“I am all goodness, love, truth, mercy, health. I am a necessary part of God’s universe. I am a divine soul, and only good can come through me or to me. God made me, and He could make nothing but goodness and purity and worth. I am the reflection of all His qualities.” This is the “new” religion; yet it is older than the universe. It is God’s own thought put into practical form.
“It’s all math to you, isn’t it?” “Everything is math, Brittle. All of existence is binary. Ones and zeros. On and off. Existing or not. Believing anything beyond that is simply pretending.” “That’s all anything means to you?” “Meaning is a function set to zero in this universe. Maybe in the other places beyond us there is something more than simply maintaining existence, but here, in this universe, it is the only thing that matters.”
the most precious thing in the universe is that mysterious thing we call individual liberty and which even God himself guards and respects. Up to some point, difficult certainly to delimit, a man must be captain of his soul. He cannot be a person if he does not have a sphere of power over his own act.
Cyrus Guernsey Pringle, The Record of a Quaker Conscience
The reason should transcend every interest of the body and its desires; it should seek to know the universe through contemplation and abstraction, as it is to the mind, not just as man might perceive it through the senses alone.
Ralph M Lewis, The Conscious Interlude
What goes around may come around, but it never ends up exactly the same place, you ever notice? Like a record on a turntable, all it takes is one groove’s difference and the universe can be on into a whole ’nother song.
Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice
“Look up there,” he said, pointing an unsteady finger at a gap in the clouds exposing the universe, a lone far frosty star. “Infinity. There must be something in all that to fill us.”
Ramsey Campbell, Demons by Daylight
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 16th, 2014
Hannah Kunkle’s Controversial Project Turns Kim Kardashian Into The Devil, The Virgin Mary And Even Jesus — Victoria Casal-Data, Beautiful/Decay
- The Dark Ages — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti
“Perhaps in time to come the so-called Dark Ages may include our own.”
- Witch Deposits and Witch Bottles — Gillian Bagwell, Wonders & Marvels
“As I began to write my forthcoming novel Venus in Winter, I found an article about the practices common in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries of placing a shoe within a wall or of concealing other collections of items as ‘witch deposits’ that intended to deflect malevolent spirits or witches’ curses. Witch deposits might include ‘lucky’ items such as family heirlooms or objects associated with someone considered spiritually powerful. Another purpose for witch deposits may have been the desire of the householders to leave their mark after they were dead and gone.”
- The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets, by Claude Lecouteux — Freeman Presson, Spiral Nature; a review of Lecouteux’s The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets: Tradition and Craft from Inner Traditions
“The priests inveighing against these charms were particularly intent on discouraging the use of magical characters (alphabetic or sigilic writing that conveys spiritual power). They sometimes waxed poetic: ‘The demon slithers in the characters like the serpent beneath the flowers.’ This ties nicely into his statement that ‘the unknown always inspires the Church with fear.’
Lecouteux summarizes part of this history thus: ‘Implicit in the background are notions of natural, licit magic and illicit black magic,’ ((p. 30)) after giving one of many examples of a churchman condemning the talismanic art as being an implicit pact with a demon, a pattern which, as he points out, is ‘commonly repeated throughout the sixteenth century.’ What this means to me is that the Faustian current which arose in early modern magick didn’t just appear without help. Apparently, it is as possible to call an egregore into being by constant execration as by constant evocation!
- ISIS threatens to destroy the Kaaba after capturing Saudi Arabia — Vestnik Kavkaza [HT disinformation]
“Representatives of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) stated that they will destroy the Kaaba after they capture Saudi Arabia, APA reports quoting Turkish media that ISIS wants to take control of the city of Arar in Saudi Arabia and start operations there.
ISIS member Abu Turab Al Mugaddasi said that they would destroy the Kaaba in Mecca: ‘If Allah wills, we will kill those who worship stones in Mecca and destroy the Kaaba. People go to Mecca to touch the stones, not for Allah.'”
