"The hard-core reality few people want to face is that the current 'mental operating environment' that defines 'reality' for most of us is hopelessly out-dated and dysfunctional. We have literally 'turned on ourselves' because of it. Only when we look within and begin to understand our own limitations...and therefore our own potential...as conscious creative intelligences...can we begin to 'solve' the human-side of the equation which now appears to be 'insoluble.' We have the ability to 'reprogram' our entire way of looking at things; why we refuse to is the problem. We MUST make this effort, collectively yet at the individual level, before Mother Nature decides not to renew the contract on 'man, the really wise.' "
Greetings from the “third stone from the sun” here in an outer arm of the Milky Way galaxy. Known as “Earth” to some of her inhabitants, and resembling a “pale blue dot” as approached from the outer limits of her star system, she is recognized as a unique gem by sentient beings within a radius of several parsecs, not for her hydrocarbon or mineral wealth, but for her amazing diversity of life.
Home of myriad forms of life based on a complex macro-molecule known as DNA and water, over 70% of her surface area is covered with this unique living substance and teems with ever-changing expressions of improbable creativity. The special qualities of her atmosphere and the ubiquity of water have enabled life-forms to inhabit every possible ecological niche of the planet.
At this point in her spatio-temporal continuum, however, Earth is experiencing an unprecedented form of planetary warfare in which one species of life, an upright bipedal hominid referring to itself as “man, the really wise” has undergone continuous psychic mutation to such a degree that now he has created not only technologies designed to mutate himself even further psychically, but to extend the scope and goals of his species dementia not only over the entire surface of the planet, but also to project his megalomaniacal hallucinations upon the screen of interplanetary space. “Man, the really wise”, believing himself to be “president of the galaxy”, is bent on self-annihilation through the abuse of his most advanced forms of technology, and is currently in the process of destroying every eco-system and transforming “his” planet into a electro-mechanical wasteland devoid of life-as-she-currently-exists.
In what is referred to as the “late-20th century” in local chronological colloquialism, a specimen of “man, the really wise” rose within the ranks of human science, and, through his singular awareness of the cosmic beauty, uniqueness and fragility of life on his planet, was able, for a brief moment, capture the imagination of his fellow beings and share with them his vision, and his grave concern, for the future of life on the Earth.
This man's name was Carl Sagan, and today, 9 November, his birthday, has been declared as “Carl Sagan Day” around the world. Originally a scientist specializing in planetary atmospheres, he was involved in designing experiments for several probes to other planets; but he is best known for his advocacy of what was called the “search for extra-terrestrial intelligence”, or S.E.T.I. The underlying belief here was that if “technological civilizations” existed “out there”, they would surely be detectable, if not candidates for communication, as they would surely be using electronic technology based on radio waves, just like we do.
Sagan was a member of Project Ozma, a group of leading-edge minds, including Dr. Bernard Oliver, founder of Hewlett-Packard, and Dr. Philip Morrison, theoretical physicist, who convened in the early 1960's to speculate on the probabilities, ways, means and effects of “contact.” Sagan worked closely with Dr. Frank Drake to come up the “Drake equation”, a mathematical estimate of the number of “technological civilizations” one might be expected to encounter, and to design the “Arecibo message”, an “extraterrestrial calling-card” using binary digits to encode a range of information on who we are, our scale, form, chemistry, physics, our location and how we think. This message was transmitted from the Arecibo radio-telescope dish in 1974 towards a location in the constellation Hercules, which is the direction that our solar system is moving towards. Sagan was also a key designer of the plaque and “time capsule” installed on the Voyager space-probe, as it was destined to be the first artifact of human technology to leave the solar system. Back then this seemed important, somehow. Sagan probably knew or at least met Dr. Roger Payne, leading cetacean researcher and the first to refer to humpback whale vocalizations as “songs.” Some of Payne's early whale recordings were included in the Voyager catalogue.
