Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Doors of Perception & the learned foolery of research

Alfred Dedreux as a Child (Géricault)
From Hal Ashby's
Harold and Maude
(USA, 1971)
Hupert Sheldrake: Science Set Free/ Part 1 & 2 (talk, 2013);

"He was delicate; he had mischievous moods; he could play. He carried his rag doll about him for company until he was eight. He was fond of grumbling."
"... le génie est le meneur de jeu en personne... Peut-être est-il aujourd'hui même dans un endroit auquel on ne pense guère. Car c'est souvent un hérétique aux yeux du dogme. L'école ferait bien de le garder comme un secret dans une chambre close... un mage! Il faudrait donner un cours en dehors du complexe scolaire... construction du secret."
Paul Klee (traduction par Pierre-Henri Gonthier)
"Daniela, telefonando de Londres, ficou horrorizada. Achou que eu tivesse me convertido a algum novo tipo de religião."
Gerald Thomas
"... there is a critical blindspot. The more intently we look for the answer in terms of the grid, the more impossible the task becomes."
Thomas P. Kasulis
"Nietzsche critique Darwin, parce que celui-ci interprète l'évolution, et même le hasard dans l'évolution, d'une manière toute réactive. Il admire Lamarck, parce que Lamarck a pressenti l'existence d'une force plastique vraiment active..."
Gilles Deleuze
"... cette force d'inertie dont tout le monde parle à mots couverts, et qui n'est jamais devenue si obscure que depuis que toute la terre et la vie présente se sont mêlées de l'élucider..." 
"... la dromosphère d'accélération se substituant, in extremis, à la noosphère des élus de Dieu d'un Teilhard de Chardin, lui-même victime du grand lavage de cerveau de la propagande du Progrès..." 
Paul Virilio (Le Grand Accelerateur)

Main Hall:
"There is always money for, there are always doctorates in, the learned foolery of research into what, for scholars, is the all-important problem: Who influenced whom to say what when? ...But when it comes to finding out how you and I, our children and grandchildren, may become more perceptive, more intensely aware of inward and outward reality, more open to Spirit, less apt, by psychological malpractices, to make ourselves physically ill, and more capable of controlling our own autonomic nervous system... no really respectable university or church will do anything about it...
Besides, this matter of education in the non-verbal humanities will not fit into any of the established pigeonholes. It is not religion, not neurology, not gymnastics, not morality or civics, not even experimental psychology. This being so the subject is, for academic and ecclesiastical purposes, non-existent and may safely be ignored altogether or left, with a patronizing smile, to those whom the Pharisees of verbal orthodoxy call cranks, quacks, charlatans and unqualified amateurs," Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception.
By "non-verbal humanities," Huxley means investigations possibly related to traditional academic disciplines such as philosophy, history, the study of literature, painting etc., but not hampered by the many conceptual systems and "notions" that hinder, for the only benefit of the monopoly of academic priesthoods, direct experience of reality as a Bergsonian living field of interconnected intensities. (It is through Henri Bergson that Huxley makes sense of his experience with mescaline. Bergson comes second only to William Blake in terms of importance to Huxley's essay.)
Huxley criticism of universities and churches is fair and even more valuable now than when he wrote it. The only (but serious) problem with this essay is Huxley understanding of art mainly in terms of "symbols," as if a painting or a madrigal would have to "stand for" other things.
What Cézanne and Alban Berg do is definitely more than merely representing things. And in "Heaven and Hell," Huxley recognizes that "in nature, as in a work of art, the isolation of an object tends to invest it with absoluteness, to endow it with that more-than-symbolic meaning which is identical with being." He also tempers his criticism of Modern art: "Looking at Ny, Ny, I was amazed to see that every pictorial device invented by the old masters of non-representational art and reproduced ad nauseam by the academicians and mannerists of the school, for the last forty years or more, makes its appearance, alive, glowing, intensely significant, in the sequences of Mr. Thompson's film."

