You probably saw the news reports, almost 3 weeks ago, about hurricane Matthew devastating the western peninsula of Haiti. You probably read that 60 to 80 percent of homes were destroyed in many towns and villages, and that, 3 days later, hundreds of thousands of people still had no food, water, or shelter. And several days after that, there was still no aid from NGOs or the government.
It's hard to comprehend this kind of devastation. What's it really like for the poorest people in the Western hemisphere to lose what little they have? Almost a week ago, the NYTimes posted the following story (which I just found yesterday) about the hardest hit place in Haiti, Lacadonie, a little community up in the mountains about half way between the north and south coasts, where all the houses, all the crops, and almost all of the few animals they had were blown away by category 4 winds or washed away by 4 feet of rain. Please read this article, and look at the photos. For those who've used up their 10 free NYT articles this month, and who can't clear their cookies, I've excerpted the gist below.
Haitians, battered by hurricane, huddle in caves: ‘This is the only shelter we have.’
(Posted at NYTimes.com on Oct. 17, 2016)
The village of Lacadonie embodies the very worst of what [hurricane Matthew] has left behind.
Officials in Beaumont say there are at least six caves they know of like this one [at Lacadonie], sheltering a total of 550 people living amid the moss-colored alps of the country’s southwest. It was not until leaders like Mr. Jean gradually made their way down to seek help that officials even realized the people were living in caves.
The mayor of Beaumont, Alexis Faveur, shook his head in disbelief as he described the damage left by the hurricane this month, and the deplorable circumstances it reduced them to.
He dispatches workers every few days to check on the villages, sending them on a climb of several hours, bearing bags of rice, beans, pasta and cooking oil. But there was no space for any more survivors in Beaumont; the shelters are already overcrowded.
“The only place they can seek shelter is the cave,” the mayor of Beaumont, Alexis Faveur, said, seated at a desk in his office, with blown-out windows and no electricity. “There are no more houses there.”
I was far down the list of 44 comments, when I came across this one:
Megan Polyte Vermont October 18, 2016
Thank you for covering this miraculous experience. My Haitian husband is in Lacadonie now. We have supported this community for a long time. If anyone wants to check in on family or friends in this region he will be there until Nov. 1. You can follow the work we are doing and learn more about this region here: https://www.youcaring.com/the-community-...
These are some of the most beautiful, determined, and caring people on the planet.
I took Megan's link, and discovered her crowd-funding page for the community of Lacadonie. Although she and her husband live in Vermont, he is Haitian, and he is there now, fixing their water supply, and buying supplies and food with the donations they are receiving, which Megan sends to her husband every few days.
Perhaps like me, you've often wanted to help in such situations, but wondered if your small donation would ever actually reach the people most in need. There have been stories recently about NGOs' waste and lack of coordination, stories about some Haitians asking us not to send donations to NGOs, and stories about the Haitian government's ineffectiveness and corruption.
Haiti's interim president has said all donations must go through the government and all donated food and supplies must go through customs, and then be distributed by the government. And, with an astounding lack of empathy, Haiti's interior minister, who is overseeing the recovery operation, has refused to distribute tents to the hundreds of thousands whose homes are destroyed:
The government, seizing the reins after the storm, has raised fears that its capacity may not match its ambition.
“We all want to strengthen the government, but the government is fragile,” said Enzo di Taranto, the director of the United Nations office for coordination of humanitarian affairs in Haiti.
“It’s a paradox,” he added. “You really want to reinforce national capacities, but in some cases it goes to the detriment of the victims.”
And sometimes, national priorities are guided more by emotion than reason.
Consider the interior minister’s refusal to distribute tents for hundreds of thousands of people without shelter. It is another scar from 2010, when Haiti became synonymous with tent cities, the images of which were beamed around the world to raise money.
“Maybe we will be a prosperous country one day, and we can use tents to send our children to summer camp,” said an emotional François Anick Joseph, the interior minister, who is overseeing the recovery operation. “But we will never be a nation of tent cities again.”
Right. I wonder if he knows that the school-year was supposed to start a week ago, but in the devastated western peninsula, every school that's still standing is now chock-full of people who have no other shelter or is overflowing with the victims of a still-growing cholera epidemic? One problem (among many) is, people who've lost everything don't have, and can't buy, whole sheets of plastic to wrap the dead in before burying them in the ground, so the corpses of those who died of cholera pollute rivers and streams used for drinking water.
