Teeming Links – July 11, 2014


Apologies for the dearth of posts during the week leading up to now. I have reached crunch time on both the mummy encyclopedia and the paranormal encyclopedia, and, in combination with the fact that just this week I started a new day job at a new (to me) college, my time will be limited in the near future. That said, weekly Teeming Links will continue appearing every Friday. I also have a number of great features lined up for publication, including a very long interview with psychedelic research pioneer James Fadiman (finished and currently in the editing and formatting stage) and the third installment of Dominik Irtenkauf’s “Sounds of Apocalypse” series.




Niall Ferguson wonders whether the powers that be will transform the supposed “libertarian utopia” of the Internet into a totalitarian dystopia worthy of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis: “[T]he suspicion cannot be dismissed that, despite all the hype of the Information Age and all the brouhaha about Messrs. Snowden and Assange, the old hierarchies and new networks are in the process of reaching a quiet accommodation with one another, much as thrones and telephones did a century ago.”

Writer and former Omni editor-in-chief Keith Ferrell describes what he has learned from an experiment in living like an 11th-century farmer, or rather, like a post-apocalyptic survivor: “Our modern era’s dependence upon technology and, especially, chemical and motorised technology, has divorced most of us from soil and seeds and fundamental skills. . . . Planning and long-practised rhythms were at the core of the 11th-century farmer’s life; improvisation, much of it desperate, would be the heart of the post-apocalyptic farmer’s existence.”

In a world where the dominating goals of tech development are mobilility and sociality, Nicholas Carr wonders what kinds of alternative technologies and devices we might have if the guiding values were to be stationary and solitary. (Personally, I can think of one such technology, though not an electronic one: the paper book.)

Speaking of which, Andrew Erdmann uses the vehicle of Hal Ashby’s classic 1979 film Being There to reflect on our collective descent into aliteracy and electronically induced infantile idiocy: “I consider myself fortunate that I experienced reading and thinking before the Internet, and the written word before PowerPoint. I like to think that these experiences afford me some self-defense despite my own use of the Blackberry and other technologies.”

Roberto Bolaño says books are the only homeland for the true writer.

Javier Marías says the only real reason to write a novel is because this “allows the novelist to spend much of his time in a fictional world, which is really the only or at least the most bearable place to be.”

The Vatican has formally recognized the International Association of Exorcists and approved their statutes.

In response to the above, Chris French, the prominent skeptic and specialist in the psychology of paranormal beliefs and psychological states, argues in The Guardian that possession is better understood in psychological rather than supernatural terms. (Chris, btw, is writing the entry on anomalistic psychology for my paranormal encyclopedia.)

BBC journalist David Robson offers a firsthand, participatory account of how scientists are using hypnosis to simulate possession and understand why some people believe they’re inhabited by paranormal beings.

Over at Boing Boing, Don Jolly profiles Shannon Taggart, photographer of séances, spirits, and ectoplasm: “Taggart is not a ‘believer,’ in the traditional sense, nor does she seem to debunk her subject. Rather, she presents a world where belief and unbelief are radically mediated by technology — and raises the possibility that in the age of omnipresent electronic image what is ‘true’ may be a much harder debate than the skeptics suppose.” (Shannon, btw, is writing the entries on thoughtography and Kirlian photography for my paranormal encyclopedia.)

Philosopher Bernardo Kastrup absolutely nails, in his typically lucid fashion, the reason why scientific materialism is baloney:

It’s a philosophical and not a logical interpretation of science. Science itself is just a study of the patterns and the regularities that we can observe in reality. It doesn’t carry with it an interpretation. . . . Scientific materialism is when you load the scientific observations of the regularities of nature with an ontological interpretation and you say, “What you’re observing here is matter outside of mind that has an existence that would still go on even if nobody were looking at it.” That is already an interpretation. It’s not really pure science anymore, and the essence of scientific materialism is [the idea] that the real world is outside of mind, it’s independent of mind, and particular arrangements of elements in that real world, namely, subatomic particles, generate mind, generate subjective experience. Now of course the only carrier of reality anyone can know is subjective experience. So materialism is a kind of projection, an abstraction and then a projection onto the world of something that is fundamentally beyond knowledge.

Awesomeness alert: Guillermo del Toro hints — nay, states — that there is still life in his At the Mountains of Madness dream project.

Journalist and novelist Joseph L. Flatley offers an engaging exploration of the real-life occult influence of Lovecraft’s fictional Necronomicon (with much info about, e.g., the origin of the Simonomicon and the theories of Donald Tyson).


“Fire Head” image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Matt Cardin


Posted on July 11, 2014, in Teeming Links and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I admire the work of Dr. T. M. Luhrmann a lot . She wrote a book called When God Talks Back: Understanding The American Evangelical Relationship With God . The charismatic Christian idea of “God” need necessarily be placed into massive air quotes. They’re really understanding this presence of “Him” in their lives as -a person- who they talk to . Whether it is Jesus or some other apostle or biblical figure, I don’t know. It’s not always clear in her book who these people are actually talking to, what “His” name is, whether or not he actually goes around calling himself “God” and that they can verify this and what definition it would be, she really left it hanging in the air . In interviews she’s adamant “They experience talking with God” and at no time does she clearly explain what that actually means in any satisfactorily explained way . I believe she’s a gnostic writer in the sense that she’s has mystical experiences that she doesn’t attribute to hallucinations or illness. So, all in all I think her writing and research is immensely important.

    I noticed in the article, a quote…

    “Before I allowed myself to be possessed, Walsh showed me two prints by the late 16th Century painter, Caravaggio, to make a point about the patients who believe they are controlled for real. One shows Saint Matthew as an “illiterate oaf”, his feet still dirty from his work in the fields. An angel is guiding his hand as he writes the gospel. In the second, “he’s been promoted” – Saint Matthew is clean and has a halo. The angel is now depicted above his head, whispering God’s words into his mind.” … “The two paintings, he says, perfectly depict the two different ways in which patients experience possession: either they feel that another being is controlling their movements, or that another person is directly planting thoughts into their head. Such feelings may be due to mental illnesses like schizophrenia or psychotic depression, or the result of cultural practices such as shamanism that might lead people to feel like they are channelling another spirit, which may also be triggered by a ‘dissociative’ state similar to hypnosis. I will experience both, he says.”

    I wish Christians and doctors like Luhrmann would back the fuck up. Angels who are of God, from God, are two very different things. They need to take far better care describing these experiences. Priests do as well in their ministry and be honest with themselves and other people .

  2. hey Matt, i continue to read and enjoy your blog. Best of luck to you with your new work.

  3. I want to believe Del Toro, I really do, but there is a certain tone in the interview, a kind of vague and evasive optimism that one employs to make sure one does not disappoint his interlocutor. And all that stuff about PG-13 is just dispiriting, I mean, what films in the genre or even in general does he have in mind that actually deliver with that rating? LOTR? The last Terminator? What?

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