Friday, December 28, 2012

Roboy





This was just posted on YouTube today... Roboy, the latest artificial humanoid you will be replaced with in the future. ;-)

Happy New Year!



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cliff Pickover's "The Six Thousand"


Portrait of Mac by Electric Warrior


"6000 intriguing people you want to meet online before you die. 
Who will make the list tomorrow?"

- Cliff Pickover's "The Six Thousand"


I don't know how this bit of Mac-related trivia slipped my mind these past few years, but I was reminded last night during research for my latest Trans-D post The Doors of Perception. (Yes, another cross-post...)

I can't tell you what intriguing people might make Cliff Pickover's list tomorrow, but I can tell you who made the list Wednesday, January 04, 2006. As well he should have! If I remember correctly, the list was loads shorter in those days. But, what I do remember without a doubt was Mac having gotten a huge kick out of it.

Incidentally, I've added a new link list to the Post-Mac Blues side-bar; hat-tips to people, places and things which I've posted elsewhere on this blog in the past, and many of which I've cited frequently. (Note: I've included the UFO Mystic link, but I notice that the page has been blank for months now. No clue.)

***

Added note: Following the pixel trail I found this mention of Clifford Pickover on Posthuman Blues from 2008: apparently Mac was co-blogger on Pickover's Reality Carnival Unleashed. He mostly posted links to articles, and many of the links are now broken, but the ones that work are interesting, so, if you elect to visit the page, scroll down to Friday, August 22, 2008, and keep going.

For example, here's a sampling from April 8, 2008: Spoof "Virgle" plan proves unexpectedly plausible, and from May 7 of that year: Astrobiological nonlocality at the cosmological level.
There are numerous others!


For Cliff's mile long list of phenomenal links - continuously updated - go to Reality Carnival!




Friday, December 14, 2012

Dean Radin on Radio Misterioso



"On this program, we discussed Dr. Radin’s background and his early interest in paranormal topics, and how this led him to a career as a working parapsychologist. We then looked at the rocky early history of quantum theory (which forms the basis of a possible working theory of psychic phenomena) and how its acceptance among more scientists would be the basis of a possible renaissance of psychic research."

- Greg Bishop's introduction to his latest podcast



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mars Update... and NASA's Warp Drive




"NASA‘s teased data “for the history books” from the Curiosity Mars rover has all been a huge misunderstanding, the space agency now says, with the reference apparently encompassing the mission as a whole – not a specific finding. Anticipation was built earlier this month when principal investigator John Grotzinger told NPR that “this data is gonna be one for the history books” and that “it’s looking really good”; his comments were interpreted as specific to a set of soil sample results Curiosity’s onboard labs had just beamed back to Earth, but NASA says it was all a case of confusion."

-  via a Slash Gear news article, 11/28/12



"The Curiosity rover may have found organic compounds on Mars, Jet Propulsion Laboratory director Charles Elachi said in Rome on Wednesday, according to multiple reports.

"Perhaps Curiosity has found simple organic molecules," Elachi said at La Sapienza University, according to La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno. "It's preliminary data that must be checked (on) organic, not biological, molecules."

The statement figures to set off a new round of speculation and excitement about the possibility of life on Mars.

Elachi, however, made clear that Curiosity cannot find life."

- via the Denver Post article,  11/28/12


***


Ah well, Kats and Kitties, as - more or less - predicted in this update, no news is... uh, no news.  Then again, over at Boing Boing, Maggie Koerth-Baker leaps to NASA's defense!


However, cheer up... George Dvorsky reported on io9 (11/26/12) about a warp drive that could change the playing field... or, at least, get us there a lot quicker! See: How NASA might build its very first warp drive.  (Thanks, David!)





Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Quantum Soul (3)


Michio Kaku at Big Think



"Many quantum physicists today, including several of my friends and colleagues who have won Nobel Prizes, lean toward the Many Worlds interpretation, which states that the quantum universe is continually splitting into parallel universes. String theory (my specialty) also leads naturally to this "multiverse" interpretation, since each solution of string theory represents a different quantum universe.

This means that, in principle, there may be quantum copies of ourselves in these different universes, in which we may be rock stars, famous politicians, or homeless people. Each of these parallel versions of ourselves, in turn, insists that they are the real person, and  that all other copies are fake.

But this does not mean that we can easily enter such parallel universes to meet copies of ourselves to settle the question. Think of listening to the radio in your living room. There are many different radio waves filling up your room from different radio stations, but your radio only vibrates (i.e. is coherent) with one station. Your radio has decohered from these other universes and hence cannot pick up their signals. Similarly, each universe vibrates at different quantum frequencies, but we have decohered from them, i.e. we do not vibrate at the same frequency anymore. Hence, it is amazing that there are many parallel universes existing in your living room(e.g. with dinosaurs, pirates, comets, or nothing at all), but you have decohered from them, and hence cannot make contact them.

In principle, perhaps people who have died are still alive in one of these universes in your living room, but if you reach out, you cannot make contact with them. Yes, this means that Elvis is probably still alive in one of these universes."


- Michio Kaku via a Big Think article Physics on the Fringe: Dr. Kaku Answers Questions from Science Channel Viewers 11/20/12


***

In a sort of "The Word of the Day" footnote, Michio Kaku is described in the Wiki article (via the link above) as being a pantheist. From the Wiki definition:

"Pantheism is a word derived from the Greek roots pan (meaning "all") and theos (meaning "God"). It is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God, or that the Universe (or Nature) is identical with divinity. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal or anthropomorphic god, but differ in exact interpretation of the term.

Pantheism was popularized in the modern era as both a theology and philosophy based on the work of Baruch Spinoza, whose treatise, Ethics, was an answer to Descartes' famous dualist theory that the body and spirit are separate. Spinoza held that the two are the same, and this monism is a fundamental quality of his philosophy. He was described as a "God-intoxicated man," and used the word God to describe the unity of all substance. Though the term Pantheism was not coined until after his death, Spinoza is regarded as the most celebrated advocate of pantheism."