But back to Megan's crowd-funding page: Megan's husband and the men of Lacadonie spent a week clearing trees and debris from the donkey-cart 'road' that takes several hours to walk down to the nearest small town, in hopes that some official aid would be able to reach them eventually. On Thursday, Oct. 20th, Pierrevy's cousin, who is a nurse, spent the day in Lacadonie with him, teaching the local people how to avoid Cholera, what the symptoms are, and what to do at the first sign of infection in the community.
Megan's husband, Pierrevy, bought a few rain parkas for Lacadonie's men so they could continue working on the road and begin repairing or rebuilding the houses when the drenching rains come every afternoon. Check out Megan's Photo Gallery -- good photos that will give you a better idea of what they're dealing with. There's a photo of some of the kids in front of what's left of the school that Megan and Pierrevy built for them several years ago -- now a broken-up slab of concrete. And photos of what used to be their homes. Pierrevy's photos are lighter than those at NYT - probably because he takes them in the mornings before the sky is covered with dark rainy-season clouds.
Pierrevy can only stay in Haiti until Nov. 1st. So if you want your donation to actually get to people who desperately need it, please give now at Megan and Pierrevy's crowd-funding page. Megan will be sending the last of the donations to Pierrevy in a couple of days, so time is of the essence!
Lacadonie's gardens are washed away, the fruit trees are stripped bare, the goats are dead, and the houses are destroyed. No, these people aren't death-camp-skeletal yet, thanks to Pierrevy and the 52 people who've donated so far, but how hungry would you and your kids have to be to eat a dead goat that had been rotting under the tropical sun for a week before your found it? At the very least, these people need food to make it through the winter, and corrugated tin sheeting for roofs. And since no government aid has made it there in 3 weeks, they'll probably have to BUY both. Three weeks ago the only 'money' they had was their now-dead goats, which they usually use to pay school tuition.
If you still have doubts or questions, google Megan's full name along with Vermont, and you'll find a lot of links to her everyday work. Or, since she posted her email address in one of her early Fundraiser Updates, email her your questions -- she's promised to answer them all. And read through Megan's Updates to see what's been done so far to help the people of Lacadonie survive and get back on their feet. If you'd like to help, but can't donate money right now, SHARE her crowd-funding page on Facebook. The page says every Facebook SHARE averages $37 in donations. Or copy this whole blog-post, and email it to your friends and your church, or post a link to it on twitter.
We may not be able to 'fix Haiti', but we can help a few hundred people who desperately need our help the most.
Addendum: Megan gave me permission to include her email address here:
mbro911(the at symbol)gmail.com
[The following text has been excerpted from a private communication between myself and a friend]
"It struck [Winston Smith] as curious that you could create dead men but not living ones. Comrade Ogilvy, who had never existed in the present, now existed in the past, and when once the act of forgery was forgotten, he would exist just as authentically, and upon the same evidence, as Charlemagne or Julius Caesar."
-George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
I’m not sure where to begin this Grail dialogue, but I hardly need point out that everyone who pursues this subject has their favorite answers and approaches to the material. I’m no different in that respect. However, I’m not aware that anyone else has applied mythicism to the problem or came to the same conclusions I have. What we inevitably find in Grail research is that people tend to adopt someone else’s solution or theory or argument. Due to this habit of laziness we see few original answers. And you should bear in mind, too, that I’m not trying to convince you of anything. Rather, I’m laying out my understanding of these things as I’ve come to know them.
In my previous message I mentioned several authors (Bart D. Ehrman, Richard Carrier, David Fitzgerald, and Randel Helms). Not one of them is a Grail researcher. They are all of them either historians or historical writers. And doubtless they would not endorse their work being used in this way or the unconventional conclusions I've arrived at.
So, moving on—
Lost Christianities, Ehrman’s survey of early Christian sects, was quite the treasure trove of information. But as I made my way through his book I began to notice a peculiarity developing: the closer we scrutinize the early Christian era, the more Gnostic groups populate the landscape. As we move forward from the first century to later years these Gnostics begin to dwindle, giving way to the literalist sects. That is, those who believed Jesus literally existed in the first century, underwent a passion, was crucified, and rose after three days. This struck me as astounding, because according to traditional history as received from on high, the Gnostics, we’re told, came later, they were an outgrowth of the literalist movements. Another oddity of Ehrman’s book was that he, the author, made no mention of this curiosity in his own text. It’s as though Erhman was unaware of it. So by book’s end it appears as though the opposite of received academic wisdom is the case. That the Gnostics were the first Christians, and literalism or historicism was the later development, in direct contradiction to Christian tradition and history as we understand it.
