This article is most intriguing in challenging the monist view of the exclusive existence of matter.
SIR JOHN ECCLES
What Happens When We Die?Spirituality — POSTED BY David Luke on December
27, 2009 at 5:38 pm
evidence from the reports of near death experiences suggest that the human mind,
or soul, is separate from and irreducible to the human body? If the answer is
yes, then what consequences does this have for our understanding of reality,
science, and religion?
The Human Consciousness Project is an international
consortium of multidisciplinary scientists and physicians who have joined forces
to research the nature of consciousness and its relationship with the brain, as
well as the neuronal processes that mediate and correspond to different facets
of consciousness. The Human Consciousness Project will conduct the world’s first
large-scale scientific study of what happens when we die and the relationship
between mind and brain during clinical death. The diverse expertise of the team
ranges from cardiac arrest, near-death experiences, and neuroscience to
neuroimaging, critical care, emergency medicine, immunology, molecular biology,
mental health, and psychiatry.
The mystery of what happens when we die and
the nature of the human mind has fascinated humankind from antiquity to the
present day. Although traditionally considered a matter for philosophical
debate, advancements in modern science and in particular the science of
resuscitation have now enabled an objective, scientific approach to seek answers
to these compelling questions, which bear widespread implications not only for
science, but also for all of humanity.
while studies of the brain during
cardiac arrest have consistently shown that there is no brain activity during
this period, these individuals have reported detailed perceptions that appear to
indicate the presence of a high-level of consciousness in the absence of
measurable brain activity
Since the 1950s and 60s, marked improvements in
resuscitation techniques have led to higher survival rates for patients
experiencing cardiac arrest. Although many studies have focused on prevention
and acute medical treatment of cardiac arrest, relatively few have sought to
examine cognitive functioning and the state of the human mind both during and
subsequent to cardiac arrest. The in-depth study of such patients, however,
could serve as the most intriguing facet of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and
may lead to significant progress in improving medical care while effectively
addressing the mind-brain problem.
Today, most scientists have adopted a
traditionally monist view of the mind-brain problem, arguing that the human
mind, consciousness, and self are no more than by-products of electrochemical
activity within the brain, notwithstanding the lack of any scientific evidence
or even a plausible biological explanation as to how the brain would lead to the
development of mind and consciousness.
This has led some prominent
researchers, such as the late Nobel-winning neuroscientist Sir John Eccles, to
propose a dualist view of the problem, arguing that the human mind and
consciousness may in fact constitute a separate, undiscovered entity apart from
Contrary to popular perception, death is not a specific moment,
but a well-defined process. From a biological viewpoint, cardiac arrest is
synonymous with clinical death. During a cardiac arrest, all three criteria of
clinical death are present: the heart stops beating, the lungs stop working, and
the brain ceases functioning. Subsequently, there is a period of time—which may
last from a few seconds up to an hour or longer—in which emergency medical
efforts may succeed in resuscitating the heart and reversing the dying process.
The experiences that individuals undergo during this period of cardiac arrest
provide a unique window of understanding into what we are all likely to
experience during the dying process.
In recent years, a number of scientific
studies conducted by independent researchers have found that as many as 10-20
percent of individuals who undergo cardiac arrest report lucid, well-structured
thought processes, reasoning, memories, and sometimes detailed recall of their
cardiac arrest. What makes these experiences remarkable is that while studies of
the brain during cardiac arrest have consistently shown that there is no brain
activity during this period, these individuals have reported detailed
perceptions that appear to indicate the presence of a high-level of
consciousness in the absence of measurable brain activity. These studies appear
to suggest that the human mind and consciousness may in fact function at a time
when the clinical criteria of death are fully present and the brain has ceased
If these smaller studies can be replicated and verified through
the definitive, large-scale studies of the Human Consciousness Project, they may
not only revolutionize the medical care of critically ill patients and the
scientific study of the mind and brain, but may also bear profound universal
implications for our social understanding of death and the dying process.
AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation) study is the first launched by the Human Consciousness Project and is led by Dr. Sam Parnia, a world-renowned expert on
the study of the human mind and consciousness during clinical death, together
with Dr Peter Fenwick and Professors Stephen Holgate and Robert Peveler of the
University of Southampton. The team will be working in collaboration with more
than 25 major medical centers throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States.
During the AWARE study, physicians will use the latest technologies to study the
brain and consciousness during cardiac arrest. At the same time, they will also
be testing the validity of out of body experiences and claims of being able to
see and hear during cardiac arrest through the use of randomly generated hidden
images that are not visible unless viewed from specific vantage points
The AWARE study will be complemented by the BRAIN-1 (Brain
Resuscitation Advancement International Network – 1) study, in which researchers
will conduct a variety of physiological tests in cardiac arrest patients, as
well as cerebral monitoring techniques that aim to identify methods to improve
the medical and psychological care of patients who undergo cardiac arrest. The
studies are being funded by the UK Resuscitation Council, the Horizon Research
Foundation, and the Nour Foundation in the United States.
do you think of this study and its possible consequences? Can the mind really be
separated from the body and thereby undermine the monist foundations of
traditional physics – that only thing in existence in the universe is matter in
some form or another?
Friday, January 1, 2010
Monday, December 28, 2009
Challenge Completed - Orbis Terrarum
My challenge:Read 10 books, by 10 different authors, from 10 different countries.My list:1 - Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (Britain) finished 4/23/09, rated 6/102 - This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun (Morocco) 12/15/09, rated 9/103 - Angel of Grozny by Asne Seierstad (Chechnya) - finished 3/1/09, rated 8/104 - Infinity in the Palm of her Hand by Gioconda Belli (Nicaragua) finished 3/19/09, rated 7/105 - Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee (India) finished 5/8/09, rated 7/106 - Cutting Loose by Nadine Dajani (Lebanon) finished 6/13/09, rated 8/107 - Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie (Pakistan) finished 6/24/09, rated 8/108 - A Good House by Bonnie Burnard (Canada) finished 7/4/09, rated 7/109 - After the Fire, a Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld (Australia) finished 10/2/09, rated 8/1010 - The Book of Murder by Guilermo Martinez (Argentina) finished 8/09, rated 6/10I do love this challenge - if Bethany hosts it again in 2010, I have a feeling I'll be joining....=)
MAGICAL REALISM AKIN TO SEEN MIRACLES I'VE READ ABOUT IN JUDAISM
EXEMPLIFIED IN A SAGA OF FATE OR ARRANGED EVENTS
Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India’s 1,000 other “midnight’s children,” all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts.This novel is at once a fascinating family saga and an astonishing evocation of a vast land and its people–a brilliant incarnation of the universal human comedy. Twenty-five years after its publication, Midnight’s Children stands apart as both an epochal work of fiction and a brilliant performance by one of the great literary voices of our time.My thoughts:Well. I think this is a novel I would like to read as part of a class - there is so much going on, dealing with events in history I don't know about or understand, that I believe much of the book just flew right over my head.That being said, it was certainly an interesting read. I've mentioned before that I struggle with books that use magical realism, and this was, again, a struggle in this novel. I don't know exactly why it's so difficult for me, but it always trips me up. This novel is chock full of it, pretty much from page one, so it made it slow going - I've been chipping away at it for the better part of 2 weeks.I was initially concerned about the style - here's the first paragraph, so you understand what I mean.“I was born in the city of Bombay… once upon a time. No, that won’t do, there’s no getting away from the date: I was born in Doctor Narlikar’s Nursing Home on August 15th 1947. And the time? The time matters, too. Well then: at night. No, it’s important to be more… On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact. Clock-hands joined palms in respectful greeting as I came. Oh, spell it out, spell it out: at the precise instant of India’s arrival at independence, I tumbled forth into the world. There were gasps. And, outside the window, fireworks and crowds. A few seconds later, my father broke his big toe; but his accident was a mere trifle when set beside what had befallen me in that benighted moment, because thanks to the occult tyrannies of those blindly saluting clocks I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country. For the next three decades, there was to be no escape. Soothsayers had prophesied me, newspapers celebrated my arrival, politicos ratified my authenticity. I was left entirely without a say in the matter. I, Saleem Sinai, later variously called Snotnose, Stainface, Baldy, Sniffer, Budha and even Piece-of-the-Moon, had become heavily embroiled in Fate – at the best of times a dangerous sort of involvement. And I couldn’t even wipe my own nose at the time.”