- Readymake: Duchamp Chess Set — Scott Kidall and Bryan Cera [HT Boing Boing]
“Readymake: Duchamp Chess Set is a 3D-printed chess set generated from an archival photograph of Marcel Duchamp’s own custom and hand-carved game. His original physical set no longer exists. We have resurrected the lost artifact by digitally recreating it, and then making the 3D files available for anyone to print.
Inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s readymade — an ordinary manufactured object that the artist selected and modified for exhibition – the readymake brings the concept of the appropriated object to the realm of the internet, exploring the web’s potential to re-frame information and data, and their reciprocal relationships to matter and ideas. Readymakes transform photographs of objects lost in time into shared 3D digital spaces to provide new forms and meanings.”
- Carl Jung’s Surreally Illustrated “The Red Book” Documents The Therapist’s Psychospiritual Journey — Jené Gutierrez, Beautiful/Decay; about C G Jung’s The Red Book
“This journal chronicles a deeply personal voyage of self-discovery that Jung did not wish to be published while he was alive for fear that the book could ruin his professional and personal life, and that people would think him mentally unstable. However, it’s the belief of Jungian scholar Sonu Shamdasani that Jung intended for this work to eventually be published. Shamdasani points to the fact that Jung’s journal is addressed, ‘dear friends,’ and that that he would often lend the journal to friends and patients during his lifetime. After Jung died in 1961, his heirs were reluctant to release the contents of the book, and kept it stored away in a bank vault in Switzerland. It took Shamdasani 3 years to convince his heirs to allow The Red Book to be published, and an additional 13 years for the entirety of the calligraphic text to be translated from German to English.”
- How to plan a pilgrimage — Jarred Triskelion, Spiral Nature
“In this technological age, there are few places that cannot be reached in relative ease and comfort. For a pilgrimage, however, the journey is as important as the destination. […] You gain much by connecting with the environment through which you are travelling. It lends context to the site you are visiting as well deepening the sense of achievement felt at the end.”
- Oldness — Ian Corrigan, Into the Mound
“As I usually say, if one is lucky, one gets old. One of the goals of traditional magic has always been to extend life. For a Vedic yogi ‘immortality’ meant a lifespan of 100 years or more, as average lifespans of 40 or 50 years rolled on by. For many of my generation, and many more of those just following, 100 years will be achieved by the magic of modern culture and scientific medicine, far more effectively than it was ever managed by sorcery or alchemy.
But, as they say, ‘Eat right, achieve wisdom, die anyway.’ Our spans are not determined by our effort, but by the capricious (or sneaky) cutting of the thread, the song ended in a half-measure, the nail-flick of a passing giant. To this annoyingly unfair reality, we can only respond with resignation. Our fate is not in our hands.”
- Collective Nouns and Medievalist Collectivity: A Poem — Jonathan Hsy, In The Middle
“During the conference banquet, some of the conference participants were wondering if there’s a collective noun for Gower scholars, and Brian Gastle joked that it should be called a ‘recension of Gowerians.’ On the last day of the conference I expanded Gastle’s joke on twitter and Facebook and other people began submitting their own suggestions for other collective nouns for medievalists.”
“A troop of Anglo-Saxonists
A roundtable of Arthurians
An orientation of cartographers
A compaignye of Chaucerians
A gathering of codicologists
A circle of Dante scholars
A Swerve of Shakespeareans
A fellowship of Tolkienists”
- Haunting Knitted Animal Pelts Draw Attention To the Plight Of Endangered Species — Ellyn Ruddick-Sunstein, Beautiful/Decay; from the now-I-can-cosplay-Aleister-Crowley-guilt-free dept.
“Stretched and bound over wooden frames, the animal pelts of Australian artist Ruth Marshall are so utterly realistic looking that it is difficult to believe that they are not in fact fur and hide. Constructed out of knitted yarn, they compel us to consider the endangered species killed and skinned by poachers and collectors.”
- Agnostic and Gnostic — Troy W Pierce, The Path of Gnosis [HT disinformation]
“One of the common misunderstandings when you tell people that you are a Gnostic is that they hear the more familiar word ‘Agnostic.’ (This becomes quite amusing when they mishear ‘Agnostic Priest,’ or ‘Agnostic Eucharist.’) This becomes a good opportunity to elucidate one of the truisms of contemporary Gnosticism: You have to be an Agnostic before you can become a Gnostic.”
