Monday, April 14, 2008

Philip K. Dick: The Simulacra (part 1)

The Simulacra (link has spoilers) is a 1964 science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick. The novel portrays a future totalitarian society apparently dominated by a permanent matriarch, Nicole Thibodeaux. It revolves around the themes of reality and illusionary beliefs, as do many of Dick's works.

It's also so damn excellent I'll have to do at least two posts about it, cause I'm making way too much notes. I don't think quotations out of a book spoil the book, you'll have forgotten the quotes long by the time you read it after this post entices you to do so ;)

"When did the position of First Lady begin to assume stature greater than that of President? ... In the corner of his living room the television set said taaaaanggg, indicating that it was about to come on... A special, dealing with activities at the White House, he speculated. Another tour, perhaps, or a thorough scrutiny (in massively-detailed depth) about a new hobby or passion of Nicole's. Has she taken up collecting cone-china cups? If so, we will have to view each and every damn cup."

"...and he was left, as so often before, merely to guess at the reasoning of the Party bureaucracy. He could not genuinely fathom its motives, and in a sense for that he was glad. It proved that he was not spiritually a part of it."

In the book society is stratified into Ges (German geheimnisträger, "bearers of the secret" - the elite) and Bes (German befehalträger, "implementers of instruction" - professional and artisanal) classes:

"...Any failure would have betrayed to the Bes the secret, the Geheimnis, which distinguished the elite (the Ges), the establishment of the United States of Europe and America; their possession of the one or more secrets made them into Geheimnisträger, bearers of the secret, rather than Befehlträger, mere carry-outer of instructions."

"The Autobahn fatigued Chic Strikerock, with its centrally controlled cars and wheels spinning up invisible runnels in massed procession. In hi sown individual car he felt as if he were participating in ablack magic ritual - as if he and the other commuters had put their lives into the hands of a force better left undiscussed."

"Old-time civilization, Chic said to himself. The next layer down, just on the verge of being uncovered by the autoshovels operating in the airless, near-weightless void of mid-space, of the big-planet moons.
We're being robbed, he decided. The next layer down will be comic books, contraceptives, empty Coke bottles. But they - the authorities - won't tell us. Who wants to find out that the entire solar system has been exposed to Coca Cola over a period of two million years? It was, for him, impossible to imagine a civilization - of any kind of life form - that had not contrived Coke. Otherwise, how would it authentically be called a 'civilization'?"

"Something sizzled to the right of him. A commercial, made by Theodorus Nitz, the worst house of all, had attached itself to his car. 'Get off,' he warned it. But the commercial, well-adhered began to crawl, buffeted by the wind, towards the door and the entrance crack. It would soon have squeezed in and would be haranguing him in the cranky, garbagey fashion of the Nitz advertisements.
He could, as it came through the crack, kill it. It was alive, terribly mortal; the ad agencies, like nature, squandered hordes of them.
The commercial, fly-sized, began to buzz out its message as soon as it managed to force entry. 'Say! Haven't you sometimes said to yourself, I'll bet other people in restaurants can see me! And you're puzzled as to what to do about this serious, baffling problem of being conspicuous, especially-'
Chic crushed it with his foot."

"'I think,' Emil Stark said, 'that if the Third Reich is given the weapons it needs it will survive its victory by perhaps five years - and very possibly not even that long. It's doomed by its very nature; there's absolutely no mechanism in the Nazi Party by which a successor to der Führer can be produced. Germany will fragment, become a collection of small, nasty, quarrelling states as it was before Bismark. My government is convinced of this, Mrs Thibodeaux. Remember Hess's introduction of Hitler at one of the great Party rallies. "Hitler ist Deutschland." "Hitler is Germany." He was correct. Hence after Hitler what? The deluge. And Hitler knew it. As a matter of fact, there is some possibility that Hitler deliberately led his people to defeat. But that is a rather convoluted psychoanalytic theory. I personally find it too baroque for credence."

"A man, when he emigrated, could buy neighbours, buy the simulated presence of life, the sound an dmotion of human activity - or at least its mechanical near-substitute - to bolster his morale in the new environment of unfamiliar stimuli and perhaps, god forbid, no stimuli at all. And in addition to this primary psychological gain there was a practical secondary advantage as well. The famnexdo group of simulacra developed the parcel of land, tilled it and planted it, irrigated it, made it fertile, highly productive. And the yield went to the human settler because the famnexdo group, legally speaking, occupied the peripheral portions of his land.
The famnexdo were actually not next-door at all; they were part of their owner's entourage. Communication with them was in essence a circular dialogue with oneself; the famnexdo, if they were functioning properly, picked up the covert hopes and dreams of the settler and detailed them back in an articulated fashion. Therapeutically, this was helpful, although from a cultural standpoint, it was a trifle sterile."

"Tough, I mean, mind your own darn business. Who asked for your artificial contrived opinion?"

Elizabeth Kucinich on Alien Life


Elizabeth Kucinich on Alien Life

Dennis Kucinich' beautiful intelligent wife Elizabeth at the International Iraq Conference in Berlin, March 9, 2008.

Secret Sun: 2001 A Space Odyssey

Men called them the overlords.

Secret Sun has an amazing post about 2001: A Space Odyssey

Blew my mind! Be sure to check out the links in the post too.

I have to read Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End now.