This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jellounpublished 2001195 pagesSynopsis from publisher:An immediate and critically acclaimed bestseller in France, This Blinding Absence of Light is the latest work by internationally renowned author Tahar Ben Jelloun, the first North African winner of the Prix Goncourt and winner of the Prix Mahgreb. Crafting real life events into narrative fiction, Ben Jelloun reveals the horrific story of the desert concentration camps in which King Hassan II of Morocco held his political enemies in underground cells with no light and only enough food and water to keep them lingering on the edge of death. Working closely with one of the survivors, Ben Jelloun narrates the story in the simplest of language and delivers a shocking novel that explores both the limitlessness of inhumanity and the impossible endurance of the human will.My thoughts:Brutal. Beautiful. Horrific. Hopeful. Terrible. Triumphant.All of those words are apt descriptions of this breathtaking novel. It was both a pleasure and a despair to read, and I don't think I'll soon forget it.From the very beginning, I could tell I would be captured by Salim's story. As he describes the environment and companions in his prison cell, I could see it -"Night clothed us. In another world, one would say that night waited on us hand and foot."At times, I had to stop reading and take a breath, feeling almost claustrophobic reading Salim's words."Night had thrown her cloak over our faces no longer astonished by anything, a cloak without even the tiniest moth holes, oh, no; it was a cloak of wet sand."I won't list the horrors experienced, though rest assured they are many; prisoners don't just die, they die horribly, from things I had never thought of that can kill you. But the soul of the book isn't the suffering - it is the way the prisoners find to keep themselves human. By telling each other tales out of the Arabian Nights, and American movie scripts; by keeping close track of the time; by adopting a lost dove, passing it from cell to cell, and eventually letting it fly free. By choosing forgiveness instead of anger.The story moves from past to present, as we learn of the reasons Salim and his fellow prisoners are captured, and their day-to-day lives in prison. My lack of knowledge of the history of the time and place occasionally made it difficult to keep up with the plot, but mostly the author explains just enough in the text to assist readers like me. There are no extra words in the sparse prose, and yet the author manages to engulf readers in the narrative."I should say that there were different kinds of silence. The silence of the night. It was a necessity for us. The silence of the companion who was slowly leaving us...The silence of blood circulating sluggishly...The silence of the shadow of memories burned to ashes...The silence of absence, the blinding absence of life."This is an incredibly powerful book. It is not action packed, or plot-driven, or even especially entertaining. But of all the books I've read this year, I know this is one I will remember. It is the story of the worst man can do to man, and the power of humanity to overcome. It is remarkable.
Angel of Grozny by Asne Seierstad (Chechnya) -
SeierstadSynopsis from the publisher:In the early hours of New Year’s 1994, Russian troops invaded the Republic of Chechnya, plunging the country into a prolonged and bloody conflict that continues to this day. A foreign correspondent in Moscow at the time, Åsne Seierstad traveled regularly to Chechnya to report on the war, describing its affects on those trying to live their daily lives amidst violence.In the following decade, Seierstad became an internationally renowned reporter and author, traveling to the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other war-torn regions. But she never lost sight of this conflict that had initially inspired her career. Over the course of a decade, she watched as Russia ruthlessly suppressed an Islamic rebellion in two bloody wars and as Chechnya evolved into one of the flashpoints in a world now focused on the threat of international terrorism.In 2006, Seierstad finally returned to Chechnya, traveling in secret and under the constant threat of danger. In a broken and devastated society she lived with orphans, the wounded, the lost. And she lived with the children of Grozny, those who will shape the country’s future. She asks the question: What happens to a child who grows up surrounded by war and accustomed to violence? A compelling, intimate, and often heartbreaking portrait of Chechnya today, The Angel of Grozny is a vivid account of a land’s violent history and its ongoing battle for freedom.My thoughts:This book is much more than just an account of the orphans of Grozny. Seierstad gives readers a concise, accessible history of the conflict that has raged between Russia and Chechnya for the past 100 years. I went into this book completely uninformed about the situation in this part of the world, and honestly believe I learned enough to understand what has taken place. Seierstad does an excellent job of filling in the history without writing a "report" - she is telling the stories of the land, and the people who live there.The backbone of the book is Hadijat, the woman who cares for the orphans of Grozny. Seierstad lived with her for quite some time, and paints a realistic portrait of this modern-day heroine - brave, strong, resourceful, but also tired, sometime short-tempered, and afraid. Seierstad never romanticises the characters she encounters. Each has their strengths, and often their weaknesses, and she doesn't sugar-coat either. This has gotten her into trouble with some of her past subjects (see all the past uproar about The Bookseller of Kabul), but I found I appreciated that she portrayed the people with warts and all. Noone is perfect - not the politicians, or the housewifes, or the orphans from the street.Seierstad's writing is excellent, and drew my interest from the very start. In this paragraph, she describes the first time she finds herself being shot at:"One week later I'm lying in a ditch. Bullets rip twigs from the trees overhead and graze the top of the incline, triggering a cascade of stones and weeds. In the field next to us the shots land within a few metres of each other. When they hit the ground earth spurts up - just like in the moves, I say to myself. Yes, that is in fact what I'm thinking as I lie with my face in the dry turf and prickly thistles. "She is equally engaging as she describes talking to a woman whose sons have died for the resistance, or a young man who has chosen to murder his sister as an honor killing. This book is full of the real-life LIFE of the people living through years of war, and Seierstad makes you feel like you know, and in an odd way understand, the choices they have made.I can't say I enjoyed this book - it's not the type of subject matter to be enjoyed. But it was a completely engrossing, worthwhile read, and I'm glad I spent time in Seierstad's world.