- Everything is Sound and Light, Plus Sigil Generation Technology — Thad McKraken, disinformation
“What I love about this is whereas what I do is essentially translating mystical concepts for a generation of kids raised on crap like VICE and stoner comedy, he takes a vastly more scientific approach.”
- Manifesting An Other World — Rhyd Wildermuth, Wild Hunt
“Perhaps it might seem strange to some that I wasn’t seeing this all in a Wiccan shop or Occult store. Perhaps where I found these things may seem even more strange: an Anarchist café in Seattle.
But this shouldn’t sound strange at all. Paganism and its beliefs mirror the struggle of Anarchists, and the indigenous activists who host ancestor prayers at that same cafe, and the queer trans* folk who hold meetings and organize protests against corporate pride events or the killing of a man who didn’t have correct fare on the light rail.”
“They are fighting against hegemonic control of existence, the limiting of human life itself; against the structures which displace people from the earth, disconnecting them from the strength and influence of spirits and ancestors, and turn humans into consumers and producers and subjects of hegemonic control of the powerful. And particularly, they are all fighting against the crushing oppression wrought upon the world by Capitalism.
We should be too, if our beliefs are more than mere opinion.”
- Golem: a Pagan view of Corporations — Hermetic Library fellow Sam Webster, Wild Hunt
“Like a Golem, a corporation is made by words; its articles of incorporation once signed and seal by the Secretary of State bring it to life. At one time ‘life’ might have seemed like hyperbole, but living in the age of the Citizens United ruling, corporations have personhood before the law and with it ‘human’ rights. It will continue doing what it was set up to do unless commanded or forced to stop. This can be very hard to do when those with the power of command are benefiting (making profit) from the creature’s actions. It is effectively immortal, only to stop functioning when it runs out of cash or credit, its life blood so to speak. It can only ‘die’ if it is disbanded by sale, in which case it continues in another form, or experience ‘true’ death by the revocation of its articles of incorporation, which will actually end it. Like the Golem, it will only stop when its words of creation are ‘erased’.”
- Where has all the light in the universe gone? Astrophysicists mystified after noticing 80 per cent of the light in the universe appears to be missing — Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph; from the my-soul-is-wandering-in-darkness-seeking-for-the-light dept.
“The universe is a pretty dark place – but according to astrophysicists it is much too dark.
Scientists have been left scratching their heads after noticing there is a huge deficit of light.”
- Public Priesthood: Big Fish in a Small Pond — Hermetic Library anthology artist T Thorn Coyle, Numinous Concrete
“Some have written much about whether or not professional clergy is useful to Paganism. Others have written to deride or uphold ‘Big Name Pagans.’ I’m not going to do any of that. What I want to do is talk about the reality of my life. And some hard numbers. I’m offering this to give people a better idea of what we might actually be talking about in the midst of these conversations.
People have asked how I planned my career trajectory. What did I do to end up where I am? My first response is surprised laughter at the question.”
- Second 4,000 Year Old Timber Circle Revealed — Past Horizons
“In the late 1990s two remarkable Bronze Age timber circles were discovered on Holme Beach, Norfolk (East England). One of these popularly known as – ‘Seahenge’ – was excavated in 1998 and 1999.
Since the excavations the second circle has been monitored and evidence of damage by coastal processes has been recorded. In the last year dendrochronological (tree ring) dating has shown the timbers used to build this circle – ‘Holme II’ – were felled in the spring or summer of 2049 BCE, exactly the same time as those used to build ‘Seahenge’ and places the construction of both circles early in the Bronze Age.”
- Intersectionality isn’t just a win-win; it’s the only way out — Henia Belalia, Waging Nonviolence [HT disinformation]
“This question of intersectionality isn’t the first time that science is playing catch-up to traditional knowledge, and it won’t be the last. As Pachamama Alliance’s accompanying blog explains: ‘Scientific research is bringing knowledge of the natural world full circle, offering biological and theoretical authority to the enduring truth of indigenous wisdom.’ Yet, among all of these enduring truths, intersectionality is one of the most central. ‘Perhaps the most universal indigenous perspective is the idea of a world inextricably interconnected, on all levels, and across time,’ the Pachamama Alliance wrote.”
