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Horror, meaning, and madness: Dangers of lifting the cosmic veil

(Liminalities, Cycle 1, Part 2)

In my novelette “Teeth” — first published at Thomas Ligotti Online, then in The Children of Cthulhu, and then in expanded form in my Dark Awakenings — there’s a scene where the narrator reads a notebook filled with ruminations on the convergence of philosophy and religion with cosmic horror, all interwoven with an examination of the same issues in the context of quantum physics. He’s a graduate student in philosophy, but the reading of these things initiates a transformative change in his psychic constitution and gives him a different sort of philosophical education than the one he had previously pursued.

He summarizes the notebook’s scientific content and import like this:

The mathematical work was beyond me, but from his text notes I could gather enough to grasp the bare essence of the matter, which had something to do with the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics. I read that the equations used in this science are straightforward and uncontested in terms of their practical applications, as attested by everything from television to the hydrogen bomb, but that no satisfactory explanation for their meaning, their overall implications at the macroscopic level of existence, had yet been established. On the subatomic level, I read, particles flash into and out of existence for no discernible reason, and the behavior of any single particle is apparently arbitrary and usually unpredictable.  If there is a cause or “purpose” behind this behavior, then it is one that the human mind is, to all appearances, structurally prevented from comprehending.  In other words, for all we know, the fundamental ruling principles at the most basic level of physical reality may well be what our minds and languages must necessarily label “chaos” and “madness.” [1]

When I first wrote those lines in the mid-1990s, I was enwrapped in a pattern of inner and outer events and circumstances — personal, professional, psychological, spiritual — that seemed either shriekingly meaningless or evilly intended, and I was utterly unable to decide which possibility, nihilism or a malevolent cosmos, seemed more likely, and also, pointedly, which one seemed worse. And amid the indecision, regardless of the causes, I was suffering.

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Liminality, Synchronicity, and the Walls of Everyday Reality

(Liminalities, Cycle 1, Part 1)

A seminal moment in the formation of Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity came as he was treating a highly educated woman who, by his description, was locked in a rigid Cartesian rationalism that hindered her therapy. The basis of all depth psychotherapy is the airing of unconscious psychic content and its integration with the conscious sense of self, but this woman was centered in a view of reality that denied the existence or significance of such things and kept her wholly imprisoned in her rational ego.

One day as they sat together in Jung’s office, the woman told him of a dream from the previous night in which she was given a golden scarab beetle. As an iconic symbol of death and transformation in ancient Egypt, the scarab is a symbol resonant with psychological meanings, as Jung was well aware. But the situation quickly transcended the realm of purely abstract symbolism when Jung heard a gentle, insistent tapping on the window behind him. As he later recounted,

I turned round and saw a fairly large flying insect that was knocking against the window-pane from outside in the obvious attempt to get into the dark room. That seemed to me very strange. I opened the window immediately and caught the insect in the air as it flew in. It was a scarabaeid beetle, or common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), whose gold-green colour most nearly resembles that of a golden scarab. I handed the beetle to my patient with the words, “Here is your scarab.” The experience punctured the desired hole in her rationalism and broke the ice of her intellectual resistance. The treatment could now be continued with satisfactory results. [1]

This event became the chief instance that Jung regularly referred to as an illustration of synchronicity in action.

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To escape into twilight realms

(The above music was retitled “Escape” when used in the soundtrack for the film The Hours.)

“They had chained him down to things that are, and had then explained the workings of those things till mystery had gone out of the world. When he complained, and longed to escape into twilight realms where magic moulded all the little vivid fragments and prized associations of his mind into vistas of breathless expectancy and unquenchable delight, they turned him instead toward the new-found prodigies of science, bidding him find wonder in the atom’s vortex and mystery in the sky’s dimensions. And when he had failed to find these boons in things whose laws are known and measurable, they told him he lacked imagination, and was immature because he preferred dream-illusions to the illusions of our physical creation.