Famous Pantheists include... and, for those interested, Pantheism on the internet can be found here, here, and here.



Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Day Trip to Mars: Opportunity Still Knocks


The joint's still jumping at Endeavor Crater - Sept. 6, 2012
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Outcropping at Endeavor... What's this - petroglyphs? ;-)
November, 2012 - NASA/JPL-Caltech/ Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Those of you familiar with Mac and Post-Mac Blues might be wondering why I haven't made much of the Mars mission this year... specifically the presence of Curiosity at Gale Crater. The sad fact is, I just haven't been all that impressed with the data these days.* While Curiosity might be a mechanical marvel, it apparently doesn't have a "pancam," and/or pancam shots are just not available to the public. Then again, Gale Crater doesn't much look like prime real estate judging by its raw images.... a fairly featureless terrain not even worth setting up camp in. So, if there's loads to see in Gale Crater, I don't think the public has been invited, yet. Meanwhile, here's a toy to play with. I've yet to install it, but, if you do, let me know what I'm missing.

In any case, Gale Crater certainly hasn't offered up anything comparable to the Spirit rover's stomping ground, Gusev Crater, a veritable treasure trove; nor even Endeavor Crater where Opportunity still roams. Yes, our trusty Spirit passed away - or, at least, fell into a coma - in March, 2010, but Opportunity continues to give us glimmers of the Mars we all want to go to. (Spirit and Opportunity even have a Twitter page.) So, while I have nothing interesting to show you from Gale Crater, here's 2 pancam shots via the Opportunity rover taken quite recently, plus one from 2004... to remind us of the wonder that is Mars, and the planet that continues to haunt us. (click on images for larger views)


Opportunity image circa 2004 - JPL/Caltech

***


*11/20/12 - This just in, via the NPR article: Big News From Mars? Rover Scientists Mum For Now. (Radio broadcast below)

I don't know how riveting my jaded imagination will interpret this potential "news", and I suspect that Rover scientists are "mum" more often than not, but, in lieu of any photographic thrills and chills, I'll take what I can get! (Hat-tip to G.T. at the Daily Grail.)





11/23/12 Update: Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, proposes plans for a settlement on Mars. And, for a mere $500,000, you too, can climb aboard. But, hey, wait a minute, what if Mars One gets there first?


Previous Mars posts on Post-Mac Blues

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Quantum Soul (2)


"Bond of Union" - M.C. Escher - Lithograph - 1956



"Omni: That seems to fit in well with your thoughts about death.

Bohm: Death must be connected with questions of time and identity. When you die, everything on which your identity depends is going. All things in your memory will go. Your whole definition of what you are will go. The whole sense of being separate from anything will go because that's part of your identity. Your whole sense of time must go. Is there anything that will exist beyond death? That is the question everybody has always asked. It doesn't make sense to say something goes on in time. Rather I would say everything sinks into the implicate order, where there is no time. But suppose we say that right now, when I'm alive, the same thing is happening. The implicate order is unfolding to be me again and again each moment. And the past me is gone.

Omni: The past you, then, has been snatched back into the implicate order.

Bohm: That's right. Anything I know about "me" is in the past. The present "me" is the unknown. We say there is only one implicate order, only one present. But it projects itself as a whole series of moments. Ultimately, all moments are really one. Therefore now is eternity.
In one sense, everything, including me, is dying every moment into eternity and being born again, so all that will happen at death is that from a certain moment certain features will not be born again. But our whole thought process causes us to confront this with great fear in an attempt to preserve identity. One of my interests at this stage of life is looking at that fear."

- Excerpt of an interview with quantum physicist, David Bohm, conducted by F. David Peat and John Briggs;  originally published in Omni Magazine, January 1987.


***


I was doing a bit of research for a recent post (Quantum Esoterica) on my art blog , when I came upon this interview with David Bohm , the quantum physicist I most admire, in which, among other topics, he talks about death; so, I thought this might supplement my previous "quantum" post.

 As it was, after suffering through a period of emotional depression following the time of this interview, Bohm died of a heart attack in 1992. His last book,  The Undivided Universe: An ontological interpretation of quantum theory , was published a year after his death. 

That being said, in this interview excerpt, it almost seems as if he's referring to "memories" as the standard localized neurological codes of a dying brain, as opposed to the more intriguing concepts of consciousness I generally associate with him: i.e., the brain as merely a receiver and translator of non-local waves of codified information. But maybe that's just my own spin, combined with philosophical artifacts picked up elsewhere.

Then again, from a transdimensionalist's point of view, if the "implicate order" is an infinite, multi-dimensional order - which I somehow always assumed it was - it seems that "features", which have apparently "sunk" into the oblivion of the implicate order, may well have the ability to explicate in another dimension. But, once again, that just might be my own misinterpretation.

Incidentally, you may recall F. David Peat's name appearing on PMB in the past... notably on the following posts: The Hypocrisy of Science and Materialism: "Thoughtcrime"Wolfgang Pauli and #137Synchronicity and the Skies above... Volcanoes!, and The Red Book.




Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Quantum Soul


"Fabric" graphic - DS - 2006



"A pair of world-renowned quantum scientists say they can prove the existence of the soul. 

American Dr Stuart Hameroff and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose developed a quantum theory of consciousness asserting that our souls are contained inside structures called microtubules which live within our brain cells. 

Their idea stems from the notion of the brain as a biological computer, "with 100 billion neurons and their axonal firings and synaptic connections acting as information networks". 

Dr Hameroff, Professor Emeritus at the Departments of Anesthesiology and Psychology and Director of the Centre of Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona, and Sir Roger have been working on the theory since 1996. 

They argue that our experience of consciousness is the result of quantum gravity effects inside these microtubules - a process they call orchestrated objective reduction (Orch-OR). "

- Signs of the Times article, Oct. 31, 2012


***


Mechanistic? Sort of. Reductionist? Probably. Do I buy it? Not necessarily. But, it's always nice to note scientists seriously looking into the "matter" of consciousness. It's an inquiry that has to start somewhere... cause, baby, it has a long, long way to go.