- Cognitive bias in software development considered harmful — Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing; introducing Cognitive Biases in Software Engineering by Jonathan Klein
“In an excellent 2013 article, Jonathan Klein lays out the many ways in which cognitive biases undermine the software development process. Whether it’s fundamental attribution error (‘my bugs are easily excusable mistakes, your bugs are the result of unforgivable sloppiness’); confirmation bias (‘that’s enough testing, we know that this works!’); bandwagon effect (‘Bob’s the bull-goose devops person, it would be silly to doubt his views on this software’); hyperbolic discounting (‘a shortcut that saves me a day’s work now is OK, even it costs me ten days’ fixing in a year’) and negativity bias (‘the last time we did this it was a huge pain in the ass, screw it.’)
But more importantly, Klein also suggests ways that you can mitigate these universal biases in your own software development practices — procedures that you can follow to make sure that when your stupid brain tricks you, you can spot the slight of mind.”
- We love to laugh at modern prophets – but we’ve forgotten how much they matter — Lionel Laborie, The Conversation [HT Sarah Green]
“Each age has its visionaries, and the 21st century is no exception.”
“Prophets are by definition those who provide insight into the future. Whether they are secular or religious, all claim superior knowledge and spark either interest, laughter or hostility. They find legitimacy in persecution; but they also deliver messages of hope, justice and the promise of a better future.
The very fact that their predictions leave no-one indifferent points to our subconscious fascination with them. The dominant attitude in our Western societies is generally to dismiss prophets as fools and impostors, relics from the most obscure times in our history. Yet we often forget that new religious movements also appear every year.”
- How to Make Sense of Conspiracy Theories — Rob Ager [HT disinformation]
“Today conspiracy theories are a staple aspect of academia, entertainment and politics, though the term conspiracy theory isn’t always applied. There are thousands of conspiracy theory claims made across all forms of media distribution. The vast ocean of information on these subjects is far too great for any individual or even any government to fully absorb.
On that basis, it is crucial that any person or group wishing to explore such matters should begin with a set of reliable information filters and organising principles. You will already have filters and organising principles of your own, but it’s likely that many of those perceptive habits are unconscious. It’s also likely that you have picked up those habits in non-conspiracy theory contexts.”
“However, the type of scepticism we naturally hold unconsciously in our daily interactions with strangers tends to veer towards the idea that some people are simple opportunists trying to make a buck here or there or in some other way take short term advantage of us. We tend to be less adept at defending ourselves against society’s more cunning manipulators, especially the more intelligent ones.”
- The Shortest Path to Happiness: Recommending Beautiful, Quiet, and Happy Routes in the City — Daniele Quercia, Rossano Schifanella, Luca Maria Aiello [HT Gizmodo]
“When providing directions to a place, web and mobile mapping services are all able to suggest the shortest route. The goal of this work is to automatically suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant. To quantify the extent to which urban locations are pleasant, we use data from a crowd-sourcing platform that shows two street scenes in London (out of hundreds), and a user votes on which one looks more beautiful, quiet, and happy. We consider votes from more than 3.3K individuals and translate them into quantitative measures of location perceptions. We arrange those locations into a graph upon which we learn pleasant routes. Based on a quantitative validation, we find that, compared to the shortest routes, the recommended ones add just a few extra walking minutes and are indeed perceived to be more beautiful, quiet, and happy. To test the generality of our approach, we consider Flickr metadata of more than 3.7M pictures in London and 1.3M in Boston, compute proxies for the crowdsourced beauty dimension (the one for which we have collected the most votes), and evaluate those proxies with 30 participants in London and 54 in Boston. These participants have not only rated our recommendations but have also carefully motivated their choices, providing insights for future work.”
If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together …
- “Denmark starts meaty argument over animal slaughter” — Leo Benedictus, The Guardian UK’s Shortcuts Blog; from the we’ll-meet-the-meat dept.