… “There is talk of apportioning Randolph Carter’s estate among his heirs, but I shall stand firmly against this course because I do not believe he is dead. There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine; and from what I know of Carter I think he has merely found a way to traverse these mazes. Whether or not he will ever come back, I cannot say. He wanted the lands of dream he had lost, and yearned for the days of his childhood. Then he found a key, and I somehow believe he was able to use it to strange advantage.

“I shall ask him when I see him, for I expect to meet him shortly in a certain dream-city we both used to haunt. It is rumoured in Ulthar, beyond the River Skai, that a new king reigns on the opal throne of Ilek-Vad, that fabulous town of turrets atop the hollow cliffs of glass overlooking the twilight sea wherein the bearded and finny Gnorri build their singular labyrinths, and I believe I know how to interpret this rumour. Certainly, I look forward impatiently to the sight of that great silver key, for in its cryptical arabesques there may stand symbolised all the aims and mysteries of a blindly impersonal cosmos.”

— H. P. Lovecraft, “The Silver Key

A Lovecraftian tragedy? ‘Prometheus’ may have finally killed del Toro’s ‘At the Mountains of Madness’

The sad news is currently sweeping through the fantasy/SF/horror community and the movie-oriented corridors of the Interwebs: Guillermo del Toro has publicly announced that his long-anticipated adaptation of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness is really and truly dead. What’s more, the (unintentional) culprit is Ridley Scott’s forthcoming Prometheus.

Say what? I wrote a recent column for SF Signal about the thematic links between Prometheus and HPL’s ATMOM, but I never expected to hear that del Toro would take the new film as a cue to abandon ship with his own project. So now I’ve written another column to process this information:

A couple of weeks ago, I used this space to speculate about the possibility that director Ridley Scott’s forthcoming Prometheus may prove to be a kind of heady hybridizing of 2001: A Space Odyssey with Lovecraftian horror. Now comes the news that the Lovecraftian elements of Prometheus may be so close to certain key aspects of Guillermo del Toro’s long-planned and long-anticipated adaptation of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness that they may have killed the project. And this comes straight from the mouth, or rather the keyboard, of the man himself.

…So now we are, I suppose, left with the hope that Prometheus will deliver these cosmic horrific philosophical-emotional goods…But this doesn’t soften the blow of losing del Toro’s take on Lovecraft’s novel, especially since, as The New Yorker‘s Zelewski reported, “Del Toro had hoped that a greenlight for ‘Madness’ would mark a new golden age for horror films” and had been planning to use the project as a cinematic channel for an authentically Lovecraftian sense of cosmic dread: “Del Toro loves the story in part because Lovecraft combines terror — the panicked effort to escape the creatures — with metaphysical horror: ‘The book essentially says how scary it is to realize that we are a cosmic joke.’”

Here’s the full piece: Guillermo del Toro Says ‘Prometheus’ Has Effectively Killed ‘At the Mountains of Madness’

Recommended Reading 7

This week’s collection of recommended articles, essays, blog posts, and (as always) an interesting video or two, covers economic collapse and cultural dystopia; the question of monetary vs. human values; the ubiquity of disinformation in America and the accompanying need for true education of the deeply humanizing sort; the ongoing debate over climate change and its apocalyptic implications (including the apocalyptic implications of one possible means of dealing with it); the possibility of an Armageddon-level solar storm; the ongoing attempt to use the Internet for mass mental and social control, along with advice about protecting your privacy online; the clash between, on the one hand, neurological reductionism and scientism, and, on the other, more expansive ways of understanding science, consciousness, human life, and the universe; the rise of a generation of parentally-dominated college students in America (and its implications for art, psychology, and culture); religious controversies, both current and historical; the practice of eating corpses for medicine; the prospects for artistic achievement in the 21st century; the question of Lovecraft’s paranormal beliefs; Stanley Krippner’s career as a parapsychological researcher respected by both skeptics and believers alike; and a capsule summary of current UFO evidence.

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Will Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ be a Lovecraftian ‘2001’?

