What is the meaning of life? For some it's 42, for others it can be found in religion or science. For a few of us, the meaning of life is simply the wonder of not knowing. Anthropologist Margaret Mead described a unique perspective that came to her in a dream (Amazon):
Last night I had the strangest dream. I was in a laboratory with Dr. Boas and he was talking to me and a group of other people about religion, insisting that life must have a meaning, that man couldn’t live without that. Then he made a mass of jelly-like stuff of the most beautiful blue I had ever seen — and he seemed to be asking us all what to do with it. I remember thinking it was very beautiful but wondering helplessly what it was for. People came and went making absurd suggestions. Somehow Dr. Boas tried to carry them out — but always the people went away angry, or disappointed — and finally after we’d been up all night they had all disappeared and there were just the two of us. He looked at me and said, appealingly “Touch it.” I took some of the astonishingly blue beauty in my hand, and felt with a great thrill that it was living matter. I said “Why it’s life — and that’s enough” — and he looked so pleased that I had found the answer — and said yes “It’s life and that is wonder enough.”
Read more at Brain Pickings.
Unless you've just been recently resurrected by the Genesis device, you're probably aware that Leonard Nimoy, the 83-year-old actor who attained universal celebrity for his interpretation of Mr. Spock in the Star Trek franchise, passed away this morning.
The Internet has been awash with expressions of condolences and celebrations of Mr. Nimoy's life and cultural impact. All the newspapers and media outlets have already released their obituary notes, including this one in The New York Times. When I read the NYT obit though, I was immediately annoyed by how among all the mentions of Mr. Nimoy's achievements during his long career, it unforgivably omitted the one role which we Forteans will probably remember him the most for: his hosting in the iconical TV series "In Search Of", after he replaced Rod Serling.*
It's hard to tell how many people were introduced to the mysteries of Atlantis, UFOs, Bigfoot and many other enigmas, thanks to the appeal of Mr. Nimoy's commanding voice, but I'm sure there's quite a few members of The Daily Grail who wouldn't be reading these lines, if it weren't for the fact that they watched the show when they were kids, and became hooked for life.
So, I thought that a fitting Fortean tribute to Mr. Nimoy would be asking you, the Grail community, to leave a comment in which you could mention your favorite "In Search Of" episodes.
Go boldly to the final frontier, Mr. Spock. We have been and shall always be grateful to you.
(*)Apparently I wasn't the only one who complained, because the obit corrected the omission.
"The poetry of earth is never dead."
- The origin of matter?
- Life on Europa? Fade in the T. Dolby.
- Future-predicting neurons.
- The drought-flood link.
- Black hole sun, redefined.
- The physics of the Rashomon Effect.
- Ceres’ bright spot isn’t alone.
- Psychedelics for your psyche.
- Enter the Overlook maze.
- A time when hippos ruled the earth.
- How stories go viral.
- Sonic: The lost level.
- LHC goes Lego.
- This week’s evidence of the looming robot uprising… White collar ‘bots.
Quote of the Day:
“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.”
- First human head transplant could happen in 2 years. Hey, now that a Mexican won the Oscar for best movie, anything's possible!
- The 12 greatest threats to human civilization, ranked. Sorry Donald, Mexicans were not included.
- But according to Irish priest Roland Colhoun, the biggest threat of all is… Yoga.
- Plastic Beach: Great for music, but nasty for coral reefs.
- Dickheads rejoice! Here are 600 book covers of your favorite gnostic writer.
- Philip K. Dick's advice on how to spot 'pseudo-realities'.
- Is a manned mission to Mars the biggest snake oil in the solar system?
- Why the afterlife is beyond Science.
- Dem Feels: Science struggle to understand emotions.
- Conservative MP sez Astrology could have a role to play in British healthcare. I'm no astrologer, but I foresee dark days ahead for this bloke…
- Measles virus circulating in Canada is a variant never before seen.
