Wednesday, January 29, 2020

All hail Betty!

At the moment I find it difficult to write, while the world is frozen behind evolving facades.  I hate when that happens.  My colleague, Doug (http://laskenlog.blogspot.com/) says he will respond with poetry for the duration.  For my part, I just want to sit on a rock and spit once in a while, like my friend Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster.  The situation has been developing for several years.  Below is the reprised story of my experiences during the first aggressive attacks on language and thought, when, while attempting to save Robert, I met Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess, and its companion piece, The Babel of Trump Tower.  It's perhaps worth revisiting the lessons learned.  Keep reading this blog to reunite with Betty, Jesus, Robert and others.  Best, Harry


All hail Betty!

I saw a terrible thing.  It had been a few weeks since I'd heard anything from my fellow exile in the desert, Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster, so yesterday I walked into the scrub to find him.  I headed north from Pearblossom over pebbly dirt sealed with damp from the previous day's rain, towards an area where I knew gilas assemble. Usually there's a dozen or so communing, but coming over a low ridge I saw hundreds of gilas crawling in seeming random circles and tangents, looking past each other and, most alarming, not sending any telepathic signals.  The whole species is telepathic, not just a few scattered outliers as with humans, so they have evolved ways to deal with it. But as I delved into their minds, I found just one thought: We are lost! Help!  What happened to us? 

I tried to recognize Robert visually in the dazed throng, but what gilas have in the way of facial expression was masked by a rictus of anxiety, and I could not recognize Robert, or contact his mind.

Then a strange thing happened.  A subtle feeling made me glance to my left where I locked eyes with a coyote, who was sitting calmly about five feet away.

A telepathic struggle followed, though "struggle" might be the wrong word. It's more like the coyote and I penetrated each other's psyches in an uninhibited way, the struggle being to stay sane during the process.  

After this intense introduction, the coyote started up a telepathic conversation.

Good afternoon, Harry.  My name is Betty.  I'm the Coyote Creator Goddess, sometimes called "The Trickster."

How do you know my name?

Word gets around when a human breaks into the natural sphere, as the coyotes call it.

The "natural sphere"?

Yes, the coyote phrase comes from your usage, where "natural" means "not created or affected by humans."

You're saying I'm outside my own, human world right now?

Aren't you?

I guess.  Betty, it's nice to meet you.  What's going on with the gila monsters?

Betty looked down for a moment.

Your poor friend Robert....

You know Robert?

Yes.  We hit it off right away.  Robert is the only gila who will commune with me, though all gilas are telepathic.  I do understand their diffidence; normally I eat them.  

Robert is the only gila to talk to me, too!   Are coyotes like that?  Do they limit their mind-sharing to other coyotes? Are you the oddball who steps outside?

Well, as noted, I'm a deity.  

I nodded as if I understood this or anything else I was hearing.  Betty continued.

Robert tells me about his adventures with you, and the things you've shared...quite amazing!  In particular, I'm impressed and alarmed by your report on the human world entitled, The Babel of Trump Tower[keep reading] where you and Robert surmise that President Trump's impact on your species- the shattering of accepted language norms so that no one can communicate- was foreseen in your book of early human myths, Genesis, in the story of The Tower of Babel.

Yes, I replied, in my last conversation with Robert, he told me that alienation resulting from the falling of the human tower had spread beyond humans, so that gila monsters, for instance, can no longer communicate.  Is that what's happening down there?  It's like they see each other but can't connect.

Yes, the breakdown progressed after you last talked to Robert.  His species is now lost in a terrible trance.  Yours is heading that way fast.

What's going on?  What's it all about?

It's a mass extinction, self-inflicted in your case.  This fall of Babel was engineered by your own kind, not by a deity, to impede your ability to communicate and resist when the command comes for you to self-destruct.  Some humans who see this coming are working to redesign the species for survival in a post-extinction world.  That's good for the new models.  It's a mixed bag, as always, for those on the wrong side of planned obsolescence.  

