More Chronon Theory: Jacques Vallee's "Associative Universe"
Edgar Allen Poe and Richard Parker
A classic example to chew on: in 1838, Edgar Allen Poe wrote The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. Much like Terrence McKenna's "Timewave Zero" layout, Poe structured the book as a fractal mirror image of itself, where the events of Chapter 1 are reflected in Chapter 25, Chapter 2 is reflected in Chapter 24, and so forth until the two reflections meet in transition point of Chapter 13. The signifigance of that is up to you, but where things get interesting as always, is the details. In 1836, there was a shipwreck of the Francis Spaight in which the survivors were reduced to cannibalism. It's unknown wether or not news of this reached Poe, but his Narrative was the story of Richard Parker, a cabin-boy on his first voyage to sea. He survives a shipwreck with three other men, and after days without food, they randomly decide who will become breakfast, lunch and dinner. The unlucky human is none other than young Richard Parker.
In 1946, the second Francis Spaight was shipwrecked once again -- and one of the crewmembers killed was Richard Parker. That, however, is just curious coincidence -- in 1884, things get a lot heavier, if this account is to be believed:
Dinner on 25 July 1884 will always be remembered in our family because of the unusual main course, my grandfather's cousin, a 17 year-old cabin boy called Richard Parker. Our family roots are in Woolston on Southampton Water. And, like many of my family before and after him, Richard ran away to sea. He boarded the Mignonette, a ship built on the Thames for an Australian millionaire who wanted to explore the Great Barrier Reef. They were 1,600 miles from land when the South Atlantic hurricane broke. The Mignonette was hit by huge waves and sank. The crew had very little to eat or drink for 19 days and became desperate. Captain Dudley considered drawing lots to choose a victim to feed the remaining crew. Brooks was against any killing whatsoever, Stephens was indecisive so the Captain decided to kill the boy as he was near to death and had no dependants. The resulting court case fascinated Victorian society and became the best documented study of cannibalism in this country. Dudley, Stephens and Brooks were each sentenced to six months hard labour and later emigrated.
They're right -- it's exceptionally well documented, and "R. v. Dudley and Stephens" was a precedent-setting case. The wiki entry is especially funny, containing this immortal poetry:
While not common practice, it was understood amongst the naval community that in a situation where lives were to be sacrificed, the cabin boy should be the one chosen as they generally had no family or dependants. Prior to coming to trial, Dudley thought that this was part of the law and that he would not be charged with murder. Even Richard Parker's family testified that the defendants were probably justified in their actions.
There is no shortage of people who will explain this to you....no shortage of answers for sale. Although there have been curious breakthroughs -- especially Allan Greenfield's genius work decoding the Secret Cipher of the UFOnauts -- the best work on this subject remains those who had the honesty to shrug their shoulders and comtemplate multiple, often contradictory, possible explanations. I'm referring to Carl Jung -- whose term "synchronicity" is more accurate and meaningful than "coincidence" -- and Dennis & Terence McKenna, who offered some gems up in their classic Invisible Landscape:
The holographic capacity of the mind for ubiquitous storage of information can be seen most readily in the phenomenon of imagination. We can imagine all of the universe or any part of it and thus can say that the mind "contains" all of the physical world, that is, that the mind is a hologram of external reality. This concept has been anticipated by the alchemists in their notion of man as microcosm, and also in the symbol of the alchelmical monad... ...the complex symbol systems of alchemy are but one example of a property that seems to characterize mind in general: that is, its tendancy to construct symbolic totality metaphors. The constructs of the mind are, by and large, couched in symbols. Even "raw" sensory data is seldom experienced without symbolic interpretations, associations and judgements. This tendency of the mind symbolize, to organize experience into meaningful, coherent pattern is indicative of its ceaseless effort to somehow "encompass" reality, to construct a suitable model of the self and the world. This quality of mind is seen best of all in the dynamics of unconscious processes, in dreams, vision and trance...
