Saturday Matinee: I Don’t Know Jack

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Because tomorrow marks the birthday of Jack Nance, I’d like to bring attention to “I Don’t Know Jack” (2002), a documentary on cult actor Jack Nance exploring the uniqueness of his character, his unconventional career, and the strange circumstances surrounding the death of his wife in 1991 and himself five years later. The film features interviews with family and friends including Catherine Coulson, Brad Dourif, Dennis Hopper, David Lynch and Charlotte Stewart.

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Hawaii County Officials Will Appeal Monsanto Court Ruling

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Source: Inquisitr

In a 5 to 4 decision, Hawaii County Council voted yesterday to appeal the decision of a U.S. Magistrate Judge who has ruled to protect Monsanto and GMO’s testing and production on the Big Island and will continue their battle in a higher court.

Recently, an overwhelmingly popular vote of direct democracy in Hawaii County chose to ban the cultivation of GMO (genetically modified organisms) in their communities. However, genetic engineering giant Monsanto, refused to accept the law, or the will of the people, and sued Hawaii County over the new law.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren, ruled in favor of Monsanto and ordered the Hawaii County Council to stop any enforcement of the law. However, some questions have been raised about the judge who may have Monsanto ties through his wife. This, along with the type of political and financial pressure that Monsanto wields, has called into question whether or not Judge Kurren was able to be unbiased in this decision. Judge Kurren also has an established history of ruling in favor to protect Monsanto’s interest over that of the people. In August of this year, he also struck down Kaua’i’s Pesticide Reform Act claiming there that it was pre-empted by state law denying local government right to pass it’s own regulations; this is the same tactic that he used in this ruling as well. Regardless, the Hawaii County Officials will appeal in higher court to keep the Big Island GMO free.

Of course, this is not the first time that Monsanto has sought to over ride the will of the people and force GMO crops on those who clearly do not want them. Monsanto and its partner companies have spent millions to fight measures to label products containing GMO’s across the country including in Oregon, California, and now Vermont. Top Monsanto officials also end up serving in key governmental positions with the FDA, EPA, or other government posts including current Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas who is the former legal council for Monsanto.

These heavy government ties further complicates matters for those trying to deal with the ecological fall out and health implications of GMO’s. In India there have been over 290,000 farmers who have committed suicide because of GMO’s crops leading most to call Monsanto (or Monsatan as many not so affectionately call it) “the most evil company in the world“.

Monsanto has done much to earn that title as well, beyond their “round up ready” seeds and massively polluting pesticides, Monsanto was also convicted in 2002 in Alabama for “knowingly contaminated their community for decades with PCBs, chemicals used as an insulating fluid in electrical capacitors and transformers.” In 2012 a French court ruled that Monsanto was guilty of chemical poisoning and in Brazil courts found Monsanto guilty of false advertising for claiming that their products were environmentally safe. And in Haiti, farmers there chose to burn the free GMO seeds from Monsanto rather than allow them to infect their nation even in the wake of disaster.

Monsanto and it’s company Dow Chemical were also responsible for Agent Orange which lead to the death of half a million civilians in Vietnam, left over 3 million people contaminated and was responsible for birth defects of half a million Vietnamese children. The U.S. Military did not escape the wrath of Ancient Orange either and many who survived continued to be ill for the rest of their lives.

Monsanto has not been at all shy about their agenda and have accepted no responsibility for any of the problems associated with their global lab experiment. In 1998, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications, Phil Angell made their views on safety clear.

“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible.”

It is the that very lack of any safety testing and the havoc that GMO crops and accompanying Round Up pesticides may be causing to the food chain, natural plants, and the pollinator’s the keep it all working is one of the key reasons why so many nations, states, and activists are moving to have GMO’s labeled or out right banned all together. But this does not seem to phase the global giant; their spokesman for Britain who had this to say in 1999.

“People will have Roundup Ready soya whether they like it or not”

Many will be watching the battle in Hawaii very closely. It is of monumental importance because not only is it a part of American’s battle for safe food, to protect bees, and insure the survival of natural plants, but it is also critical in the abilities of local government to operate and if Hawaii County loses this battle it could cripple local law makers everywhere and give unprecedented power to those in the corporate world, like Monsanto, to operate above the law and the will of the people.

 

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How ‘Awesome’ Is America?

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By Robert Parry

Source: ConsortiumNews.com

Fox News host Andrea Tantaros is facing some well-deserved ridicule for refuting the stomach-turning Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture by declaring that “The United States is awesome. We are awesome” and claiming that the Democrats and President Barack Obama released the report because they want “to show us how we’re not awesome.”

Tantaros’s rant did have the feel of a Saturday Night Live satire, but her upbeat jingoism was only a slight exaggeration of what Americans have been hearing from much of their media and politicians for decades. At least since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, any substantive criticism of the United States has been treated as unpatriotic.

Indeed, a journalist or a politician who dares point out any fundamental flaws in the country or even its actual history can expect to have his or her patriotism challenged. That is how debate over “how we’re not awesome” is silenced.

Fox News may be the poster child of this anti-intellectualism but the same sentiments can be found on the Washington Post’s neocon editorial pages or in the higher-brow New Republic. If you dare point out that America or one of its favored “allies” has done some wrong around the world, you’re an enemy “apologist.” If you regularly adopt a critical stance, you will be marginalized.

That’s why so many serious national problems have lingered or gotten worse. If we don’t kill the messenger, we denounce him or her as un-American.

For instance, the data on racial disparities in police killings and prison incarcerations have long been available, but the vast majority of whites seem oblivious to these continued injustices. To point out that the United States has still not done the necessary hard work to correct these history-based imbalances makes you seem out of step amid the happy-face belief that whatever racism there was is now gone. We have a black president, you know.

So, when white police shoot or otherwise apply excessive violence against blacks at a wildly disproportionate rate to whites, many white Americans just shrug. They even get annoyed if black athletes join in some symbolic protests like raising their hands as Michael Brown did before he was shot to death in Ferguson, Missouri. Many people hate to have the real world intrude on their sports entertainment.

In reaction to such events, Fox News and much of talk radio find reasons to ridicule the victims and the protesters rather than address the real problems. The unwelcome evidence of racism is just another excuse to roll the eyes and infuse the voice with dripping sarcasm.

Mundane Neglect

On a more mundane level in Arlington County, Virginia, where I live, many whites simply don’t see the racial disparities though they are all around. While overwhelmingly white North Arlington benefits from all manner of public investments, including a state-of-the-art subway system which cost billions upon billions of dollars and amenities likes a $2 million “dog park renovation,” racially diverse South Arlington, the historic home of the County’s black population, is systematically shortchanged, except when it comes to expanding the sewage treatment plant.

When the County Board finally approved a much cheaper light-rail mass-transit plan for South Arlington’s Columbia Pike and voted for a public pool complex in another South Arlington neighborhood, North Arlington residents rose up in fury. The local newspaper, the Sun-Gazette, which doesn’t even distribute in much of South Arlington – due to the demographics – rallied the political opposition.

Before long, the County Board was in retreat, killing both the public pools and the light-rail plan, all the better to free up taxpayer money for more North Arlington projects. Yet, when I have noted the racial component to how the two halves of the county are treated, many Arlington whites get furious. They simply don’t see the residual racism or don’t want to see it. They view themselves as enlightened even as they favor neglecting their black and brown neighbors.

After I wrote a column about the history of Columbia Pike, which became an African-American freedom trail after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and ex-slaves escaped up the roadway toward Washington, one reader complained that I had slighted Robert E. Lee by saying he had “deserted” the U.S. Army when his fans prefer saying that he “resigned his commission,” which sounds so much more proper.

The point is interesting not only because the commenter didn’t seem nearly as concerned about the fate of the African-Americans, some of whom joined the U.S. Colored Troops to fight for the final defeat of slavery. And not only because General Lee violated his oath as a U.S. officer in which he swore to “bear true allegiance to the United States of America” and to “serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States.”

But the commenter’s point is also interesting because it underscores how white Americans have excused and even glorified the Confederate “heroes” who were fighting to protect a system based on the ownership of other human beings. If you have any doubt about the glorification, just visit Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, where towering statues of Confederate generals dominate the skyline.

Or, if you’re in Arlington and driving on Route One, you might notice that it is still named in honor of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy who was a fervent white supremacist and a major slaveholder. And, if President Davis and General Lee had been successful in their war of secession, it could have meant that slavery might never have ended. Yet, these protectors of slavery are treated with the utmost respect and any slight toward them requires a protest.

Crude Racism

My writings about Thomas Jefferson also have elicited anger from some people who wish to idolize him as a noble philosopher/statesman when the reality was that he was a crude racist (see his Notes on the State of Virginia) who mistreated his Monticello slaves, including having boys as young as ten whipped and raping one and likely other of his slave girls. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Thomas Jefferson: America’s Founding Sociopath.”]

Much like the defender of Robert E. Lee who preferred more polite phrasing about the general’s betrayal of his oath, defenders of the Jefferson myth expressed much more outrage over my pointing out these inconvenient truths about their hero than they did about the victims of Jefferson’s despicable behavior and stunning hypocrisies.

Which gets us back to Andrea Tantaros and how “awesome” America is. The context for her remarks was the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report which detailed what can no longer be euphemized away as “enhanced interrogation techniques” or EITs as CIA officials prefer.

The only word that can now apply is torture, at least for anyone who has read the page-after-page of near drownings via waterboard, the hallucinatory effects of sleep deprivation, the pain inflicted by hanging people from ceilings, and the sexual sadism of keeping detainees naked and subjecting them to anal rape under the pretext of “rectal rehydration” and “rectal feeding.”

The various apologists for this torture – people like Tantaros, Vice President Dick Cheney and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer – prefer to counterattack by questioning the patriotism or the intellectual consistency of those Americans who are outraged at these actions. The torture defenders excuse the behavior because we were scared after 9/11 and wanted the Bush administration to do whatever it took to keep us safe.