As you’re no doubt aware some Gnostic groups did not believe in a literal Christ. That is, a flesh and blood man who walked the dusty earth of first century Palestine. To some of them Christ was a mythical cosmic savior figure occupying a remote realm in the heavens. They further believed the world was created by a self-important Demiurge, and that there existed a supreme God the Demiurge was unaware of. This Demiurge, in their view, was the tyrannical Jewish god of the Old Testament. So in a very real sense some of these sects were in effect the first Jesus mythicists. When we view modern mythicism in this light we can see it’s not the innovation it’s accused of being, but rather a return to the original view of Christ. This view plays into my own notion of what Grail lore is trying to communicate to us.
As time goes on the Gnostics become fewer, the literalist sects more numerous, and eventually it was this strain of Christianity, literalism, that was adopted by the Roman empire. With the might and resources of an empire now readily at hand it’s easy to see how the Gnostics were deemed heretics and largely stamped out, and how we of today owe our view of Christianity to those early historicist forerunners whom Constantine held to his breast. But there is another curiosity to be answered here. For the sake of argument, if Jesus was a historical figure, how is it that some of these Gnostics came to believe otherwise so very soon on the heels of his alleged life, ministry, and crucifixion? I find this development an unlikely, mind-boggling conundrum, and yet there it is.
So it’s at this point I would normally copy and paste some of my Riddle of the Grail commentary. At the end of that piece I alluded to a second pivotal concept undergirding Grail lore. I mean, in addition to the Grail being a mirror intended to force us to recognize divinity in ourselves (see: The Riddle of the Grail). I further suggested this second idea was the reason the Albigensian Crusade was instigated and resulted in the destruction of this particular sect of southern France. So as we can see the Gnostics had not been wiped out altogether. But they had been dramatically reduced in numbers and kept for centuries a low profile up to this point. But they were still with us, clearly, nurturing the tiny flame of their secret traditions. As we’ve seen through this thumbnail sketch of mine, literalism had become the orthodox view, it loomed over all Christendom for centuries. Believing its tenets is what it meant to be a Christian. Which remains true today. Yet the earliest Gnostics, who believed in a mythical Christ, were still fully Christian. All without the necessity for a literal human sacrifice. And that, I've come to believe, is the second purpose of Grail myths. This is to say, the Grail is a clever Gnostic replacement for a literal Christ. Its popular stories are overlaid on traditional Christian narratives, in plain view--and under the very nose of--orthodox Christianity. Grail lore beckons a return to the mythic concept of the early Christian era. They attempt to tell us the literalist fictions of the canonical Gospels--including the existence of an earthly Jesus--are just that: fictions, allegories. All we need do, Grail traditions seem to say, is to recognize this for ourselves. Hence, "gnostic." One in possession of a saving knowledge.
So that’s the gist of it. I’m sure you’ll forgive me if parts of the above text are unclear or hazy. Before today I’ve never attempted to articulate some of these ideas. You are free, of course, to ask for clarification on any point you find nebulous. None of the preceding, by the way, should be taken as my personal beliefs. They’re not. I’m an atheist as you know. The Grail stories are for me mysteries to be solved, puzzles to be worked out as best as I’m able. And this fascinating subject, as one can deduce from above, has provided me over the years with a great deal of exciting thinking.
Observable Universe contains ten times more galaxies than previously thought
says in this place:
So for those who are informed, what does that do to dark matter? Do we sitll need it to balance the books ?
Gillilamd's talk in Australia earlier in the year.
James Gilliland and Enlightened Contact with Extraterrestrial Intelligences
The Trumpster as a Trickster
Donald Trump may be the first paranormal President of the United States. Here’s why: Trump has displayed characteristics simpatico with the “Trickster” and the paranormal.
People who are deeply involved in paranormal activities often display these character traits: The Trickster personality mixes into their daily routines, which means non-normal activities are engrained in their lives. They may hold down normal jobs, but their thinking is not at the center of society's thinking. It settles on the fringes of society where most people choose not to go in thoughts or behavior.
The 1999 thriller Eyes Wide Shut features a Trickster operating secretly in the underbelly of society, hidden from acceptable society. In the TV series, House MD, Dr. House gets away with being devious, obscene, liminal, undiplomatic, adolescent, obnoxious, uncontrollable, and erratic because the doctors and hospital administrators know House successfully uses unconventional thinking to solve medical problems. His behavior revolts them until they discover he has saved yet another patient. In the Showtime series Billions, hedge fund manager, Bobby Axelrod, is a Trickster character.