On an individual level, what mechanisms could possibly explain synchronicities and High Weirdness? I find myself returning to the work of Stephen Lehar, who has written two truly excellent and mind-expanding papers I'd like to share with you:
Gestalt Isomorphism and the Primacy of Subjective Conscious Experience: A Gestalt Bubble Model -- the foundation of Lehar's theory and work. The title might sound intimidating but it's actually a very enjoyable paper, including one of the best summations of the past 2 centuries of brain/consciousness theories I've ever found, so it's worth reading for that alone. The "Gestalt Bubble Model" can be quickly summed up by the image above -- click here for a larger version -- basically, the world we percieve is literally contained inside our heads. But how? Here's Lehar's take:
Harmonic Resonance Theory: An Alternative to the "Neuron Doctrine" Paradigm of Neurocomputation to Address Gestalt properties of perception -- because the brain doesn't compute like mainstream neurology says it does.
This is a concept I brought up in a recent Hump Jones article, and although I got some snide responses, time has continued to prove me right. Consider some of the most recent news from the invaluably imperfect site PhysOrg: "Neurotransmitter current not flowing through ion channels" -- here's the relevant meat:
In studying how neurotransmitters travel between cells -- by analysis of events in the dimensions of nanometers -- Cornell researchers have discovered that an electrical current thought to be present during that process does not, in fact, exist. These results were reported July 22 in the online edition of the journal Nature Cell Biology by Cornell researchers Liang-Wei Gong and Manfred Lindau, applied and engineering physics, as well as their colleague Guillermo Alvarez de Toledo at the University of Seville, Spain. Prior experiments had suggested that the vesicles contain ion channels that carry charged neurotransmitters from the cell vesicle out of the cell, generating an electrical current flowing out of the cell. Lindau and colleagues report in their paper that there is no such current present. Their experiments further showed that, instead, the charge compensation is generated by the influx of positive sodium ions from the outside into the vesicles, a process known as electrodiffusion. "Therefore, the ion channels in these vesicles must play a different role that is yet to be discovered," Lindau explained.
With neurology in a pre-paradigm state -- meaning there's no unified, agreed-upon, experimentally-proven explanation for consciousness or even brain function -- we find ourselves unable to turn towards science for tidy answers. That's probably a good thing, because it allows us to turn to more chaotic channels for information, and because it forces us to synthesize, speculate, and create our own explanations and models. With that in mind, let's dive right into The Weird:
UFOs in the Age of Information
I want to give two quotes from an excellent document by Steve Mizrach, "UFOs in the age of information." It well worth the read, and you can check out the whole article here.
Since this article is not about UFOlogy, I won't be following most of the concepts that get evoked here -- if you're interested, though, Brainsturbator has covered this before: Jacques Vallee and Intelligent UFOlogy, A 1980 OMNI Magazine interview with Vallee, "The Case of Kirk Allen", and the Brainsturbator UFOlogy Library. ONWARDS...
Vallee suggests the UFO functions as a kind of "thermostat," a regulator which helps navigate our society back toward the subtle and the invisible, after it's become too focused on the gross and the visible. It functions as a kind of autoresponsive control system, utilizing feedback to challenge ossified paradigms, memetic structures, and belief systems. But the use of subtle control mechanisms cannot have been lost on the men of DARPA, who may be interested in the UFO technology for more overt kinds of psychological control.
To round out this concept, I feel obligated to link you to a dissenting opinion. I happen to disagree with it, and if you check out the comments, you will see me doing just that. However, they bring up very valid points, so check out the UFO Iconoclast(s) discussing "Jacques Vallee's Errancy." Meanwhile, let's get back to the real meat:
The Internet allows us to look at UFO reports across space and time, possibly even allowing us to discover a third kind of patterning - associational or informational linkages to particular keywords, kinds of places, or other "Name Games" which Fortean researchers often delight in. These "Name Games" have led some UFO researchers to consider ways in which the phenomenon may have links to another global cybernetic system - Lovelock's "Gaia," the biospheric meta-system which seems to maintain the Earth's climate within tight boundaries. The temporal patterns may link within certain other cyclical phenomena - human sociocultural cycles included. We can no longer overlook the way in which UFO and paranormal outbreaks seem to mirror upheavals in the social world. Reports seem to increase during periods of massive social change (as seems to be happening in Russia right now), which leads to the inevitable theory of "mass hysteria." But there is another perspective, one which might see these cycles becoming "phase-locked" through various external mechanisms... or driven through external "strange attractors."