“In most European countries, including the UK, the slaughter of an animal is considered humane only if it is stunned before having its throat cut. Muslim and Jewish rules, however, require an animal to be fully alive, healthy, and intact before being killed, and this is often interpreted to mean it must be conscious. Many Muslims and Jews insist the swift technique of ritual slaughter prevents the animal from suffering. But animal welfare activists and their supporters beg to differ. … This is far from the first flare-up over ritual slaughter.”
- Hermetic Library fellow Sam Webster quoted by The Wild Hunt, via tweet [also]; from the party-foul dept.
“A libation without a prayer is just a spilled drink.”
- Crystal Blanton quoted by The Wild Hunt, via tweet; from the inconvenient-truth dept.
“We sacrifice humans every day.”
- “Will Arizona Go the Anti-Gay Way of Uganda?” — Jay Michaelson, The Jewish Daily Forward; from the freedom-fries dept.
“‘Religious Freedom’ used to be a shield, not a sword.”
- “The ‘Religious Liberty’ Campaign May Be Backfiring For Conservatives” — Ed Kilgore, Talking Points Memo’s Cafe; from the spare-tire-and-a-muffin-top-to-go dept.
“On many fronts in the culture wars, the momentum has usually been possessed by those who can best identify themselves with the ambivalent attitudes of a mushy middle ‘swing vote'”
- “Lawsuit: Calif. Christian missions tortured mentally disabled with Bible ‘punishments’” — David Edwards, Raw Story; from the agape-has-left-the-building dept.
“Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has filed a lawsuit against two unlicensed Christian mission homes for effectively torturing mentally disabled people if they refused to attend religious services, and forcing them to live in filthy conditions.”
- “Zambia: Why Homosexuality Should Not Be Legalised in Zambia (part 4)” [no link because it’s heinous] — Charles Kachikoti, Times of Zambia via allAfrica.com; from the what-is-this-i-don’t-even dept.
“[Reason #]17. Law and Order
The mentality of homosexuals is anti-family and anti-marriage, which mindset is opposed to law and order.
Aleister Crowley (October 12, 1875 — December 1, 1947), the father of modern day Satanism, who massively promoted Satan-worship internationally, and notably so among world music stars, spoke against family and promoted homosexuality.
The mentality of his followers is therefore anti-family and anti-marriage.”
- “Witch hunting | Victims of superstition” — Ashwaq Masoodi, Livemint.com; from the she’s-got-huge-tracts-of-land dept.
“These are women who are unsupported, either because they are single or widows. It is primarily connected to land. It happens with women who are economically well-off or self-sustaining.”
- “The Last of Us” — Frank Swain, Futures Exchange; so-logically-if-she-weighs-the-same-as-a-duck-she’s-made-of-wood dept.
“They kept the [last Great Auk] tied up for three days until an ominous storm arose. Believing the bird was a witch responsible for their predicament, the men clubbed it to death.”
- How Belief In Hell Directly Benefits The Elite — Matt Staggs, Disinformation; from the but-thinking-makes-it-so dept.
“Just thinking about Hell makes people ill and out of sorts, and they don’t even have to think that it’s real. It’s worse for the true believers: Individual belief in what the researchers referred to as ‘supernatural malevolence’ (Coming soon to pay-per-view!) was associated with bad coping skills, low self-esteem and poor health resiliency.”
“Hell isn’t just a religious idea, it’s a meme; an especially toxic one that we might be primed to believe in from birth — especially if you believe those studies that suggest we’re hardwired to believe in god. Hell is such a virulent, deadly little mind-virus that even secular minds have trouble fighting it off. And it seems that there’s a vested interest in keeping it strong.”
- The Race to Save Mali’s Priceless Artifacts — Joshua Hammer, Smithsonian Magazine; from the operation-serapeion dept.
“When jihadists overran Timbuktu last year, residents mounted a secret operation to evacuate the town’s irreplaceable medieval manuscripts.”
- “The Helgo Treasure: A Viking Age Buddha” — IrishArchaeology.ie; from the a-buddhist-a-copt-and-a-catholic-walk-into-a-viking-bar dept.