All of these excuses are designed to prevent the sort of soul-searching that one should expect from a mature democratic Republic, a country that seeks to learn from its mistakes, not cover them up or forget them.

Instead of Americans confronting these dark realities of both their history and their present – and making whatever amends and adjustments are necessary – the torture apologists or those who don’t see racism would simply have us wave the flag and declare how “awesome” we are.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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Hacking the Planet: What Could Go Wrong?

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By Dale Lately

Source: The Baffler

You remember this science fiction story, right? Faced with the threat of extinction on a warming planet, an advanced race flies gigantic mirrors into the stratosphere to create a giant “space umbrella” that will bounce the sun’s rays back into the cosmos. But it doesn’t work. Undeterred, the race devises a huge artificial volcano to spew ash into the atmosphere, in order to create a permanent fog in the sky that will dampen the damage from the rays. That doesn’t work either. Desperately, the stricken race pours millions of tons of iron filings into the sea, hoping that it will stimulate phytoplankton to suck the warming gases out of the atmosphere….

You remember that? No, me either. That’s because it wasn’t sci-fi–the above is actually a selection of serious proposals being made to “geo-engineer” our way out of global warming. These proposals are gaining increasing political ground and regularly discussed at symposiums such as the 2014 Berlin Climate Engineering Conference. The bizarre-sounding ideas being discussed include creating giant mechanical honeycombs or seaweed farms to fertilize the oceans (through a process of carbon dioxide reduction, or CDR), and more grandiose projects such as building cloud-spewing ocean drones and space mirrors (through solar radiation management, or SRM—like a dimmer switch for the sun).

The planet hackers are getting busy. Start-ups and patents already abound–as do their creators. Nathan Myhrvold, founder of “Intellectual Ventures,” proposes a “garden hose to the sky,” which aims to fight pollution with more pollution by spewing sulfur into the stratosphere. Russ George is the guerrilla geo-engineer who thoughtfully dumped 100 tons of iron sulfate into the sea in 2012 to try and save the oceans. Lowell Wood’s previous atmospheric tinkering credits include the Star Wars program. But the idea on the SRM side currently gaining most traction seems to be that of a “Giant Sunshade,” which would simulate the cooling effects of a volcanic eruption like Pinatubo back in in 1991 by giving the stratosphere a sulfur injection to bounce back warming rays. In other words, it’s like a giant volcano in the sky. What could possibly go wrong?

Er…how about everything? A project like this risks causing vast droughts and food shortages for billions of people (mostly suffered in the developing world of course), as climatologist Alan Robock found when he made a computer model of the sulfur injections of such a “volcano on tap” in 2008. Once begun, the sulfur-spewing would have to be continuous, since cutting off the supply would cause sudden and lethal re-warming. In other words, it would be akin to putting the planet on permanent life-support. Moreover, the sky might be left forever hazy, which would of course–oh, the irony–diminish solar power.

Besides the physical risks involved, there’s also the moral hazard to consider. Just as the implied promise of a financial bailout encouraged recklessness from the banks, the idea that centuries of environmental abuse can be reversed by a few clever tweaks, a sticking-plaster for Big Oil, suggests that the party can go on forever. This line of thinking would certainly explain all the fossil fuel dollars flowing into geo-engineering. One of the first formal gatherings for the movement was convened in 2008 by BP’s chief scientist Steve Koonin, while CDR start-up Carbon Engineering has backing from the Canadian tar sands business. And think tank American Enterprise Initiative, generously funded by the oil sector, launched a department in 2008 called the Geoengineering Project. Ever the entrepreneur, Nathan Myhrvold had the bright idea of using the yellow sulfur waste from tar sand extraction to shield the sun so we can go on polluting forever. Party on!

This is magical thinking par excellence: wreck the planet for everybody, and then turn up the global air-con. The planet hacking men (and they are mostly men) represent techno-evangelism raised to unprecedented new levels–a macho belief in humanity’s right and ability to tame nature, rather than our responsibility to learn to live within our natural limits. Talk is already moving from “if” to “how,” from discussing testing to discussing governance, and GE may supersede GM as the next bogey of the environmental Left. Frankencrops will seem like small fry compared to a Frankenplanet, one where glacial melt may be lessened by SRM, but where acidification, deforestation, and species obliteration will march merrily on.

But then, do the wealthy elites supporting these schemes really care, when, as Naomi Klein points out in This Changes Everything, they’re already talking of abandoning Earth altogether? That is, of course, the logical conclusion of geo-tinkering–planet hacking awaits its cosmic Ark, an escape pod for the lucky few, just in the same way that the body hackers hope for immortality. In this comforting salvation narrative, the oil tycoons and airline moguls can watch the planet they polluted disappear from a porthole window as they sail away forever–leaving those on the ground to fend for themselves beneath, as Klein puts it, “a milky, geo-engineered ceiling gazing down on a dying, acidified sea.”

Alternatively, we could try something less gee-whizz: rather than turning down the sun for everybody on earth, we could force the fossil fuel industry to comply with emissions targets. But perhaps regulating big oil–unlike space mirrors or volcanoes in the sky–just sounds too much like science fiction.

 

Dale Lately writes about culture and communications and has contributed to the Guardian, 3:AM Magazine, OpenDemocracy, Litro and Pop Matters. His regular musings can be found at @dalelately and www.dalelately.blogspot.com.

 

Posted in Corporate Crime, Environment, Geoengineering, propaganda, Science, Social Control, society, State Crime, Technology, wasted taxpayer dollars | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two for Tuesday

Matisyahu (feat. Akon)

Sonna Rele (feat. Matisyahu)

Posted in Art, culture, Music Video, Two for Tuesday, Video | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Philip K. Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982)

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In honor of the birthday of the venerable author whose writings have inspired and expanded the hearts & minds of countless kindred spirits, I’m sharing a few PKD-related  works from the archives. Posted below are a couple of rare interviews with Philip K. Dick shedding light on his work and the bizarre events which greatly affected the latter part of his life followed by a speculative essay on his “2-3-74″ experience.

2-3-74 and After: A Mystical and Paranormal Overview

By Mark W. Smith

“A poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and
systematized disorganization of all the senses. All forms of love, of
suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he exhausts within himself
all poisons, and preserves their quintessence. Unspeakable torment,
where he will need the greatest faith, a superhuman strength, where he
becomes all men the great invalid, the great criminal, the great
accursed – and the Supreme Scientist! For he attains the unknown!
Because he has cultivated his soul, already rich, more than anyone! He
attains the unknown, and if, demented, he finally loses the
understanding of his visions, he will at least have seen them! So what
if he is destroyed in his ecstatic flight through things unheard of,
unnameable: other horrible workers will come; they will begin at the
horizons where the first one has fallen!”

Arthur Rimbaud (May 15,1871)

PKD: Sham or Shaman? In February of 1974 Philip K. Dick was feeling a
lot of personal stress: financial matters involving the I.R.S.,
lingering effects of the break-in of his home and other fears
experienced in 1971, and family matters involving the birth of a new
child. He was also dealing with the effects of an impacted wisdom
tooth. Phil had been administered Sodium Pentothal during surgery and
later was awaiting the delivery of a pain killer. Phil had also been
taking lithium in prescribed doses for some time.

During this time Phil began to receive and experience a series of
dreams, visions and other-worldly experiences that would change his
life and times for ever. He would spend the remaining years of his
life in pursuit of explanations for what had happened. What follows is
a synopsis of possible ideas, borrowed from both western and eastern
thought; past, present and even future.

In speculating on the condition of Phil’s psyche at this point, one
must ponder the combined effects of the stress, pain and drugs. The
vision quest is a ritual practiced for gaining a guardian spirit or
asking for supernatural guidance. These three forces are often
utilized in preparing the mind and spirit for this: stress, in the
form of isolation, fasts, thirsts and physical danger; pain, through
mutilation or self mortification; and drugs, such as hallucinogens. In
the successful vision quest the combination of these preparations will
place the individual in a trance and make him a receptacle for
supernatural forces. The vision quest still lies outside the realm of
tribal shamanism.

Shamanism itself exists within the social structure of the tribe and
is the practice of entering an altered state of consciousness and
traversing non-physical realities in order to heal sickness, both
physical, emotional, and spiritual; or to tell of the future and of
things to pass, or to contact the dead, etc. The shamans are not
priests, but are often more like mystics, and as such are separated
from the main function of the society by their intense experiences.
Siberian shamans go down to the underworld of the ancestral spirits to
gain their knowledge. This belief system has had parallels in other
cultures as well; in yoga tradition, the Manomya and Akashaloka
siddhis provide access to other dimensions of the universe. In Iranian
mysticism, Hurgalya, the celestial earth, is accessible for spiritual
travel.

Within the shamanic traditions it is a long-held belief that of the
three chief methods of obtaining shamanic powers (1) family
transmission, (2) spontaneous vocation, and (3) people who become
shamans of their own free will, the self-made shaman is the least
powerful.

Mircea Eliade in Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy says,
“However selected, a shaman is not recognized as such until after he
has received two kinds of teaching: (1) ecstatic (dreams, trances,
etc.) and (2) traditional (shamanic techniques, names and functions of
spirits, mythology and genealogy of the clan, secret languages,
etc.).”

Looking at Phil’s experience through a shamanistic viewpoint, we can
say that it was spontaneous, and upon receiving the “call” he had a
series of dreams, trances, visions, etc. Then he spent the next eight
years trying to learn the traditions of his people, their mythology,
the names and functions of their spirits, and so on.

For the most part he was on his own in his attempts to relate the
experiences to the traditions of his people, due to the spiritual
poverty that existed around him, and one wonders what would have been
made of his experiences if he had been born or lived in a culture of
rich shamanistic traditions.