Incidentally, this post is not the start of a new trend at PMB, (or the reemergence of an old trend). I add it here on a whim, and it may be removed in the near future.

Besides which, there's a bit of a synchronistic pixel trail here... While searching Penrose, I found this:

"Roger and his father are the creators of the famous Penrose staircase and the impossible triangle known as the tribar. Both of these impossible figures were used in the work of Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher to create structures such as a waterfall where the water appears to flow uphill and a building with an impossible staircase which rises or falls endlessly yet returns to the same level."

-  via this  "World of Escher" page


Meanwhile, more quantum goodness...

(Hat-tip to Graham Hancock's newspage)

(... and, you might also want to check out the Daily Grail article on the same subject!)


Added note: Incidentally, you might notice a correlation between the above hypothesis and the two Mac Tonnies' quotes, found here.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Posthuman Blues (Volume I) Now Available!






"This book has the inventiveness and prose of a novel, but it's good, honest observation and speculation. From lambasting fakery to closing in on the true paranormal, Mac Tonnies takes us on a wild trip. Tonnies was mysterious, maybe because he always had an eye and ear for the mystery underlying our strange existence."

- John Shirley, author of Gurdjieff: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas, and the A Song Called Youth trilogy

***

Redstar Films has just announced the publication of Volume I of Posthuman Blues - Dispatches From a World on the Cusp of Terminal Dissolution, the first in a series of "dead tree" editions transcribing Mac Tonnies' Posthuman Blues blog, found here, or in the archived (sans spam) edition.

Update: Also now available on Amazon. Worldwide e-book distribution will follow in early 2013, with Volume II following shortly thereafter.

Many thanks to the diligence of Paul Kimball, who discusses this publication and lots more with Greg Bishop on the latest Radio Misterioso podcast.




Thursday, October 18, 2012

From the Posthuman Blues Archives (Part 5)



Still Life with Spherical Mirror - M.C.Escher - 1934




Thursday, February 14, 2008

"I've sometimes found myself in the preposterous position of "defending" my desire to live, if not forever, then as long as scientifically possible.

So, why do I want to live forever?

Easy -- for the same reason that I want to wake up tomorrow. There's nothing especially disturbing about negligible senescence unless one approaches the idea with at least some degree of emotional bias. And to be fair, we've been forced to grow used to the seeming inevitability of death in much the same way that our ancestors were forced to accommodate plagues instigated by an inability to understand germs.

But to make it short: there's a lot I want to see and do . . . but, unfortunately, not much of it's on Earth. Barring the abrupt invention of practical interstellar flight, my best chance of experiencing the Cosmos is by surviving the temporal gulf between "now" and "then."
And who knows? Maybe I can make myself useful in the process."

- Mac Tonnies, via this PHB post


***



Friday, February 27, 2009


"I struggle ceaselessly with the aspect of myself that clings to the fragile comfort of words and sentences. Our familiar Western mode of thinking -- purged of intuition and leery of experiences not reproducible in written form -- is like a clear membrane stretched taut around our senses, but no less insidious in its seeming transparency.

Lately, especially, it seems as if my real life unfolds in the narcotic oblivion of sleep; my dream-world, for all of its ominous vistas and intimations of cataclysm, exerts an inexplicably nostalgic allure. For whatever reason, I feel oddly welcome strolling the ruined hotels and depopulated suburbs that have come to dominate my sleep. There appears to be coherent, if tenuous, logic to this silent and jaundiced realm -- arguably more so than what greets me while awake and rational.

I've come to tentatively identify with the role of the shaman. Upon waking, my mind feels ponderous with ideas seeking escape; a portal has been opened, but a portal to where, exactly? And what, if anything, should I do with this freight of unsolicited weirdness?

My dream-world grows less diffuse -- more palpable -- with every visit, recalling the idea that powerfully envisioned thought-forms can assume fleeting physical existence. If such an alchemical process is indeed at work, the repercussions for my "real" existence are troubling. Maybe the only way to break the feedback cycle -- to decisively sever the ouroboros that my psyche's inexorably becoming -- is to opt out of the wide-awake domain of language, syntax and the necessarily diminishing fiction of "either/or."

- Mac Tonnies, via this PHB post


***


...Death on the internet is almost a contradiction in terms.

The internet - the information highway - doesn't really allow for death, cut and dry, because information doesn't just dissipate... information just moves along ad infinitum. Here today, here tomorrow. So, in a very weird, conscious sense, Mac did gain a type of immortality by embedding his memes into digital form... as we all do, following his digital trails. Yes, we're all immortal, you and I, so, dig on this, Kats & Kitties, as we mark the third year of Mac's untimely, tragic passing (October 18, 2009).

Several years ago, I wouldn't have imagined I'd still be blogging on Post-Mac Blues. Closure - that insipid term, so over-used, it's almost lost meaning - was the goal I was trying to achieve when this blog came into existence. Little did I know that the internet does not allow for any such thing. Mac is probably laughing his incorporeal ass off somewhere. Or, so I'd like to think... and, we'd probably all like to think... and what we'd give to hear that laughter.

In a previous post, I remarked that " there's always the possibility that one of these days the juice may suddenly, inexplicably, be cut off and all our electronic media will just shut down like a zillion blinded eyes..." but, that's not really true, is it? I can't  wrap my head around "wireless", but data can be transferred in so may ways, there's a regular aether-net surrounding us. Like it or not, we've all become wired and wireless at the same time. It boggles the mind, but, then again we're living in a "mind", a matrix comprised of millions of minds, so entangled that... Okay, that's just down the street from a place they call Madness, so, let's not go there.