“Undoubtedly the most extraordinary find discovered during the excavations at Helgo was a small, bronze Buddha. This devotional figure dates from circa the 6th century AD … probably arrived in Helgo via Swedish merchants whose eastern trade routes were concentrated along Russian rivers such as the Volga.”
“The Helgo crozier is probably of Irish origin and would have formed part of a bishop’s staff. Dating from circa the 8th century AD, it was most likely stolen during a Viking raid on Ireland and brought back to Helgo as booty.”
“… a bronze ladle whose origins lie in North Africa, probably in the vicinity of modern-day Egypt. Decorated in small punch-marks, which define a Tree-of-Life symbol, the ladle was most likely used in ceremonies associated with the early Coptic church.”
- “When the Old Gods Died: A Note on Ragnarok and Evaporating Histories” — Jeremy D Johnson, Reality Sandwich; from the a-new-heaven-and-a-new-earth dept.
“Yes, let’s build that Earth. Cast out the old gods and apocalyptic imaginaries as we work to build a new Earth, so desperately and agonizingly waiting, not for the passive, but for those ready to be born.”
- “New documents prove U.S. Army actively targeted leftist protesters, group says” — Scott Kaufman, Raw Story; from the every-breath-you-take dept.
“New records obtained by the Defending Dissent Foundation prove that the United States Army used a multi-agency spy network to gather intelligence on nonviolent, antiwar protesters and to disseminate their findings to both the FBI and local police departments.”
- “How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations” — Glenn Greewald, The Intercept; from the secret-agent-johannes-dee-007 dept.
“Using online techniques to make something happen in the real or cyber world”
- “Mapping Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters” — Marc A Smith et al., Pew Research Internet Project; from the a-place-for-everything-everything-in-its-place dept.
“Conversations on Twitter create networks with identifiable contours as people reply to and mention one another in their tweets. These conversational structures differ, depending on the subject and the people driving the conversation. Six structures are regularly observed: divided, unified, fragmented, clustered, and inward and outward hub and spoke structures. These are created as individuals choose whom to reply to or mention in their Twitter messages and the structures tell a story about the nature of the conversation.”
- “Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories” — David Comberg; from the e-stands-for-electricity dept;
- “The Shapes of Stories, a Kurt Vonnegut Infographic” — Maya Eilam; in-hoc-figura-vinces dept.
- Atlas of Management Thinking by Edward de Bono, described on the Edward de Bono website; in the can-you-draw-me-a-picture dept.
“Verbal descriptions of complex management situations are necessarily lodged in the left side of the brain. In order for us to be able to use the right side of the brain we need a repertoire of non-verbal images. That is precisely what this book sets out to provide. The images provided by drawings in this book enrich the perceptual map of the executive. The images allow him to add some right-brain thinking to his usual left-brain thinking. This makes it easier for the executive to recognise situations in a flash instead of having to build them up piecemeal.”
- “The Higgs Boson re-explained” — Jorge Cham, PHD Comics; from the hello-i-mass-be-going dept.
“Without the Higgs Field, there would be no mass terms in the equations … and everything you know would disappear in a split second.”
- “Is the Universe a Simulation?” — Edward Frenkel, The New York Times’ Gray Matter; from the faith-trust-and-pixie-dust dept.
“What kinds of things are mathematical entities and theorems, that they are knowable in this way? Do they exist somewhere, a set of immaterial objects in the enchanted gardens of the Platonic world, waiting to be discovered? Or are they mere creations of the human mind?
This question has divided thinkers for centuries. It seems spooky to suggest that mathematical entities actually exist in and of themselves. But if math is only a product of the human imagination, how do we all end up agreeing on exactly the same math? Some might argue that mathematical entities are like chess pieces, elaborate fictions in a game invented by humans. But unlike chess, mathematics is indispensable to scientific theories describing our universe. And yet there are many mathematical concepts — from esoteric numerical systems to infinite-dimensional spaces — that we don’t currently find in the world around us. In what sense do they exist?”
- “An Introduction to Landscape Theology” — David Titterington, Reality Sandwich; from the my-hair-the-trees-of-eternity dept.