In the latest installment of Stained Glass Gothic, my intermittent column for SF Signal, I raise the question of whether director Ridley Scott’s forthcoming science fiction/horror film Prometheus will be, in effect, a hybrid film of ideas that invokes and resonates with themes previously explored by Stanley Kubrick (and Arthur Clarke) in 2001: A Space Odyssey and by Lovecraft in his cosmic-literary mythos of ancient extraterrestrials and other-dimensional beings who interacted with humans in prehistory and, as Lovecraft frames it in At the Mountains of Madness, may even have created human life. It’s a column full of film trailers, discussion, and speculative analysis.

Here’s an excerpt:

It’s been a long time since I’ve so eagerly anticipated an upcoming film. Prometheus, which is slated for a June 8 release, feels to me like a cultural, psychological, and philosophical landmark even before I’ve seen it. And its profound resonance with two other cultural, psychological, and philosophical landmarks in the history of science fiction is become more clearly evident with each passing day and each newly released marketing item.

[…] It feels awesomely relevant, as if it’s set to channel the psychic energy of the epic Age of Apocalypse that we collectively entered with the dawn of the 21st century. To merge the Frankensteinian theme of Promethean overreach with the real-world crossover theme of the imminent discovery of human life’s ultimate origins, and to wrap it all in a horror-leaning take on the ancient alien hypothesis that channels the implicit but definite presence of H.P. Lovecraft and his mythos of cosmic monstrousness, seems, well, epic.

Full column:Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’: A Lovecraftian ‘2001’?“, Matt Cardin, SF Signal, April 23, 2012

UFOs over China and fireballs over Peru: What the Lovecraft is going on?

So, you know, sometimes we really do need to ask ourselves whether and to what extent our new Internet-created ability to piece together all kinds of events and news reports instantaneously from across space and time is encouraging us to read false patterns of meaning into things.

More pointedly, is that what I’m doing below when I correlate several items from the rash of bizarre astronomical, aerial, and atmospheric events that have hit the media webs in the past few days, weeks, and months, and thereby convey the muted, unstated, but clear notion that they’re somehow connected? Is it even true that statistically there’s a “rash” of such events at all? Or is that very impression created out of whole cloth by the medium I’m using to find them?

In what’s become a legendary quote, Lovecraft characterized “the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents” as “the most merciful thing in the world,” since “the piecing together of dissociated knowledge” might well reveal “terrifying vistas of reality.” Minus their delicious overtones of a sanity-blasting cosmic revelation that would pulverize humankind, can Lovecraft’s words be taken as a valuable reminder that we do, in fact, have an inborn tendency to try and correlate our mind’s contents, and so we should, therefore, be suspicious of the narratives and Big Pictures that emerge from this?

I dunno. But what happened in, or rather over, China on August 18 and  20 and Peru on August 25 is still dazzling to the human sensibility in ways that Lovecraft probably would have relished.

August 18, 2011:

UFO Spotted Over Chinese Airport — Planes were dramatically diverted away from a major Chinese airport after reports of a UFO circling a runway, the Shanghai Daily reported Thursday [August 18]. The mysterious object was spotted Wednesday afternoon floating high above Jiangbei International Airport in the city of Chongqing, an important aviation hub for southwestern China. Worried officials diverted several flights to other airports before it disappeared about 50 minutes later and air traffic was allowed to return to normal. The Chongqing government has not offered any explanation for the UFO, Shanghai Daily said. However, skeptical airport workers believe it was a sky lantern or a large balloon, the newspaper said. Wednesday’s scare mirrors an incident in July last year when Xiaoshan airport in the eastern city of Hangzhou was closed after baffled air traffic controllers spotted a UFO on their radar screens. (Fox News)

This story, reported through various channels, was soon accompanied by many followups assuring us that the UFO in question was “Just an Unusual Cloud.”