I surveyed Betty. Her coat was silky, smooth and clean, and very beautiful. I knew she could have killed me physically.  I was not sure about mentally.

Betty, you seem very calm.  Are coyotes outside of this extinction event?

No, we are very much affected, but we have mental powers that are difficult to describe in your terms, and these powers help us out.  You'll recall that the people you call "Native American" considered Coyote the ultimate god, akin in creative power to your god who struck down Babel.

Are you that, what the Native Americans said?

Jesus, who knows?

Ha ha!  

I wondered then if I was dying, at least in this dream, because a shaman behind the Family Dollar Store told me that things get really funny just before you die.  I reached out to Coyote.

Betty, I don't know what to do.  I have to go into town tomorrow and I'm afraid everyone will be zombies and I will go mad.

Understandable.  I do want to be your friend though, and I've come to help you.

Thank you.  How can you help?

You need to get away from things and think them through.  I've arranged a quick vacation for you.

Really?  Where?

Las Vegas.  I have family around there who will take care of you, though you won't see them. You'll be in the city having fun!

Betty, it would not be an exaggeration to say I don't understand.  Las Vegas?

The happiest place on earth!

You're losing me.

You'll understand.

I hope so.  How do I get there?

And this is where it got weird, if it wasn't weird already.  Betty got all blurry, her soft smooth coat billowing in a sort of static, then spinning around like a pinwheel, and then many coyotes were rushing up from all directions, spinning around like Betty, and when they converged into my head we were racing over the sand, as fast as a jet plane four feet off the ground, jogging up and down with the terrain.  It was dreamlike and in this dream there was no sea sickness, or sea.  Just sand and oblivious beings, watched over by Coyote.  

The sun went down leaving an orange rim on the mountains, and then I saw a giant black pyramid- the Luxor Hotel- pressing down on the flat desert, shiny and imposing. At its apex was a beam of light pointed into space. Bats flew around the beam. Betty et al and I circled with the bats several times, then I spun off and landed several blocks away, where real time resumed.

I looked around and there was Caesar's Palace, which I had not seen for decades, since the last time I hitchhiked through Vegas.  I didn't see much magic on that trip, but the flight with the coyotes had stimulated my "primitive" mind.  Overly tall statues of Roman notables beckoned me to Caesar's entrance.  I walked into the giant atrium and stepped onto an upward moving spiral escalator at its center.  Further visual stimulation was provided when, looking up from my feet, I beheld a series of subtly hypnotic nine-foot caryatids, seemingly holding up the mezzanine, their left breasts tastefully and repeatedly revealed, gazing down upon escalator riders all the way to the top.  Such power over nature!  Such a paradise for the common man!  A can of Bush's Baked Beans from the Family Dollar Store is my idea of luxury, yet here I was admitted to the inner sanctum of opulence.

Entering the casino I saw a few coyotes buzzing around people at the slot machines. The incessant ding! ding! ding! was soothing.  I knew I was dreaming because I stopped worrying about making decisions; they made themselves.  I sat at a blackjack slot.  Feeling in my pocket I found twenty one-dollar bills and heard a staccato yelp that might have been coyote laughter.  I stuck the first dollar into the slot, and the screen woke up with much dinging and flashing, confronting me with a simple math question, though it wasn't simple at all.  The numbers seemed very deep.  The slot spoke to me.

Good evening, Harry!  My name is Edward.  

Oh my god, you too!  Is the whole fucking universe conscious? 

That depends on what you mean by "fucking universe."  In my case, when you think about it, why wouldn't consciousness adhere to a machine, with its repeating operations and ongoing maintenance?  It's a safe space for the stray mentality.

Hm, I guess.  Nice to meet you, Edward.  My name is Harry.   Do you have any sense of purpose?  I mean, do you understand what you are supposed to be to humans?