'Even as dogs have become beloved pets in the U.S., treated as members of the family, with harsh punishments for those who abuse them, the behavior of corporate and academic entities that subject dogs to gruesome experimentations has barely changed. It’s a strange hypocrisy: Individuals may not abuse these animals, but corporations can...' (Bred do Suffer: Inside the Barbaric U.S. Industry of Dog Experimentation, The Intercept);
"In the fall of 1949, the influential scientific General Advisory Committee of the AEC recommended not to proceed with the hydrogen bomb. The majority, consisting of Oppenheimer, Conant, and Lee DuBridge (a physicist and president of Caltech) argued in ethical and political terms that the bomb was unnecessary, indeed, unwanted, because its use would involve a decision to slaughter a vast number of civilians... Fermi and Rabi agreed in the rejection of what they considered to be a danger to humanity as a whole and necessarily an evil thing considered in any light... Arthur Comton had advised hat this development should not be undertaken, primarily because we should prefer defeat in war to a victory obtained at the expense of the enourmous human disaster that would be caused... There were other and louder voices, especially that of Teller, who argued passionately for a thermonuclear crash program. During the beginning of the Cold War, his voice reached the ears of many politicians and, not surprisingly, generals and admirals... President Truman authorized the development of a superbomb based on fusion... Many of America's best physicists, including some of those (Oppenheimer, Bethe and Fermi) who had argued against the superbomb, now engaged collectively in an effort to find a way of how to construct the bomb... by 1952 a thermonuclear test device, called Mike, was ready... It took one and a half years of hard work to develop Mike into a real bomb that could be dropped from an airplane. The result was Bravo... The destructive yield was awesome, corresponding to about 15 megatons of TNT or more than 1000 times as much as the 1945 Hiroshima bomb... The Soviet Union followed quickly in the new arms race..." (Helge Kragh, Quantum Generations) [also, NEW (02/01/2019): Donald Trump confirms US withdrawal from INF nuclear treaty, The Guardian];
"... historians of science have suggested that... the military spirit is identifiable even in the pragmatic and instrumentalist attitude toward high-energy physics that characterized many American theorists" (Kragh, Quantum Generations); 
"... one of the effects of the new kind of big science was a marked shift of the role of the physicist, from an individual researcher to a small wheel in a collective research effort. It was a shift that many physicists of the old school deplored. One of them was Percy Bridgman, the Nobel laureate and philosopher of science, who argued that the new style of physcis was detrimental to creative ideas and intellecutal freedom... this was a critique to be repeated and reinforced by a younger generation of physicists" (Kragh, Quantum Generations);
"Ehrenfeld meanwhile went on publishing all his observations, which continued to show a far greater variability than Milikan's selected data. Ehrenfeld was disregarded while Milikan won the Nobel Prize..." (Rupert Sheldrake, Seven Experiments that Could Change the World);
"Peer review and refereeing procedures act as important quality checks, and are no doubt often effective, but they have a built-in bias. They tend to favor prestigious scientists and institutions" (Sheldrake, Seven Experiments);
"We have become a scientific society. This society has produced all sorts of discoveries and technology, but if it leads to destruction, either through war or through devastation of natural resources, then it will have been the least successful society that ever existed" (David Bohm, interviewed by David Peat);
"It seemed that physics did not have as much meaning as I thought it had. It turned out to be not so different from, let us say, business. A businessman does whatever will please his customers and get him money, get him whatever he wants. A lot of physicists seem to be in that boat. They found out what was wanted and did it and hoping thereby to gain various advantages" (David Bohm, conversation with Maurice Wilkins);
"I remember when I got back to Europe from Israel, I came in the summer of ‘56, and I met this fellow... whom I had known fairly well in America. He began to talk about my ideas and he took me aside one day and said, “You know, you better not talk so freely about your ideas, that people will steal them.” The point is that the people became more interested in using ideas to get ahead to get ahead and to gain advantages... This is the way I can get a job and get ahead and make it security and win a Nobel Prize and whatever" (David Bohm, conversation with Maurice Wilkins);
"And then I was going to say, at the university I was a little bit disappointed in the teachers there because in the first two years I wanted to ask questions about relativity and about quantum mechanics and about the foundations of these subjects, but I was kept being told not to worry about all that but to pass the exams — so, I was very disappointed until the last year as an undergraduate... at school we had a good physics master and he always was willing for me to talk about all sorts of topics in physics and so it was really that interaction that inspired me. And then when I got to university I was expecting a lot more than I got" (Basil Hiley, interviewed by Olival Freire);