Synopsis from publisher:Beginning on August 9, 1945, in Nagasaki, and ending in a prison cell in the US in 2002, as a man is waiting to be sent to Guantanamo Bay, Burnt Shadows is an epic narrative of love and betrayal.
Hiroko Tanaka is twenty-one and in love with the man she is to marry, Konrad Weiss. As she steps onto her veranda, wrapped in a kimono with three black cranes swooping across the back, her world is suddenly and irrevocably altered. In the numbing aftermath of the atomic bomb that obliterates everything she has known, all that remains are the bird-shaped burns on her back, an indelible reminder of the world she has lost. In search of new beginnings, two years later, Hiroko travels to Delhi. It is there that her life will become intertwined with that of Konrad's half sister, Elizabeth, her husband, James Burton, and their employee Sajjad Ashraf, from whom she starts to learn Urdu.
With the partition of India, and the creation of Pakistan, Hiroko will find herself displaced once again, in a world where old wars are replaced by new conflicts. But the shadows of history--personal and political--are cast over the interrelated worlds of the Burtons, the Ashrafs, and the Tanakas as they are transported from Pakistan to New York and, in the novel's astonishing climax, to Afghanistan in the immediate wake of 9/11. The ties that have bound these families together over decades and generations are tested to the extreme, with unforeseeable consequences. My thoughts:This was a very good novel that was ALMOST a great novel - but just missed it by a hair.I loved the first two sections of this book. In part 1, The Yet-Unknowing World, we meet Hiroko and Konrad, and explore with them their burgeoning love. They are both outsiders - he a German, she a woman whose father is branded a traitor. People avoid them on the street, chose not to speak to them, and yet they find each other. Konrad tells Hiroko it might be better for her to distance herself from him, but she chooses not to. Their future is bright. Shamsie paints such a vivid picture of these two characters, who are both strong and yet vulnerable. And then comes the first tragedy."Functional, Hiroko Tanaka thinks, as she stands on the porch of her house in Urakami and surveys the terraced slopes, the still morning alive with the whirring of cicadas. If there were an adjective to best describe how the war has changed Nagasaki, she decides, that would be it. Everything distilled or distorted into its most functional form. She walked past the vegetable patches on the slopes a few days ago and saw the earth itself furrowing in mystification: why potatoes where once there were azaleas? What prompted this falling-off of love? How to explain to the earth that it was more functional as a vegetable patch than a flower garden, just as factories were more functional than schools and boys were more functional as weapons than as humans."Part 2, Veiled Birds, finds Hiroko traveling to India to meet Konrad's family, and try to salvage a life for herself. Once again, Shamsie's characters are vivid and alive, and her writing beautifully descriptive of the locations and mindset of the people of the time. Her portrait of the marriage of Elizabeth, Konrad's sister, and her husband James is penetrating, a perfect snapshot of a couple forgetting why they loved each other. And then the second tragedy comes."Elizabeth almost laughed. So much for the demure Japanese women of all the stories she'd heard. Here was one who would squeeze the sun in her fist if she every got the chance; yes, and tilt her head back to swallow its liquid light. At what point, Elizabeth wondered, had she started to believe there was virtue in living a constrained life? She clicked her heels against the floor in impatience at herself. Virtue really had nothing to do with it."In Part 3, Part-Angel Warriors, Hiroko and her husband are living in Pakistan with their son, Raza. In a section that brims with life, Raza stumbles upon a group of militant Afghanis while trying to appease his father. As he comes to identify more and more with this group, Shamsie lets readers in on the ease at which a basically good boy can become a terrorist. I found this section to be especially fascinating, with its themes of family love and loyalty, the desire to find a place to belong, and the quickness with which situations can spiral out of control. And then, of course, the third tragedy."Stay. Stay. Stay. She should have repeated it like a madwoman, banged her head against the wall in a frenzy, hit him and wept. She should have said it just one more time, just a little more forcefully. She should have taken his dear, sweet head in her hands and kissed his eyes and forehead. Stay."It was the fourth section that I felt was lacking. It takes place in America and the Middle East after the events of 9/11/01, and the connection I had felt to the characters up until this point wasn't maintained. Hiroko appears less in this section than any of the others, and it could have been that I missed her presence. But more than that, I just felt like the story lost its focus, and didn't have the emotional impact the author was intending. It does, inevitable, contain another tragedy, this one the most unnecessary of them all.This is the first novel I have read by this author, and I will certainly be looking for more of her work. While the ending did lose me a bit, the overall story was compelling and beautifully written, and I do recommend the novel.
