The Center Does Not Hold

Deja vu all over again

Things are feeling...strange. I've written about the strange resurgence of the Flat Earth Theory, a revival that seems more vigorous than anyone could have predicted. I heard someone theorize that movements like that were an outgrowth of reality television, a raging misnomer that has led everyone to question the reality of everything they see.

And since everything everyone sees now is on a screen of some sort it all feels fake, varying degrees of Honey Boo Boo Chile. Everything is a sideshow, everything is CGI.

A few years back we heard a lot about Transhumanism, which according to sites like H+ was a fait accompli. Now instead of robot bodies, Silicon Valley is talking about Timothy Leary's old life extension technology, promising that people will live to be 1000 years old. In fact the first generation of Millennarians are already being born.

This depresses the shit out of me. First of all, I don't believe it. I don't believe we're anywhere near dealing with the normal degradation of biologic systems that determine our mortality. Where are the experiments? Where are the real world examples? Right now, it seems like somewhat desperate wishful thinking on the part of fundamentalist materialists, not real science.

I've often said that Science will really impress me when they do something about the tragically short lifespans of dogs and cats. It seems to me that would be a great place to start with this immortality program. The fact that we're not seeing biotech doubling our beloved companions' lifespans is a pretty strong indicator they're nowhere near doing anything about our own.

It just feels like more empty Tomorrowland promises, meant to take our attention away from an increasingly turbulent geopolitical reality.

NO WORLD ORDER

One of the shortcomings of Conspiricianity, meaning the metastasis of conspiracy thinking into cosmology, is that it doesn't account for the reality of human error. I keep seeing conspiracy gurus who are invested in the selling of Globalist conspiracies insisting that the increasingly aggressive moves by Russia and China, both militarily and economically, are all part of the conspiracy, that they're just playing "bad cop." But I don't think I believe it.

I think the generation of decision makers nearing retirement age- meaning those in charge of the Globalist project in the West- have been outfoxed and were totally unprepared for China setting up its own World Bank, for instance. And since there are so many entry points left unattended because of the assumptions of Globalist idealism-- vulnerabilities that the Russians and Chinese are taking full advantage of-- there is considerable alarm and consternation within the halls of power.

I can't offer much in the way of concrete examples at the present, besides the almost daily incursions the Russian Air Force is making into NATO airspace, or various rumors at sites like ZeroHedge, it's more a instinctual perception.

But there is a definite possibility that Greece will exit the Euro and enter the BRIC orbit, a victory of almost incalculable symbolic importance. The cradle of Western civilization throwing in its lot with the new sheriffs? That far outweighs Greece's negligible economic power.

And the simple fact is that there hasn't been a genuine economic recovery for the overwhelming majority of Americans and to say the social fabric is starting to fray is being extremely polite. Of course, the Globalists don't want a social fabric, but what happens when it becomes a divided world again? Could the US mobilize a serious military force in the event of a major land war in Asia? I doubt it, but you can ask people more tuned into these kinds of things. I think they'd probably agree with me.

China can probably put a million men anywhere on the ground tomorrow in Asia- or more ominously- Europe, while the US Army is falling apart after a decade and a half of quixotic adventures. China and Russia are developing a generation of weapons that make the US Navy's ace in the hole- its aircraft carriers- obsolete.

Russia is sending a fearsome arsenal of anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, a system that negates almost everything in the sky but expensive stealth bombers. Most serious observers say a nuclear Iran is a done deal.

Bye bye, Pax Americana.

We're all used to the assumptions of Globalism, but there are those of us who remember a world before it. And I could be wrong but it seems to me like the BRICS countries are already planning for a world after it. It could be that had been their plan all along, and were simply waiting for a generation of "We Are the World" 60s idealists to leave the barn open wide enough to get what they needed done.

In that context, thinking it's all some grand theatrical performance is a lot more comforting than thinking  world war is around the corner, yet again.