“What is objective and universal may be called transpersonal, or ‘archetypal,’ in the Jungian sense; it is that more-than-human place we share with others, that ‘earthly ground of rock and soil that we share with the other animals and the plants’ (Abram 1996: 281). Merleau-Ponty: ‘My body is made of the same flesh as the world.’ Therefore, if we wish to look for the ‘real archetypes,’ we may want to pay attention to landscapes and their elements.”
- Sleep’s Hidden Histories — Benjamin Reiss. Los Angeles Review of Books [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from between-a-sleep-and-a-sleep the dept.
“Things that we do or experience in private, things we might expect to read about in novels or talk about in therapy, have now generated a hidden-histories boomlet. The best of these works not only make the familiar strange, but they make us think differently about history and its intimate relation to our own lives.”
“Sleep, on the other hand, assassinates the person who might think about it. It’s not just that it’s a stretch to imagine how our sleep connects us to other times and places; it’s that we’re not even there when it happens. Dreaming is a possible exception, since it’s sometimes recoverable by our waking selves — which is part of why dreaming has a much longer historiography than the other 85 percent of the sleep cycle. But the other aspects of the sleeping self — characterized by non-productivity, maddening lumpishness, and obliviousness — are about as unavailable to us as is being born or dying.”
- “The Church of the Paranormal” — Shannon Fischer, Pacific Standard [HT William Thirteen]; from the i-want-to-believe dept.
“Don’t be shy. Depending on your poll of choice, anywhere from a third to nearly half of you either believe in ghosts or are pretty sure you do. And if not ghosts, then aliens, mediums, or astrology, for which belief has either held steady or risen over the last couple of decades. More than two-thirds of Americans hold at least one paranormal—unsanctioned by religion—belief, according to the Baylor Religion Survey. That’s more than voted in the 2012 presidential election.”
- Arnold Toynbee quoted at “Roadmap to an unstoppable strategy” — Stephanie Van Hook; from the i-love-it-when-a-plan-comes-together dept.
“Apathy can only be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an idea that takes the imagination by storm; and second, a concrete, intelligible plan for putting that idea into action.”
- “The War on Reason” — Paul Bloom, The Atlantic [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from the let-me-hear-your-body-talk dept.
“In a contemporary, and often unacknowledged, rebooting of Freud, many psychologists have concluded from such findings that unconscious associations and attitudes hold powerful sway over our lives—and that conscious choice is largely superfluous. ‘It is not clear,’ the Baylor College neuroscientist David Eagleman writes, ‘how much the conscious you—as opposed to the genetic and neural you—gets to do any deciding at all.'”
- “Does Reading Actually Change The Brain?” — Carol Clark of Emory University, Futurity [HT Disinformation]; from the i-can-go-twice-as-high dept.
“‘The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,’ Berns says. ‘We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.’
The neural changes were not just immediate reactions, Berns says, since they persisted the morning after the readings, and for the five days after the participants completed the novel.”
- “The new theory that could explain crime and violence in America” — Scott C Johnson; from the taking-over-the-family-business dept.
“When the analysis was complete, Meaney saw an intriguing pattern. For the most part, the brains of suicide victims had similar receptor levels to those of people who had died in accidents. But in the samples from victims of childhood abuse, receptor levels were lower — just as with the rats. When he homed in on the cause of the difference, things got even more interesting. Meaney discovered that the gene for the receptor was covered by a chemical blanket that effectively silenced it — exactly the same silencing mechanism as seen in the rats that suffered poor maternal care.
The implication was significant: an abusive childhood might turn the volume down on this vital stress-response gene, leaving the abused vulnerable to stress, and perhaps suicidal impulses, later in life.”
- “Your Ancestors, Your Fate” — Gregory Clark, The New York Times’ Opinion Pages; from the upstairs-downstairs dept.
“The notion of genetic transmission of ‘social competence’ … may unsettle us. But studies … support this view.”
- “Jim Jarmusch: how the film world’s maverick stayed true to his roots” — Jonathan Romney, The Observer; from the if-you-look-like-you-could-be-then-you-are dept.