The Symbolism of the First Encounter. Phil states that on February 20,
1974 he was visited by a beautiful girl who was delivering his
prescription (Darvon), and noticed a gold necklace that she was
wearing. He was suddenly stuck by the experience of “anamnesis”, which
was first employed by Plato as the recollection or remembrance of
Eternal Truth. Asking her what it was, she informed him that the
amulet had a fish inscribed on it, and that the fish was a sign used
by the early Christians. She then departed.

Phil felt that the events that were to follow began that day and were
triggered by his looking at this golden fish amulet. The word “amulet”
comes from the French “amulet”, which in turn comes from the Latin
“amuletum” and means “for defense”. Amulets have been common since
ancient times, can be made out of virtually anything, and are believed
to be imbued with magical or supernatural power.

Symbols as well have always been felt to retain magical powers. They
function as translators of the human condition into meta-universal
terms and reveal the connection between the microcosm and the
macrocosm. W.B.Yeats once stated, “I cannot now think symbols less
than the greatest of all powers whether they are used consciously by
the master of magic or half unconsciously by their successors, the
poet, the musician, and the artist.” (In Yeat’s Golden Dawn).

Gold itself has long been associated with the sun, the force which
brings light, form and order out of chaos and darkness. The fish
inscribed in the gold represented Christ to the early Christians
because the Greek word “ichthys”, meaning “fish”, was an acronym for
“Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior”. Also, fish live in water and water
has long symbolized the unconscious mind. Water has also been used as
a symbol of life.

One must speculate as to the effects of these combined events on
Phil’s mind on that fateful February day in 1974. Phil’s interest in
early Christianity, and his friendship with James A. Pike, the
Episcopal Bishop of California, dating back to the mid-sixties, has
been well-documented in several of his novels. Could this combination
of circumstances culminate in the results that were to follow?

The Vatic PKD. Phil felt that he was transported to the world of Acts
(fifth book of the Christian Bible’s New Testament) and he felt that
it was his real time and place. He felt that he was a person called
Simon Magus, a first century Gnostic. He was also to name this ancient
personage Thomas, a first-century Christian or “Firebright”, described
as an entity of spiritual wisdom. He never was able to decide on a
name for this personage or the nature of its origin.

Spontaneous Retrocognition (a.k.a. postcognition) is a phenomenon in
which an individual is able to “see” into the past. Occurring in the
form of an hallucination or vision, the present surroundings are
replaced by a scene from the past. Psychic Archeology is the ability
to use psychic skills to aid in the field of archeology. Canadian
archeologist J. Norman Emerson has used the talents of psychic George
McMullen, who reports that he sees movie-like images of the past as he
comes into contact with artifacts. He also states that he is assisted
in this process by beings of light. Although this is more akin to
psychometry, the ability to gain information from objects of the past
by handling them, it is explained that the information is conveyed by
vibrations embedded within an object by the emotions or actions of the
past. Although I don’t think Phil ever claimed to have touched the
golden fish, if the vibrations were of enough intensity and/or he was
sensitive enough or open enough, I feel an impression may have been
felt, even without the his physically touching the amulet.

Spontaneous past-life recall is a phenomenon where an individual
experiences the remembrance of a previously lived life. There are many
documented cases of spontaneous past-life recall, one of the earliest
being of a young Japanese boy born in 1815. Religious mysticism of the
east acknowledges the existence of past-life recall and claims that
through the practice of yoga meditation one can access all the details
of one’s past lives. This is tied to the central belief in
reincarnation, the return of the soul to a new physical form after the
death of the previous one.

PKD the Possessed. Revelations from divine, semi-divine, or other
spirits and entities have been reported for thousands of years. Most
Holy books, including the Christian Bible, have been founded on this
premise. In 1904 Aleister Crowley, self-made magician and occultist,
and his wife Rose Kelly received communications from an entity who
identified himself as “Aiwass”, the Egyptian god Horus’ messenger, and
penned “Liber Legis”, also called “The Book of the Law”. It became one
of his most important works, and a standard in modern occult
teachings. For three years beginning in 1954, Andrija Puharich
observed and recorded a young man who, while in a spontaneous trance,
would write and speak in the ancient language of Egypt. This has been
detailed in his book, The Sacred Mushroom. In the 1930’s in England, a
woman spoke ancient Egyptian in a trance over a period of six years,
which has been detailed in the book, Ancient Egypt Speaks by Hulme &
Woods. Phil claimed to receive messages in sanskrit and koine Greek,
two ancient languages of which he had no previous knowledge.

Spirit possession is the taking over of one’s mind, body or soul by an
external force such as a deity, spirit, demon, entity or a separate
personality. Although not strictly accepted by Christianity as a
whole, many of the world’s religious beliefs (e.g. Voudon and many
eastern religions) do accept it. Yet even within Christianity there
are sanctified rituals for exorcism, (the Rituale Romanum, dating back
to 1614) and acceptance of possession by the Holy Spirit.

The term “channeling” has gained in popularity over the last decade or
so, and is a form of communication with “non-worldly entities”. In its
most basic form it has existed in most cultures throughout history,
and in these cultures it has gone though periods of acceptance and
rejection.

James Joyce used the term “epiphany”, meaning “the manifestation of
the divine or supra-personal”. Rainer Maria Rilke said that he
received signals from “cosmic space” for twenty-one days and during
that time produced a fascinating body of written work, some of the
world’s best poetry.

Joan of Arc, a peasant girl of France, having heard the voices of
“Saints” urging her to help Charles VII regain the throne, led a large
army into battle in 1429, and in that same year, victorious in battle,
crowned Charles at Reims.

Phil also considered the possibility that his late friend Bishop James
Pike (d. 1969), was the source of his experiences. He pondered the
idea that his psyche was merging with Pike’s in an attempt to make
contact with him from the “other side”. During the early to mid-1960’s
Phil and Pike had become friends, spending many hours involved in
theological speculation. They also spent much time, after Pike’s son,
Jim, committed suicide in February of 1966, discussing Pike’s efforts
to contact his son. Phil acknowledges Pike in the front of his book
The Maze of Death as providing him with a “wealth of theological
material for my inspection, none of which I was previously acquainted
with.” He disappeared in the Judean desert while on a quest for the
historical Jesus, and was never seen again.

PKD the Dreamer. People claim that it is through dreams, intuitive
flashes, and visions that they experience spontaneous past-life
recall, and researchers look for the sudden acquisition of knowledge
or information by the individual that cannot be explained by other
means. Australian aborigines receive their knowledge about spiritual
matters, as well as practical information about how to survive in an
extremely hostile environment, through dreaming. They call it the
“dreamtime”.

When looking at the series of events that happened to Phil we must ask
ourselves how they relate to each other. Which ones were primary
events, and which ones were secondary events or even tertiary events
resulting from the previous ones. As Lawrence Sutin, author of Divine
Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick states, “Phil was a living psychic
caldron” at this point. I feel that the many dreams experienced by
Phil during this time period must be thought of in these terms.

In the following weeks Phil was to have a series of nightmares, which
frightened him further; they contained huge flying reptiles. In one of
these dreams he describes that he was a young child in a prehistoric
tribe and as these dragons came near he transformed into his pet
saber-tooth tiger and began to posture in defiance, but he found
himself in a cage without means of escape. Upon being aroused from her
sleep by “… the sound of a large reptile hissing,” his wife, Tessa,
found “… Phil lying there, still asleep, hissing. Afraid to touch
him, I called out his name. I was getting more scared with every
second that passed. I sensed that it was not Phil who was hissing, but
some mindless beast that had taken over his body.”

Dragons have been used as symbols of the life force in many cultures
for thousands of years, the essence of nature, an underlying invisible
force. The flying dragon is an inner symbol of dark unconscious forces
which must be transformed into creative forces. In alchemy, the
mystical art of transforming consciousness, the dragon was a symbol of
Mercury manifested as passion and concupiscence, which must undergo
extraction and transformation, before becoming a peacemaker, a
mediator between warring elements, and a producer of unity.

Alchemy was (and still is) an art studied by practitioners of the
western esoteric tradition which has its roots in Greco-Egyptian
esoteric teachings. As stated above, Phil was now a “living psychic
caldron,” and he wished to bring himself to a rolling boil. (For more
on alchemy, see Appendix 2.)

Behind the Pink Door. Regarding some information concerning the use of
massive doses of water-soluble vitamins that were suggested to improve
the neural firing and the communication between the two hemispheres of
the brain, Phil discovered an article in the April 1974 issue of
Psychology Today that told about a case where a doctor had treated a
schizophrenic patient with a combination of water-soluble vitamins.
Phil copied down the “recipe” and began his own treatment,
experimenting further with dosage and vitamin ratios. Phil states in
his notes that, “both hemispheres [of the brain] came together, for
the first time in my life.”

He also began burning, day and night, white votive candles before a
shrine he’d assembled in his bedroom. This shrine also contained a
small wooden saint figure from the Philippines. He and his wife
purchased a sticker with the Christian fish symbol on it and placed it
in their living room window. As Phil watched the sticker with the
afternoon sun streaming though it, he reported seeing pink rectangular
shapes, phosphene images it seemed, prefiguring what was to come.

In mid-March Phil reports that he was into his fifth night without
sleep when he experienced a barrage of frightening vortices of light.
These came to him in rapid-fire repetition; he felt his own thoughts
accelerating.

They seemed to be phosphene graphics that resembled modern abstract
paintings, such as by the artists Kandinsky and Klee. He felt that
hundreds of thousands of them were being downloaded into his mind.
Phil began to feel that he was the recipient of a vast amount of
encoded information. He felt that there was no way that he could have
been the author of this information, as the quantity was too vast.
These “transmissions” were to continue daily for the next week.

Terence McKenna has also reported that tryptamine-induced ecstasy
sometimes triggers a kind of synesthesia in which syntactical
structures (spoken language) become visible and language is transmuted
from a thing heard to a thing seen; the syntax becomes unambiguously
visible.