Interestingly, a lone biological researcher stood out at the Project Ozma conference, a highly independent scientist of Einsteinian proportion named Dr. John C. Lilly. Lilly had been drawn to study dolphins because of his...and that of mainstream academic science as well...belief that a profound if not mysterious connection existed between the quality of one's consciousness and the quality of one's neurobiological hardware. The dolphins not only had a neurobiology far in advance of ours, but they'd had it for far longer than we had while living on the same planet as us, but in the sea, not on land. Lilly accurately termed them a true “extra-terrestrial” intelligence, meaning “not from on land”, and his approach as an Ozma participant was to try to learn how to communicate with the dolphins. His reasoning: if we couldn't even learn to respect as fellow beings, much less “communicate” with, someone who was already among us, or, rather, on whose planet we have come to exist, what possible chance did we have for “communicating” with, much less “understanding” or even recognizing, an “extra-terrestrial” intelligence from another planet or star-system.
i know that Sagan and Lilly knew each other to a degree, and each was influential on the thinking of the other in many ways. While Lilly was exploring his own mind, coming out with books like The Mind of the Dolphin and The Center of the Cyclone, and working on ways to apply the newly-emerging generation of computer technology towards inter-species communication, Sagan was hard at work lobbying for S.E.T.I. funding, writing his science-fiction novel Contact, upon which the film was based, moving towards Lilly's 'territory' of the mind/brain with books like The Dragons of Eden and Broca's Brain, and producing the award-winning and astronomically popular television series Cosmos, airing in 1980, and which was a testament not only to Sagan's cosmic enthusiasm but also the public's love of the universe! Both Lilly and Sagan commanded their own share of the public imagination, through their writings and media projects; each of them as well was highly respected in the mainstream scientific community and published hundreds of articles in peer-reviewed journals. Lilly was also the inspiration for two “Hollywood-ized” versions of his work, Altered States and Day of the Dolphin.
Lilly was a somewhat more controversial figure because of his inner exploration work using LSD and the isolation tank; Sagan, on the other hand, was more accessible and mainstream as “media scientist”, and even became a member of the highly influential Council on Foreign Relations. Lilly was highly critical of the military-industrial complex and their henchmen, the CIA, who had tried unsuccessfully to recruit him in the 1960's. Lilly was able to maintain his independence, and to avoid having his research classified as military secrets; Sagan, on the other hand, teamed up with the establishment at the highest possible level, I believe, with the intention of helping to prevent the destruction of life as we know it on the Earth by our own actions.
Carl Sagan and John Lilly, each of whom I had the honour to meet, were both driven by the highest motivations a scientist could have, those not only of sharing their awareness of the awesomeness of life on the Earth, and of the singular uniqueness of our planet in the vast expanse of the unknown, and the quest for “truth” or “reality”, both in inner and outer-space, but also of working to create awareness of the ways that human activity threatens the health of our planet, and what each of us, as caring and informed “planetary citizens”, could do about it.
Both of these minds have been a great inspiration to me, and my current work as artist/writer/musician/film-maker, “investigative journalist” and information activist centers on the goals that Sagan and Lilly shared, not only as scientists but also as human beings.
They each believed that “contact” or “communication” with “someone else”, whether it be cetaceans or beings from another star-system or galaxy, might end the “long loneliness” that “man, the really wise” has created for himself, isolated as he is at his self-created pinnacle of “intelligence.” Interestingly, I don't think I've ever felt “alone” with so much life and natural beauty around!
In as much as I honour their intentions, to believe that “someone else”...whale or “alien”...is going to solve our problems for us makes for good public relations and is great for selling books...but in reality is a bit naïve to say the least. Moreover, both Sagan but especially Lilly, being among other things a psychiatrist with “light years” of inner exploration under his cortex, knew that the problem side of the equation with all this was the human side. The limitations are in US, not in the dolphins or the “aliens” who may or may not exist.
I always found Lilly's approach to be more “down to earth” as it were, more sound logically and scientifically, at any rate, as the dolphins are real, tangible beings, here and now available to interact with; plus, Lilly realized the necessity of inner work before understanding of “someone else” was even possible. Sagan's “technological civilizations”, on the other hand, have to this day failed to materialize or be discovered. Why? Now we come to the most relevant part of this whole story.
Sagan believed that the reason no “needle in a hay-stack” signals from E.T.I.'s have been detected is because there aren't any. His reasoning was that “technological civilizations” must evolve through a form of “global adolescence” and if they are unsuccessful at managing and controlling “forces of nature” that they may have attempted to harness or tamper with, like nuclear energy, well...just like Cheech and Chong, they're “up in smoke” and disappear off the screen of radio-based “intelligence.”
He believed that technological civilizations tended to have relatively brief life-spans because few, if any, had the insight or fortitude first to understand and control their own internal technologies BEFORE unleashing things like atomic energy or engaging in the global extraction and combustion of hydrocarbon fuels, manufacturing and releasing tens of thousands of endocrine-disrupting chemicals into the environment, manipulating the genetic codes of living beings, “geo-engineering” their planet's climate, or conducting mind-control experiments on entire populations using Tesla-technology-based microwave transmitters like HAARP. If they'd bothered to master themselves first, then none of these things may have “needed” to be done!
