Saturday, March 22, 2014

Consciousness, Zombies & Quantum Entanglement

Find below an interesting conversation between Deepak Chopra and Stuart Hameroff, on the nature of consciousness. These two guys cover a lot of philosophic ground in the half hour interview. Topics covered in this video include an interesting exchange concerning the concept of reincarnation and it’s compatibility with modern scientific theory, especially within the study of quantum mechanics. This is a profound conversation on the nature of consciousness… and yes, they do touch on the consciousness of zombies during their conversation. Here is a short bio for each gentleman…

Stuart Hameroff (born July 16, 1947) is an anesthesiologist and professor at the University of Arizona known for his studies of consciousness. Hameroff received his BS degree from the University of Pittsburgh and his MD degree from Hahnemann University Hospital, where he studied before it became part of the Drexel University College of Medicine. He took an internship at the Tucson Medical Center in 1973. From 1975 onwards, he has spent the whole of his career at the University of Arizona, becoming professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Psychology and associate director for the Center for Consciousness Studies, both in 1999, and finally Emeritus professor for Anesthesiology and Psychology in 2003.

Deepak Chopra (/ˈdiːpɑːk ˈtʃoʊprə/; born October 22, 1947) is an Indian-American author, holistic health/New Age guru,[1][2] and alternative medicine practitioner. Chopra began a mainstream medical career in hospitals and universities in the Northeastern United States, becoming Chief of Staff at the New England Memorial Hospital (NEMH).[1] In 1985, Chopra met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who invited him to study Ayurveda. Chopra left his position at the NEMH and became the founding president of the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine, and was later named medical director of the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center.

In 1996, Chopra and neurologist David Simon founded the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, advertising it as having a "holistic view of life."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Psychedelic Future: at the Crossroads of Silicon Valley & LSD-25.

Sourced from bOING-bOING: Above, video evidence of my short presentation "Just Say Know: A Cyberdelic History of the Future" at the recent Lift Conference 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. Albert Hoffman first synthesized LSD in 1938 in Switzerland so this felt like the right set and setting to share stories about the intersection of psychedelic culture and computer technology from the 1960s to the present and beyond!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Voodoo in the Digital Realm

"Voodoo isn't like that," Beauvoir said. "It isn't concerned with notions of salvation and transcendence. What it's about is getting things done. You follow me? In our system, there are many gods, spirits. Part of one big family, with all the virtues, all the vices... Voodoo says there's God, sure, Gran Met, but he's big, too big, and too far away to worry himself if your ass is poor, or you can't get laid... Voodoo's like the street. Some duster chops out your sister, so you don't camp out on the Yakuza's doorstep, do you? No way. You go to somebody who can get the thing done. Right?”

- from Count Zero by William Gibson

Everything I know about voodoo, I learned from Ishmael Reed’s brilliant novel, “Mumbo Jumbo.” Mumbo Jumbo is nothing less than a satiric, sardonic, conspiracy infused deconstruction of Western civilization. The novel chronicles the struggle between the insidious viral meme: “Jes Grew” and the Wallflower Order (read: illuminati). Jes Grew is evidenced by the outbreak of ragtime, jazz and blues on the streets of America. Jes Grew is a psychic epidemic… it is the archetypical spirit of Mother Africa overtaking and infecting American culture during the roaring 20's.

Jes Grew is a mind virus, which enlivens its victims into dancing, swinging, singing and talking crazy. The Wallflower Order is opposed to dancing and is desperately struggling to stamp out Jes Grew before it undermines the planned New World Order completely. Following the plot’s line of logic to today, Jes Grew has virally expanded to include rock n roll, reggae (of course), punk, hip hop & rap.

Everything I know about cyberspace, I learned from William Gibson’s “Sprawl Trilogy” and “Bridge Trilogy” …especially book two of the Bridge Trilogy, “Idoru.” Although book one of the Sprawl trilogy, Neuromancer… is the definitive go-to source for all things cyberspace, Idoru aggregated cyberspace, the music industry and artificial intelligence as pop-media personality. This imaginative blend of social modalities sums up our emerging zeitgeist.

These two trilogies also predict a future analogous to the technological singularity that haunts our near-future. With that said, book two of the sprawl trilogy, Count Zero, incorporated a very intriguing plot-line. From the plot intro @ Wikipedia:

Seven years after the events of Neuromancer, strange things begin to happen in the Matrix, leading to the proliferation of what appear to be voodoo gods (hinted to be the fractured remains of the joined AIs that were Neuromancer and Wintermute). These AI units now interface with humanity in the form of different Haitian voodoo gods, as they have found these images to be the best representations of themselves through which they can communicate with people. Hackers worldwide are becoming aware that there is something weird loose in the cyberspace matrix, but most are understandably reluctant to talk about (or deal with), "voodoo spooks" supposedly haunting cyberspace.

Loas in Cyberspace!
"Papa Legba"
Strangely enough, the idea of one or multiple Loa inhabiting cyberspace works, as a metaphor. The Loa are the spirits of Haitian Vodou. They are also referred to as Mystères and the Invisibles. Unlike saints or angels however, Loas are not simply prayed to… they are served. This makes the relationship between human and Loa, a personal one. Practitioners of voodoo do more than venerate their Loas, they “feed” them. For this service, they expect results from their Loa, in return. Loa, with their individual strengths and foibles, must deliver, if they are to remain relevant.

In Count Zero, the Loa known as “Papa Legba” stands at the gateway to cyberspace as the "master of roads and pathways." Papa Legba is analogous to Saint Peter, from the Christian tradition, standing guard before the pearly gates, allowing or denying access. In considering this metaphor, other Loa may fill other, more specific functions.