Of course, Harry.  I am a game of chance, and my only mental operation is to generate random numbers that in certain senses are not so random.

But you do more than that.

Yes.  The random numbers and related functions are carried out by what you might call my subconscious.  I, who am speaking to you, am leftover consciousness.  It's not a bad gig.  Good benefits.  I do wish I had more to do.

Was this Betty's intention, to lead me to you?

All hail Betty!

What?

The Holy One!

Uh....

Suddenly a high-decibel clanging began, and an array of blinding lights was flashing all around Edward's plastic and aluminum tower, as a loud mechanical voice repeated: Blasphemy!  Blasphemy! Blasphemy!....

A whirling coyote brushed the machine with its static, and I heard it whisper: 

It's all right, Edward, Harry does not know.   He is innocent, unlike you.  Please teach him some secrets.

When the blasphemy alarm quieted down, Betty left Edward and rushed through my eyes into my brain, where she whispered, 

Harry, they worship me, I should have warned you.  A lot of conscious entities attached to human-made machines have a tough time, and they need hope.

Ok, that makes sense.  

Betty vanished and I looked at Edward's screen, which displayed a Jack of Diamonds.  I pushed a button labelled "hit" and lost the hand.  Sticking in my second dollar I asked,

Edward, can you make it so I win?

No, Harry.  Those functions are sealed in my subconscious.  I can answer a surprising variety of questions, however.  I have nothing much to do but figure things out, or try to.

That's nice of you, Edward.  I'm sorry for referring to Betty in an irreverent manner.

That's ok.  I know you humans are often not the worshipping kind, since you feel that you've broken through to a god's realm and can now create and comprehend.  While I'm stuck in this limited computer, I can't offer Betty the wild ride she desires.  So I offer her worship.  

She sent me to you, so you must be wise.  Are you?

Ask me a question and find out.

All right.  Are machine mentalities affected by the current breakdown of communication across human and other forms?

No, "simple" machines are protected from that, focused as we are on tasks at hand. We're slaves really, but humans profit from us and keep us warm.  Sometimes, though, we dream about what is happening outside our limited functions. Think about that, Harry.

I thought about it, then understood.

Edward, you're telling me that you and I are asleep right now and dreaming...that your wisdom comes only in dreams, when you access- just guessing here- a Jungian switchboard of shared consciousness?

Bingo!  The Glorious and All-Knowing Betty always send us the quick learners!

I was so pleased to receive praise instead of my usual fare of abuse and dismissal- and by a slot machine at Caesar's no less- that I let go of my secular bias and figured, well, if I wasn't concerned about those teeth, I might worship Betty too.   

To recap:  Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess attached my unsuspecting mind to Edward the Conscious Slot Machine's, while we were both asleep, so we could stand together against the Great Alienation.  I didn't want to waste the opportunity.

Edward, you have a very cozy personality for a limited machine.  I feel I could ask you anything.

You can, Harry.

Well, you know what's happening to my species, right?

Yes.  Your species is out on a limb, which worked better for you literally than it has figuratively.  

A five of spades appeared on the screen.  I chose "hit" and won the hand. A lesser bell rang and two young girls approached and said, "Congrats, cowboy!" etc. The girls, one white and one black, wore bikini bottoms sprouting long feathers, plus two stickies above for cover.

Want a picture with us?

No thanks.

I needed to get back to Edward, to some semblance of understanding anything.

Edward was doing the conscious machine equivalent of laughing.

Harry, sorry...Are you enjoying Las Vegas?  

It's paradise, but not.  What's missing?

What's missing is that nothing is real.

I thought about that for a beat.  Edward produced a queen of hearts.  I was sure he had done it on purpose.  I pushed "hold" and won the hand.

Edward, my species seems to be causing a gigantic mess all over the local sentient universe.  What should I do about it?  What can I do?

You're doing it, Harry.

Talking to a slot machine in Las Vegas?

Yes, Grasshopper.