August 20, 2011

“Super UFO” Spotted in both Beijing and Shanghai — On the night of August 20th, numerous people and pilots in both Beijing and Shanghai reported seeing a strange ball of light that grew bigger and bigger over the cities’ skies. The topic has been creating quite a lot of buzz among Chinese netizens, with many claiming that the strange glow was actually a “Super UFO”. Several pilots who were mid-air at the time reported seeing a huge white ball flying at an altitude of 10.7km, one that appeared several hundred times larger than the moon. The mysterious phenomenon was visible for 20 minutes and was reported to the East China Air Traffic Control Bureau. As usual, no official explanation for this mysterious sighting has been given. (eChinacities.com)

On August 23, three days after the event, Zhu Jin, curator of the Beijing Planetarium, told the Global Times that this phenomenon was probably caused by “astronautic or military activities.” He also disagreed explicitly and technically with the widespread classification of it as a UFO: “UFO stands for ‘unidentified flying object,’ while the scene this time is more accurately described as an unidentified aerial phenomenon,” he said. The Atlantic commented, “But catching a glimpse of a UAP is so much less exciting!”

August 25, 2011

Meteorite blasts across skies of Peru leaving forest fires in its wake — Blazing with the fury of a mini-sun … a suspected meteor streaked across the sky over the city of Cusco in Peru. It was captured blasting through the upper levels of the atmosphere at 2pm yesterday afternoon [August 25], leaving an irredescent trail in its wake. Astonished residents watched as the impressive natural phenomena eventually disappeared over the horizon. Experts believe it may have caused forest fires to the south of the city, which have been ravaged by drought. Cusco is the gateway to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu … The Inca trail attracts tens of thousands of tourists every year, with entry restricted to 200 new travelers each day.

Various Internet observers have weighed in saying that the Peruvian fireball really is/was a UFO, meaning a paranormal or extraterrestrial event. Others have dismissed not only the UFO speculation but the identification of the phenomenon as a meteor or fireball at all. They say it was just a jet contrail blazing vividly with reflected sunlight.

Flashback: September 2007

To augment the weird feeling generated by confronting the above items in succession, let’s recall the almost overtly Lovecraftian astronomical event that book place in Peru back in 2007. (Think “The Colour Out of Space.”)

Villagers fall ill after fireball hits Peru — A fireball fell from the sky and slammed into southern Peru over the weekend, creating a huge crater that emitted a sickeningly smelly gas, local authorities said. More than 600 villagers fell ill, the Peruvian radio network RPP reported Tuesday. Video reports from the scene, near the remote Andean village of Carancas along Peru’s border with Bolivia, showed what appeared to be a 100-foot-wide (30-meter-wide), 20-foot-deep (6-meter-deep) impact crater with a bubbling pool of water at the bottom. Authorities said that the crater was made Saturday by a falling meteorite. Agence France Presse quoted a local official, Marco Limache, as saying that “boiling water started coming out of the crater, and particles of rock and cinders were found nearby.” Limache told RPP that the gases emanating from the crater caused nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and stomach pain — so much so that authorities were considering calling a state of emergency. The newspaper La Republica reported that seven policemen became ill and were taken to a hospital. (MSNBC)

“Betwixt the real and the unreal”

Is there a way to make sense out of any of this, or to answer my opening question about how or whether we can tell if we’re reading meanings into instead of out of events? The overarching meaning or narrative that I’m thinking of is, of course, the one that interprets all of the above-recounted events, and also the thousand others in recent news, as clear evidence — or maybe that word deserves scare quotes: “evidence” — that Something’s Going On. Something extraterrestrial or other-dimensional, or otherwise preternatural or supernormal.

Another obvious sense-making gambit is to write it all down to “coincidence,” a word that inhabits the philosophical territory of kneejerk and ranks as one of the most unexamined and question-begging concepts in the English language.

For now, I’d rather bracket the question and defer to Lovecraft, who, even though he was only writing fictional esoteric philosophy that he didn’t really believe when he penned the following words in his short story “The Tomb,” still knew all about the boundary between what the human mind can know and bear and what lies beyond its native capacity, and lived in full awareness that the stories we tell ourselves may conceal as much as they reveal, and vice versa:

“Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the unreal; that all things appear as they do only by virtue of the delicate individual physical and mental media through which we are made conscious of them; but the prosaic materialism of the majority condemns as madness the flashes of super-sight which penetrate the common veil of obvious empiricism.”