Sagan correctly identified the nuclear scenario as the single biggest threat to life as we know her and in the last decade of his life became not only a highly outspoken anti-nuclear activist, lobbying governments for the dismantling of the ever-expanding nuclear arsenal, but also co-authoring a series of scientific articles on what came to be known as the “nuclear winter” effect in which the entire Earth would be thrown into a literal 'dark age' in which the sun would become obscured from all the smoke and dust in the after-math of a nuclear war. Not only were these papers highly influential in the scientific community, Sagan also demonstrated in person against nuclear weapons at the Nevada Test Site hundreds of times, and it is my belief that because of his repeated exposure to ionizing radiation there, he contracted the rare form of leukemia which finally killed him in 1996. His last words were that he hoped humanity could someday learn to live by “reason.”
John Lilly, more than Sagan, was acutely aware that the cetaceans are, in fact, a form of intelligence far beyond us, and that the whales and dolphins are so perfectly adapted to living on the Earth and so in balance in every way, that they never had any need or motivation to develop any form of external technology whatsoever. Not only that, they didn't even bother with hands! Their “intelligence” is primarily a spiritual, creative and social intelligence utilizing their “internal technologies” in ways incomprehensible to us, and focusing on being in touch with the Earth, each other, and the consciousness of water, truly the “mother of life” as we know her, as if they are in many ways what I call “the ultimate indigenous people.”
Lilly and Sagan were in full agreement, however, on the fact that nuclear weapons specifically, and the military-industrial complex in general, were the biggest threats to life on the Earth. Lilly's apocalyptic vision, conveyed in his “novel auto-biography” The Scientist, described the development of ever-more-powerful electronic computers which were part of an alien “intelligence” he called the “solid-state entity” which at this stage was using us to create itself and whose ultimate goal was to rid the Earth of water-based life, possibly through its eventual control of nuclear weapons.
Sagan's eschatology was more of the “big bang” school in which an all-out nuclear exchange between rival super-powers, “launched on warning” a la Dr. Strangelove or “accidentally” from...yes, a computer malfunction...would essentially destroy global civilization, plunge the entire planet into a turgid “nuclear winter”, and cause our genome to mutate, creating “new and horrifying varieties of human beings.”
I'm not sure if Sagan was aware that “nuclear war” had already been unleashed over the face of the Earth, not in the form of the spectacle of exploding war-heads, but in an invisible and much more insidious way, the dissemination of ionizing radiation in the forms not only of fall-out and residue from nuclear detonations and leakage from reactor sites, but even more diabolically, through the deliberate use of what are euphemistically referred to as “DU”, or “depleted uranium” weapons, manufactured from the highest levels of reactor wastes, and that the “new and horrifying varieties of human beings” were already being born every day in southern Iraq, a debacle that now dwarfs Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined in terms of destruction of human life.
Sagan may also have believed, just as Einstein did, that a 'world government' was surely the answer to the certain “self-destruct” of nuclear madness...but I doubt that he was aware that one of the primary agendas of the Council on Foreign Relations, for example, at whose round-table he had sat, was in fact the reduction of the world's population down to a few hundred million people, and that the use of “depleted uranium” and radiological warfare in general as biological weapons was in fact the implementation of strategies conceived by “think tanks” funded by such organizations themselves.
I have been highly educated and inspired by the minds and work of Carl Sagan and John C. Lilly, and in the spirit of what I perceive them to have been all about, I continue to share their vision of the singular uniqueness and beauty of life on this planet, of which we are a part, and to assist in the “solving” of the human side of the equation.
I differed with Sagan in that I believe that “intelligent life” is in fact all around us, or moreover, that ALL life is highly “intelligent” in its own ways. If “man, the really wise” was REALLY so “wise” then he'd realize that he needs to stop doing almost everything he's currently doing and get to know his own inner self, to come to understand the awesome power of our own creativity, of the truly “ultimate technology” which we and all living beings ARE.
And I differed from Lilly in that I don't believe it is right to keep dolphins in captivity...for whatever reason. The only legitimate way to work with or encounter them is either at sea, where they live, or possibly in specially-constructed places where they are free to come and go. Emphasis on FREE. NO ONE who is not free to come and go at will could be considered a candidate for true understanding or communication.