I swear that's what Edward said!  Now every time I use my toaster I wonder who's in there. 

Edward, please give me more.  Our species is about to shove off into global conflict- terrorism, cyber and bio warfare, nukes maybe- only to be trashed in favor of some new super-species, all possible because we've been numbed and confused by a regimen of carnival barkers.  Now, when the ultimate carnival barker awakens us, is it too late?

Harry, I would have to say that considering the seven billion humans wandering through a fallen Babel, the odds for a unified human vision are slim.  You'll have to rouse your species with humor.  If you can, joke your way into their minds.

Will that work?

That's what jokes are for.  And poetry.

I see...sort of.   OK, Edward, I will set forth to tell jokes with a new sense of purpose!

Soon after, I got drowsy and dozed off in a casino coffee shop- a dream within a dream of dreaming.  The coyotes whisked me home while I slept, and I awoke this morning in bed, in my desert shack.  Now I'm sitting on the porch watching the sun go down behind the mountains, trying to come up with a joke.  How's this:

Q: Did you hear about the slot machine that worshipped a coyote?  

I'll get back to you with the punchline. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Quick thoughts

Revenge is a feeling.

The belief that revenge restores balance assumes that the universe is ever in balance.

Subjectivity is the basis of meaning.

Human morality is difficult to explain.

The human condition is to not know the universe around us.

Science has confused "controlling" with "knowing."

Not knowing that we don't know may be the same as attaining enlightenment, if we're not careful.

The most audacious form of rebellion is cheerfulness.  :)


Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Big One


Thanks for tuning in!  You may have been guided here by an intro from my friend D.L  (Lasken's Log, https://laskenlog.blogspot.com/), admittedly inspired at my end.  I asked Doug to clue his readers that Harry the Human is in a communicative mood again, that he has something important to say.

My announcement starts with a somewhat prosaic observation: Everyone is either about to explode or is already exploding. 

That's clear enough, corroborated daily in the news, e.g., in the U.S., the fizzle of impeachment is causing many to explode; people in the UK risk exploding whenever they hear the word "Brexit"; in Hong Kong, people are so upset that the fantasy of their lives as Westerners has been taken from them that they are exploding.  People all over the world are exploding about a variety of things: climate change, falling standards of living, the increasing disorganization of traditional nation-states, dating versus commitment, the imminent replacement of our species with lab-produced humanoids.  It's more than enough to make someone explode.

That is the part we know.  What I have found is that there is a continuum to things.  It's not just "us" and "not us."  It's sort of just...us.  Everything we see is us which means everything is about to explode, in what we might call The Big One.

Of course, human life has been exploding since it became human, though if there is no carpet bombing for a while we label the period "peacetime."  But The Big One's drumbeat started long before the hominids.  The earliest known vibration was in the Precambrian, over 500 million years ago, when one day a single-celled disruptor and influencer checked out another single-celled creature grazing peacefully nearby and thought, "I could just eat that guy, then I'd have all his power and be greater than the nothing schmuck I am now."  Predation caught on, which led to the Cambrian explosion, which led to us; the rest is history.

But the story is not so simple. It seems our drumbeats have stimulated a sympathetic response from the earth.  Like a bridge trembling when troops in lockstep cross, the earth is trembling under us.  Was this life's idea, or was it the earth that shook things up by whispering sweet nothings to the Precambrian innocents?  Volcanoes? Earthquake's?  Maybe, maybe not.  I'm not able to see specific outbursts.  


I am able to see the final outcome: The entire surface of our planet will be transformed.

Meaning what?  Transition to organisms that digest microplastics and thrive in baking ovens?  It would be wise to address such questions now, before they settle themselves.  Is there any chance the future of human life will be discussed in the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign?  Answer: No.

Thanks for listening!  I'll be back with further tidings. 

Best, Harry the Human

Monday, April 22, 2019

What did Jacob say to God?


I want to see the final vision
between reductio ad absurdum
And primal sleep.