Rhode Island School of Design now requiring incoming freshmen to read H.P. Lovecraft

Is it really possible that a modern-day American college has actively taken steps to transform the experience and education they offer their students into an overtly Lovecraftian affair? Why, yes, it is, much to my jaw-dropped astonishment and delight. Cue the sound of stars aligning.

First, the wide-scope background: As reported by The New York Times in 2007, “Nationwide, hundreds of colleges and universities, large and small, public and private, assign first-year students a book to read over the summer, hoping to create a sense of community and engage students intellectually.”

And now the eldritch case in point: Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the fine arts and design college located in Providence and abutting Brown University, has joined the national trend by launching a Summer Reading Program this year that requires all incoming freshmen to read the same book. And they’ve picked a title by the Prince of Providence Letters himself:

[T]rue to RISD’s penchant for the idiosyncratic and intriguingly off-center, first-year students won’t be reading The Kite Runner, A Hope in the Unseen or other bestsellers that are among the top picks on college campuses. Instead, they’ll be diving into a 1927 pulp fiction novel written by an author who described his guiding literary principle as “cosmic horror,” and featuring a protagonist who is driven insane by a journey that leads him into a world of sorcerers and the occult.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward was never published during the lifetime of its author, Rhode Island native H.P. Lovecraft. When it eventually did see the light of day, it was in a 1941 issue of the fantasy/horror magazine Weird Tales. Although it’s anything but a standard selection, RISD faculty say the work is the perfect choice to inaugurate RISD’s Common Reading Program: a work of visually rich fiction that is steeped in Rhode Island history and that tackles complex themes – from the notion of fate and the power of family bloodlines to the dangers of modernization and the limits of scientific inquiry.

Those excerpts come from “RISD Summer Reading? Horrors!“, the RISD’s official description of the project. The full piece is well worth your time, especially since it features various faculty members offering their justifications and explanations of this idiosyncratic but utterly appropriate literary choice. It also points out that “an accompanying website will feature drawings and other work by students inspired by Lovecraft’s fiction. The book will be woven into various Orientation programs, with faculty-led discussion groups, a short film about the author and tours of the city focusing on sites and landmarks identified in the book.” That website, not incidentally, is RISD Common Reading, which in addition to describing the program contains an “About H.P. Lovecraft” page that consists solely of a link to the Lovecraft bio at Donovan Loucks’ definitive Lovecraft site, as well as a link to the online text of Charles Dexter Ward.

The Providence Journal ran a story on the program today, and quoted RISD’s Daniel Cavicchi, head of the Department of History, Philosophy, and the Social Science’s, about the college’s choice:

“Well, it’s not a typical choice,” RISD’s Daniel Cavicchi acknowledged with a chuckle. “Most reading programs assign books that deal with contemporary issues, and we certainly considered some of those. But this one resonated the most, I think, with everyone. It’s different in that it’s a horror novel. But we thought it would be a really good idea to have something that would engage the students in thinking about their new home of Providence.”

…“And we thought it had many different entry points, many themes,” said Cavicchi, who suggested the book — which he had read in high school long before setting foot in Providence — to the rest of the committee that picked it. Themes like the role of place in creative inspiration; the point of knowing one’s personal history; the ethics of manipulating nature; the limits of science and rationality… “To me, the book is very layered. There is the horror story, but then there are all these other elements in and around the horror story.”

(See full story at The Providence Journal.)

Beautiful. Amazing. Wonderful. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Missouri-Columbia, I had to make up my own Lovecraftian curriculum. By “had to” I mean I was driven to do so by a positively daimonic compulsion and fascination, and by “Lovecraftian curriculum” I mean Lovecraft’s complete fiction, as ordered in hardcover from Arkham House (to be followed by his selected letters after I graduated), as well as everything by and about him that was housed in the university’s library. This included Donald Burleson’s H.P. Lovecraft: A Critical Study and Lovecraft: Disturbing the Universe, Maurice Lévy’s Lovecraft: A Study in the Fantastic, Darrell Schweitzer’s The Dream-Quest of H.P. Lovecraft, the Joshi-edited H.P. Lovecraft: Four Decades of Criticism, and more. But this was all, as I said, entirely self-driven and self-conducted. I think I would have suspected that I had accidentally transitioned into an alternate universe a la the cosmic slips in Robert Anton Wilson’s Schrodinger’s Cat if I had actually been required to read Lovecraft at Mizzou.