Meanwhile, if you've read the comment section of the "previous post" I mentioned, you are probably already aware of a piece of delightful news. That is, Mac's good friend, Paul Kimball, has been a very busy man these days. He's just published his own book "The Other Side of Truth", and is currently laboring over the index of the first volume of Posthuman Blues, the Book! Yes, the "dead-tree" edition - The real deal! I know I remarked on Trans-D - my other blog - that Mac's strength as a writer lay in his fiction, but, that's not really true. As I was choosing the Posthuman Blues passages for this and the previous series of posts, it really came home to me that Mac had refined essay-writng down to a science... he was a master at it. So, kudos to Paul for attempting to gather so many memes together and virtually carve them in stone. When Paul makes a formal announcement, I'll include a link here.

Before I commit this post to the aether-net, however, allow me to put in a word about the graphics used for this and the previous 4 posts... just in case you're wondering about that little human-headed bird of Escher's.  As it happens, if that creature didn't insinuate itself into my brain at some point, these posts would never have occurred.

Apparently, the human bird hybrid was actually a meat-space statue M.C. Escher actually owned - a gift from an uncle. I read here that the statue was supposedly a representation of a "simurgh", but I doubt this is altogether true, because the simurgh - though sometimes human-headed - is generally considered to be griffin-like and female. Not, so, Escher's bird, which to me, immediately brings to mind a far more interesting creature. The Egyptians - yes, here comes those Egyptians again - had a word for the human soul: Ba. The Ba was also depicted as a bird with a human head - exclusively.

In a different article, I read Escher's bird in the above graphic described as "sinister"... but, in my eyes, it appears serene as it patiently watches the tiny reflection of Escher in the spherical mirror. It knows something about the human condition that we don't. Perhaps it knows everything.

The Egyptians also had another aspect of the human soul, Ren. Ren was a not only a person's name but it was the embodiment of the personality, and the Egyptians believed that, as long as the name was spoken, a person continued to survive.

Death on the internet is almost a contradiction in terms...


(and that's all she wrote...)







Now on Trans-D: Remembering Mac: Somewhere, Under a Rainbow



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

From the Posthuman Blues Archives (Part 4)


Another World - M.C. Escher - woodcut - 1947



Tuesday, January 11, 2005

"I'm not postulating a malign "Matrix"-style virtual reality. If anything, the idea that our minds inhabit an illusory world of gross physical matter is more suggestive of Hindu cosmology, with the self ("atma") forced to operate within a hierarchy of substrates.

I think it's very probable we share our world/s with others who have achieved something like "system operator" status. Strangely, if they chose to interact with us, that interaction might be necessarily flawed. This concept provides a plausible framework for Jacques Vallee's "multiverse" hypothesis, in which UFO occupants and paranormal experiences represent an ontological breach. It also compliments physicist David Bohm's transcendent vision of an "implicate" order wound up in our workaday "explicate" existence.

Quantum entanglement, for example, seems paradoxical to us. But if we could plunge deeper, into the universe's "source code," apparent paradoxes would dissolve because our consciousness (as of now, little more than a passive instrument) would be forced to mutate in ways that defy description.

Social commentators remark on the gulf that frustrates our attempts to collaborate meaningfully with our fellow humans. Perhaps we behave like discreet islands of consciousness because, in Bohm's explicate order at least, that is truly what we are. "Reality" is a crude sort of lingua franca; we are motes drifting on a vast and uncharted sea, disconnected and confronted by a universe that has become, under the light of bleeding-edge science, as arcane as any hallucination.

A bone-deep existential unease sets in. Am I a cosmos unto myself, chasing my own synapses (which may or may not be an accurate representation of whatever is actually doing the thinking)? Or, like quanta at the hands of particle physicists, am I fundamentally entangled in something more real?"

- Mac Tonnies, via this PHB post


***


Monday, September 18, 2006

"I've never "heard voices," per se. But for as long as I can remember I've been aware of a kind of oceanic presence in my mind which I can tune in only under special circumstances. When I was little I used to draw lots of pictures. One of the reasons I enjoyed drawing was the cryptic murmur that accompanied the process; it's as if creative activity numbs the censoring mechanism of the brain that usually dampens communion with our subconscious.

I still attempt to "listen" to my mind. While I'm aware of something that isn't "me" (or at least the "me" doing the listening), I don't experience any sense of duality. I never feel as if I'm in contact with something distinct from myself -- and suspect that if I did I'd quickly seek psychiatric help.

My overall impression is that the brain is a massively distributed system, a hologram of mentation that phase-shifts too rapidly for the ego to take note.

Given that consciousness is likely a quantum function, deeply entangled with the rest of the Cosmos, is it unreasonable to seek out traces of the "alien" among us? Maybe the signal SETI astronomers await will emanate from the depths of Self, cunningly disguised as human."

- Mac Tonnies, via this PHB post




Now on Trans-D: Remembering Mac IV: The Dragon and the Pearl




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

From the Posthuman Blues Archives (Part 3)


Detail of Another World - M.C. Escher - woodcut - 1947



Thursday, June 24, 2004

"My own reactions to the "afterlife" debate have changed significantly over the years. While I've always been agnostic, I've been generally inclined to view death as final and all-encompassing. For example, I was angry at Timothy Leary* when he opted not to have his brain cryonically preserved; I interpreted his sentiment that death was "the ultimate trip" as so much pseudo-religious bullshit.

My viewpoint is more flexible now. Perhaps it's possible for some form of consciousness to survive biological death. At this point it wouldn't surprise me. I suspect that aliens, if they're here, have probably refined consciousness into an actual technology -- and that we may be getting closer to the point where communication with the dead (assuming it's possible) is removed from the realm of wishful thinking."

-Mac Tonnies, via this PHB post


***


Thursday, September 23, 2004

"Maybe it's a yin-yang sort of thing. Life and death; the solace of the inanimate waging perpetual war against the sense of individuality and purpose (however ill-defined) taking place inside our skulls -- and, just possibly, elsewhere.