- Sorry eh, but there was *no* UFO crash in Manitoba, Canada. Chris Rutkowski chimes in on the hoax (Part 1) (Part 2)
- We interrupt this program to broadcast a purple UFO flying over Lima, Peru!
- Here's another excerpt from Mike Clelland's upcoming book about owls and UFO abductions.
- Psycho-mage Alejandro Jodorowsky gives a Tarot reading to Drive director Winding Refn.
- Red Pill of the Day: Mary Poppins is f#$%ing Metal!
Thanks to Alejandro, for forcing the Gringos to start using the letter "Ñ".
Quote of the Day:
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the truth of imagination."
One of the things I love the most about the Fortean world, is how these mysteries can do more than just make one scratch his head in confusion; sometimes they can also inspire artists to create amazing content, which consequently influences the cultural perception of said mysteries in a very peculiar 'cross-polination' process --for more about that, read Mutants & Mystics by Jeffrey Kripal. In fact, I am of the opinion that a person with an artistic sensibility is more suited to grasp the nature of the phenomena, than a lab coat-wearing scientist rigidly adhering to 'rationalism' and the scientific method.
Among those artists who took Forteana as his bug-eyed muse is Jack Cusumano. Jack is an animator living in L.A. and has worked in TV shows like Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja and Rick & Morty; he also collaborated in Dumm Comics --a website I've been a fan of since 2008. Jack had had a keen interest in weird stuff and the supernatural at an early age, but later went through a 'skeptical' phase in which he was convinced all paranormal phenomena could be 'explained' by Science through conventional interpretations, thus becoming disinterested in them; It was around 2012 when one of his co-workers suggested to him Mysterious Universe --the podcast produced by our friends Ben & Aaron-- and listening to it not only allowed him to reconnect with the things which both fascinated and terrified him in his childhood, but also forced him to entertain the possibility that there might be something in these mysteries which may elude a simple, mundane explanation.
Above all, Jack manages to see the amusing side of the Fortean world, something that has helped him create the wonderful moving images showcased in his Tumblr page High Strange Gifs; all the gif images are inspired by actual reports and posts Jacks find online in websites like MU, Open Minds, Epoch Times and other Fortean outlets. Below are more samples of his delightfully quirky artwork:
Bigfoot Stalking Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
(via Above Top Secret Forums)
Flaming V-Shaped UFO in Brazil, Horse-Shaped One in Mexico
(via Mysterious Universe)
Metallic Orb Could Have Been Sent By Aliens, Scientist Suggests
(via Open Minds)
Here's also a quick animated his wife Teri --who is also an artist interested in the paranormal-- created and Jack assisted with, based on a concept of hers involving my favorite Schrödinger
As a life-time fan of animation, I for one would have loved to watch a Saturday morning cartoon full of cute, Fortean creatures when I was growing up. Here's hoping one day Jack and Teri will create that show for your children.
I prefer a good conspiracy theory over bad science (and bad science journalism) every time!
- Trolling conspiracy theorists, for science.
- Experts using fake monsters to test how people report encounters with mythical creatures.
- Working class monster: how folklore became a class signifier.
- Ancient shrines used for divination found in Armenia.
- Manannán Mac Lir: Games of Thrones sculptor's statue found.
- Early humans made animated art.
- Fairy castles in the sky.
- Climbers mystified by 'bloodcurdling screaming'.
- Is this why quantum computers don't work?
- Using sound shifts to trace language evolution.
- Four new giant Siberian craters found after a flash of light.
- Wise up. Artificial intelligence could kill us because we're stupid, not because it's evil, says expert.
- Voices of the dead: the strange origins of eye idols.
- Cathedral grave may have belonged to a medieval knight.
- How extreme isolation warps the mind.
- Precognition: the shape of things to come?
Quote of the Day:
Where's your will to be weird?