Relative Reads Review - A Good House by Bonnie Burnard
I was given the great fortune of growing up in a family of readers. Both of my parents read, and so do the majority of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. In fact, my Great-Grandma had cataract surgery in her 90's, because she couldn't bear to not be able to read. I thought it would be interesting to read some of the books THEY have discovered and enjoyed over the years, so I asked them to send me some recommendations, and the fun began! I have a list of the titles various family members have suggested on the side of the blog, so if you want to see what will be coming up you can take a peek.A Good House by Bonnie Burnard (recommended by Aunt Rhoda)published 1999309 pagesSynopsis from publisher:A Good House begins in 1949 in Stonebrook, Ontario, home to the Chambers family. The postwar boom and hope for the future color every facet of life: the possibilities seem limitless for Bill, his wife Sylvia, and their three children.In the fifty years that follow, the possibilities narrow. Sylvia’s untimely death marks her family indelibly but in ways only time will reveal. Paul’s perfect marriage yields an imperfect child. Daphne unabashedly follows an unconventional path, while Patrick discovers that his happiness requires a series of compromises. Bill confronts the onset of old age less gracefully than anticipated, and throughout, his second wife, Margaret, remains, surprisingly, the family anchor.This extraordinarily moving and beautifully crafted first novel was a number one bestseller in Canada where it won one of the country’s most prestigious literary awards, the Giller Prize, in 1999.My thoughts:This is a very quiet book. It tells the story of the Chambers family from 1949, when Bill and Sylvia are a newly married couple, to 1997, when Bill and his second wife, Margaret, are grandparents, watching their grandchildren marry. It's not really a story about any one particular thing - just the lives of this family, as they love and win and lose over the years. But, because of that, it's about nearly everything - family, and love, and loss, and winning, and defeat, and all the tiny, mundane things that hold a family together, no matter what, through all the years.The first chapters of the novel are involved more intimately with the characters' lives - there are just a few, Bill and Sylvia and their children, and so Burnard gives the reader a chance to delve more deeply into their stories. As the years pass, the family grows larger, and Burnard must skim over much more of what happens to each particular character - suddenly, children are born and grown, spouses come and go, making the individuals seem more distant. For readers (like me), who really enjoy connecting with specific characters, this distance can make the second half of the novel less rewarding than the first. I found it to be an interesting parallel to a real family - the more we multiply, the less we are able to know each other intimately.I especially enjoyed the sections about the children growing up in their small town. There were moments when something in the story made me recall an exact moment of my own childhood so clearly - specifically, the chapter where the kids put on a circus. I can remember my sister and I, and some neighborhood kids, putting on "shows" at my grandma's house, complete with costumes and batons. We'd make the adults sit and watch us - it was really pretty pitiful, I'm sure. But these paragraphs really resonated with me, and I felt like I understood these characters' lives:"There were tough kids and kids not nearly tough enough, but most of them were assumed to be somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. If there were quarrels or fights, and occasionally there were, these were not reported back to parents because parents never did anything anyway. Parents couldn't save you. When kids came home muddy and soaking wet or bleeding from an unusual wound or cranky or worried or defeated, there was no great fuss. A dish of ice cream, a bowl of cereal, a joke, a bath, a bandage, a good night's sleep, these were the solutions."Burnard has written short story collections, and in a way, this novel was similar to a collection - each chapter had its own beginning and end, and didn't really carry over into the next. Things happened, and then we move on, and something else happens, and then we move on - the only thing really tying each section together was the constant desire of the family to hold itself together, no matter what was going on around it.I was also interested in her portrayal of the family as a group - a very clearly defined, members-only type group, with their own set of rules and expectations. Whenever a new person was introduced, THEY were required to conform to the group. There was never any question of the group changing to meet them. And if someone inside the group varied from their unspoken rules, there were swift consequences - the rules were set, no deviation tolerated. It's interesting to think of a family in this way. I tend to believe my own family is much more tolerant of new people and ideas, but I've never had to try to experience it as an outsider. I wonder how true that assumption is.I don't think this novel will be for everyone - it's thin character development and slow moving narration will likely be frustrating for some readers. I ultimately liked the novel. It felt comforting to me, like a warm blanket to curl up under. I was interested in Burnard's examination of the family, and how its members respond to each other and to outsiders over the years. It's a novel about nothing, and everything, and well worth the time I spent inside its covers.
After the Fire, a Still, Small Voice by Evie Wyld
Order: USA Can
Pantheon, 2009 (2008)Hardcover, e-Book
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Elizabeth Schulenburg
When Frank arrives at the rundown shack by the shore in northern Australia, he is running away from his life. He's just recently experienced a bad breakup. Feeling at loose ends, he travels to the home his grandparents escaped to fifty years ago, mostly abandoned since their deaths. He sets to work building a place for himself, befriending the neighbors, finding a job. But his own history of violence comes back to haunt him when a local girl goes missing, and he finds the past doesn't always stay gone for good.Leon is a teenager in 1950s suburban Australia, the beloved only child of parents saved from the horrors of Nazi concentration camps. When his father volunteers to fight in the Korean war, Leon finds himself shouldering the adult responsibility of running his parents' bakery. Upon his return, Leon's father is a changed man, and Leon's relationship with both his parents is strained. When Leon himself is conscripted into the Vietnam war, his own experiences become a mirror to his father's.After the Fire, a Still, Small Voice is an arresting debut novel. As Frank and Leon's stories entwine, and eventually meet, the reader is offered a glimpse into the scarred psyches of men damaged by the violence and horror of war, and the families torn apart by that damage. Wyld's characters have all experienced some sort of tragic loss - loss of a parent, a child, a love - and their faltering attempts to deal with that loss are at the heart of this novel.'But when she was in the bath or at night when she closed the door to her bedroom things became very quiet, like she had sat down just inside the room and stayed still until morning. Sometimes he looked through the keyhole to check she was actually there and she would be lying in bed, the covers up to her throat, with hardly a crease in them. She lay bone straight, her chest barely rising and falling, her eyes wide open. She stared at the ceiling like she was stopping it from falling on her.'Wyld's simple prose evokes the barren landscape to which Frank retreats, and the loneliness each of her characters struggles with throughout the book. Readers looking for a novel with its ending tied up nicely will be disappointed - the moral of this story is not reconcilliation and forgiveness. However, readers looking for a fascinating character study are encouraged to seek this one out. Its powerful story will make for an unforgettable reading experience.
Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.
The Book of Murder by Guillermo Martinez published 7/09 224 pagesOriginally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com.What happens when a crime novel comes to life? Could a novelist do the unthinkable - live out his story?Ten years ago, a young writer in Argentina faces a crisis - up against a deadline, he breaks his wrist, leaving him unable to finish his manuscript. Desperate, he calls his editor for help. His editor offers a perfect solution: he will send Luciana, a brilliant typist, to help the writer finish his work. Luciana usually works for Kloster, a rather eccentric novelist, but he is away for a month and her services are available. So the writer employs Luciana, finishes his novel, and doesn't give her another thought.A late night call from Luciana a decade later startles the writer, but her story is even more alarming. Convincing the writer to meet her and begging for his help, she relates her belief that Kloster has been systematically killing her loved ones for the past ten years to revenge a personal tragedy for which he holds her responsible. At first the writer is skeptical, but as Luciana lays out her circumstantial evidence, he unwillingly finds himself believing her."Why did I say yes when everything inside me said no? Why didn't I fob her off with some excuse and put as much distance between us as possible? There are times in life - not many - when you can see, with dizzying clarity, the fatal fork in the road represented by one small act, the catastrophe that lurks behind a trivial decision. That evening I knew, above all else, that I shouldn't listen to her anymore. But, overcome by the intertia of compassion, or politeness, I stood up and followed her out."Against his better judgment, the writer arranges a meeting with Kloster and teases out his version of the events. As Kloster refutes each of Luciana's assertions with a perfectly logical explanation, the writer becomes more and more perplexed. Who is telling the truth? Whose life was truly ruined? Are the events coincidence, or the work of a truly brilliant murderer? Martinez spins a chilling tale of revenge and murder with just enough ambiguity to keep the reader constantly guessing. The story is presented almost entirely in the form of two monologues - Luciana and later Kloster telling their stories takes up the bulk of the narrative. This is a uniquely effective approach for this novel, as it allows the characters to relate their own tales but gives no actual insight into the workings of their brain. Readers are never given access to what is truth and what is lie, keeping them wondering until the very end of the novel. Unfortunately, this approach does not allow for a great deal of connection to the story. Readers looking for characters with which to sympathize may be disappointed; Martinez holds them at arm's length for the duration of the novel. His logic and persuasion are second to none, but there is a lack of emotion that permeates the story. Readers looking for a cerebral mystery will be more than pleased with this haunting tale, and its unexpected ending will likely keep all readers thinking for many years to come.