Phil goes on to tell us that the first stage of his visions at this
time was to undergo the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead)
journey at the end of which he met Aphrodite, Goddess of Divine Love.
He reports little understanding of the meaning of any of this at the
time.

Aphrodite was only one of the many encounters Phil would have with a
divine female aspect who spoke to him while he was in a series of
hypnogogic states. The name given to this voice by Phil was the A.I.
(artificial intelligence) Voice, but he always assigned female
qualities to it. He called it many things: Artemis and Diana, Athena
and Minerva, Saint Sophia and his twin sister Jane, with all of whom
he felt he was in telepathic communication at times. (His twin sister
Jane had died a little over a month after birth. For more on the
divine female aspect, see Appendix 3.)

Dick and Jane. Philip Kindred Dick and his dizygotic (fraternal) -twin
sister Jane Charlotte were born six weeks premature, on December 16,
1928 at home. Lawrence Sutin reports that, “Phil was born at noon,
twenty minutes ahead of his sister… They were frail things. Phil
weighed four and one-quarter pounds and squealed loudly. Jane, a mere
three and one-half pounds, was quieter and darker…” Jane was not to
live; she died January 26, 1929, a little over a month old. Although
too young to have conscious memory of his sister, she remained the
central event in Phil’s psychic life.

Lawrence Sutin writes in his biography, Divine Invasions, “This
‘twinning’ motif found expression in a number of Phil’s stories and
novels, notably Dr. Bloodmoney (1965), Flow My Tears, The Policeman
Said (1974), A Scanner Darkly (1977), VALIS (1981), and The Divine
Invasion (1981).”

He goes on to quote from Phil’s “Exegesis”, from an entry written near
the end of his life:

She [Jane] fights for my life & I for hers, eternally. My sister is
everything to me. I am damned always to be separated from her/& with
her, in oscillation. Very fast.

Both: I have her in me, and often outside me, but I have lost her; 2
realities at once yin/yang.

Sutin continues, “Two realities, out of which, as from rich loam, the
multiverses of the stories, the novels, and the “Exegesis” blossomed.
But always the loss of Jane hovered in Phil’s soul.” (For more
concerning the subject of twins, see Appendix 4.)

A Counter-Intelligence Victim? For the next week or so Phil perceived
that he would receive a letter that would kill him. This knowledge had
been conveyed to him in a dream. On March 20th that day arrived, and
the letter came in the form of a xeroxed sheet of paper from the
left-wing New York newspaper The Daily World, which contained two book
reports. Phil felt that this letter was somehow connected to a
two-week period of amnesia he had suffered in 1972 while living in
Canada. He suspected that he had been “programmed” but didn’t know to
do what or for whom. He feared that the trigger for this programming
had been the letter, but that it somehow failed.

Phil thought something was taking control of him to direct his actions
in response to the xeroxed letter. He speculated that it was Thomas;
although now he felt that instead of a first-century Christian Thomas
was a thought-control implant, implanted by the US Army intelligence.
His name for this was “Pigspurt,” which fear caused him to call the
FBI and his local police department stating, “I am a machine,” and
then requesting to be locked up. No known action was taken by the
authorities.

He thought that maybe he had been the involuntary recipient of an ESP
experiment. He even wrote to Leningrad in the then Soviet Union asking
if they had been involved in any experiments exploring long-distance
ESP transmissions. He received no reply.

Phil was to gain control of himself shortly after this, although he
continued to believe that he must continue to placate the authorities.
He made a series of contacts to the FBI over the next seven months.
(As a sidebar: Phil was to learn in 1975, through the Freedom of
Information Act, that a letter he had sent in 1958 had been
intercepted by the CIA. See Appendix 5 for more on government
mind-control experiments.)

The radio began to abuse Phil with obscenities and death commands.
Even when the radio was unplugged the abuse continued, waking him and
his wife in the middle of the night. The radio was plugged back in,
“because it was easier to sleep with the music on,” remembered his
wife Tessa, in an interview with J.B. Reynolds.

Phil’s visions continued. He began to see what he termed “the golden
rectangle”. This “door” was marked with letters from the Greek
alphabet and he repeatedly saw this door projected onto any natural
formation that resembled it. At one time he even saw his pet cat Pinky
emerging outward from through the door. The cat had taken on a larger
and more ferocious appearance, although the cat was old and in poor
health. Looking beyond the door Phil saw a “static landscape,
nocturnal, a quiet black sea, sky, the edge of an island, and
surprisingly, the unmoving figure of a nude woman standing on the sand
by the edge of the water. I recognized her; it was Aphrodite.”

Pinky the Cat. As time progressed more strange occurrences invaded
Phil’s life. He began to feel that the pets in his life seemed more
intelligent and were trying to communicate with him.

Animal psi (Anpsi) is the ability of animals to make use of the same
ESP faculties that humans are said to possess. It is suggested that
this human-to-animal communication is nurtured by the love of their
human guardians; if this be true, than Phil’s cat Pinky must surely
have been a candidate, as Phil had a deep emotional bond with his
beloved cat. It even seems synchronicitous that the beam of light
which provided Phil with his experience and knowledge was pink and his
cat’s name was “Pinky”.

Later in the fall Phil stated that while he and his wife were lying in
bed, he saw a “pale white light” enter and fill the room. He saw Pinky
the cat floating, inert and exposed. Becoming frightened, he began to
think that Death had entered the room and that he was going to die. He
began praying in Latin for almost half an hour.

After the episode ended he stated to his wife that he’d known it was
Death and thought it had come for him. He also explained that within
the next four days Death would strike.

Later that night he reports a dream in which he heard a loud gunshot
fired at him; he was OK but a woman next to him had been injured and
was dying. He ran for help.

Three days later Pinky died, and on the night he died Phil was in the
bathroom and felt a hand on his shoulder; turning to see who was
there, he saw no one. He felt it was the touch of his good friend
pausing to say good-bye upon his departure.

The Mystical PKD. Prior to this Phil had injured himself during the
summer and had undergone corrective surgery. In this weakened state
Phil says that he was again hit by the pink beam of light, which
informed him of a potentially fatal inguinal hernia that his son
Christopher had. This information was confirmed by a physician and the
necessary surgery was performed later that day.

Aldous Huxley gave a series of seven lectures at MIT in the fall of
1960 on the subject of the visionary experience and discussed the
nature of these experiences. Although he stated that every visionary
experience is unique, as every human being is unique, there are
similarities. He went on to say that the highest common factor in all
the experiences, is the experience of light. He classified the aspect
even further, speaking of “undifferentiated light” and “light in
differentiated form”. The former was described as an enormous blast of
light, disembodied in any form – just a great flood of light. When the
pink beam hit Phil, he described it as blinding, like a flashbulb
going off in his face. The latter was described by Huxley as the
experience of light embodied in shapes, in personages, and in
landscapes. Huxley went on to explain that “the experience will often
begin with a vision of what may be called living geometries,
geometrical forms brilliantly lighted, continuously changing. These
may modulate into some kind of metrical objects such as carpets,
mosaics and so on. There may then be tremendous visions of
landscapes… And then there are sometimes visions of figures, strange
faces.” When William Blake saw them, he called them seraphim and
cherubim. This description of the visionary experience also dovetails
with Phil’s.

Both Evelyn Underhill, author of the classic general introduction to
the study of mysticism, Mysticism, and Huxley agree that central to
the classic mystical experience is, in Huxley’s words, “that
experience which transcends the subject-object relationship, which
produces a sense of solidarity between the experiencer and the
universe, which gives the experiencer a sense of the basic
All-Rightness of the universe…”

In The Luminous Vision: Six Medieval Mystics and their Teachings, Anne
Bancroft, in her introduction, states, “The true mystic, then, is one
who is freed from feelings of oppression and insecurity which arise
when we regard the world as alien to us and ourselves as being
directed by it from without.” This fundamental part of the visionary
experience seems clearly to have not been a part of Phil’s
experiences, and although there are many important similarities
between his experiences and the mystic state there are also many
differences.

Again Phil pondered where the information came from and who was
communicating with him. He described it as the ability to read and
understand secret messages that were embedded within the inferior bulk
of the total amount of the transmissions. He began looking toward the
heavens.

Interstellar Telepathy, Sirius, and the Illuminati. Many people have
claimed to have received messages via interstellar telepathy.
Saul-Paul Sirag, a physicist, has said that over a hundred scientists
in the United States have had this experience, but are reluctant to
admit it publicly, for obvious reasons. Buckminster Fuller, renowned
scientific philosopher, has stated that he sometimes thinks that he
has received messages from interstellar telepaths. Dr. John Lilly,
psychoanalyst, neuro-anatomist, cyberneticist, mathematician, and
pioneering dolphin researcher, has made allusions to contact during
the early seventies from interstellar entities he terms the “Cosmic
Coincidence Control Center”. Alan Vaughn, a well-known occultist and
editor of Psychic magazine, also had the impression of being contacted
from the star Sirius in January 1973.

During July and August 1973, Timothy Leary, the scientific clinical
psychologist and arch-heretic fired from Harvard, received what he
termed the “Starseed Transmissions”; the messages came in nineteen
bursts and were seldom in recognizable English. Leary theorizes that
“Higher Intelligence” is a two-step process: first DNA is seeded on a
planet to take root and grow; second, when the life form(s) grow and
show signs of maturity, transmissions (via interstellar ESP) are sent
to the fledgling intelligence to facilitate its growth and eventual
return to the stars. Leary feels that interstellar ESP has been going
on all through the ages, and that each culture interprets the
messages, from where and from whom they come, in relationship to their
own cultural beliefs (e.g. angels, spirits, goddesses, UFOs, demons,
fairies, weird people, the Virgin Mary, etc.).