Trickster and paranormal personalities express an entertainment
value. As a jester or comedian, a Trickster can say things others dare not say, but secretly wish they could. Paranormal people also tend to be obsessed with the concept of conspiracy: Trump and his wall to protect the western world, for example. They think anyone who doesn't agree with their position is aligned with a plan to attack them. Sometimes they may be right: People can be out to get them because of their behavior.
Few of us openly speak our minds. Those wishing to behave in an acceptable manner may think a thought they don’t know how to verbalize politely or their etiquette and defense mechanisms prevents them from saying what's on their minds. Hence, their every thought is edited and evaluated for social acceptability or political correctness before it’s spoken.
In contrast to the norm, paranormal people speak openly and without inhibitions from their subconscious minds. We call them "loose cannons," realizing these types often get into trouble for inappropriate speech, similar to a child blurting out whatever comes to mind. Some of this uninhibited, unedited speech brands them as anti-social or societal rejects. Only a person with extreme charisma can get away with this type of loose communication, but not forever.
Just as psychics draw on their unconscious thoughts leading to their intuitions, Tricksters tend to speak out spontaneously. Despite spontaneity, a Trickster doesn’t solve problems through harmony; on the contrary, they prefer to stir things up.
Critics and admirers discover charismatic Trickster people to be moving targets that they can't predict.
Americans want a president who thinks outside the box. If Trump is elected, they may get that by voting in a president who thinks way out there, in the outer limits.
I had stopped watching this program, because they invariably gave pat answers for everything anomalous and often didn't even mention other explanations, e.g., for the polar ice on Mercury. However, I have noticed that the new season is being promoted with a not so subtle change in editorial direction. The trailers for new episodes end with the following statement:
"If we have eliminated all of the possible scientific answers, then maybe this is something else."
The graphics and overall presentation is also closer in style/genre to the UFO Files and other more open-minded documentaries. Maybe this is just a case of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Now that I've watched a couple of episodes of the new series, there does appear to be a less dogmatic tone. It seems that this change started in the previous season (#3), but I hadn't notice, because I'd written this series off. In Season 3, Episode 6 they even have Nick Pope as a talking heads for one of the segments. There have even been one or two instances where the conclusion was, "we still don't have an adequate explanation." Really?
I'd like to think this is progress, but still have reservations. It probably has more to do with marketing than an actual change in mentality at NASA or mainstream science in general.
An allegory of our current political fiasco complete with the animated corpses of walking-dead politicians, inane scripts mechanically acted, hokey ghouls and dubiously concocted special effects intended to frighten and constrict, and self-styled overlords as plausible as poseable action figures in the toy section.
If you follow business news at all, you will know that Bayer is buying out Monsanto. The deal is done, pending allowance by a whole pile of governments and their anti-trust agencies. I should have written Pending, with at least one capital letter.
Anyway, perhaps Bayer is paying too much, $66Billion for a company worth $48B.
California will legalize Marihuana for recreational use. Other states will follow, or have led this already. That, and the drugs to follow, will be produced agriculturally in the US (and Europe), in controlled ways. Like, in industrial agricultural ways. This will be a really big new market. Bayer can't ignore that, can they?
This is the opening to my new book, Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson.
Sixty years ago Wilson woke up to overnight fame with the publication of his first book, The Outsider, a study in creativity, alienation, and extreme mental states. At twenty-four, he was being hailed as a genius and celebrated as Britain's own "homegrown existentialist." Yet success is fickle and soon after his debut, Wilson fell from grace, the boy wonder quickly becoming persona non grata with the critics. He, and the other Angry Young Men - Britain's buttoned down Beat Generation - were summarily chastised or, in Wilson's case, ignored. Yet Wilson went on to write well over a hundred books in a career lasting more than half a century, titles like The Occult, The Mind Parasites, A Criminal History of Mankind, and From Atlantis to the Sphinx, to name only a few. After a long illness he died in 2013 at the age of eighty-two. The book begins with an account of my journey to meet Wilson, what I call a "Pilgrimage to Tetherdown."
A Pilgrimage to Tetherdown
In the summer of 1983 I found myself travelling to Cornwall, in the far west of England. For the past several years I had been reading the work of a writer whose ideas interested me deeply and I was on my way to meet him. His name was Colin Wilson.
Wilson had achieved overnight fame in 1956 at the age of twenty-four with his first book, The Outsider, a study in existentialism, alienation and “extreme mental states.” No one was more astonished than Wilson himself to discover that this work dealing with the angst and spiritual crises of figures like Nietzsche, Van Gogh, Dostoyevsky, T.E. Lawrence, H. G. Wells and others had become an instant bestseller. But surprisingly it had. Reviews were glowing and critics tripped over each other to hail England’s own “home-grown existentialist.” After years of struggle, sacrifice and hard work, Wilson had made it. The Outsider was “in.”