Pardon me if I hear the hoofbeats of apocalyptic horsemen approaching. Or maybe that crackling sound is hell freezing over. In any case, life is cool, and RISD’s incoming  freshmen are receiving an education indeed.

Celebrating Lovecraft’s birthday and Ligotti’s un-birthday

It’s still August 20 in my time zone as I type these words, so it’s not too late for me to send out this year’s Lovecraftian birthday acknowledgment into the cyber-ether.

Thus: Happy Birthday, Howard, wherever you are or are not. If it’s the former, if you really are somewhere, then I know you’re eternally astounded at this refutation of your atheism and mechanistic materialism. If you’ve truly survived in some meaningful form, then I’ll hope that maybe, just maybe, you’ll achieve an actual, final fulfillment of the epic sense of sehnsucht that led you to see achingly beautiful, ineffable, and unattainable beauties and joys peering through cloudscapes and sunsets and assemblages of sloping roofs.

As for Tom Ligotti, we can regard this same occasion as his un-birthday, since it was in August of 1970, eighty years after the birth of Lovecraft, that Tom at age 17 experienced a horrifying vision of the universe, and of reality itself, that permanently altered his worldview in a direction that was, although he could not know it at the time, proto-Lovecraftian. He was overcome by a direct experience of the universe as a “meaningless and menacing” place in which “human notions of value and meaning, even sense itself, are utterly fictitious.” (The quotes are from one of his many interviews.) It’s difficult to say whether this represents more of a spiritual death or an artistic birth. Or if it’s both, then it’s difficult to say which carries more existential weight and final significance for the overall inner life the man has led. That’s why I think the designation “un-birthday” feels appropriate, especially given the overweening focus on antinatalism that has emerged as the master theme of Tom’s oeuvre in recent years. (See my essay about his and Lovecraft’s literary-spiritual kinship for more details about their respective work.)

In any event, the net result is that each August we can celebrate — although at Tom’s ultimate expense, I fear, since his subjective life has been a grim one — the birth into the world of two towering masters of cosmic horror fiction whose work exercises a truly transformative influence upon its readers. Lovecraft was emotionally and intellectually focused on the horror of “cosmic outsideness,” of vast outer spaces and the mind-shattering powers and principles that may hold sway there, and that may occasionally impinge upon human reality and reveal its pathetic fragility. Tom is focused more upon the horror of deep insideness, of the dark, twisted, transcendent truths and mysteries that reside within consciousness itself and find their outward expression in scenes and situations of warped perceptions and diseased metaphysics. Paired, they represent opposite poles on the same artistic-philosophical-emotional continuum, with Lovecraft’s outer, transcendent, cosmic focus and Ligotti’s inner, immanent, personal focus finding their mutual confirmation and fulfillment in each other.

The world is richer for having both of them.

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The world riots, nations shudder, Cthulhu wakes

The world tree is rotten and the axe lies at its base. The Midgard Serpent shudders and flicks open an eye. Cthulhu rouses from his slumber of aeons. Time to wake up. There’s a revolution calling. And not just in the visible world.

Or so my mood tells me on this otherwise mundane Friday morning. (And doesn’t “mundane” mean “insane” these days?)

* * *

Got no love for politicians or that crazy scene in D.C, it’s just a power-mad town
But the time is right for changes, there’s a growing fear. We’re taking a chance on a new kind of vision is due
I used to trust the media to tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now I see the payoffs everywhere I look. Who do you trust when everyone’s a crook?

I used to think that only America’s way was right
But now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives
Gotta make a million, doesn’t matter who dies
Revolution calling

* * *

“In the wake of a political crisis here in America that left both sides looking more than ever like cranky six-year-olds, a long-overdue downgrade of America’s unpayable debt, and yet another round of fiscal crisis in the Eurozone, stock and commodity markets around the globe roared into a power dive from which, as I write this, they show no sign of recovering any time soon.