Anthropologist Fabian Graham recently asked an interesting question on the Paranthropology Facebook group: Is it possible to draw lines between religious, paranormal and psychological/physiological experiences - and if so, where?
"For example", says Fabian, "trance possession may be religious in one context but paranormal or psychological/physiological in another, the key difference being socially sanctioned norms". As an illustration, he pointed out the Hindu festival of Thaipusam, during which devotees undertake a 5km long pilgrimage carrying various types of kavadi (burdens), ranging from a pot of milk to mortification of the flesh through piercing (not to mention walking on barefoot the entire distance on burning-hot tarmac):
Taking Thaipusam in Penang last week as a case in point, if the folk in the photos are possessed by the God of War Murugan and hence feel no pain, most might argue that this is a religious phenomena. However, for this to occur, a deity would have to acquire spiritual energy and manifest this from deity realms into the realms of human reality - which, quite frankly, sounds as much a religious as a paranormal phenomena. If on the other hand the folk in the photos are not possessed by Murugan and feel no pain, in layman's terms, they would have to un-link their consciousness from the pain receptors in their nervous system - also an event existing outside the so-called 'normal' realms of experience. So religious, paranormal or psychological/physiological experiences/ phenomena?
For those interested in learning more about Fabian Graham's work, note that he contributed an article to the mediumship anthology released by Daily Grail Publishing last year, Talking With the Spirits (Amazon US and UK), titled "Vessels for the Gods: Tang-ki Spirit Mediumship in Singapore and Taiwan". Not to mention that the amazing image on the book's cover is one of his photos as well!
Images in the post by Fabian Graham.
- Chilling interrogation tapes from Slenderman stabbing case released.
- Lizard people: the greatest political conspiracy ever created.
- C.T. scan of statue of Buddha shows it has the body of a 12th century Chinese monk sealed inside.
- Bulgarian bones could be those of John the Baptist, claim scientists.
- Drones and satellites spot lost civilizations in unlikely places.
- Aliens or Atlantis? Who made Costa Rica's stone spheres? (video)
- Mayan mural reveals ancient photobomb.
- Mohenjo-Daro: An ancient nuclear mystery.
- John Dee was the 16th century's real-life Gandalf.
- Here's what happened when a 63-year-old man took shrooms...for science!
- Man gets mugged, man becomes mathematical genius.
- Mice get freakishly large brains thanks to human DNA. No mouse mugging involved.
- The quantum mechanics of fate.
- Could dark matter cause some mass extinctions and geologic upheavals?
- UFO pictured in the skies above Cornwall leaves experts baffled. Define 'experts'...
- 'Firefly' starship to blaze a trail to Alpha Centauri?
- Winds blasted out by giant black holes are strong enough to stunt the birth of new stars.
- Joe Rogan discusses invisible aliens, string theory and collective DMT dreams.
- Video of the Day: Meet Tomatan, a wearable robot that feeds you tomatoes as you run. Asimov's up in heaven wondering where it all went horribly wrong.
Quote of the Day:
Sadly, modern society has lost touch with the power of myth. We now use the word as a synonym for falsehood rather than as an expression of eternal truth.
Clyde W. Ford
When I recently posted news about a mummified monk, a reader sent me a link on Twitter pointing out another fascinating, related news story. In this case, a CT scan of a statue of Buddha which showed the remains of a 12th century Chinese monk were sealed within it:
In Amersfoort's main hospital, Meander Medical Centre, the nearly thousand year old mummy has been recently examined with a CT scan and an endoscope. Several hospital employees helped with this unique project in their free time. A gastrointestinal and liver doctor took samples of yet unidentified material and examined the thoracic and abdominal cavities.
The hospital: "He made a spectacular discovery: at the place where once had been organs, he found, among all kinds of rotten material, paper scraps that were printed with ancient Chinese characters."
Click on through for the full story, including a wonderful image that makes it look like the Buddha is giving birth...
(hat tip: @gaborcsigas)