Here's the article link again -- but that last sentence brings up an excellent point:
Let's Talk About Strange Attractors
Remember "entrainment"? Strange attractors are mathematical ways of describing how entrainment happens over time, so it's worth considering them here, even if it's just as visual stimulus:
Although composed of lines, orbits on this beast do not flow continuously, but hop from one location to another. When drawn, the attractor seems to materialize out of nothing. It is also chaotic. All seed values that converge to the attractor do so in a different manner. Distinct points that are initially separated by even the most minuscule gap will eventually diverge and evolve separately. The Henon attractor also shows a great deal of fine structure (an infinite amount to be exact). Successive magnifications show an ever increasing degree of detail. Any cross section through an arm of the Henon attractor is equivalent to a Cantor middle thirds set. What look like lines turn out to be sets of lines on closer inspection. When these lines are magnified they also turn out to be sets of lines. And so on. --from the Chaos Hypertextbook
Is it insane to propose that the most accurate name of God humans have found so far is "z -> z2 + c" -- the simple equation that creates the Mandelbrot set?
I suspect that anyone familiar with what the Mandelbrot set really is would tend to agree with me. It's more than a pretty poster, it's also the sum total of every possible curvature of 2-dimensional space. It's also an object of infinite depth that continues to yield new patterns no matter how deep you look, and it's very fruitful to contemplate the Mandelbrot set as a three dimensional object in space, like so:
When he starts busting out the big pretty pictures, you know Thirtyseven is in trouble. I have brought us to the very limit of What I'm Up To These Days, a sneak peek at a forthcoming series on the fractal nature of the universe we live in, as well as a theory of synchronicity involving the 1/f "flicker noise" that pervades all computing and measurement systems. Of course, I'm also working on a series about Chronobiology, and that needs to be finished first. Thanks to everyone who's been helping me along this path, I gotta say, I've never been more engaged and obsessed by Brainsturbator material before.
The Law of Attraction
So: a Universe that appears to compute information and respond to human language. A model that places consciousness at the center of "reality creation." A web of synchronicities that clearly defies all of our existing models of both space and time. This is all interesting, but perhaps it's also dangerous.
Reading all of this over, I had a truly horrible thought: all of the material I've assembled here could be considered "proof" of the Law of Attraction, as explained by the nauseating movie The Secret. Let me just say that in an infinitely strange, open-ended and inter-connected Universe, if you awaken to your unlimited power as a free-thinking human being and the best you can come up with is getting a nice car and a big house, maybe you haven't woken up yet. In fact, consider that maybe, you're even further down the hole than you were before. Joe Vitale is a very rich man, Oprah Winfrey is a very rich woman, and they're both very relieved that millions of people are spending their time on visualization exercises instead of putting in actual work towards a better future.
"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is upon mankind." --H.P. Lovecraft
Further Reading for Curious Primates
Check out "Author, Author" -- the Jeff Wells article that inspired all of this time research that Brainsturbator has been devoted to lately. (Jeff Wells also has a book coming out soon, which I am highly anticipating.)
This interview with Mac Tonnies is full of fascinating brainfood, and I also recommend checking out his site, Posthuman Blues.
For a monstrous overdose of Heavy Weird, check out Jack Sarfatti's utterly amazing exploration of these themes. (Worth the click for the lead photo alone.)
A reader cued me into his recent essay on 9-11 Precognitive Dreams and the highly amomalous readings at the Princeton "Random Number Generators" just prior to the events of 9-11: check out the very tasty "Dreamscapes and the Properties of Time" -- and thanks to Ryan for the heads-up.
For a controversial but fascinating alternative theory, check out Kevin Kelly's great introductory article, "God is the Machine" -- here's a sample taste:
The spooky nature of material things is not new. Once science examined matter below the level of fleeting quarks and muons, it knew the world was incorporeal. What could be less substantial than a realm built out of waves of quantum probabilities? And what could be weirder? Digital physics is both. It suggests that those strange and insubstantial quantum wavicles, along with everything else in the universe, are themselves made of nothing but 1s and 0s. The physical world itself is digital.
For more rigorous and detailed discussion of digital or "discrete" physics, check out Greg Chaitin, Ed Fredkin, Konrad Zuse, and of course Stephen Wolfram. (Thanks to prunesquallor and KinHR for connecting me to most of the names I just listed.)
And finally, the always-amazin' Iona Miller donated a gem to Pop Occulture, entitled "Soma Pinoline: Blinded By the Light". It might take a minute before the relevance is clear, but in the meantime, you're in for an enjoyable and fascinating read.
There's a lot more content going on in the forum, too, but clearly a lot of people have caught onto that already.