"... I was brought up in an atmosphere where it was generally agreed that there was something basically wrong with the ‘52 paper of Bohm. But, there was more to it than that. There was a general atmosphere in physics, that there was something, I would almost say “evil” about it, and I never understood why there was that feeling around. It seemed that if somehow you touched it and thought about it, it would corrupt your physics forever more" (Basil Hiley, interviewed by Olival Freire);
"... everybody who’s doing physics now, ninety-nine percent of them are following the tradition that is already laid down. So, where are you going to get your new ideas from? You know, new ideas are going to come from looking at different philosophical frameworks to see if there is anything in those frameworks which is the sort of thing that you can use to develop the way you’re thinking. I found reading Fichte and Schelling..." (Basil Hiley, interviewed by Olival Freire);
"... the youngsters, you know... they’re forced into a difficult job market in academia, they are sort of tailoring their research to what is expected and I think this cannot be but bad for physics in general. Now, the great thing about the research in the ‘60s and the ‘70s was, yes there was prejudice... but because there was more freedom from the constraint, the university constraints, you know (“How many publications? Which journals do you publish your papers in?”)... all this absolute nonsense that has been going on since the ‘80s and ‘90s has now stopped the creativity that we had in the ‘60s"(Basil Hiley, interviewed by Olival Freire);
"Another piece of advice I was given was, ‘Find a very, very small area in physics and then just publish about ten or fifteen papers on it; then you’ll get a reputation. Then you can go and do this other stuff.’ In fact - another little story — when I did go and spend a sabbatical with Bohm, a very senior physicist in England asked me to come visit him for a few days. He took me out to dinner one night and, very fatherly, said he wanted to give me some advice. He said he knew I was working with Bohm and that it probably wasn’t a very good thing to be doing. It would be bad for me, and really I should try to dissociate myself from him and go back to doing small pieces of physics. ‘Do small problems,’ he said. ‘That’s the way that physics is going to progress, by people doing little bits of things.’ Another person told me that his ambition was to be just a footnote in a textbook" (David Peat, interviewed by Mike Towler);
"The saddest people on Earth are junior faculty hoping to get tenure at a university, because they are forbidden to smile in public, crack jokes, or make eye contact, and they absolutely can't be seen as being even mildly interested in tabloid stories. It's the kiss of death to put one's twenty-plus years of education and training in jeopardy by being perceived as too sympathetic about controversial issues" (Dean Radin, Real Magic, p. 13);
Brian D. Josephson's critical review of BBC's program Heretic:
"For the last six weeks, BBC2 TV has been running a series called 'Heretic', detailing the responses of the scientific community to ideas generally considered unacceptable by scientists, and the treatment given to those advocating such ideas... In every case a similar story unfolded: dismissal of the claims as being nonsense or impossible, generally without any serious attempt to look at the evidence or the arguments... The sense of self-superiority of the critics in many instances was in striking contrast to the humility, integrity and sincerity manifested by workers such as Robert Jahn (an expert in rocket engineering forced to resign his position as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Princeton University because of this unconventional side to his research interests and, for a time, not allowed to talk about that research). Jahn became interested in psychokinesis because an undergraduate at Princeton asked if he could choose as a project the investigation of possible effects of mind on electronic circuits. Jahn assumed that there would be no such effects, but thought setting up an experiment to look for them would be a useful exercise in itself and agreed; to his considerable surprise the results were positive. These results held up under further investigation and since that time the phenomenon has been studied by Jahn and his associates in great detail and in a variety of ways. As in a number of the cases, finding out the truth was more important for Jahn than whether others would accept his discoveries and whether work in the area would advance his career. Critics of his work have been numerous, but most have been armchair ones, who have not taken the trouble to find out what the experiment actually entailed", Brian D. Josephson (Times Higher Education Supplement, 12 Aug. 1994);

See also:
And also: 


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