Robert A. Wilson, novelist, poet, lecturer, stand-up comic, futurist,
and psychologist, feels he was contacted from July 1973 to October
1974 by some form of interstellar telepathy. He has since then written
several books which make connections between occult practices of
various Rosicrucian luminaries and communications from interstellar
entities.

In his book Cosmic Trigger he states, “[George Hunt] Williamson, an
early 1950s contactee, claims to have met some flying saucerites from
Sirius. He prints vast huge chunks of their language… and I found
that a few of the words were almost identical with some words in the
“angelic” language used by Dr. John Dee, Aleister Crowley and other
magi of the Illuminati tradition… Williamson also informs us that
the Sirians have been with earth for ‘several thousand years’ and that
their allies here use as insignia the Eye of Horus – the origin of the
Illuminati eye-in-triangle design.” (For more on the Illuminati, see
Appendix 2.)

Wilson goes on to find similarities in the various “transmissions”,
stating, “It seems clear that the Starseed Transmissions acquired a
rather heavy Timothy Leary flavor in passing through the Leary nervous
system, just as The Book of the Law took on an undeniably Crowleyan
aroma in passing through Aleister’s neurons, but the underlying
message is hauntingly similar.” Wilson met with Phil several times,
and they corresponded for awhile. Wilson felt that Phil’s experiences
were strangely resonant with his, stating, “The parallels with my own
experience are numerous – but so are the differences. If the same
source was beaming ideas to both Phil and me, the messages got our
individual flavors mixed into them as we decoded the signals.”

Phil’s transmissions did take on a distinctly phildickian slant as
they passed through his nervous system, yet I wonder what a synthesis
of the various separate transmissions would bring about.

When considering “from whom” or “from where” these transmissions came,
Wilson gives three possible ways to think about it in his book, Masks
of the Illuminati. “ONE: it is a metaphor that signifies, roughly,
learning to receive communications from your own unconscious mind,
without the usual distortion. TWO: it’s not that simple at all; [the
higher intelligence] speaks to you through your own conscious mind,
but it is literally a separate being… THREE: yes it is a metaphor,
after all, but for something so far out of our ordinary consciousness
that it matters not a rap whether you think of it in terms of the
first answer or in terms of the second answer; it transcends them
both…”.

Phil associated the source of the information with the nearby star
Sirius, as did Wilson, Crowley and Leary. Wilson ponders whether or
not Sirius and Earth have achieved some kind of cosmic link, and he
has researched a host of interesting references concerning this. He
has found references to this mysterious star throughout occult history
dating from the ancient Egyptians up to the present day, and whether
you trace backward from the present, or forward from the past, you
“… continually collide with the mysterious and enigmatic history of
Freemasonry.”

Phil also explored the idea that his experiences could be understood
and explained within this tradition. He had even answered an add in
the back of a pulp magazine for membership in the Ancient and Mystical
Order Rosea Crucis, (AMORC). (For more on Freemasonry and AMORC, see
Appendix 2.)

Phil himself seemed impressed with Wilson’s ideas: “Wilson managed to
reverse every mental polarity in me, as if I had been pulled through
infinity. I was astonished and delighted.”

All in all, it seems to me, the early to mid-seventies were a very
busy time for “alien” transmissions, as Phil was not alone in his
experience.

Cryptozoology. Communication from “extradimensional entities” has been
posed by several leading researchers in the field. George Creighton
suggests in Timothy Good’s book, Alien Contact, “… that some aliens
are interdimensional beings indigenous to the planet Earth, who may
have existed with us for thousands of years.” Researcher John Keel
uses the term “ultraterrestrials”.

Phil himself pondered the possibility of this. In his book VALIS he
wrote the following: “The name for this is mimesis. Another name is
mimicry. Certain insects do this; they mimic other things: sometimes
other insects – poisonous ones – or twigs and the like. Certain
biologists and naturalists have speculated that higher forms of
mimicry might exist since lower forms… have been found all over the
world.

“What if a high form of sentient mimicry existed – such a high form
that no human (or few humans) had detected it? What if it could only
be detected if it wanted to be detected? Which is to say, not truly
detected at all, since under these circumstances it has advanced out
of its camouflaged state to disclose itself. ‘Disclose’ might in this
case equal ‘theophany’. The astonished human being would say, I saw
God; whereas in fact he saw only a highly evolved ultra-terrestrial
life form, a UTI, or an extra-terrestrial life form (an ETI) which has
come here at some time in the past…”

Mystical Alien Biological Crypto-Intelligence. Phil also termed this
new, dual consciousness within him “homoplasmate” and defined it as a
combination of human (Phil) and plasmate (an information-rich life
form). He felt this plasmate had been sleeping for the last two
thousand years in a dormant seed form as living information in the
codices found at Nag Hammadi. In his book, The Transmigration of
Timothy Archer, he discusses the word “anokhi”, found in some Zadokite
documents that were unearthed with the Qumran scrolls. He goes on to
discuss its meaning, and then to involve hallucinogenic mushrooms
along the same line of thought explored in the late John Allegro’s
book The Sacred Mushroom and The Cross.

I will mention here that Terence McKenna has put forth the theory that
the stropharia cubensis (psilocybin) mushroom is an alien intelligence
that did not evolve on Earth. He outlines his beliefs and ideas in
several books: The Archaic Revival, Food of the Gods: The Search for
the Original Tree of Knowledge, and True Hallucinations, which are
worth the read for anyone wishing to pursue this line of thought
further. I feel he has put together a non-sectarian version of the
central concepts explored by Phil and Allegro in this area.

Gnostic Christianity. Phil was to have one last key vision in January
and February of 1975, that of the Palm Tree Garden and the Black Iron
Prison. In this vision, the Palm Tree Garden was contrasted to the
Black Iron Prison, signifying two opposing ways of being in the world.

It is one of the central ideas in gnostic belief that the word we live
in is an illusion created to enslave us and cut us off from our divine
birthright. Phil called what we normally call reality a “cardboard
cutout fake” and termed it the “Black Iron Prison”; his vision of our
true reality he termed the “Palm Tree Garden”. Lawrence Sutin’s
biography quotes some correspondence Phil wrote in 1975: ” This is not
an evil world, as Mani [founder of Manicheanism, which equates matter
with evil] supposed. There is a good world under the evil. The evil is
somehow superimposed over it (Maya), and when stripped away, pristine
glowing creation is visible.”

Phil’s whole experience with the events of 2-74 to 2-75 became
associated with ideas surrounding the vision of the Palm Tree Garden
and the Black Iron Prison. He spent the next eight years of his life
writing in his journal, working with these events; it grew to over one
million hand-written words, and if time and life had permitted it
continue to grow as we speak.

Phil seemed to lean towards a gnostic Christian structure to give form
to the information and the experiences he received. Jay Kinney in his
article “The Mysterious Revelations of Philip K. Dick” found
similarities between Dick’s vision and another twentieth-century
vision. C.G. Jung wrote a small booklet entitled Septem Sermones ad
Mortuos (Seven Sermons to the Dead) which he had received in a
three-day period in 1916; he gave authorship credit to “Bestialities”,
a gnostic Christian of the second century. Kinney also went on to say
that, “Dick and Jung both came to see in the surviving fragments of
early gnostic scriptures, such as those found in 1945 at Nag Hammadi,
Egypt, evidence of world views similar to those put forth in their own
respective trance-visions.” Yet one must remember gnostic concepts
were just one avenue of thought, among many Phil mapped out.

I have purposely not tried to delve to far into Phil’s own mystical
and philosophical views, as time and space prevent it, but have
attempted to give a simple sketch of the various elements that were
involved with his experiences, and also provide a few references for
anyone wishing to further explore these elements.

For those who may be interested in Phil’s own thoughts and ideas,
Philip K. Dick: The Last Testament” by Gregg Rickman is a 230-page,
edited transcription of interviews with Dick from 1981 and 1982; a
good place to begin, as are Phil’s own novels.

Appendix 1: Bibliography and Acknowledgements.

All of the personal and bibliographic knowledge mentioned in this
article concerning Philip K. Dick’s life was gained from Divine
Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick” by Lawrence Sutin. (Harmony
Books, a division of Crown Publishers, Inc., 1989.)

For insight to Philip K. Dick’s thoughts and ideas on the subject
matter see the following:

(1) “The Mysterious Revelations of Philip K. Dick,” Jay Kinney, in
Gnosis: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions, #1 (Fall/Winter
1985-1986).

(2) Deus Irae, Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny. Dell Books, 1976.

(3) The Divine Invasion, Philip K. Dick. Pocket Books, 1981.

(4) A Maze of Death, Philip K. Dick. Daw Books, 1970.

(5) Radio Free Albemuth, Philip K. Dick. Avon Books, 1985.

(6) VALIS, Philip K. Dick. Bantam Books, 1981.

Other Sources:

(1) The Agency: The Rise and Fall of the CIA, John Ranelagh. Cambridge
Publishing Ltd., 1986.

(2) Alien Contact, Timothy Good. William Morrow and Company, 1991.

(3) The Archaic Revival, Terence McKenna. HarperSanFrancisco
Publishers, 1993.

(4) CIA: The “Honorable” Company, Brian Freemantle. The Rainbird
Publishing Group, 1983.

(5) The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, Israel Regardie. Falcon
Press, 1984.

(6) Cosmic Trigger, Robert Anton Wilson. Falcon Press, 1977.

(7) Dictionary of Symbols, Tom Chetwynd. The Aquarian Press, 1982.

(8) Ego and Archetype, Edward F. Edinger. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co,
1972.

(9) Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience, R.E. Guiley.
HarperCollins Publishers, 1991.

(10) Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge,
Terence McKenna. Bantam Books, 1992.

(11) The Luminous Vision: Six Medieval Mystics and their Teachings,
Anne Bancroft. Unwin Paperbacks, 1989.

(12) Masks of the Illuminati, Robert Anton Wilson. Dell Publishing,
1981.