The Flat Earth and Other Strange New Rebellions


You know, the long-held prejudice against science fiction among intellectual types is not wholly unjustified. This is especially true of the kind of science fiction written before the reformist movements of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as later forms such as Cyberpunk (I don't see SF as a viable literary form any longer; it's become a hobby circle medium, largely consumed by people who either produce it or would like to).

As much as I might have enjoyed some of the storylines and concepts of writers like Arthur C. Clarke, for example, he was incapable of writing recognizably human characters. This is not to single Clarke out, he was a veritable student of human nature compared to an Issac Asimov, say, or a Ben Bova.

Even a very good writer like William Gibson misunderstands the reactions people have to the ubiquity of technology, in that the more ever-present and invasive technology and science become, the more the majority of people resent it, not make a fetish of it.

People are addicted to their iPhones and other gadgets, but they are simple mediums- it's the content and not the technology itself that most people fixate on. In fact, studies have shown people are becoming increasingly technologically illiterate as our gadgets become more powerful.

One of the worries of the establishment media-- which is to say the government, since outlets like the major networks, the New York Times, National Geographic, and major magazines and newspapers are merely echo chambers for the government-- is the so-called "Anti-Science movement." This is a misnomer, since there are a number of different, sometimes mutually-hostile movements with often clashing interests put under this umbrella.

But what the government's mouthpieces and the people who fetishize totalizing government as a kind of substitute deity (such as the I Fucking Love Science crowd) are really worried about are people who don't unquestioningly accept the dictates of government and/or corporate science (there's hardly a hint of daylight between the two these days). This has become a pressing concern as the depth of corruption in corporate and academic science has gotten so overwhelming-- the peer review system is in danger of becoming a bad joke, for instance-- that the mainstream media can no longer ignore it.


In fact, many of these so-called "Anti-Science" people have done a lot more of the actual science attached to their pet causes than the I Fucking Love Science types, who in fact usually do nothing at all but post stupid "memes" on their Facebook. Many of them couldn't explain the scientific method to you if you held a gun to their heads.

Science has a become a substitute religion to these people, which is to say government science, which is just another way of saying they actually worship governmental power.  And a vindictive and totalizing power at that.

They may not readily admit to doing so, but will be forced to do if you walk them through the reality of their belief system. What real scientists will admit is that all science of any scale being done today is ultimately controlled by the government, specifically the Defense Department.

It's ironic, for instance, to see how apoplectic liberal scientists like Phil Plait get over Apollo skeptics, since it basically puts them in the position of defending the integrity of the Nixon Administration, SS officer Wernher Von Braun and his Paperclip Nazis and a gaggle of Scottish Rite Freemasons from south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Politics do indeed make for strange bedfellows.

But there's also the reality that the totalitarian control exercised over scientists today is much worse than anything scientists had to deal with from, say, the Medieval Church. In fact, the whole notion that the Church went around smashing science down where ever it found it is a myth.

On the contrary, the Church has long been a patron of science (particularly medical science) and the extreme cases such as Hypatia and Giordano Bruno had more to do with political issues than theological disputes. But try questioning the party line on global warming or any of the other new orthodoxies today and your career in science will be finished.

As political and corporate power exercise increasing control over science, they've branded all opposition to their hegemony as "anti-scientific." This has become one of the epithets you hear coming from progressives, who depressingly have become the absolute mirror image of the Religious Right of the 1980s and 1990s. Onetime independent sites like Disinfo and Salon have become hyperpartisan screech-engines, and are major mouthpieces for the "Anti-Science" propaganda campaign.

As the mask comes off and capital "S" Science reveals itself to be nothing but a submissive lapdog for the Globalists, I think we can expect strange rebellions from the totalizing status quo. Most of these may be marginal but you never know what's going to strike a nerve. I've spent the past couple of weeks trying to wrap my head around one of the strangest new rebellions, the surprisingly vigorous revival of the old Flat Earth Movement, an old fringe movement that's found an eager new audience.