A series of audio ‘trips’ has brought the world of altered states to new levels of digital convenience with the i-Doser program. Downloads for Windows systems, iPhone, and iPods, enable users to download virtual audio tracks, which stimulate the brain into wave states that simulate drugs like Peyote, Marijuana, Lucid Dreams, Orgasm, LSD, and a variety of other original head-trips.
Reminiscent of previous programs for brain hemisphere synchronization, such as the Monroe Institute’s “Hemi Sync” program, varying sound frequencies are deliberately miss-matched to produce beat frequencies that the brain then locks onto. This induces varying brain wave states such as the classic alpha, delta, theta, states as well as an addition of new flavors of consciousness, which simulate intoxicated states.
Doorways are open at http://www.i-doser.com/
- Scientific proof of non-locality. EPR paper Einstein involved in the project with spooky effects.
- French physicist Alain Aspect in the 80's empirically proved non locality. Travel can be faster than the speed of light.
- Teleportation experiments of the 90's.
- Deathblow of Newtonian Physics:This realization was the deathblow for Newtonian physics as a model for the whole universe, since matter could no longer be considered to be individual and separate. Actions did not have to have an observable cause over an observable state. Nothing (at the quantum level) can be considered independent of anything else; all can only be understood in terms of their relationships to each other. The quantum model proposes that the universe exists as an interconnected web of relationships, forever indivisible, since nothing has any meaning by itself! Our great instruments, which we had built to confirm the solidity of the universe and our concept of the world as a machine built of understandable and predictable parts, now reveal that at its most basic level, the universe is as ethereal and drifting as a dream and as solid as a mirage! Nothing is solid; nothing is real; the universe is a seething field of energy and potential. What is even more astonishing is the realization that we -- the living consciousness that observes "reality" -- may be the most essential ingredient in this indivisible and interconnected universe. The quantum physicists found something that could have as profound implications for the destiny of the human species as anything we have ever discovered. They found that: "the state of all possibilities of any quantum particle collapsed into a set entity as soon as it was observed or a measurement taken."
The experiences and intensity are well documented in his book Tryptamine Palace (click here for an excerpt that appeared on Reality Sandwich). Further, they have energized his life, bringing a sense of personal responsibility. Says Oroc:
"I found, with my own spiritual epiphany, that I cared to do something about it. I think one sign of a true spiritual epiphany is that you take on a sense of responsibility, I think it’s how Jung said 'enlightened consciousness is like a burden of guilt,' and once I believed I had a real spiritual epiphany, one of the reliefs was a sense of responsibility and a feeling that I had to try and do something. Whatever it was I could do, I had to try to do something, and that’s what this book has been about, this year of promoting the book, getting out and talking to people…. Yeah, I think we have been conned, because spirituality is a very personal thing and we’ve bought into a society that is telling us that spirituality is a superstition or a myth, things that educated people don’t believe in, and I think there’s a lot of evidence to the contrary, and that getting back in deeper touch with our spirituality would definitely help clean up the planet."
Check out this and other Evolver Top News posts on Evolver.net
If we think we can picture what is going on in the quantum domain, that is one
indication that we've got it wrong. --Attributed to Erwin Schrödinger
God us keep
From single vision & Newton's sleep! --William Blake, from a
letter to Thomas Butts, November 22, 1802
1. What is the source of the brilliant laser-like light that I encounter?The source seems to have emanated from the quantum realm outside of space and time. 2. How can I feel as if I am occupying a reality outside of time?Comparing it to the realm of space and time is the only self evident answer. 3. How can this dimension outside of time seem to contain all possible permutations and information? This dimesnion necessarily contains all possibles for its is part and parcel,and more so of the akashic record.4. How can I exist as consciousness without ego or identity, and yet clearly still be me? That experience is beyond the words used to describe it. 5. Why do I so firmly believe that this experience is a recognition and subsequent realization of both the true nature of G/d, and of myself? Because of the realization that our souls and th G-d force exist necessarily as eternal and out of time. We cocneptually realize this and it comes as no surprise when we experience this .
What began as a studious attempt to understand what happens to me when I smoke 5-MeO-DMT has become -- after six years of research -- a comprehensive examination of the workings of human consciousness, perception, and ultimately, what the true nature of reality may be. Out of the myriad of extraordinary events that have occurred within the context of my own 5-MeO-DMT experiences, a more limited number of questions regarding the nature of the 5MDE have occupied a central position in my mind. They can be summed up as:
1. What is the source of the brilliant laser-like light that I encounter?
2. How can I feel as if I am occupying a reality outside of time?
3. How can this dimension outside of time seem to contain all possible permutations and information?
4. How can I exist as consciousness without ego or identity, and yet clearly still be me?
5. Why do I so firmly believe that this experience is a recognition and subsequent realization of both the true nature of G/d, and of myself?
My search for answers to these questions led inexorably to the world of quantum physics, a realm that I knew little about other than reading popular accounts, such as Gary Zukav's book The Dancing Wu-Li Masters, even though I generally found quantum physics intimidating due to my misconception that it involved a lot of applied mathematics. Like most people, I stopped studying math after getting out of high school, and I never had a strong grasp of calculus -- my mind just doesn't work that way. Or perhaps it was simply because of the shifting complexity of the ideas quantum physics presents that I never really could grasp them. But as I followed the leads present in much of the DMT literature --from the McKenna brothers, to Jeremy Narby, to Rick Strassman, and beyond -- I repeatedly found myself back in the quantum realm.
Slowly, the collective ideas of a small group of scientific renegades -- maverick thinkers such as David Bohm, Rupert Sheldrake, Roger Penrose, Hal Puthoff, Bernard Haisch, and Ervin Laszlo -- have effectively helped me to construct a new worldview to replace the old paradigm that my 5-MeO-DMT experiences dissolved away. The obvious similarities between the emerging scientific view of reality and the possibilities implicit in the 5-MeO-DMT experience (and tryptamines in general) have allowed me to feel as if my metaphorical mental feet are returning to somewhat firmer philosophical ground.
We are Homo sapiens, "the knowing man," animals that prized psychological knowledge over the physical bounties of the Earth, and who -- thanks to that same Promethean knowledge -- now hold the fate of the planet in our hands. This unquenchable thirst for knowledge, combined with the ingenuity of our modern wonder-tools (such as the particle accelerator, the super computer, and the Hubble telescope), has allowed us over the last twenty years to probe the universe at levels -- both great and small -- that humanity never previously imagined possible. And the findings that today's most radical scientists are discovering with these incredible instruments are so strange and unbelievable that it is as if they have come from another dimension. (Which they well may have!) Most of what we were taught about "science" at high school is now turning out to be false; the model we were taught for the atom is as wrong as the model we held for our solar system before Copernicus; and the models we have for the mechanism of consciousness may well be equally as antiquated and naive.