Like Shirley, I've wanted to cash it in. At times there's an almost palpable drop in what can only be called "life energy" -- a sort of subjective energy-level maintained by the subconscious. Think of it as one of those little glowing meters that accompany characters in video games. You take so many bullets, or lasers, or punches to the face, and the meter drops to zero and you "die."

To Freud, the psyche was ruled by the immutable laws of Sex. I suspect the mind cares less about actual sex than it does the perpetuation of DNA. Superficially, of course, they're one and the same, but the ensured output of viable genetic material is far more abstract and depersonalized. It's as if we share our bodies with mechanistic genies with their own purely selfish agendas -- and when our own agendas begin to conflict with the deoxyribonucleic overmind, our "life meters" start to plunge -- maybe just a little bit, enough to produce a bit of existential unease -- or maybe a considerable fraction all at once, like blowing a tire.

It's then that the genetic overmind plants its roots in the fertile soil that once housed your volition and identity. You become a husk, loping android-like from once task to another until effectively lobotomized. As G.I. Gurdjieff stressed, we are literal machines. And although he didn't specifically invoke biochemistry, he may as well have harped on Richard Dawkins' inspired notion of the "selfish gene," had the idea existed in his time.

The irony is that a being constructed (and in certain critical respects defined) by genes bent on self-preservation can be lured to (or actually programmed for) self-destruction. I wonder if other planetary ecologies have produced intelligent creatures to whom suicide is a physiological impossibility; such creatures may exist among us in coming decades, and we will know them as robots.

Maybe that's the answer. Perhaps we are larvae, subject to incurable neuroses that will cease to exist only when we ourselves cease to exist, supplanted by something new, and -- in strictly Darwinian terms, if nothing else -- fundamentally better. Maybe Shirley's "winnowing" -- seemingly psychotic from our narrow vantage on the evolutionary bridge -- is an essential instrument in the betterment of our species, or at least a lens through which to glimpse where we're headed."

- Mac Tonnies, via this PHB post



* Note: Cory Doctorow just posted this interesting link featuring correspondence between Timothy Leary and Carl Sagan.... via this Boing Boing post.



Now on Trans D... Remembering Mac III: One Day With Mr. Tone



Monday, October 15, 2012

From the Posthuman Blues Archives (Part 2)


Detail of Another World - M.C. Escher - woodcut - 1947



Sunday, February 01, 2004

"I'm almost done with Raymo's "Skeptics and True Believers." Wading through that odious chapter on UFOs was worth it; I love this book. Not at all your typical attempt to unify science and religion -- a task that takes up a lot of shelf-space that could be put to more productive use.

Science has yet to provide the sort of anthropocentric comfort so many human beings are looking for. Most people consider a mechanistic, impersonal cosmos intolerable, harsh, forbidding. They want their ontology cuddly and reassuring. Hence Precious Moments and the 700 Club and "Creation Science." Not to mention more faddish preoccupations like Wicca and predigested Eastern mysticism. (If you think Precious Moments should be downgraded to the list of mere fads, guess again. It's a literal cult with surprisingly deep roots.)

Raymo, like Carl Sagan, argues that there is a numinous grandeur to reality just as we find it. And there is; I experience it on a near-daily basis. I don't need "life after death" to help me sleep at night. I don't need any watchful deities to give me morality. I happen to like and appreciate the fact that I'm a flux of particles forged inside long-exploded stars, a small portion of the universe sculpted in such a way as to reflect on its own beginning and eventual end. I have an innate yearning for the intergalactic abyss, the seminal pyrotechnics of the Big Bang, the distant roar of supernovae."

- Mac Tonnies, via this PHB post


***



Wednesday, April 14, 2004

"Getting rid of the meat. Jettisoning obsolete human baggage. When to say "when"? Is there a critical threshold where the route to transhuman ascendancy takes an abrupt downward fork?

It's conceivable humans will eventually have the technology to edit their own memories, rearranging their mental furniture as casually as dragging icons across a computer desktop. Can we trust ourselves with such ability? What will we decide to delete?

Click and drag . . . Click and drag . . .

Are you sure you want to delete the contents of the Recycle Bin?

Assuming you click "yes," the you that ponders the outcome is a new and different you. Maybe not a substantially different you -- but then again, how will you ever know?

Some hobbyist technophiles buy ancient computers so they can pore over the contents of their hard drives, upon which all sorts of esoteric (and sometimes useful) data can be found languishing. I can imagine neuro-hackers 50 years from now lopping the heads off fresh corpses and purging their brains of recoverable memories. Recycling them. Sifting through the sensory debris of subjective centuries. Blood from a stone.

Maybe this has already happened. Maybe I'm already dead and someone is simply rummaging through the contents of my brain. Looking for something, perhaps. Or maybe simply for the vicarious hacker thrill: What did this guy think about? Talk about voyeurism; it doesn't get any more intimate than that.

More disturbing is the prospect that probing a nonliving mind can actually trick the dead person's synapses into a spurious sense of autonomy -- the tragic misconception that this is real when in fact reality bears no resemblance to the images and sensations triggered by the scanning process. And what is consciousness, really, but a sensation?

Dead frogs can be made to jump by jolts of electricity applied to the right muscles in the proper sequence. In a strictly biomechanical sense, the frog is tugged back in time, restored to a clumsy semblance of functionality. A dormant human brain may not be as sacrosanct as we assume. "Dead" brains may even be a valuable commodity for a near-future information economy.

So what do we call this technologically assisted parody of thought? Can the brain being hacked be made to experience new stimuli or is it read-only-memory? Perhaps more pertinently, is there a qualitative difference between the thoughts of a living brain and the synaptic acrobatics of a dead brain commanded to believe it's actually alive?

If not, then the definition of "alive" begs redefinition. As proponents of cryonic suspension are justly fond of pointing out, it certainly wouldn't be the first time in medical history that we've been forced to revise our criteria for death."