As with most of these movements there's a range of beliefs, but this video is a good place to get the basic bullet points. Essentially, it goes like this:  the Earth is a disk covered by a dome and surrounded a wall of ice that keep the oceans in. The Moon and the Sun orbit the Earth and the planets are just wandering stars. The space program is a hoax and there are no satellites. The Apollo missions were faked because space travel is impossible. All the zero G footage we've seen was done in high altitude airplanes, the same ones astronauts were trained in.

Flat Earth theory tends to be surprisingly Gnostic, in that the planet is a prison and there's no escape. The high altitude nuclear tests that the US and USSR undertook in the late 1950s were an attempt to punch holes in the dome but were unsuccessful. The movement tends to be anti-UFO, which I find a bit peculiar, given that if someone built the Earth as a prison wouldn't they want to keep an eye on it?

Every movement needs a rock star and the Flat Earth movement has Matt Boylan, a Canadian photorealist painter who claimed to have worked for NASA and been initiated into the secret at a party. Boylan doesn't offer any evidence for this and his credibility is somewhat... hazy, given the fact that he pushes the theory in a stand-up comedy act, in which he rolls out the world's worst Denis Leary impersonation.

Boylan also pushes a bizarre Stephen Hawking conspiracy theory that offers up an extremely dodgy interview with an alleged Hawking employee as 'evidence'. I have to wonder how committed Boylan is to all of this since he doesn't exactly project sincerity.

He seems to be a very talented painter, though.

You know me, I love a wild theory. But the only thing I got out of the Flat Earth material was just further evidence that NASA is full of crap. It makes no sense to me that the other heavenly bodies are all spheres but the Earth is not. The entire model just didn't ring true, especially since I've actually, y'know, seen the curvature of the Earth for myself.

But I got some fuel for my own fires, namely my own nutty conjectures that if all this NASA stuff is faked, maybe it's because planets like Mars and Venus aren't what they say they are. But I'm the first to admit that's conjecture- I'm not making YouTubes about any of it.

Flat Earth theorists believe that the globe model is used to diminish the importance of the planet and of humanity but I didn't really find that argument compelling, the same way I don't find the materialist extremists' theories that human life is some cosmic accident and everything is meaningless compelling either.

Poking around I saw a few people protest that the entire movement is a psyop, meant to discredit "Truthers" in general and Apollo skeptics in particular. Boylan's Vaudeville act didn't exactly dissuade me from that argument (one video has him expounding his views while slurping on wedges of grapefruit like a pig, as if consciously trying to be as repulsive as possible) and it certainly wouldn't be out of character for the Cryptocrats.

But animals in captivity are known to display aberrant behavior and human beings are no different. I expect more of this kind of thing as our lives become more controlled and our horizons continue to shrink.

As to science, I'm old fashioned- I think it should be above politics. Scientists may come to rue the day they all threw in with the partisan agenda, no matter how emotionally satisfying it might be to use science as a cudgel against one's perceived enemies.


Materialism and the Human Habitrail



Some of you may be familiar with John Michael Greer's Archdruid Report.  I believe there's some crossover in readership though his audience is considerably larger than mine. Greer writes mainly about environmental issues and peak oil and for the past few years has become a bit of a Cassandra, predicting the collapse of modern civilization.

I read his work though I always don't agree with his philosophies. I think it's a bit ironic that he's become so apocalyptic in his thinking since he first appeared on my radar, when my publisher asked me to review his book Apocalypse Not, an entertaining look at failed apocalyptic prophecies. But a while back he said something in particular I did agree with.

He was talking about the current vogue for nihilism (aka Nu Atheism) and predicted that it would reach a certain degree of popularity but never become truly dominant. The reason for this was that people were going to have experiences that would challenge their materialist worldview, specifically paranormal experiences. It's been a while but if memory serves he cited the kind of encounter I wrote about back in 2010 after live-blogging (as it were) on Facebook.