(13) Moksha: Writings on Psychedelics and the Visionary Experience,
Aldous Huxley. (M. Horowitz and C. Palmer, ed.) Stonehill Publishing
Company, 1977.

(14) Mysticism, Evelyn Underhill. Dutton Paperbacks, 1961.

(15) The Sacred Mushroom, Andrija Puharich. Doubleday & Company, 1959.

(16) The Sacred Mushroom and The Cross, John M. Allegro. Paperbacks,
1970.

(17) Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Mircea Eliade.
Princeton University Press, 1964.

(18) True Hallucinations, Terence McKenna. HarperCollins Publishers,
1993.

(19) Twins, by Peter Watson. Hutchinson & Co., 1981.

(20) The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Barbara Walker.
Harper & Row Publishers, 1983.

Appendix 2: The Western Esoteric Tradition.

The Englishman John Dee was a mathematician, philosopher, and the
adviser to Queen Elizabeth I. An exceptional student who attended the
University of Cambridge at age fifteen, he’s said to have studied a
full eighteen hours a day. Upon graduation he developed a large
following as a travelling lecturer. Returning to England he developed
a friendship with Queen Elizabeth I, and was awarded a royal position
as the warden of Christ’s College in Manchester. He gathered many
ancient texts and tomes that had been lost when the Roman Catholic
Church and Monasteries were sacked after the Reformation. His own
personal library of 4000+ books was said to be the largest of its kind
in Europe.

Starting in 1582, and for the next seven years, John Dee and a partner
named Edward Kelly were to receive messages from a series of angels.
On March 9, 1582, Kelly received a vision of the angel Uriel. On March
14 was another visitation, this time from the angel Michael. For the
next several years they received detailed information about a
mysterious language now called “Enochian”. It combined the kabbalah,
tarot, astrology, and geomancy into one single psychological field.
Israel Regardie stated, “In short, the method works: it unlocks the
secret doors of the mind as no other published system has ever done.”
(In The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic.)

Dr. Francis Years, historian, feels that John Dee was a prime mover in
the Rosicrucian Brotherhood, and outlines this in two books, The World
Stage and The Rosicrucian Enlightenment.

This leads us into the strange and murky world of the Rosicrucians, an
occult order that is both historical and mythological. This tradition
is a blending of Islamic, Christian, and Jewish mysticism, and has its
roots in ideas that were formulated and developed by the ancient
religions of Egypt and Greece; each religious mysticism
cross-fertilizing with the others and creating a mysticism and a large
body of information and experience that is uniquely Western.

Appendix 3: The Divine Female Aspect.

The anima, the female shadow figure that exists within a man’s psyche,
was an idea developed by C.G. Jung. He felt that each person had
qualities of both sexes, which allows for the full range of emotional
expression. In his book, Dictionary of Symbols, Tom Chetwynd explains
that the anima is the source of receptiveness and sensitivity, and of
the patience required to nurture the seeds of future development. The
anima is the source that enables one to experience the imagery of
one’s own unconscious. Jung felt that the anima was first projected
onto the mother, but as the individual develops it will be projected
onto others, to give it shape and bring understanding.

Often described as the “Goddess of Love”, Aphrodite was much more than
simply that. She was a trinity (Virgin, Mother, Crone). She was the
ancestral mother of the Romans, having given birth to Aeneas, their
founding father. The Christians converted her temple on Cyprus into a
sanctuary of the Virgin Mary, but even today, within this temple, Mary
is hailed as “Panaghia Aphroditessa” (All-Holy Aphrodite). Aphrodite
ruled birth, life, love, death, time, and fate, and reconciled man to
all of them through sensual and sexual mysticism.

Artemis or Diana was an Amazonian moon-goddess. She was both nurturer
and huntress, bringing forth and nurturing all living things, yet she
was also the killer of the very creatures she brought forth. Again a
trinity is evoked: lunar virgin, mother of all creatures, destroyer.
Gnostic Christians called their wisdom-goddess Sophia and frequently
identified her with Diana.

Athena was the mother goddess of Athens; the Greeks claimed she was
born fullgrown from Zeus’ head, after he swallowed her mother Metis
(female wisdom). Minerva was the Roman Goddess of wisdom, war, and the
lunar calendar; she was the Roman form of Athena.

Sophia was the Gnostic Great Mother, the spirit of female wisdom.
Sophia was God’s female soul, source of all His power. Barbara Walker,
in her book The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, states
that, “Early Gnostic Christians held that, like Krishna and Shiva, or
Dionysus and Zeus, Christ and God merged together with Sophia as an
androgyne: ‘The Son of Man agreed with Sophia, his consort, and
revealed Himself in a great light as bisexual. His male nature was
called the savior, the begetter of all things, but his female, Sophia,
Mother of all.'”

Gnostic Christian Creation Myth. “Sophia was born from the primordial
female power Sige [silence]. Sophia gave birth to a male spirit,
Christ, and a female spirit, Achamoth [Chokmah]. The latter gave birth
to the elements and the terrestrial world, then brought forth a new
god named Ialdabaoth, Son of Darkness, along with five planetary
spirits later regarded as emanations of Jehovah: Iao, Sabaoth, Adonai,
Eloi, and Uraeus.

“These spirits produced archangels, angels and finally men. Ialdabaoth
or Jehovah forbade man to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, but
his mother Achamoth sent her own spirit to earth in the form of a
serpent Ophis to teach man to disobey the jealous god. The serpent was
also Christ, who taught Adam to eat of the tree of knowledge despite
god’s prohibition.

“Sophia sent Christ again to earth in the shape of her own totemic
dove, to enter the man Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan. After Jesus
died Christ left his body and returned to heaven. Sophia gave him a
body of ether, and placed him in heaven to help collect souls. Some
said Jesus became Sophia’s spouse and his glory depended on this
sacred marriage; for he was only one of the Aeons, a minor spirit, the
‘common fruit’ of the Pleroma.” (From The Woman’s Encyclopedia of
Myths and Secrets, p.951.)

Sophia has also been identified as Jesus’ mother, as she was the Light
that descended to earth and entered the body of Mary to conceive him.
Sophia has also been described as the “mind” of God much the same as
Metis was to Zeus. Sophia also appears in the Jewish mystical
tradition of the Kabbalah as the Shekhina of God.

Appendix 4: Twinning.

The word “twin” comes from the ancient German word, “twina” or
“twine”, and means “two together”.

Types of twins: The birth of twins can happen in one of two ways. If
the ovaries release two eggs and they are fertilized, they will grow
into two independent fetuses, each with its own placenta. These twins
are called fraternal or dizygotic twins, “dizygotic” (DZ) from the
Greek “di” meaning “two” and “zygotos” meaning “yoked” or “egg”.
Identical twins come from a single egg, which divides into two
separate individuals after fertilization. These twins are called
monozygotic (MZ), “mono” coming from the Greek meaning “single”.

There are an estimated 100 million twins in the world, and about one
third of these are MZ (3.5 per 1000 live births). The connection
between MZ twins appears statistically to be greater than the bond
which exists between DZ twins, but there have been examples of DZs who
have held extraordinary interdependence upon each other.

Twin Studies: Studies have shown that the similarities found in twins
fall into three areas: first, there are the anecdotal coincidences
such as the similarities in names, clothing choices, dressing styles,
choices of authors and books and colors; second, there are the
psychological and/or behavioral similarities like the same dreams and
fears, job preferences and sports interests; third, the psychiatric
similarities of depression, alcoholism, violence, and other mental
health characteristics.

Peter Watson in his book Twins states, “The most intriguing is that
twinhood, especially identical twinhood, faces us with people who,
though separate individuals biologically, psychologically are not.”
Watson also explains, “They may compete in the womb for nourishment or
may even ‘jockey’ for position, one draining the blood away from the
other. In all these cases the twins may show the effects at birth:
although they are ‘identical, one at first looks quite different,
bigger, healthier, more advanced than the other. Another accident that
can happen is that one growing twin fetus ‘absorbs’ the other. Cases
like this are discovered only much later when, as an adult, an
individual has an operation… and the surgeon finds a fetus mummified
inside the body. It should have been a twin – but lost the race very
early on.”

Appendix 5: The CIA and Mind Control.

Since 1960, seven research centers have been established to research
parapsychology and thought transference. In his book CIA: The
“Honorable” Company Brian Freemantle states, “I.M. Kogan, chairman of
the Bioinformational Section of the Moscow Board of the Popov Society,
is carrying out experiments on distanced mental suggestion, long-range
intercity telepathy, and awakening a subject from a
hypnotically-induced sleep, by ‘beamed’ suggestion.

“L.L. Vasiliev, at Leningrad Institute for Brain Research, is
attempting long-range telepathy and long-distance hypnosis, to put
people to sleep…

“Other Soviet research is into tapping the electrical field known to
be emitted by the human brain, both to ‘read’ the thoughts and to
control them.”

The CIA has also been interested in parapsychology and has developed
projects in remote viewing, telekinesis, and telepathy, as well as
others.

Mind Control research was established by the US government in the late
forties and early fifties, involving both the CIA and US Army
Intelligence.

The Freedom of Information Act reveals that projects like MKULTRA,
MKDELTA, MKSEARCH, MKNAOMI, MKACTION, PANDORA, BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE,
as well as others, were developed with the sole purpose of researching
and experimenting with various means of mind and thought control, and
their use of unknowing civilian subjects is well-documented.

In 1953, under coordination by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, a number of
programs were overseen. Project Chatter (which had begun in 1947)
attempted to identify and develop “truth drugs”. MKNAOMI (1952)
developed and tested biological chemical weapons. MKDELTA (1952)
oversaw operational use of MKULTRA materials overseas.

In total 149 MKULTRA subprojects, all investigating behavioral
modification, toxins and drugs, were established. MKULTRA, Subproject
142 was developed to experiment with electrical brain stimulation.
Subproject 94 utilized miniaturized stimulating electrode implants for
the purpose of remote directional control of selected species.