We don't need massive arrays of radio-telescopes to detect intelligent life; we also don't need to keep whales and dolphins captive in “research institutes” or “sea-quaria” for entertainment purposes, nor do we really need to “study” them, even with “non-lethal” methods. If YOU were a whale, would YOU want to be “studied”?
What we need to do is, in the words of my favourite musician on the planet, Ralph Towner, “leave those people alone” and get to know OURSELVES.
This is best done from out in nature, away from the noise, electromagnetic fields, and photochemical smog of civilization, where you can still feel the spirit of life and entrain your brain to the “music of the spheres.” Absorb and contemplate the beauty and power of undisrupted nature; quiet your inner tempest of “looking out for number one”, reverse the suction-polarity of your “getting what is mine” vortex; let star-light bathe your retina and realize that we all ARE one family of life on the only planet we know in the whole universe that has life.
Realize that human choice, decision-making, and activity is creating the wide spectrum of problems that threaten to extinguish life as we know her, and therefore that human choice and decision-making can STOP doing these things.
We don't have to be like the whales and give up having hands...but we COULD seriously cut back on inherently dangerous and unecological things we typically take for granted like, for example, what are literally light-years of needless driving and consumption of hydrocarbon fuels; eating the flesh of fellow beings who love and care for their young, experience fear, and don't want to be murdered for their meat; talking on mobile phones, which are actually microwave ovens placed next to your brain; and watching television, the “atomic bomb of the mind” originally developed as a form of electronic mass-brain-washing technology. And how many of us actually NEED a new 3000 square meter five-story holiday home?
And if we were EXTREMELY radical, we'd even consider “losing our faith” and stop worshiping the Molochs of money by insisting that every thing we do and exchange be defined in terms of a total hallucination created out of thin air by people whose goal is total domination of the world and enslavement of the human population? Whales don't use money...why do we have to? What ever happened to sharing and giving? Did these disappear along with real apple pie, “music” in music, silence in the wilderness camp-ground, and the ability to see the Milky Way from the northern hemisphere?
John Lilly thought that we needed the dolphins to tell us what the solutions are; Carl Sagan thought we needed to hear from a distant “technological civilization” that had miraculously survived its “adolescence” in order to “shock and awe” us into working together.
I differ from Lilly and Sagan here: I believe that if the “problem” is us, then the “answer” is us. Is this not, in fact, pure “reason” of the highest order? Is being in “contact” and “communicating” with EACH OTHER no longer a viable option? If we can't even find a way to do THIS, doesn't our obsession with “someone out there” become clear as the dementia that it truly is?
In honour of the highest “intelligence” I have been able to access, and in honour of life as we know her on this beautiful planet, I have worked for decades to make myself a vehicle of this intelligence and to live a life that reflects this intelligence and respect for life. This is why I am an artist* and networker, film-maker and activist; this is why I don't drive a car, own a house, use mobile phones or watch tv: because I can live healthily and productively without the necessity of owning these things. I have voluntarily simplified. We need some of these things, of course, to a degree, but in general we abuse the privilege of having them, and the summation of these abuses over billions of people constitutes a large part of the planetary destruction we are responsible for. We don't need dolphins or E.T.I.'s to tell us this.
The hard-core reality few people want to face is that the current “mental operating environment” that defines “reality” for most of us is hopelessly out-dated and dysfunctional. We have literally "turned on ourselves" because of it. Only when we look within and begin to understand our own limitations...and therefore our own potential...as conscious creative intelligences...can we begin to “solve” the human-side of the equation which now appears to be “insoluble.” We have the ability to “reprogram” our entire way of looking at things; why we refuse to is the problem. We MUST make this effort, collectively yet at the individual level, before Mother Nature decides not to renew the contract on “man, the really wise.”
"Don't be a soldier in World War Three...park your car and plant a tree...
Use the tube to educate...leave the plants to vegetate."
from Return of the Lorax, 1995
Signing off from the third stone...
9 NOVEMBER 2010
* Interestingly, Sagan thought that pictures would be the most likely way that an extra-terrestrial intelligence would encode information; and Lilly felt many times that whales were telepathically beaming pictures rich in information into his mind. Our art is, in fact, an expression of these orders of information transfer.
"The Ultimate Technology" Jeff Phillips
"Notes on My Connection with Arthur C. Clarke" Jeff Phillips
"Who are the Cetaceans?" Jeff Phillips
"Man and Dolphin" [article I wrote on behalf of Dr. John Lilly for Magical Blend magazine]http://tutunui-wananga.blogspot.com/2009/08/man-and-dolphin-jeff-phillips.html