I was thinking about this while walking the dog past the spot of the sighting this afternoon. There were people about and she did what she does anytime we encounter other people or dogs on our walks, namely bark her brains out at them. 

As I wrote, that was one of the aspects of that encounter that led me to believe it was something out of the ordinary, that my dog didn't go nuts when the figure came out of the woods as she normally would, but instead studied it intently as something entirely new to her world.

I was thinking about my paranormal experiences today and how odd and patternless they seemed, and how it took me a long time to recognize one of them as such (the one in question was my "swamp gas story" until I actually went and researched swamp gas). I thought about how few in number they are which corresponds with my personal belief that genuine paranormal experience is a rare thing, as Paracelsus reminded us almost 600 years ago.

But I began to wonder if the fact that we are living in captivity these days- in what I call the Human Habitrail- contributes to that as well. One of the ways urban sophisticates dismissed UFO sightings was the fact that they often occurred in rural settings, witnessed by people cityfolk don't usually consider fully human. The fact that people in rural settings have a better view of the sky doesn't seem to occur to the scoffers.

Nowadays you'd be hard pressed to find anyone willing to pull their eyes away from their cellphones long enough to look at the sky at all. People spend most of their time looking at one screen or another, why should they wonder if nothing unusual ever crosses their path? They wouldn't notice it even if it did.

I was thinking about this when listening to a recent interview with Mike Clelland. It occurred to me that his own paranormal experiences had a lot to do with being out in the wild, out in the Big Empty where the sky is your viewscreen. It seemed that experiencing the paranormal was like any other opportunity, showing up was half the battle. Or maybe shutting out the rest of the world allows you to tune into other, stranger channels.

But there's a deeper issue at work.

I was reading the various articles following the recent death of Lee Kuan Kew, the man who transformed Singapore from a colonial backwater into a futuristic citystate. The transformation was impressive and people there enjoy a very high standard of living. Materialistically.

I add that disclaimer because read that Singapore was voted one of the most unhappy places in the world and like many hyperurbanized societies it is also undergoing a demographic implosion, with birthrates running less than half replacement.

We're not far behind here. I am certain that America as it currently constituted will cease to exist within my lifetime, and some of the many faultlines are city vs. suburb and city vs. country. Schisms will continue to multiply, accelerated by the Internet. 

Many young people want to live in the city (as I did) but the major cities are becoming prohibitively expensive for all but the rich. We're also seeing people leaving coastal states for the interior and cost of living is a major factor.

I could see cities like New York becoming Singapore-like citystates with all that entails. But can the human spirit persist in the human Habitrails that our cities are becoming? Singapore is not an outlier, many urbanized countries are experiencing the same problems. Is China's increasing embrace of Christianity a rebellion against the dialectical materialism enshrined in its modern founding?

I read that Aum Shinrikyo has caused a backlash against religion in Japan but that country is facing an existential crisis like few others; the sale of adult diapers now outpaces that for infants. It's ironic that materialism- whose root word is mater, mother- is such a surefire road to a childless society.

California had its own formula for the future, a neo-Feudalism based on high tech and Big Agriculture. But now they've hit a bit of roadblock, namely the kind of catastrophic drought that the state had experienced before it was home for 40 million+ people. 

So what do they do if a rabbit doesn't appear in the hat and the state becomes uninhabitable for the next century or so? That's an issue that will effect everyone everywhere.

Our current materialistic worldview will last only as long as there's plenty of material for everyone. But once there is not, things will change quite rapidly. I can't begin to imagine what kinds of worldviews will emerge in a hungry future, but I do know what will happen to the gurus of materialism.

Maybe Greer is right.  Maybe we're stuck on a road that no one seems to know how to get off. Maybe we're headed for the breakdown lane. But one thing I do know is that materialism is not enough, it doesn't fill human needs, no matter how aggressive its propagandists may be these days. We've got plenty of data that proves that materialism doesn't bring happiness and the human Habitrail all too quickly becomes a catacomb.