-Mac Tonnies, via this PHB post



Now on Trans-D... Remembering Mac II: Metamorphosis Interrupted




Sunday, October 14, 2012

From the Posthuman Blues Archives (Part 1 of 5)


Detail of Another World - M.C. Escher - woodcut - 1947



Monday, September 22, 2003

"Human Devolution has me walking an intellectual tightrope. Cremo does a credible job of looking at nonlocal consciousness through the lens of Vedic creationism; I'm enjoying the ride.

I'm increasingly convinced that close encounters, near-death experiences and out-of-body experiences are aspects of a central overlooked phenomenon; deciphering one will in all probability cast light on the others. While I don't believe in "life after death" as typically envisioned by religion, I'm sympathetic to the concept that consciousness is more than a dance of molecules. William James thought that the brain acted as a receiver for consciousness, rather than actually producing it. This idea is appealing. Consciousness may not be an effect, but an actual "stuff" or force -- however intangible it may seem to us.

This is where New Age nomenclature fails utterly; how to address something as strange and vast as self-awareness when limited to pseudoscientific jargon? I roll my eyes at vague references to "essences" and "vibrations" -- but is mainstream science really doing any better? Both camps are, to some degree, spinning their wheels. If a new paradigm is to emerge, we'll need a new syntax. And to make sense of a new syntax, we might need to purposefully mutate. Even if consciousness is eternal and omniscient, we still have to filter it through our carbon-based brains, with all of their neuronal shortcomings . . . at least for the time being."


- Mac Tonnies, via this PHB post


***


Saturday, November 08, 2003

"Several months ago I was in an automobile crash. My memories contain the adrenalized moment of impact, the literally breathless aftermath as I pondered the crushed metal and broken glass, and a trip to a hospital inside an ambulance. It would appear I survived, albeit bruised and aching. But who am I to tell the story of what "really" happened? Perhaps the arc of my life, as defined by the fluctuating patterns (and bits of would-be pattern) in the cosmic screening room bifurcated shortly before I collided with the other car. In one variation I came to a bloody end. In yet another there was never an accident at all.

I pick the crash incident not because of any intrinsic importance - at the most fundamental level, the blind dance of possibilities doesn't care if I live or die - but because it illustrates how flawlessly one or two frames can be altered (or randomly inserted or deleted) to potentially catastrophic effect in the observable world. So long as a pattern remains intact  -and it will, since it has infinite space and time to organize itself - so will some permutation of "I."

Which begs the question: What happens when someone dies? It's possible that informational death is impossible and that the person who "dies" in the "explicate order" is expediently recycled, living his or her life again and again in a state of total amnesia. Or maybe something like my crash incident applies and that observers who die - in the directly perceivable world - are shuffled into a future in which they "miraculously" survive their own crashes (or cancer treatments or heart transplants).

There's nothing concrete or absolute about our so-called universe. It is an alluring, insidiously clever simulation. The Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics implies that the universe is constant "branching" into parallel, exclusive states. A better term, in light of the scenario described above, might be "flowing." "


- Mac Tonnies, via this PHB post



Now on Trans-D... Remembering Mac: The Stars Are Falling




Thursday, August 30, 2012

Posthuman Blues - The Hard Copy(?)


Mac's photo of his own handwriting... found here


"There are a number of ominous trends within the publishing industry that appear to support Mailer's prediction. Did you know that there's a spin-off of the ghastly Christian Fundamentalist "Left Behind" saga targeted at juveniles? No kidding. It's called, accurately enough, "Left Behind: The Kids." Or something like that. The point of this series -- and the point I'm trying to make about so much of today's "literature" -- is that it's not even remotely intended to provide an aesthetic experience, but to sow ideological seeds. (I find it distinctly amusing that so much of this garbage is co-authored, as if recycled Armageddon fantasies require the combined mental might of two authors -- and I suppose since we're talking about Fundamentalists, they very well might . . .) 

Most of the time the ideology being packaged is laughable and harmless, as in the case of Atkins devotees. But then there's the truly detestable stuff: masochistic biblical fantasies masquerading as Tom Clancy-esque thrillers; demeaning supernatural claptrap disguised as "inspiration" or "self-help." Once upon a time, you found cheaply printed gospel tracts in restroom stalls; now you find their elegantly bound and savvily marketed descendents combating for shelf-space in actual stores. 

And people can't get enough. Like the "reality TV" craze, spin-offs proliferate with the tenacity of kudzu vine. Any day now, I expect to find "Chicken Soup for the Soul for Dummies" staring back at me from a prominent display. The Wal-Mart-ization of the written word will have triumphed, leaving an embittered subculture to hoard the few remaining works of Kafka and Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut . . . "



Happened across the comment section (thanks, Dana) on this page today, so, I thought I'd pass it along.

Personally, I think "Posthuman Blues - The Book" is a wonderful idea. I think Mac himself would've been pleased to see his essays in print. Anyone who has ever read Posthuman Blues or mactonnies.com knows he was enamored with books - the real thing... the "dead-tree" editions...

But, then again, humanity - or, as pop culture would have it - appears to be free falling into a different epoch... And everything pre-2000 must be relegated to "once upon a time"... whereas we must harken back to the days when ancient people wrote words on paper with pens, amassing these words into articles referred to as manuscripts... Then, as history reminds us, there were Publishers... Marvelous entities who transformed the manuscripts into magical artifacts referred to as Books ... and they did so because they admired them, and thought they were "good"... These paper Books could be found in a public place called a Library... where many people often went just to be in the same place with all that priceless illuminated paper.

I digress. Way back in 2004, Mac was worried about the "Walmart-ization of the written word". Eight years later and it seems that just about everything has gone the way of Walmart... capitalistic gain and mass-marketing strategies being the alpha and omega of the new millennium. And nowhere is this more apparent than on the internet... 