The Trap of Material Realism
Our modern worldview is built on the physical model of the universe provided by Newtonian physics: the idea that all objects in the universe have mass and influence upon each other and that without the influence of this mass, all objects would remain at rest. A good visualization of this is balls on a pool table, which will remain at rest until another ball hits them and sets them in motion. This philosophy, known as material realism, asserts that all bodies in the universe -- from pool balls to galaxies -- move according to universal laws. This method of thinking laid the groundwork for the belief that all activity in the universe must be caused by knowable laws and formula, the most fundamental of which is Newton's F = ma (force = mass x acceleration).
The belief that knowing these "universal laws" would enable us to understand all the workings of the universe (from the creation of stars all the way down to our own biological function), as if everything was a complex machine, has led to three centuries of scientific material deconstructionism: a process of breaking everything down to its most basic components in an attempt to prove that these laws were in themselves inescapable. In the process of reducing the mystery of the universe into simple action and reaction -- and by ignoring its obvious complexity and interconnectedness --we embraced the belief that by mastering these laws, we could free the human species from the "bonds" of nature.
Ironically, our "faith" in this model of purely random action and reaction has resulted in the dominance of the philosophy that the universe is simply a complex machine, and that we are mere creations of blind chance. This leaves us with the philosophical conundrum that it shouldn't really make any difference whether we are here or not. And, even though we clearly are here, we are seen as only biological machines, slightly more than robots. Our consciousness is considered to be merely a strange side effect of purely chemical and electrical interactions. A hundred years after killing off God, we've concluded that we have no purpose other than "fighting to survive." We have taken the magic out of the world and reduced it to mere formula, thus allowing our "superior sciences" to deconstruct ourselves.
Modern civilization is built on the foundation of three theories that have become dogma, which we inherited from the three most influential thinkers of the pre-quantum age. From Newton's equation we concluded that the universe is nothing but a machine; from Darwin we accepted the gospel that man is a creature of chance that has to "fight to survive"; and Descartes convinced us that the physical world of the body and the mental inner world of the mind should be considered as separate entities.
Though they remain unproven, these three ideas are universally accepted. They have been responsible for splitting us off from our planet, from our biosphere, and ultimately from our true selves; embraceing these theories has resulted in the creation of a rabid culture that now threatens the ecological balance of the planet itself. For, as Alvin Toffler says in the introduction to Ilya Prigogine's Order Out of Chaos (1984), "One of the most highly developed skills in contemporary Western civilization is dissection: the split-up of problems into their smallest possible components. We are good at it. So good, we often forget to put the pieces back together again."
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution we have increased the human population by over five times. We continue to tear the planet to pieces in search of resources that we cannot replenish, while we defile and pollute the rivers, oceans, and even the air we breathe, as we send tens of thousands of species of flora and fauna to extinction -- a fate whose door we could soon be knocking on ourselves. The mechanical materialistic model of both humans and the universe as mere machines, has not only destroyed our belief in G/d. As the American philosopher Danah Zohar remarked, "Newton's vision tore us out from the fabric of the universe itself."
This paradigm has only been around for the last few centuries, which -- even compared to the minor span of human existence as a whole -- is a miniscule amount of time. When compared to any kind of geological epoch, it is not even a blink in the eye of the universe. Yet even while our politicians and kings of industry race to further these Newtonian excesses, science -- the origin of these destructive simplifications -- has moved on to stranger, far less certain ground. This new paradigm of uncertainty and potential, this revolutionary human view of the universe, is called quantum physics.
A Quantum Reality
Ironically it was science's unquenchable thirst for breaking things into smaller and smaller pieces that ultimately bought the walls of Newtonian physics tumbling down. As our instruments grew more and more powerful, and we began to probe the subatomic realm -- the supposed "building blocks" of the universe -- scientists came to a staggering realization. In the realm of the very small, Newtonian physics did not hold. In fact, in the realm of the very small, nothing we believed in as solid reality turned out to be true. Solid reality, if we look deep enough, does not seem to exist at all!
To understand how this is possible, we have to comprehend a concept that is central to the ideas of quantum physics. It is called "nonlocality." It refers to the capacity of quantum particles (such as two electrons) that have once been in contact to retain a connection even when separated -- the actions of one will always immediately influence the other, no matter how far apart they are. Today it is widely accepted that, in the subatomic realm, one quantum entity can influence another instantaneously, over any distance, despite there being no exchange of force or energy.
Physicists started moving toward this realization in 1935, when Einstein, along with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen, published a paper -- the so-called EPR thought experiment or EPR paradox -- that showed that under certain circumstances, quantum mechanics predicted a breakdown of locality. According to this theory, a particle could be put in a measuring device in one location and, through that action alone, would instantly influence another particle an arbitrary distance away. Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen themselves refused to believe this effect -- which Einstein labeled "spooky action at a distance" -- and viewed the experiment as evidence that quantum mechanics was incomplete. However, the EPR experiment set the basis for a potential scientific proof of the existence of nonlocality.
Almost thirty years later, J. S. Bell proved mathematically that the results predicted by quantum mechanics could not be explained by any theory that preserved locality. In the forty years that have followed, countless experiments using physical instrumentation have been performed to try to prove the EPR experiment. In the empirical experiments of French physicist Alain Aspect in the 1980s (subsequently replicated in laboratories all over the world), a bizarre thing took place. In the experiments, the correlation of spin state between two particles was maintained -- instantaneously -- irrespective of how far apart the particles were. (Theoretically this would apply if the two particles were on opposite sides of the universe.) In Aspect's original experiments, the speed of this transmission was estimated at less than one billionth of a second, about twenty times faster than the speed of light in empty space. In a subsequent experiment performed in 1997 by Nicolas Gisin, it proved to be 20,000 times faster than the speed of light. Many consider these experiments as "proof" of nonlocality. These experiments also obviously put a dent in Einstein's special theory of relativity, which states that nothing can travel faster than light.
"Teleportation" experiments of the 1990s -- where one electron has been "teleported" to another position -- have also been cited as "experimental proof" of nonlocality. And in 2004, two independent teams of physicists -- one at the National Institute of Standards in Colorado, the other at University of Innsbruck, Austria -- announced that they had "teleported" the quantum state of entire atoms. While nonlocality still has its skeptics who state that "sufficient experimental proof" has not been offered, today the concept of nonlocality is assumed to be valid in quantum physics.
This realization was the deathblow for Newtonian physics as a model for the whole universe, since matter could no longer be considered to be individual and separate. Actions did not have to have an observable cause over an observable state. Nothing (at the quantum level) can be considered independent of anything else; all can only be understood in terms of their relationships to each other. The quantum model proposes that the universe exists as an interconnected web of relationships, forever indivisible, since nothing has any meaning by itself!