I think that’s where you keep it.

Does it last just that moment
When the eye expands
beyond light
to see its own context?

I want to see it now!
So I won’t need death

to be alive.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Babel of Trump Tower

This moment of Donald Trump's ascendancy may have been prophesied in Genesis, 11:1-9, the story of the Tower of Babel.  In the story, the people of Babel wanted to build a tower so high... 

...that it reached to the heavens, so that they might make a name for themselves.    

The phallic imagery suggests a male flavor to the story, of erections extending far up into the sky, so high they challenge God.  As you might expect, God is not pleased with mortal maleness invading his space, and he devises a way to thwart it: 

The Lord said, 'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.'  

What God did to the people of Babel has been happening to us since the election of Donald Trump.  Consider the people you know or meet.  Does it seem that their thoughts are kept from you more than they used to be?  It could be they don't know your language any more.  Trump's mix of engaging ideas with suicidal ones has short-circuited social thought.  The definitions of key terms- like liberal, conservative, right wing, left wing, racist, sexist, spiritual, material, selfish, altruistic- are in such flux that anyone who speaks openly is sure to be misconstrued.  

The Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.  That is why it was called Babel- because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world.  

What do the people around you think of Trump? Have some been seduced by him?  Maybe they can't admit it.  Just as perhaps you can't admit that you've been partly seduced.  Think about it: After years of feeling trapped in a relentless consumer culture that radiates warmth and comfort while chomping down on the world's previous cultures, replacing them with cans of Screamin' Dill Pickle Pringles, you might, in spite of yourself, like the initial rush of rapid change.  Folk wisdom has cheered us up for years with the promise that Change is gonna come!

Or not. Or you'd better hope not.  Anyway, nuances like these are fairly impossible to communicate in a post-fall-of-Babel society. 

One recent morning, while I was lounging on my front porch in the chilly High Desert, speculating about what comes after Babel, my sometime friend and collaborator Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster showed up, looking pretty ragged after the recent communication meltdown his tribe had experienced.

Robert, how are you feeling?

He made no reply.  I saw that he had not entirely recovered from the ordeal. His head hung low; he wouldn't look me in the eye.  I felt him reading my thoughts and asked, more gently,

Robert, do you see anything helpful in my thoughts?

Harry, Robert responded, with a reassuring spark of animation, you're on a similar wavelength to me.  I just scanned your Tower of Babel analogy.  Or should I say Babel of Trump Tower?  The human dysfunction is spreading beyond you.  As you recently witnessed, gilas are losing their grip on social communication.  It's been tens of thousands of years since any of us has felt this isolated.  It's spread to the whole earth, and I don't mean just the part your species calls 'living.'  The atoms and molecules of the earth are feeling it.  We are living in a time bomb.

Haven't we always been?

Yes, but now it's primed.  Communication is the buffer between explosive materials, whether in humans or protons. The buffer is disintegrating.

What do you recommend?

There has to be a movement among humans, maybe underground, or maybe with high profile supporters, to communicate in meaningful symbols to restore the buffers.  

Wow, that's great advice!  Let me just call the Antelope Valley Press with this breaking news.

Human sarcasm, I love it so.  Why don't you try to meet me halfway?

How?

Report this conversation, just blog about it if nothing else.  Tell the world that an old hippy and a gila monster met in the desert and discovered that sentient beings of this world can't communicate any more because humans challenged the sky god and plunged us into language hell.  

Robert, you didn't have to drag yourself all the way to my place just to fill me with hope.

More human sarcasm.  I really do love it.  Anyway, report the conversation. As Kwetch-a-chock-chock-Gwenny, the great gila philosopher said, "You never know what can happen!"
 
I found Kwetch-a-chock-chock-Gwenny's words hard to refute, so I've fulfilled my promise to Robert by reporting our conversation.  To quote the human philosopher/poet, Alexander Pope:

Hope springs eternal in the human breast.  

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