So, should Mac's Posthuman Blues essay's be published in dead-tree form? Well, kats and kitties, there's always the possibility that one of these days the juice may suddenly, inexplicably, be cut off and all our electronic media will just shut down like a zillion blinded eyes... I imagine the ensuing mass-reaction similar to a disturbed anthill. Happily, some of us will have candles and dead-tree editions to read while the rest of the world goes to hell. ;-)



Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Familiar Face


The Stars are Falling - 2006, DS
(click to enlarge)

"This notion struck me as deliciously ironic. It suggested that the encounters with nonhumans that haunt our folklore were real, not necessarily projections preying on our gullibility. Could "fairies" and" elves" - and all their mythical successors - be distorted representations of an actual species?"

- Mac Tonnies, via The Cryptoterrestrials: A Meditation on Indigenous Humanoids and the Aliens Among Us  (a fuller version of this quote can be found here)




I popped over to Mysterious Universe today and found a familiar face. Looks like Nick Redfern is talking Cryptos and he means business.

For your viewing pleasure I've posted an earlier version of he/she-who-is-nameless (above), entitled: "The Stars are Falling."

(Note - Updated 8/6/13: This graphic originally appeared on my "other blog", but, has been reposted here, replacing the image detail previously shown.)



Monday, August 20, 2012

Shine On, Mac!


Oracle (Cerebus Palus) - Nicholas Kahn & Richard Selesnick - found here


"On their adventures, North Wind brings Diamond to the country she lives in, a country without pain and death. Yet, he is brought only to a shadow of the real country at the back of the North Wind. The real country is open for him only after his death. At the end of the book, Diamond dies, finally able to see the country."

- via the Wiki entry for At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald


This is PMB's third post regarding Mac's Birthday since he re-entered the cosmos in 2009. (See: 2010 and 2011 posts) And he's still missed. Very. Not a day goes by when something somewhere doesn't remind me of him... and not a cyber-minute goes by when I am not alerted to something I know he'd enjoy. Case in point is the Curiosity landing, of course, but, even more so, is this recent art installation created by Nicholas Kahn & Richard Selesnick, Mars: Adrift on the Hourglass Sea - Desolation and the Sublime on a Distant Planet. Apparently commissioned by NASA, the installation includes "photographs" (like the one above), 3-D artifacts, and surrealistic panoramic views that recall an ancient civilization! Truly wonderful and strange!

Thanks to Red Pill Junkie at the Daily Grail for this link!

That being said, I think I'll let Pink Floyd have the last word (as they so often do), specifically this 2002 live rendition of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" (link to the original studio version,  released in 1975, the year of Mac's birth), by Pink Floyd's David Gilmore.

Shine on, Mac!





"Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom, 
blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter, 
come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions, 
come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

Nobody knows where you are, how near or how far.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Pile on many more layers and i'll be joining you there.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
And we'll bask in the shadow of yesterday's triumph,
And sail on the steel breeze.
Come on you boy child, you winner and loser,
Come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine!"

Artist: Pink Floyd
Album: Wish You Were Here (1975)
Lyrics: Roger Waters


***

... And, by special request: Diamonds, diamonds and more diamonds...(!)




Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Doing Time


Found on the Posthuman Blues "Doing Time" re-cap page



As I write this post, I'm listening to Greg Bishop's 2006 Radio Misterioso podcast, Can Ufology Be Saved? (in two parts) featuring Paul Kimball and Mac Tonnies. Mac is currently speaking about Mars - specifically, anomalies on Mars - how timely!

It's a podcast (feed page here) I haven't heard before, found via Paul Kimball's latest post on his Tears in Rain blog. But wait, there's more. The link to this podcast is found embedded in a featured PDF file of a script for a play entitled "Doing Time", a collaboration between Paul and Mac I blogged about here in 2009. I was always curious about the content, so it was a real treat to finally read it... so, many thanks to you, Paul, for posting it!

His post also features some Doing Time production shots - more can be found on this Semaphore Theatre Company page.

Regarding the play, well it's good, unwholesome, trippy fun - kind of like Alfred Hitchcock on "Martian pharmaceuticals"...  or a collaboration between Jean Paul Sartre and Philip K. Dick. You do yourself a disservice by missing it!

Paul also recounts an earlier blog discussion with Mac in the play's introduction. Here's an excerpt from Mac's side of the equation:

"While in California I phoned an author acquaintance to say hi. We ended up talking about Kurzweilian life extension, which my friend thought indicated an unhealthy fear of death. I offered that, without definitive proof that there is an afterlife, radical life extension –perhaps via mind-uploading – is both sensible and justified. My friend, the author of a nonfiction book dealing with spiritual matters, countered that one can achieve subjective validation that consciousness is more than epiphenomenal. In other words, some aspect of our awareness persists after biological death – but, so far at least, it's impossible to prove this to anyone who hasn't experienced his own sense of cosmic rapport. Fair enough. 

So how to experience consciousness as an abiding energy (if such it is) and not merely as the output of millions of synchronized synapses? Drugs, perhaps – although I've been warned that the "tripping" experience is confused and noisy, leading to false positives and replete with neurological static. Meditation seems a better, safer route. Still, how does one know that a moment's spiritual insight is anything more than an experience cooked up by the brain as a way of appeasing our incredibly deep-seated fear of death and obliteration? Not having experienced any deep insight into the nature of consciousness, I have no choice but to remain agnostic."

Meanwhile, I'll continue listening to the podcast - it's great to hear Mac's voice again. (And, a special thanks to Greg Bishop for this cool offering from Radio Misterioso's vaults - a link will appear shortly on the sidebar of this blog!)

UPDATE 8/18/12: Paul has just announced a Doing Time film adaption!



Friday, July 13, 2012

Voice(s) of America...(and elsewhere)


As a kind of postscript to yesterday's news is this related tidbit.  If you remember, Mac's - and consequently our - story became the basis for Rob Walker's NY Times article "Cyberspace When You're Dead" last year. As it so happens, this issue has been addressed again via a short Voice of America radio broadcast created by reporter and journalist extraordinaire, Adam Phillips.

