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"OH WATERS, TEEM WITH MEDICINE TO KEEP MY BODY SAFE FROM HARM, SO THAT I MAY LONG SEE THE SUN." - Rig Veda
at the newly opened Ambush Club, Wichita, 1971
There I was: lemon-tinted Lennon glasses,
paisley shirt like ironed vomit, corroded
toenails dangling from Kmart sandals…
And when Otis Redding was cut off mid-chorus
from the juke, the three dozen dressed-to-the-max
black couples gazed up at me, each mouth a rictus,
as I tuned my Yamaha in a circle of light.
Close enough for folk music, I declared
and began to strum my three-chord version
of “Dock of the Bay,” a clever segue and nod to Otis,
I thought. My fingers meated through the song.
I sat on that dock watching the waves come and go
through three choruses, then plunked the final major C
with all the majesty of a hammered thumbnail.
And I saw I had stunned the crowd to silence.
Did these fine people think I was a novelty act?
If I’d expected applause, I got a voice in the back saying,
Whoa, Momma—turn on the fire hose.
And poor Dennis, the new owner and dead-ringer
Ozzie Nelson who’d heard me strum “Stewball”
and “Puff ” at the Riverside Park Folk Jamboree,
who thought I was good and knew he needed music,
was frozen behind the bar, lava lamps auguring his future:
purple bubbles rising and breaking apart
like the opening-night crowd. The juke erupted
with Otis, back on his dock. The stage lights dimmed.
Drinks on the house! I heard a voice say, Dennis’s voice,
and he pressed a twenty into my right palm. Just go,
he said. OK? I slung the guitar over my shoulder.
He opened the back door to the parking lot,
and I took my rightful place among the stars.
we turn off our computers at noon
carry a box with our personal items
framed family pics and employee
of the month coffee mugs
small potted plants and clock radios
we are led down the hallway
with its antiseptic floors and offwhite
walls to the free lunch
they are providing before we
are shown the door one last time
some hold on to their boxes as
if they are naked and are
trying to hide their genitals
we march by the HR table
in order to pick up our severance
we must sign release papers that
prevent us from telling
others what was done to us
how it made us feel
to be blackmailed
we stand in line
we are given
a small plastic
a cob of corn
a tab of butter substitute
wrapped in foil
packages of salt
and pepper (one each)
BBQ sauce also in
a small plastic cup
one white plastic fork
a crisp neatly folded
white paper napkin
one can of soda
So let us celebrate James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis. Not just as scientists — their very real contributions speak for themselves — but as people with true courage and integrity. They withstood the pressure of fellow scientists turning on them. It would have been easy to drop the whole thing and say that it was a flawed hypothesis — giving themselves credit for being good Popperian scientists. But they knew there was something there that needed explaining and they had the guts to stick with it —Lovelock particularly, but Margulis too. Were they ‘holy fools’? The very friendly, entirely British Lovelock is as far from being a character in a Dostoyevsky novel as I can imagine. But in a sense they were just that, and ultimately science benefits from their thinking. Scientifically respectable or not, the Gaia hypothesis has made our culture richer for its boldness. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and sometimes it is better to be a little foolish than to stick to the safe, angelic, path.
Several theories of conscious first described about a decade ago, including the conscious electromagnetic information (CEMI) field theory, claimed that the substrate of consciousness is the brain’s electromagnetic (EM) field. These theories were prompted by the observation, in many diverse systems, that synchronous neuronal firing, which generates coherent EM fields, was a strong correlate of attention, awareness and consciousness. However, when these theories were first described there was no direct evidence that synchronous firing was actually functional, rather than an epiphenomenon of brain function. Additionally, any EM field-based consciousness would be a ‘ghost in the machine’ unless the brain’s endogenous EM field is also able to influence neurone firing. Once again, when these theories were first described, there was only indirect evidence that the brain’s EM field influenced neuron firing patterns in the brain. In this paper I describe recent experimental evidence which demonstrate that synchronous neuronal firing does indeed have a functional role in the brain; and also that brain’s endogenous EM field is involved in recruiting neurones to synchronously firing networks. The new data point to a new and unappreciated form of neural communication in the brain that is likely to have significance for all theories of consciousness. I describe an extension of the cemi field theory that incorporates these recent experimental findings and integrates the theory with the ‘communication through coherence’ hypothesis.
Hearing this, the Master said: "Though that may seem good to you, you will make no progress in your practice. Because of my own dread of death, I wanted to be a living corpse. That's how I was able to involve myself in religious practice. As long as I have a body that is subject to death, I will certainly have the vital energy to apply myself to practice through many lives. Though you say death doesn't disturb you, you are no Man of the Way.