Our great instruments, which we had built to confirm the solidity of the universe and our concept of the world as a machine built of understandable and predictable parts, now reveal that at its most basic level, the universe is as ethereal and drifting as a dream and as solid as a mirage! Nothing is solid; nothing is real; the universe is a seething field of energy and potential. What is even more astonishing is the realization that we -- the living consciousness that observes "reality" -- may be the most essential ingredient in this indivisible and interconnected universe. The quantum physicists found something that could have as profound implications for the destiny of the human species as anything we have ever discovered. They found that: "the state of all possibilities of any quantum particle collapsed into a set entity as soon as it was observed or a measurement taken."
To understand this we have to reexamine the model of the atom we were all taught at school, which is that of electrons orbiting the nucleus like planets going around the sun. This model has been proven to be completely incorrect. What physicists now believe is that a cloud of "potential," which can cause the electron to materialize in any position, surrounds the nucleus. To visualize this, imagine a race around a track where the runners "appear" at certain spots on the course for a second or two, then disappear and reappear a hundred meters further along -- without having to physically cross the distance between the two points. This happens for no apparent reason, nor with any indication as to where they might disappear and appear again. Where this gets really weird, is that some physicists now believe that the "force" causing an electron to appear in some particular position --which is only a possibility and does not have to happen -- is the fact that a living consciousness is observing it.
At the subatomic level, where everything is a pulsating sea of electrical charge and possibility, the universe takes physical form (which we call reality) only because we are here to observe it. The act of observation "forces" the electron to appear in a position out of that sea of possibility, and so by observing, we cause "reality" to happen. Just as the Australian Aboriginals believe that their ancestors sang up the world as they walked through the desert, it is possible that through perceiving, we create the universe and everything in it.
These are the main foundations of quantum physics: nonlocality, the fact that the observer cannot be removed from the equation, and that the observer may actually be the reason a particular event occurs at all. At its most basic level, the universe does not operate according to the laws of Newtonian physics; those laws only apply to a small window of the universe we choose to call "our reality." Once you look past that point, things get peculiar. Energy moves around without apparent rhyme or reason, possessing strange qualities like "charm" and "spin," while every electron in the universe appears to influence (and be influenced by) every other electron in the universe, through "spooky action at a distance."
Many of the early contributors to quantum physics -- Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and especially Erwin Schrödinger -- realized the profound philosophical implications that their work presented, and they consulted the Kabbalah and Eastern philosophy for help in understanding this new paradigm. But the modern industrial world is built on the foundations of Newton's physics, as well as the ideas of economic thinkers -- such as Adam Smith and John Locke --who followed his mechanist philosophy. And while physics -- the cutting-edge of scientific philosophy -- moved into the quantum age more than eighty years ago, most other sciences have been moving far slower. Biological systems, for example, were presumed to be dependent on predictable Newtonian laws, and investigations into their quantum nature have only begun in earnest over the past twenty-five years.
As a result, our society has not really considered the profound implications of this totally different view of reality. Yoked to the needs of industry, mainstream science is good at clinging to ideas that it believes it knows, putting things it cannot understand aside for a later day. While we have utilized the breakthroughs that quantum mechanics fostered (such as the processor chip and atomic energy), we have largely ignored the philosophical implications.
Ninety-five percent of modern scientists are highly specialized technicians. They are good at performing a single function, much like a mechanic who can only fix transmissions and does not really know how the whole car operates. Those few scientists who venture outside of the conventions that industry-supported universities allow have often been branded as dangerous mavericks and have been aggressively disavowed (as seen in the fate of Nikola Tesla compared to that of Thomas Edison). Hence, the philosophical implications of quantum physics have mostly been ignored as we hold fast to the dying days of the Newtonian worldview, still treating our severely ailing planet like some kind of machine whose parts we can "fix" when they break down, instead of realizing the truth inherent in the quantum model, which asserts that all life on Earth is interdependent and impossible to regard as anything but a whole.
Only in the last couple of decades has the dominant Newtonian paradigm begun to erode in the sciences outside of physics, thanks to our incredible modern technology, which has produced both the instruments to achieve the results and the computers to crunch the enormous amount of data that has been provided. (More information will be produced by our society in the next twelve months then in the previous 5,000 years! And our technical knowledge is doubling every twelve months!) Quantum relationships are now believed to regulate all processes in the universe, whether it is atoms, cells, galaxies, or even the ultimate human mystery of all: the source of our own consciousness. The most elemental level of living things can no longer be considered as chemical reactions, but as energy.
As Lynne McTaggart explains in her pioneering work The Field:
[Scientists] also discovered that . . . [on] our most fundamental level, living beings, including human beings, were packets of quantum energy constantly exchanging information with [an] inexhaustible energy sea. Living things emitted a weak radiation, and this was the most crucial aspect of biological processes. Information about all aspects of life, from cellular communication to the vast array of controls of DNA, was relayed through an information exchange on the quantum level. Even our minds, that other supposedly so outside of the laws of matter, operated according to quantum processes. Thinking, feeling-every higher cognitive function-had to do with quantum information pulsing simultaneously through our brains and [bodies]. Human perception occurred because of interactions between the subatomic particles of our brains and the quantum energy sea. We literally resonated with our world.
The Implicate Order
The first building blocks of a new philosophical paradigm that could incorporate my 5-MeO-DMT experiences came when I discovered the major works of the British physicist David Bohm. His complex theories of philosophy and physics, most famously expressed in his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order, have drawn praise from spiritual luminaries such as Jiddu Krishnamurti and the Dalai Lama (who called Bohm his "personal physicist").
Dr. Bohm proposed that mind and matter coexist in different dimensions, unfolding and enfolding upon each other. In principle, then, reality is one unbroken whole -- an "implicate order" that includes the entire universe with all its fields and particles. True reality is thus an infinitely multilayered, multidimensional wholeness, while what we typically consider "reality" is only a fragment of the whole. It is more like a dream or an illusion (or even a hallucination), from which our consciousness may one day presumably awake.
This is an extreme simplification of a fully fleshed-out theory of physics by one of the greatest Western minds since Einstein. Bohm's idea would have been hard for me to even begin to understand if it were not for the fact that it was -- up to this point -- the best description I had found for what I experience at the peak of a 5MDE. During the peak, I become pure consciousness, with no concept of the normal boundaries of space or time. For that instant, I am a part of the integrated wholeness (where nevertheless I still exist, even though not a shred of my ego or identity remains).
Bohm's theory is also eerily similar to many Hindu and Buddhist concepts of the true form of the universe and its infinite manifestations. Hindu cosmology depicts the universe as having virtually incalculable size and age, ideas that used to be readily dismissed by Western scholars as deliberate gross exaggeration. However, thanks to instruments like the Hubble telescope, recent discoveries are proving that Hinduism is the only cosmology that is even close, while the Greeks, Christians, Arabs, and others had all massively underestimated.