Adam chatted with some of us recently regarding our endeavors to extend Mac's cyberspace life and the broadcast features  comments from Mac's mom, Dana Tonnies, Mark Plattner and yours truly, discussing issues which should be familiar to y'all by now.

That being said, Voice of America broadcasts are not  aired in the USA, though there is a live stream on their website and a podcast available eventually (I think). However, here's a link to the transcript: "In Death, Who Owns Your Online Afterlife?".


***


Image by Brian Froud


Meanwhile, Adam has a number of interesting podcasts found within his online files, one of which I listened to the other night and throughly enjoyed.

Remember this excerpt from Mac's last book (published posthumously)?

"Finally, I wondered the unthinkable: what if the antics of the" absurd humanoids" documented by Vallee weren't the work of some overarching intelligence? What if they happened just as reported, without the need to invoke externally imposed psychosocial thermostats?

This notion struck me as deliciously ironic. It suggested that the encounters with nonhumans that haunt our folklore were real, not necessarily projections preying on our gullibility. Could "fairies" and" elves" -and all their mythical successors-be distorted representations of an actual species?

While curiously appealing, the idea seemed totally orthogonal to science. Psychologists maintain that legendary "little people" are beings of the mind, the brain's instinctive attempt to populate the darkness. They're also quick to point out that modern accounts of spindly gray aliens are almost certainly due to fantasy-prone personalities, poorly trained therapists, and hallucinations experienced during episodes of sleep paralysis.

This analysis is attractive on several levels. It neatly does away with the specter of the Other we repeatedly encounter in myths. It also assuages our fears that our world might be fair game for dispassionate ET scientists, with their glittering probes and omnipotent saucers.

Alas, it fails."



Mac, Jacques Vallee, and others, had a specific interest in faerie lore and it's relation to other paranormal "mythology" - specifically that of  extraterrestrial entities.

Well, Adam Phillips takes us to Ireland, where we can hear first-hand accounts of encounters with Ireland's "Good Neighbors"... those indigenous - and anomalous - entities that comprise the most ancient of all Celtic races - often purported to reside in a parallel Otherworld - the daoine sĂ­dhe. If interested, that podcast can be found here.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

PosthumanBlues.com


Image by Mike Clelland


"This is Mac Tonnies' Posthuman Blues Blog as it was captured shortly after his death. We hope future historians, the curious and his friends will read these words and Grok Mac in fullness."

- Capn Marrrrk Plattner via PostHuman Blues.com


Awesome news from Capn Marrrrk Plattner: there is now a Posthuman Blues.com! For those of you who didn't know, Mark has been busy capturing Mac's Posthuman Blues blog in its entirety - yes, in its entirety - for quite some time. Talk about dedicated friends... In any case, Mac work (and Mark's) now has a permanent and dedicated home... untouched by the hands of time (and the excrement of spam).

In a separate intro - Separating the Tears from the Rain - Mark writes:

"Whether he knew it or not, Mac influenced a great many people across many different disciplines, and simply put, we want a memorial for our friend who died way too soon. This version of Posthuman Blues is frozen in time right up to Mac's last post, and the comment thread which details the discovery of his death and aside from his books, it's the closest anyone can come to knowing the essence of Mac Tonnies, a man who was certainly worth knowing. In general, I really dislike saying, "What Mac would have wanted..." type statements, but I was under the impression that he really would have wanted to upload his consciousness into a computer. How awesomely Posthuman is that? Alas, instead of talking with Macbot we have to satisfy ourselves with the salient data points he was willing to share."


Congratulations, Capn Marrrrk!!!

And I think that I speak for us all, when I say thank you.




Thursday, June 7, 2012

A One-way Trip to Mars! No, really!






"Human settlement of Mars in 2023

Mars One will establish the first human settlement on Mars in 2023. A habitable settlement will be waiting for the settlers when they land. The settlement will support them while they live and work on Mars the rest of their lives. Every two years after 2023 an additional crew will arrive, such that there is a real living, growing community on Mars. Mars One has created a technical plan for this mission that is as simple as possible. For every component of the mission we have identified at least one potential supplier. Mars One invites you to join us in this next giant leap for mankind!"

- via the Mars One website


***

I don't know how I managed to let this one slip by me, but I couldn't just finish posting about the passing of Ray Bradbury, without posting this as well. Apparently the original video has already gone viral, but here's the updated version.

But, is this for real? A Mars settlement in 10 years? In the last analysis, all I can really think is, "Mac. you should've stuck around..." After all, remember this?




Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury (8/22/1920 - 6/5/2012...)






“Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I'm one of them.” 

― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

***

"I'm not afraid of machines," he told Writer's Digest in 1976. "I don't think the robots are taking over. I think the men who play with toys have taken over. And if we don't take the toys out of their hands, we're fools."

- Ray Bradbury quote found here  (U.S.A. Today, death notice)

***

Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, Live forever! Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."

- Via the notice on RayBradbury.com

***

"I memorized all of “John Carter” and “Tarzan,” and sat on my grandparents’ front lawn repeating the stories to anyone who would sit and listen. I would go out to that lawn on summer nights and reach up to the red light of Mars and say, “Take me home!” I yearned to fly away and land there in the strange dusts that blew over dead-sea bottoms toward the ancient cities.

While I remained earthbound, I would time-travel, listening to the grownups, who on warm nights gathered outside on the lawns and porches to talk and reminisce. At the end of the Fourth of July, after the uncles had their cigars and philosophical discussions, and the aunts, nephews, and cousins had their ice-cream cones or lemonade, and we’d exhausted all the fireworks, it was the special time, the sad time, the time of beauty. It was the time of the fire balloons."


- Excerpt from Bradbury's New Yorker essay dated June 4, 2012

***


Ray Bradbury passed yesterday at the ripe old age of 91. But if ever there was a human embodiment of immortality, he was surely it. I've posted a video of Bradbury discussing his 
amazing and always timely "Farenheit 451", which can stand as its own tribute to the timeless vitality of this beautiful man, found here, on my Other Blog.