The glory, alas, was short lived. Fame, especially in England, is fickle, and after the initial praise – “A MAJOR WRITER, AND HE’S ONLY TWENTY-FOUR” the headline of one review ran – the press and serious critics soon turned on what they were now calling a “messiah of the milk bars.” The tag came from Wilson’s association with a group of writers the press had christened the “Angry Young Men” – roughly equivalent to America’s “Beat Generation” - people like John Osborne, Kingsley Amis, John Braine, and others. Although Wilson had very little in common with them, he was guilty by association, and when the critical tide turned against these angry men, he was caught up in it. In practically no time at all, Wilson went from being a boy genius to persona non grata, a status among the literary establishment that he laboured against for the rest of his career and was never quite able to throw off.
It was after this critical thrashing that Wilson left London and moved to a remote village in Cornwall. Here he hunkered down and over the years developed what he called a “new existentialism,” an “evolutionary,” optimistic philosophy which would eventually include areas of “the occult” and mysticism. He hoped this would counter the bleak dead end in which he believed the existentialism of Sartre, Camus and Heidegger had found itself, and in which most of modern culture had also become mired.
Wilson’s idea of an optimistic, evolutionary existentialism excited me. I had spent the past several years tracking his books down, reading everything by him that I could find. That was why I found myself at the tail end of a two month sojourn in Europe – much of it spent visiting “sacred sites” – making the journey down to Cornwall to meet him.
I had first came across Wilson’s work some years earlier, in 1975, when I was nineteen and living on New York’s Bowery, playing in the band Blondie. I had recently developed an interest in the occult. Punk was on the rise but remnants of the previous hippie generation could still be found and among the books I read at the time was Wilson’sThe Occult, which had been published in 1971 and which briefly re-established his reputation after the critical bashing following The Outsider.
What was exciting about The Occult was that Wilson approached the mystical, magical and paranormal from the perspective of existential philosophy. It was not a book of spells or accounts of haunted houses but an attempt to understand occult phenomena in terms of a philosophy of consciousness that Wilson had been developing for more than a decade and which I later understood was based on the work of the German philosopher Edmund Husserl, whose “phenomenology” became the basis for existentialism.
Explanations of phenomenology and its importance for Wilson and for human consciousness in general will be found in the pages that follow. Here I will say that the essence of Husserl’s philosophy, and the aspect of it that made the most impact on Wilson, was what he called “intentionality.” Simply put, this is the recognition that consciousness does not passively reflect the world as a mirror does, and which has been the standard idea of consciousness since the philosopher René Descartes established it in the seventeenth century. Instead it actively reaches out and grabs it – although we, for the most part, are unaware of this activity.
Consciousness, then, for Husserl, is not a mirror but a kind of hand. And while a mirror reflects what is in front of it whether it wants to or not – it has no choice in the matter – our hands, we know, can have a strong grasp or a weak one or, in fact, none at all.
It was something along these lines that Wilson tried to get across to me when I finally arrived at his home, called Tetherdown, near the small fishing village of Gorran Haven, on a scorching July day. I had called him from a phonebox in Penzance, where I was staying. He was friendly and immediately invited me to come and stay the night; he even offered to pick me up at the train station in St. Austell, the nearest one.
Two things stand out immediately from that first trip to Tetherdown. One was Wilson’s house, set back from the Cornish cliffs, where he had lived with his wife Joy since 1959. It was filled floor to ceiling with more books than I had seen before, outside of a public library or a well-stocked shop. Thousands of them crammed the bookshelves that lined practically every wall; the most recent estimate of the number of volumes in Wilson’s library was 30,000, not to mention the LPs, cassettes and later CDs and DVDS and other items that made up his research material.
My other strong memory is of a long, wine-fuelled evening during which Colin did his best to explain Husserl’s ideas about consciousness to me. The essence of it escaped me later but by the time I went to sleep that evening I was sure I had it in my grasp. We continued the conversation the next morning, before I headed back to London. I can remember Colin sitting with me, outside his kitchen, in the bright morning sun, telling me that if he made a certain mental effort, he could reproduce a mild version of the effects of mescaline, the drug that prompted Aldous Huxley’s influential book The Doors of Perception. I believed him and was determined, at some point, to be able to do this myself.
(Excerpted from Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson.)
I have been invited to 2 events. Donald Trump says he will fly me out to wherever his event is, as long as I donate.
And then Stevie Nicks has a commercial deal, I pay the ticket and that's it.
Donald or Stevie? Let me think :)