According to David Bohm, matter is "condensed or frozen light." Therefore, the entire physical world can be regarded as ordered forms of slow-moving light. This includes all organic life, whose existence and survival is entirely sustained by light energy from the sun. Life on this planet is a continuing process of light evolving itself into more complex forms of order: first into the simplest of atoms and molecules, then into increasingly complex forms of matter, then into exponentially more complex organic life forms (thanks to the wonders of DNA and RNA), and now-most recently, in our world at least -- the latest evolution into conscious, questioning life forms.
The process of exponentially increasing complexity of order in a (supposedly) closed system (which should be increasing in disorder) is called negentropy. This process directly contradicts the second law of thermodynamics, which states that all isolated systems must move from a state of order toward a state of chaos (entropy). According to the Newtonian paradigm, this highly improbable complex ordering of light has been the result of purely random interactions. However, since the advent of the quantum sciences and the invention of the tremendous number-crunching computers of recent years, some scientists have begun to suspect that the mechanisms of "life, the universe, and everything" (with apologies to Douglas Adams!) are much too balanced and finely tuned to have been able to evolve by blind chance alone.
According to calculations by Roger Penrose, for example, the probability of the evolution of our particular universe by a random selection from among the alternative-universe possibilities is one in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123! This is an inconceivably large number, indicating an improbability of astronomical proportions! The universe is turning out to be so complicated, in fact, that -- according to David Bohm's theories -- it requires the existence of a superior or implicate order of organization that defines the physical principles of our universe and governs all known physical processes, including ourselves.
Image by Aetas Serenus, courtesy of Creative Commons license.
James Oroc's blog
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Creation of epic fantasy world,an all embracing universe with unforgettable characters. Scars are from an apocalyptic past.he motif of the ensnaring by a mysterious traveler.Never quite arrived at the Holy War in 1st novel. The characters connected even in this dark novel . The genre of high fantasy or epic fantasy one must be attuned to the genre to make the reading of interest.
The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker The Prince of Nothing series, book 1published 2003 589 pages Synopsis from publisher:Strikingly original in its conception, ambitious in scope, with characters engrossingly and vividly drawn, the first book in R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series creates a remarkable world from whole cloth-its language and classes of people, its cities, religions, mysteries, taboos, and rituals-the kind of all-embracing universe Tolkien and Herbert created unforgettably in the epic fantasies The Lord of the Rings and Dune.It's a world scarred by an apocalyptic past, evoking a time both two thousand years past and two thousand years into the future, as untold thousands gather for a crusade. Among them, two men and two women are ensnared by a mysterious traveler, Anasarimbor Kellhus-part warrior, part philosopher, part sorcerous, charismatic presence-from lands long thought dead. The Darkness That Comes Before is a history of this great holy war, and like all histories, the survivors write its conclusion.My thoughts:This was quite a book to end the year reading. The first in a high-fantasy trilogy, it has me very excited to read the next two volumes.Bakker has lot of ground to cover - his world is highly complex, with thousands of years of history and culture to explain, so at times all that information does feel a little overwhelming. I appreciated, however, that I never felt like Bakker was rushing through the preliminary stuff - everything worked within the confines of the story. I did have to read a bit more slowly that usual, because there were lots of new names and places to learn, but Bakker includes an extremely helpful list at the end of the book with that important information, so it was easy to flip back and forth if I was unsure who was talking.Bakker's characters were satisfyingly rich and complex - each has so many facets to their personality that I feel like I've still only scratched the surface. Characters that I initially felt were not as interesting or important were allowed to unfold throughout the novel, so that by the end the entire cast - good and bad, and everyone in between - were compelling.This felt very much like a "setting the stage" novel. I mean, we spent 500+ pages getting ready for a Holy War that we never quite arrived at! I think that might be frustrating for some readers - all this reading, and no payoff. However, I think it just made me more excited to see what will happen next.This is a VERY dark novel - violence is rife throughout the book. I did find myself skimming over some of the descriptions of battle, and the plotting and machinating that was going on. But Bakker was able to hold my interest, even with all the fighting, because of the connection I felt to the characters. I do wish there was a stronger female character, but I have hope for the continued development of Serwe and Esmi.I really enjoyed the reading of this novel, and I'm very excited to see what happens in the next installment of this series. I think fans of "high" fantasy or "epic" fantasy will probably enjoy this novel quite a bit. If you don't typically read the genre, I wouldn't even attempt it - I don't think it would work for you at all.Finished: 12/27/09Source: Forest Avenue libraryRating: 9/10
An interesting series of events have come forward and it appears I will be moving out of Lima. I will be relocating to Iquitos, to my Peruvian jungle post Infinite Light, sure to continue the Mochican treatments, though to live life in a more heartfelt way.
The past year in Lima has been exciting, difficult, wildly unique and incredibly important. My physical growth has been substantial, however the lifestyle has been incredibly difficult. I have spent a lot of time in tears and prayer. The inability to find reliable assistance, a partial language barrier, cultural challenges and a few other issues are what urge me to continue from the jungle. I have observed and studied my treatments from a deep, personal perspective this year and strongly believe I understand them thoroughly. I have tuned into my access points, down to even the fingers, I feel confident to teach my treatments from the jungle.
Moving to Infinite Light by Meghan’s invitation was not easy for me to accept. In fact, I denied it to myself at first and turned it down, believing recovery was intended for Lima. Choosing to leave this city was a tough decision to reach. I really love and appreciate the clinic, my friends here are great, but staying in Lima was slippiing out of my hands. City living, in this chair, and often only us three girls has been indeed a project (Maybe I will rename this the PeruvianPieceofCake.org and manifest ease?). I cycled through a series of confused inner questions searching for the “correct” rehabilitating decision… and got nowhere. I felt perplexed by this new door ajar. I swam upstream with my mind’s stubborn ideas and inventive forecasts only to feel exhausted and physically taxed.
So I surrendered, and to no better place but my glorious heart. By doing so, out flowed my familiar squirmy delighted behavior that arises when I fill with immeasurable excitement and overflowing love for God. Flooding thrill supported my choice. So grateful. So with this move I am joyfully receiving, yet another piece of Creation’s creative plan.
Life in the jungle will be drastically different, in the most helpful and salutary of ways. I will receive my help from many of Infinite Light’s apprentices. I can paint there and receive treatment. There will be an array of Amazonian plants, though predominantly ayahuasca. Sanango is also in much of their brew. Although I do not intend to drink ayahuasca nearly as often as ceremony is conducted, this medicine is a huge part of my recovery and life and I will continue with it. I see these two styles of treatments going hand in hand, merging an incredible balance of emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health. I look forward to writing more about this.
This move is a heart-centered decision. Infinite Light is an incredible center dedicated to plant medicine and healing. It is a strong community with wonderful intent. And it’s fun. Hard work, but a blast. I feel wholeheartedly that this choice is on path and that it is divinely guided. I can bring my treatments with me. I will return to Lima to reevaluate with either Maria Luz or Laura every few months.