, which (long story short) asserts that mind, body, and spirit require different methodologies, and half the confusion in Western culture is caused by attempting to address questions from one area with the tools of another (reducing all philosophy to scientific measurement or empirical questions to matters of religious doctrine, etc.). 

Well, OK, I can concede it’s reductive to treat Categories 1-3 as if they are all 1, though I retain the right to question whether we need 3 at all (seeing Wilber do this annoying video doesn’t boost my sympathy, but the book is more cogent so far). 

My friend Valerie Jackson, a product of Brown and Berkeley, suggested reading that book, though she’s not my only acquaintance with some sympathy for Buddhist meditation and the like, with others including my friends Chris Nugent (who ended up a professor of Chinese), Oona Trien, and even Jesse Forgione, an Objectivist you might not expect to be into such things (I wish him luck with his new business venture in capitalistic Orlando -- and with his attainment of true enlightenment, whether Eastern or eighteenth-century style).

6. I suppose as a product of the 80s I am always keen to avoid that decade’s proliferation of quantum-mechanics-abusing science-meets-mysticism vagueness and obfuscation.  Indeed, I question even prominent physicist Roger Penrose’s continual harping on things like the possible role of quantum indeterminacy in the brain tubules purportedly essential to consciousness. 

If the quantum indeterminacy proves the key, so be it, but there’s no question there are people, even scientists, simply rooting for the most ambiguous/mysterious/variable element of reality to prove central in order to add a shroud of beloved mystery to all things, for aesthetic reasons.  Reality could just prove to a be a big, boring, clunky, unambiguous thing when we’re done looking it over.  We have a duty to be prepared for the non-wondrous, too, you know. 

7. Still, as this blog’s “Month of Time Travel” draws to a close, it’s worth keeping in mind the impressive, shifting apparent indeterminacy of our future paths, like Paul in Dune perceiving all possible futures and their rootedness in his present actions.  Contemplate possibilities and stay at least slightly agnostic, I suppose. 

8. The mere ability to contemplate things being other than they currently appear to be is something that naturally unites fans of philosophy and sci-fi, I’d contend (or at least I tried to persuade a New York Press colleague of that many years ago). 

9. Combining those two mindsets may at least help prepare us, like the ethicists at Google, for the coming robot domination of the planet (h/t Anna Nash).

10. And now that I’ve prepared you for all eventualities from robot conquest to spiritual enlightenment, I must (as repeatedly threatened in the past) largely withdraw from the Net for now -- yes, even Twitter and Facebook -- to complete some other projects, but this blog will at the very least be used to link to those from time to time.

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