The Allen Memorial Institute, the psychiatric section of McGill
University in Montreal was used for experiments in what Dr. Ewin
Cameron termed “psychic driving”. Dr. Cameron headed the project, and
was a man of high esteem in the psychiatry profession. In 1953 he was
President of the American Psychiatric Association and later was
appointed the first President of the World Psychiatric Association.
The experiments were in “depatterning”, the wiping completely clean
the mind of the individual using electroshocks and prolonged drug use.

This CIA-inspired program was to try to erase a person’s mind, then
having done so, “repattern” it. Other projects were established in the
Boston Psychopathic Hospital, the University of Illinois Medical
School, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Rochester, and
the Mount Sinai Hospital and Columbia University in New York.

In searching for a chemical that would produce a non-toxic aberrant
mental state, the CIA modified the tail pipe of a car and drove around
New York (80 miles or so) emitting a gas to test its effects on the
passersby. This was named Operation BIG CITY. They also travelled the
New York subway system with vaporized LSD to see if it would affect
people in enclosed places.

In 1964 a new project was developed called MKSEARCH. Into this new
program seven of the most successful MKULTRA projects were
transferred. This involved testing unknowing army personal as well as
the inmates of federal institutions and mental defectives in a
Washington hospital.

MKSEARCH ended in 1972, but running parallel to that program was
another drug testing program called OFTEN which continued to operate.

A Church Committee investigation in 1975 ended with the following
statement: “These programs resulted in substantial violations of the
rights of individuals within the United States.”

These projects have all been discontinued, but as the Freedom of
Information Act cannot as yet touch secret documents from the late
seventies and forward one is left again to speculate as to whether or
not similar yet more technologically advanced projects continue, or
whether or not the knowledge of such will ever see the light of day.

There is even speculation by Martin Cannon that the recent uncovering
of the prolific amount of UFO abductions are but a cover story and
popular explanation for work being done by the CIA and/or Army
Intelligence.

 

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The Calling: How Cronyism Worsens Income Inequality (and Freed Markets Reduce It)

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By Steven Horwitz

Source: Future of Freedom Foundation

I recently gave an introductory Public Choice talk sponsored by Students for Liberty at the University of Ottawa. The next speaker was my friend Anne Rathbone Bradley, who was Skyping in from Washington. Anne gave a terrific talk about cronyism and rent-seeking that nicely complemented many of the points I’d made. But one of the side issues she raised really stuck with me, and I want to expand on it.

Anne connected cronyism (I hesitate to call it “crony capitalism”), rent-seeking, and income inequality in a way I hadn’t quite thought about before. The key to the connection is to realize some important truths about the political process.

The first truth is that cronyism is no accident. It is no accident that the U.S. economy has increasingly become one in which your connections to political power matter more for your ability to increase your wealth than does producing a product or service that consumers wish to buy. We are becoming what Ayn Rand deftly termed an “aristocracy of pull.”

The ability of some to get wealthier through political connections does trouble many on the political left, but they often argue that with better elected officials, or more ethical businesspeople, or limits on campaign contributions, we could dramatically reduce this sort of cronyism. What their argument misses is that as long as government gives out goodies, private-sector actors will find ways to get their hands on them. If you really want to take the money out of politics, you need to make it harder for politicians to hand out money.

For libertarians, the state is always little more than a dispenser of privileges to special interests. This is not an accident of who is elected or who is wealthy. Government privileges provide an easy path to profit for those who can capture them — and with none of the hard work of actually competing in the market. This is why many people, including those in the private sector, like the state.

The second important truth is that these political privileges are much more likely to be captured by those who already have financial and political power. Despite the fantasy believed by so many that government regulation and other interventions are all about constraining the rich and powerful in the name of the masses, in fact a great deal of government regulation is driven by the desires of those same rich and powerful to become more so. The more power we give to government, the more power we are giving to those with the money and connections to access political power. In other words, expanding the state gives more power and privilege to the powerful and privileged.

The last truth is that when private-sector actors seek to use political privileges to enhance their profits, they often do so by blocking smaller competitors’ access to the market, or by raising their costs of competing. When Walmart supports a higher minimum wage, it thereby favors raising the costs for their small mom-and-pop rivals. When taxicab companies defend their monopoly privileges, they intend to shut firms like Uber and Lyft out of the market altogether. When entrenched hairdressers demand that hair braiders be licensed, the established practitioners mean to raise their competitors’ costs or shut them out altogether.

When we put all three of these truths together, we get a story about the way in which those who already have wealth and power can and do make use of the state to block the upward mobility of their poorer, less-powerful potential competitors. Small-business owners, Uber and Lyft drivers, and African-American women who want to open hair-braiding businesses are trying to grab on to the bottom rungs of the income ladder and work their way up. These are the very people — start-up entrepreneurs and the working poor — that those critical of the market claim to care about.

In a world where government has all of these powers to intervene in markets, rent-seeking and cronyism are inevitable. Regulation will ensure that those who know the right people can tilt the regulatory playing field in their favor. The result will be a worsening of the income inequality that concerns so many. The rich will get richer through rent-seeking and cronyism, and they will do so at the expense of the poor and relatively powerless. If rent-seeking and cronyism worsen income inequality, and the source of rent-seeking and cronyism is the state’s ability to intervene, then a pretty good case can be made that freed markets will give us a world with less income inequality than the status quo.

Libertarians are right to point out that inequalities of income are not inherently bad. If the existing pattern of incomes were the result of a truly freed market (like in the famous, if simplified, Wilt Chamberlain example in Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia), there would be no reason for worry. This is especially true because in a freed market, dynamic change would ensure that the same people do not occupy the same rungs on the ladder from year to year.

However, if inequalities are instead the result of a mixed economy in which those who already have wealth and power can enhance it at the expense of those with less — not to mention the consumers who lose out on the benefits of greater competition and lower prices, then libertarians are right to object and look for solutions. Of course, asking for more state action to combat state-driven inequalities is unlikely to work and very likely to make matters worse.

Thus, we can ground our arguments against government intervention in the market in our desire to reduce inequalities that are not the result of voluntary exchanges that benefit both parties.

Finally, this whole argument gives libertarians another reason to love the sharing economy of Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, and the rest. Not only are such companies providing important competition for established firms and thereby lowering prices and bringing better services and more options to consumers, they are also part of the fight against the unearned privileges of the rich and powerful and the fight against politically driven, and therefore unjustified, increases in income inequality.

Classical liberalism needs to reassert its long-standing commitment to progressive goals, even as it rejects the means preferred by most so-called progressives today. We have an opportunity to bring new allies to our cause by recognizing the interrelationships among rent-seeking, cronyism, the sharing economy, small businesspeople, and income inequality. Let’s not overlook it.

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Consciousness & The Art of Loving Our Experience

Brain waves

By Phil Watt

Source: Waking Times

The usual tendency in our modern secular thinking is to view the outer world as separate from ourselves, but really it is just a partial reflection of what we fundamentally are. Objective reality is one of two pieces. Both pieces make up one whole. The other part is our subjective world, which are our feelings, thoughts and beliefs.

In this ancient and rebirthed understanding, we are realizing we are both the inner and outer worlds.

Now I could go into why quantum physics specifies that these two portions are inseparable, or why ancient wisdom and modern mystics say the same thing, but if we’re on this path we intuitively and possibly even logically know this already.

Instead, here I’m going to focus on what actually makes up our experience, as well as ways to find our peace by loving our experience, because it’s not always easy to accept and embrace all of what we perceive in life.

Some of it is simply hard for our hearts to take and challenging for our minds to fathom. But our experience is much like an intimate relationship: it has its ups and downs, there are things that need to change, there are things that we wouldn’t change for the world and there are hard lessons involved which hopefully inspire us to develop ourselves. And just like we love our partner regardless of their positives and negatives, we should also love our experience, irrespective of its strengths and weaknesses.

Another way to begin to look at it is by considering how we love ourselves. Just as we don’t condone everything about our partner, yet we still love them, we still love ourselves, even if sometimes we’re not proud of all our feelings, thoughts and actions. After all, we make mistakes, learn and navigate our entire lives growing into our new, more developed selves.

But our experience is much bigger than our ego, or our perception and the ingredients of our ‘illusory separate’ selves. It’s also the objects of our experience, because if we change the objects, we also change the experience. Therefore, it is the two realities combined; it’s an intimate interconnection between the inner and outer worlds.

Let’s put it in a simple model:

Subjective world = feelings, thoughts, beliefs, actions
Objective world = body, people, earth, universe.
Experience = the interconnected total of our subjective and objective worlds.

This means that there is something which is the bridge between or the basis of these two seemingly separate realities.

Both pioneer scientists and contemporary spirituality view consciousness (or something like consciousness) as the ground of all being and therefore the bridge of these realms. Though to be clear: it’s not our individual consciousness but the whole of consciousness which is the unifying factor.

One way to illustrate this is through the analogy of a fire. The whole of consciousness is the fire, the objective world including our brain is a flame in the fire and our subjective world is our flame’s heat. All are the fire. All are consciousness.

One common assumption about our individual consciousness is that it is generated by the big brain (containing 100 billion neurons), the second brain (100 million neurons embedded in the walls of our gut) and the heart (which contains 40,000 neurons); much like a generator creates electricity. Even though this is voiced by some materialists as being a proven scientific fact, it’s not – it’s speculation based primarily on the evidence that if we tamper with the brains (particularly the big brain) in certain ways, it tampers with our awareness in particular ways too.

But just as all scientists and laymen alike should know – correlation does not imply causation. Just because our individual consciousness changes when we alter our brain does not mean that the brain created the consciousness in the first place.