“In Voodoo and Haitian Vodou we have a deity for technology and communication known as Simbi. This spirit is the snake, lightning fast, and ever purposeful. Simbi gets us where we are going and while the path we led in 2013 may have been twisted at times, we know we are headed in the right direction.”

Many of us have prayed to the “computer gods” for an inspired intervention, when dealing with computer glitches. Many have been frustratingly amazed at the impish, “trickster-like” behavior of our computing devices when they suddenly freeze or when our data mysteriously vanishes. Yes… many of us have been introduced to the Loa of the digital realm. There is no doubt that the world-wide-web is a mysterious and wondrous place. As Shakespeare’s Hamlet professed… “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

"Baron Samedi" from
Shadowrun Returns
Knowledge Is Power… perhaps, when navigating the digital realm we can assume a more pragmatic approach to the Mystères and the Invisibles that occupy cyberspace. Perhaps we can take a page from the voodoo playbook, when dealing with technology. If we “feed” our technology Loas properly… input the correct code… perhaps we can expect better outcomes… beneficial results.

In the next installment of our Voodoo series, we will take a more in depth look at the similarities between the Haitian and Louisiana Voodoo pantheon, and their associated cosmology and world view, with that of the archaic Gnostic perspective, and by extension, the tek-gnostic perspective. Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Voodoo at Mardi Gras! - Wild Tchoupitoulas gotta carry on!

The tradition of the Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans is older than the city itself. Tribal origins date back to the 1700′s, but like much of the city’s history, these origins are shrouded in mystery and secrecy. Guardians of the Flame, the Black Seminoles, Creole Hunters, Wild Tchoupitoulas, Golden Eagles, Wild Magnolia, the Flaming Arrows… are but a few of the names that have survived to modern times. There are over 50 tribes in the city according to some. This is history, culture, pride and evolution in graceful action.

"My spy-boy say your spy-boy"
Mardi Gras Indian history is an interesting gumbo of influences just like the city itself. There is evidence of the Native people of New Orleans, tribes like the Choctaw, the Seminoles, and the Chickasaws helping to free people of color from slavery. These practices led to the infamous “Natchez Revolt” where Native people and slaves alike attempted to protect and defend native land from French intrusion.

 Unfortunately, they were betrayed, and a bloody massacre ensued with some of the slaves beheaded, and their heads placed on pikes on the levee as a scare tactic. However, the secret alliances born in the wake of these horrors did not die. Native people continued to help slaves escape to the maroon camps in the swamps. According to author Willie W. Clark Jr., “in 1746 archives begin to refer to slaves dressing as Indians, as the African-Americans began to celebrate Mardi Gras in their unique customary fashion. These were in all likelihood, the first known “Black Indians.” So it begins...

The classic Voodoo and Mardi Gras intersections appears to have occurred in 1884 when the gatherings in Congo Square were forcibly ended and then reemerged as processions. In the classic West African Voodoo model, these societies, called gangs, were structured with territories, shy boys, flag boys, chiefs and wild men. The earliest such known appearances were the Creole Wild West who assumed the guise of Native American Plaines Indians.

According to sources such as Jelly Roll Morton, who at one time was a spy boy and an intimate of Voodoo, the nonsensical syllables are fundamentals in the indigenous music of New Orleans and the development of jazz. During a Voodoo ceremony, the primary object is for the participants to become possessed by the spirits by means of the music and dancing. Upon being possessed, evidence of this effect is given by the demonstration of the person’s speaking in nonsensical syllables, (like speaking in tongues), or the undecipherable “language” of the Voodoo spirits.

When the dispersed Congo Square groups reappeared on Mardi Gras as gangs, in the guise of Plaines Indians, they danced and chanted in various choruses of nonsensical syllables. Many of these chants have now become recorded musical ventures. Songs like the well known, “Iko-Iko” are constructed mainly of un-interpretable nonsensical syllables. Some will claim they are long forgotten Indian chants, some that they severely corrupted Creole French patois and some confess the words come to them in dreams.

 “Hey Now! (hey now) Hey Now! (hey now) Iko-Iko all day… if you don’t like what the Big Chief say, sing… Jac-o-mo fina na!” …as the song goes.

A far more direct Voodoo/ Mardi Gras link occurs in the activities and processions of the Skull and Bone gangs on Mardi Gras day. Because this group is not as colorful, has not commercialized and maintains a serious purpose, it is neither as popular or well known. This group gathers before dawn on Mardi Gras day in Congo Square to call on the African and Voodoo spirits to deputize them for their tasks ahead. Dressed in black sweat suits painted with skeleton bones and wearing large home-made paper mache skull heads, they filter off into the lower 6th and 7th wards just beyond the French Quarter.  Their mission, besides the celebration of Mardi Gras, is to seek out small children and warn them to live their lives righteously, least the skull and bone spirits come to them too soon. This group has strongly African spiritual ties and motives.

When two tribes meet, there are elaborate movements, dances, rituals and customs that happen, it is a sight to behold. The Wildman’s job is to clear the way, so the meeting can begin. Spyboy meets spyboy, and so on until the Big Chiefs come together. They chant, sing, greet, and posture with each other, in an elaborate ceremony that has evolved over centuries. What in archaic times was a dangerous confrontation, is now a display of respect and honor.

In spite of the mindset that Voodoo is a stationary ritual exercise, it is just as importantly, and literally, a procession, (called egungun), in which the same intentions and displays exist. Voodoo in New Orleans has both conceived and fused with the city’s musical and festival cultures. To find a real Voodoo ceremony today, one need not know where to look for it, but how to look for it.

- Sourced from the Voodoo Museum & the articles of Lilith Dorsey.