Daily Dedroidify: Eckhart Tolle

Daily Dedroidify: Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher and writer, born in Germany and educated at the Universities of London and Cambridge. At the age of 29, a profound spiritual transformation virtually dissolved his old identity and radically changed the course of his life. The next few years were devoted to understanding, integrating and deepening that transformation and marked the beginning of an intense inward journey. Later, he began to work with individuals and small groups as a counselor and spiritual teacher.

He has written four books including the "The Power of Now", a #1 New York Times best-seller that has been translated into over 30 languages, and more recently (2005), "A New Earth" and currently travels and teaches throughout the world.

He is not aligned with any particular religion or tradition, but excludes none. His profound yet simple and practical teachings have helped thousands of people find inner peace and greater fulfillment in their lives. At the core of his teachings lies the transformation of individual and collective human consciousness - a global spiritual awakening.

1. You are not your thoughts. You are the awareness behind the thoughts. Thoughts are often negative and painful, yearning for or fearing something in the future, complaining about something in the present or fearing a matter from the past. However, the thoughts are not you; they are a construct of the ego. Awareness of your thoughts without being caught up in them is the first step to freedom.

2. Only the present moment exists. That is where life is (indeed it is the only place life can truly be found). Becoming aware of the 'now' has the added benefit that it will draw your attention away from your (negative) thoughts. Use mindfulness techniques to fully appreciate your surroundings and everything you are experiencing. Look and listen intently. Give full attention to the smallest details.

3. Accept the present moment. It is resistance to the present moment that creates most of the difficulties in your life. However, acceptance does not mean that you cannot take action to rectify the situation you are in. What is important is to drop resistance so that you let the moment be, and that any action arises from deeper awareness rather than from resistance. The vast majority of pain in a person's life comes from resistance to what is.

4. Observe The Painbody. Years of conditioned thought patterns, individually and collectively, have resulted in habitual emotional reactions with an apparent personality of their own. During 'painbody attacks' we become completely identified with this 'pain identity' and respond from its agenda - which is to create more pain for ourselves and others. Observing the painbody is awareness itself arising - as it allows humans to separate from this unconscious identification with pain. (Painbodies also attract other painbodies, as in misery seeks misery.)


Quotes

"Is suffering really necessary? Yes and no. If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you, no humility, no compassion."

"Enlightenment is a state of deep and complete acceptation of what is. Then we become what we really are, the spaciousness beyond form. The yes to the now is the doorway."

"Normal means mad, we are moving beyond normal. Please don't be normal. That's the worst thing!"

"The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some superhuman accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply your natural state of felt oneness with Being. It is a state of connectedness with something immeasurable and indestructible, something that, almost paradoxically, is essentially you and yet is much greater than you. It is finding your true nature beyond name and form."

Army Tests Yoga & Meditation for Post-Traumatic Stress

The military is scrambling for new ways to treat the brain injuries and post-traumatic stress of troops returning home from war.

And every kind of therapy -- no matter how far outside the accepted medical form -- is being considered. The Army just unveiled a $4 million program to investigate everything from "spiritual ministry, transcendental meditation, [and] yoga" to "bioenergies such as Qi gong, Reiki, [and] distant healing" to mend the psyches of wounded troops.

"Music, animal-facilitated therapy, art, dance/movement, massage therapy, EMDR [Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing] program evaluation, virtual reality, acupuncture, spiritual ministry, transcendental meditation, [and] yoga," might all be considered worth of the military's largess. So would "biologically-based treatments, botanicals, and nutritional supplements for enhancing cognitive function and mood in patients with trauma spectrum disorders, including TBI and/or PTSD, depression, anxiety, and/or substance dependence/abuse." Even proposals for wild-sounding "therapies using bioenergies such as Qi gong, Reiki, distant healing and acupuncture" would be accepted.

Four million for healing. Billions for killing.
Healing warriors are what this world needs!

Clintons Lie about Bosnia


Clintons Lie about Bosnia

"So I made a mistake, that happens, proves I'm human. Which, you know, for some people is a revelation." Hillary Clinton

Oh really? :p I'd say it's more like evidence, which isn't proof :p

Freedom Under Fire - 2nd Amendment in danger


Freedom Under Fire - 2nd Amendment in danger 1 & part 2

Lou Dobbs reports on the story of a National Guard Drill Instructor who was convicted of illegally transferring a machine gun, a felony, when his perfectly legal AR-15 misfired. He had loaned the rifle to a student and the gun misfired while the student was shooting it at the gun range...

The Lotus Sutra


The Lotus Sutra

This is featured on an audiobook by David Hawkins called "The Highest Level of Enlightenment". (I am quite skeptical about his kinesiological 'polling' though, more about this later). Supposedly listening to this or chanting along (good luck with this vid!) will elevate your consciousness, as anything positive will elevate your consciousness. I get a little high from it I must say, hehe. There are multiple tracks on the audiobooks with a guided piece to hum along with the easier parts and it's quite the fun meditation.

Secrets of the Kabbalah


Secrets of the Kabbalah (Decoding the Past): 1-6 & The rest

Once exclusively reserved for study by ultra-religious male scholars of Judaism, Kabbalah has recently become known as a multi-million dollar, celebrity-endorsed phenomenon. SECRETS OF KABBALAH strips away the hype and demystifies the writings that have been studied by Jewish scholars for thousands of years. Is the Kabbalah of the stars the same Kabbalah that Jewish scholars have studied for generations? Even as more and more people are seen wearing the red string bracelets associated with Kabbalah, the original teachings behind this seemingly new fad are in fact understood by precious few.

Ben Folds Five - Philosophy (live)


Ben Folds Five - Philosophy (live)