The alternative to this explanation, one that is receiving support from emerging scientific evidence, is that the brain receives or tunes into consciousness, much like a radio or television tunes into signals. If we tamper with our radio or TV set, then it will no doubt have an associated impact on the way the signal is received, without actually changing the signal itself. Therefore, just because modifying our brain can alter our experience, does not inherently mean that we have changed consciousness itself. We have simply changed our experience of consciousness.

This makes sense when we acknowledge how our experience is influenced by what’s happening both inside and outside of us. We’re tuning into particular frequencies of consciousness to have an experience which is co-created by both our inner and outer worlds.

When we begin to meditate this point becomes even clearer. Think of our conscious awareness as the light from a torch and the darkness as our subconscious mind. When we meditate, we can navigate through our subconscious mind by making it conscious with our light. Meditation is the act of navigating our awareness through our subconscious mind. The more skilled we become at expanding our mind with meditation, the deeper we go into the darkness of our subconscious. Then suddenly – as many experienced meditators agree – we potentially reach beyond our subconscious mind.

In other words – advanced meditation can craft our individual awareness into a cosmic consciousness or even consciousness itself. This is also a common experience when taking a psychedelic substance. Over and over again, through countless individuals and a wide array of tribal, traditional and current cultures, it is believed that during a psychedelic trip (or other trance-induced activity) the mind becomes one with the whole of reality.

The line between the internal and external worlds has become reverently blurred. This is a big concept to entertain, but once we do, we arrive at an inevitable conclusion. If our experience is a melting between two interconnected worlds, and we love our experience, then we love both worlds. We therefore have a solid foundation to establish and maintain our inner peace.

That isn’t to say that we like everything within it – such as war, murder, emotional dysfunction, suffering etc. – just that we embrace it for what it is. We’re at peace because we understand it as a manifestation of what we fundamentally are: consciousness (or the more traditional term of God). The way we then operate through our lives is based on love, because we view our experience as a reflection of ourselves and we love it as we would love ourselves, and all humanity.

This is when loving our experience becomes an art because we learn to consciously co-create our experience in a way that is beautiful, inspiring and above all loving. Ultimately, you should love your experience like you love yourself, because it is you. It’s a sure-fire way to be at peace.

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Saturday Matinee: I Am Cuba

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“I Am Cuba” (1964) is a Soviet-Cuban co-production directed by Mikhail Kalatozov which ties together several stories depicting different aspects of the Cuban experience during the pre-Castro era. Upon release (and long after), the film was largely ignored, being too Communist for western audiences and not revolutionary enough for audiences in the Soviet Union. Fortunately, in the 1990s the film was re-discovered and championed by prominent directors such as Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola who with Milestone Films re-released the film at New York’s Film Forum in 1995. I Am Cuba is notable for inspiring and emotionally powerful scenes as well as technical achievements such as complex tracking shots and striking cinematography utilizing wide angle lenses and infrared film stock.

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WSJ reports: Bank of North Dakota outperforms Wall Street

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By Ellen Brown

Source: Intrepid Report

While 49 state treasuries were submerged in red ink after the 2008 financial crash, one state’s bank outperformed all others and actually launched an economy-shifting new industry. So reports the Wall Street Journal this week, discussing the Bank of North Dakota (BND) and its striking success in the midst of a national financial collapse led by the major banks.

Chester Dawson begins his November 16 article:

It is more profitable than Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has a better credit rating than J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and hasn’t seen profit growth drop since 2003. Meet Bank of North Dakota, the U.S.’s lone state-owned bank, which has one branch, no automated teller machines and not a single investment banker.

He backs this up with comparative data on the BND’s performance:

[I]ts total assets have more than doubled, to $6.9 billion last year from $2.8 billion in 2007. By contrast, assets of the much bigger Bank of America Corp. have grown much more slowly, to $2.1 trillion from $1.7 trillion in that period.

. . . Return on equity, a measure of profitability, is 18.56%, about 70% higher than those at Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. . . .

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services last month reaffirmed its double-A-minus rating of the bank, whose deposits are guaranteed by the state of North Dakota. That is above the rating for both Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan and among U.S. financial institutions, second only to the Federal Home Loan Banks, rated double-A-plus.

Dawson goes on, however, to credit the BND’s remarkable performance to the Bakken oil boom. Giving his article the controversial title, “Shale Boom Helps North Dakota Bank Earn Returns Goldman Would Envy: U.S.’s Lone State-Owned Bank Is Beneficiary of Fracking,” he contends:

The reason for its success? As the sole repository of the state of North Dakota’s revenue, the bank has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the boom in Bakken shale-oil production from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. In fact, the bank played a crucial part in kick-starting the oil frenzy in the state in 2008 amid the financial crisis.

That is how the Wall Street-owned media routinely write off the exceptional record of this lone publicly-owned bank, crediting it to the success of the private oil industry. It would be more accurate to say that the bank made the boom.

Excess deposits do not explain the BND’s record profits

Dawson confirms that the BND played a crucial role in kickstarting the boom and the economy, at a time when other states were languishing in recession. It did this by lending for critical infrastructure (roads, housing, hospitals, hotels) when other states’ banks were curtailing local lending.

But while the state itself may have reaped increased taxes and fees from the oil boom, the BND got no more out of the deal than an increase in deposits, as Dawson also confirms. The BND is the sole repository of state revenues by law.

Having excess deposits can hardly be the reason the BND has outdistanced even JPMorganChase and Bank of America, which also have massive excess deposits and have not turned them into loans. Instead, they have invested their excess deposits in securities.

Interestingly, the BND has also followed this practice. According to Standard & Poor’s October 2014 credit report, it had a loan to deposit ratio in 2009 of 91%. This ratio dropped to 57.5% in 2014. The excess deposits have gone primarily into Treasuries, US government agency debt, and mortgage-backed securities. Thus the bank’s extraordinary profitability cannot be explained by an excess of deposits or an expanded loan portfolio.

Further eroding the Dawson explanation is that the oil boom did not actually hit North Dakota until 2010. Yet it was the sole state to have escaped the credit crisis by the spring of 2009, when every other state’s budget had already dipped into negative territory. Montana, the runner-up, was in the black by the end of 2009; but it dropped into the red in March of that year and had to implement a pay freeze on state employees.

According to Standard & Poor’s, the BND’s return on equity was up to 23.4% in 2009—substantially higher than in any of the years of the oil boom that began in 2010.

The real reasons for its stellar success

To what, then, are the remarkable achievements of this lone public bank attributable?

The answer is something the privately-owned major media have tried to sweep under the rug: the public banking model is simply more profitable and efficient than the private model. Profits, rather than being siphoned into offshore tax havens, are recycled back into the bank, the state and the community.

The BND’s costs are extremely low: no exorbitantly-paid executives; no bonuses, fees, or commissions; only only one branch office; very low borrowing costs; and no FDIC premiums (the state rather than the FDIC guarantees its deposits).

These are all features that set publicly-owned banks apart from privately-owned banks. Beyond that, they are safer for depositors, allow public infrastructure costs to be cut in half, and provide a non-criminal alternative to a Wall Street cartel caught in a laundry list of frauds.

Dawson describes some other unique aspects of the BND’s public banking model:

It traditionally extends credit, or invests directly, in areas other lenders shun, such as rural housing loans.

. . . [R]etail banking accounts for just 2%-3% of its business. The bank’s focus is providing loans to students and extending credit to companies in North Dakota, often in partnership with smaller community banks.

Bank of North Dakota also acts as a clearinghouse for interbank transactions in the state by settling checks and distributing coins and currency. . . .

The bank’s mission is promoting economic development, not competing with private banks. “We’re a state agency and profit maximization isn’t what drives us,” President Eric Hardmeyer said.

. . . It recently started offering mortgages to individuals in the most underserved corners of the state. But Mr. Hardmeyer dismisses any notion the bank could run into trouble with deadbeat borrowers. “We know our customers,” he said. “You’ve got to understand the conservative nature of this state. Nobody here is really interested in making subprime loans.”

The downsides of a boom

The bank’s mission to promote economic development could help explain why its return on equity has actually fallen since the oil boom hit in 2010. The mass invasion by private oil interests has put a severe strain on the state’s infrastructure, forcing it to muster its resources defensively to keep up; and the BND is in the thick of that battle.

In an August 2011 article titled, “North Dakota’s Oil Boom is a Blessing and a Curse,” Ryan Holeywell writes that virtually all major infrastructure in the boom cities and counties is strained or exhausted. To shore up its infrastructure needs, the state has committed hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Meanwhile, it is trying to promote industries other than oil and gas, such as companies involved with unmanned aircraft, manufacturing associated with wind energy equipment, and data centers; but the remoteness of the western part of the state, along with the high cost of labor, makes doing business there complicated and expensive.

Hydrofracking, which has been widely attacked as an environmental hazard, is not as bad in North Dakota as in other states, since the process takes place nearly two miles underground; but it still raises significant environmental concerns. In 2011, the state levied $3 million in fines against 20 oil companies for environmental violations. It also undertook a review of industry regulations and was in the process of doubling its oil field inspectors.

The greatest stresses from the oil industry, however, involve the shortage of housing and the damage to the county road system, which in many places consists of two-lane gravel and dirt roads. Drilling a new well requires more than 2,000 truck trips, and the heavy rigs are destroying the roads. Fixing them has been estimated to require an investment of more than $900 million over the next 20 years.

These are external costs imposed by the oil industry that the government has to pick up. All of it requires financing, and the BND is there to provide the credit lines.

Lighting a fire under legislators

What the Bank of North Dakota has done to sustain its state’s oil boom, a publicly-owned bank could do for other promising industries in other states. But Dawson observes that no other state has yet voted to take up the challenge, despite a plethora of bills introduced for the purpose. Legislators are slow to move on innovations, unless a fire is lit under them by a crisis or a mass popular movement.

We would be better off sparking a movement than waiting for a crisis. The compelling data in Dawson’s Wall Street Journal article, properly construed, could add fuel to the flames.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 200+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.

 

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