“In England, meanwhile, one of those incidents Americans learned to dread in the long hot summers of the Sixties — a traffic stop in a poor minority neighborhood, a black man shot dead by police under dubious circumstances — has triggered four nights of looting and rioting, as mobs in London and elsewhere organized via text messages and social media, brushed aside an ineffectual police presence, plundered shops and torched police stations, and ripped gaping holes in their nation’s already shredding social fabric. It seems that ‘Tottenham’ is how the English pronounce ‘Watts,’ except that the fire this time is being spread rather more efficiently with the aid of Blackberries and flashmobs.

“Government officials denounced the riots as ‘mindless thuggery,’ but it’s considerably more than that. As one looter cited in the media said, ‘this is my banker’s bonus’ — the response of the bottom of the social pyramid, that is, to a culture of nearly limitless corruption further up. It bears remembering that the risings earlier this year in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere began with exactly this sort of inchoate explosion of rage against governments that responded to economic crisis by tightening the screws on the poor; it was only when the riots showed the weakness of the existing order that more organized and ambitious movements took shape amid the chaos. It’s thus not outside the bounds of possibility, if the British government keeps on managing the situation as hamhandedly as it’s done so far, that the much-ballyhooed Arab Spring may be followed by an English Summer — and just possibly thereafter by a European Autumn.

“One way or another, this is what history looks like as it’s happening.”

John Michael Greer, August 10, 2011

* * *

Movements come and movements go
Leaders speak, movements cease
When their heads are flown
‘Cause all these punks
Got bullets in their heads
Departments of police, the judges, the feds
Networks at work, keepin’ people calm
You know they went after King
When he spoke out on Vietnam
He turned the power to the have-nots
And then came the shot

* * *

Great Britain and other parts of the world are experiencing unrest at a time of global economic uncertainty and stock market volatility….[A]round the world…economic downturns are bringing protestors into the streets [in Great Britain, Israel, Spain, Greece, Portugal, the Philippines, China, Syria]. – “Global Uncertainty Leading to Global Unrest,” CNBC

Reaganomics, according to Asher Edelman, has been proven nonsense “time and time again…it doesn’t trickle down anywhere. The man with a million-dollar income who makes another $100,000 is more likely than not to spend it.” As the world watches London burn under the strain of economic uncertainty, Edelman warns it could happen here: “I think that you should watch very carefully for the possibilities of social unrest in this country unless Washington wakes up,” he tells Big Think. It is already becoming a global conflagration. – Big Think

* * *

“We need to, first of all, not believe what we’re being told in the media: that we should be in a state of fear, that the only real response, the only natural response to what’s happening, is a state of fear. That is an unconscious response. We need to see that change is absolutely necessary in this world, and the dissolution of many of the ego-based structures is absolutely necessary for the planet to survive and for humanity to survive. So what’s happening is not dreadfully bad. What’s happening needs to happen. The totality, the intelligence behind phenomena, is doing it. So it is a good thing.”- Eckhart Tolle

* * *

Revelations of personal insecurity continued to rise in the decades that followed [World War II and the advent of the atomic age]. Depletion of natural resources, spiraling inflation, religious warfare, governmental and industrial corruption, political assassination, street crimes, mass murder, and drug addiction grew and flourished. No heroes appeared on the scene to offer succor or solutions. Like the turmoil and upheaval that preceded the return of the Great Old Ones in Lovecraft’s fiction, the world seemed to be preparing for its final fate now that “the stars were right”…In a time of turmoil there is a widespread intimation — not based on hereditary impulse but on today’s realities — that the evils abroad in the world may come from without as well as from within ourselves. While we may consciously reject [Lovecraft’s] cosmology, a part of us finds in it a chilling confirmation of secret fears. At the time Lovecraft created it, the “Cthulhu Mythos” and its threat of Elder Gods rising and returning to rule over earth could be easily dismissed as merely a paranoid fable of the future. Today there is growing suspicion that this future may become our present.” – Robert Bloch, “Heritage of Horror