“The word ‘hipster’ invariably crops up in discussions about American film-maker Jim Jarmusch, not least because he looks the part. He is tall, lean, often wears shades and has a famous shock of hair that started turning silvery grey in his teens; his basso drawl completes the uncanny resemblance to a certain Hollywood great, which inspired Jarmusch to found a jokey secret society, The Sons of Lee Marvin.”
- “The Song of the Land: Bioregional Animism” — Sarah Anne Lawless; from the lay-of-the-land dept.
“It is hard to care deeply about something without any personal knowledge of it. Walking this road can start as simply as purchasing a regional field guide and going for a lot of walks with it, photographing and recording what you find. It can be as fun as taking an identification and foraging course with knowledgeable locals who will teach you ethics and proper stewardship as well to make sure you don’t damage or destroy the natural resources you’re learning to identify and use. Go camping, go travelling, go exploring, go on adventures in your bioregion. Walk the trails, canoe the lakes, explore the beach, climb the trees…
When you’re surrounded by nature, sit still, watch and listen.”
- Teju Cole, via tweet; from the thank-you-no-thank-you dept.
“You don’t decide to be a prophet. It happens to you, ruining your life, comforting distant people you’ve never met who may never thank you.”
- Jenna Lilla, via tweet; from the i-roam-around-around-around dept.
“The heroes are usually wanderers … a symbol of longing, of the restless urge which never finds its object of nostalgia for the lost mother.”
- “Magic and Your Lizard Brain: The Mind Tricks Behind Conjuring Ghosts” — Elizabeth Harper, Atlas Obscura; from the i-make-the-blue-cars-go-away dept.
“Your lizard brain is so reliably persistent that knowing how the trick is done doesn’t stop the effect from working.”
- “Why Is Academic Writing So Academic?” — Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from the sesquipedalian-tergiversation dept.
“Academic prose is, ideally, impersonal, written by one disinterested mind for other equally disinterested minds. But, because it’s intended for a very small audience of hyper-knowledgable, mutually acquainted specialists, it’s actually among the most personal writing there is. If journalists sound friendly, that’s because they’re writing for strangers. With academics, it’s the reverse.”
- “PantheaCon and the Growing Significance of Conventions as Spiritual Pilgrimage” — Crystal Blanton, The Wild Hunt; from the i-want-to-go-to-there dept;
“Nikki Jardin states ‘A spiritual pilgrimage is a physical journey toward a place of sacred or religious significance.’ This definition fits with how many Pagans, Wiccans, and Polytheists have come to revere Pagan conventions and festivals: As yearly spiritual pilgrimages for transcendent and communal enlightenment.”
- “Sheep reproduction is beautiful.” — Sunshine and Bunnies!
How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics by Calvert Watkins, a 1995 paperback from Oxford University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“In How to Kill a Dragon Calvert Watkins follows the continuum of poetic formulae in Indo-European languages, from Old Hittite to medieval Irish. He uses the comparative method to reconstruct traditional poetic formulae of considerable complexity that stretch as far back as the original common language. Thus, Watkins reveals the antiquity and tenacity of the Indo-European poetic tradition.
Watkins begins this study with an introduction to the field of comparative Indo-European poetics; he explores the Saussurian notions of synchrony and diachrony, and locates the various Indo-European traditions and ideologies of the spoken word. Further, his overview presents case studies on the forms of verbal art, with selected texts drawn from Indic, Iranian, Greek, Latin, Hittite, Armenian, Celtic, and Germanic languages.
In the remainder of the book, Watkins examines in detail the structure of the dragon/serpent-slaying myths, which recur in various guises throughout the Indo-European poetic tradition. He finds the ‘signature’ formula for the myth—the divine hero who slays the serpent or overcomes adversaries—occurs in the same linguistic form in a wide range of sources and over millennia, including Old and Middle Iranian holy books, Greek epic, Celtic and Germanic sagas, down to Armenian oral folk epic of the last century. Watkins argues that this formula is the vehicle for the central theme of a proto-text, and a central part of the symbolic culture of speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language: the relation of humans to their universe, the values and expectations of their society. Therefore, he further argues, poetry was a social necessity for Indo- European society, where the poet could confer on patrons what they and their culture valued above all else: ‘imperishable fame.'” — back cover