Author Archive | David Metcalfe

An Open Letter to TED

arrangementsKen Jordan, Publisher & Editorial Director, Evolver/Reality Sandwich, has written an open letter to TED’s Chris Anderson in an attempt to get the TED organization to stop squirming around for a minute and talk about the real issues at stake in their decision to cordon off large swaths of scientific inquiry:

“TED’s prominence has made it, perhaps inadvertently, into an forum that validates worthy intellectual progress. If a good idea gets momentum, it will most likely end up, one way or another, presented by TED or one of the TEDx offshoots.

That’s why the censure of the TEDx talks by Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake is so dismaying. As you must know, to many of us the reasons behind their removal from the TED YouTube site are just not clear. On behalf of the Evolver community, I’d like to extend an invitation to you to help us understand the reasoning that led to TED’s actions, because we suspect that behind your decision is an uninformed prejudice against groundbreaking research in a critical area of study, the possibility that consciousness extends beyond the brain.”

The issue here is not one of censorship, it’s one of social engineering.… Read the rest

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Embalming Time – The Photography of Invisible Things

It is an egregious,  unavoidable fact that much of the material evidence for unexplained experience is the result of easily explained technical glitches, intentionally or unintentionally invoked. Apparitional double exposures, pollen produced orbs, apophenial faces, and other replicable effects mar the minds of seekers and skeptics confronted with photographs, and other forms of ostensibly objective proof, said to contain traces of some transcendent order of nature.

The latest episode of The Midnight Archive, an award winning documentary series from film maker Ronni Thomas, features an interview with photographer Shannon Taggart  who takes this fact as given, and, moving beyond questions of real or unreal, uses it to capture a more narrative experience of the event. In the interview she discusses her art, and the broader history of Spiritualist spirit photography, in the process providing an alternative approach to understanding these areas of experience that steps past questions of proof:

As an artist and photojournalist Taggart is able to eschew issues of authenticity, in order to embrace the psychological and storytelling aspects of the event.… Read the rest

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The Midnight Archive – Art & the Occult

If you enjoyed the recent conversation between Thad McKraken and Pam Grossman of Phantasmaphile, you might enjoy the latest episode of The Midnight Archive, which also features Grossman in a conversation about her inspirations, and the fascinating interstices of artistic inspiration and occult influences.

The Midnight Archive’s past episodes feature a number of interesting guests including Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America,  Evan Michelson, co-owner of Brooklyn purveyors of the odd  Obscura, and star of the Science Channel’s show Oddities,  Joanna Ebstein, curator of The Morbid Anatomy Library, and a number of other interesting organizations and individuals working on the edges of taboo and transgression.

Make sure to check them out at www.themidnightarchive.com

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‘As We See Sound: Explorations of Audible Color’ – Visual Music 101 Event in Chicago

“Color provokes a psychic vibration. Color hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body.”

– Wassily Kandinsky

Musicians, philosophers, and artists have sought, for centuries, the ultimate translation of sound and vision, the ability to translate one sensual experience into another, from hearing to seeing and back again. This search for “audible color” has taken many forms, from early Pythagorean theories on the harmony of the celestial spheres to contemporary experiments with electronic music, rituals, and coordinated visual effects. Running through it all is a fascination with how existence is interwoven with relationships that often defy our understanding.

“On Sunday, February 17th at 3pm at the Spudnik Annex, Homeroom Chicago, Spudnik Press, and Access Contemporary Music present a public seminar exploring the relationship between color and sound.

As music became the inspiration for the movement towards abstraction in early 20th century European painting, artists searched for ever more meaningful ways to incorporate the language and gestures of music into their work.

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The Inquisition Can be a Witch’s Best friend – An Open Letter to ‘Occult Experts’

This is a sort of rambling, open letter to all “occult experts” who find themselves in the position to promote panic among the community and law enforcement when something weird pops up in the woods, local cemetery or any other place with potential to be mytho-poetically relevant.  You’ve appeared again in the news, and your presence is as annoying and unnerving as ever. Did you know that the Inquisition can be a witch’s best friend? Well, let me be a bit more direct…by your own definition you are the witch in this situation.

“Oh no! I’m a god fearing scholar,  a concerned citizen doing my duty to inform the public about the nefarious doings of black magic and evil witchcraft!”

Really? If you honestly think so, please go and study some basic psychology before you start ranting to the public about spells and sorcerers. The more media attention that your crazy talk gets the more you’re priming the community for something to actually occur, and I’m not talking supernatural, I’m talking folks getting dumb ideas and getting violent.… Read the rest

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Hunting for Unicorns – Skeptic Challenges & the Illusion of Scientific Inquiry

“The attacks on the million dollar challenge are likely to continue. This is a sign, in my opinion, of the success of the challenge. Con artists know they cannot beat the challenge, and so they have no choice but to try to discredit it. Those who truly believe they have abilities but fail the challenge almost universally make up post hoc excuses for their failure.”

Our writing is an interesting window into our beliefs and opinions, even when we may not be fully aware of what it shows. What does it say to end a critical piece with a manipulative double bind that leads the reader to conclude those who question the JREF Challenge are either gullible or cons?

The opening quote comes from a recent article by Steven Novella discussing Steve Volk’s critique of the James Randi Educational Foundation Challenge. As usually happens when the JREF is brought up, either positively or negatively, Volk has ignited a vigorous back and forth between skeptics and believers.… Read the rest

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Viva la Muerte! Holy Death Comes to Brooklyn

Morbid Anatomy Library Acquisition Number 1,352: New Lot of Santa Muerte Related Materials from Mexico

The Morbid Anatomy Library’s most recent acquisition brings the Boney Lady to Brooklyn, NY:

“The Morbid Anatomy Library is delighted to announce the acquisition of a new lot of materials related to Santa Muerte, which is, depending on whom you ask, a Mexican-based “cult” or “new religion” which worships death as a female saint.

Santa Muerte,” which literally translates to “Holy Death” or “Saint Death,” is popular in Mexico and the United States with disenfranchised populations for whom conventional Catholicism has not provided a better or safer life. It is thought to have its roots in the rich syncretism of the beliefs of the native Latin Americans and the colonizing Spanish Catholics.

The artifacts donated to the library, many of which you see above, include sacred books and pamphlets, devotional statues, magical soaps and oils, charms, incense, and even “La Biblia de la Santa Muerte.” They were generously donated by Friends of Morbid Anatomy Tonya Hurley and Tracy Hurley Martin as found on their travels in Mexico.”

These items have joined the library’s other “curiosities, books, photographs, artworks, ephemera, and artifacts relating to medical museums, anatomical art, collectors and collecting, cabinets of curiosity, the history of medicine, death and society, natural history, arcane media, and curiosity and curiosities broadly considered,” and are now on display in their collection.… Read the rest

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From Beyond the Grave – The Final Edition of Saucer Smear

The Men in Black never beat him, and death can’t either. Jim Moseley’s recent passing hasn’t stopped him from getting out one last issue of Saucer Smear.  Since the early 1950’s Moseley has been front and center for the development of the UFO culture. Officially named in 1981, Saucer Smear was the final iteration of a popular insider newsletter that he had been producing since the early ’70’s.

The newsletter has been a staple of UFOlogy, and provided an open forum to discuss every aspect of the field from classic cases to the latest arguments in the ranks of the UFOlogical elite. Dr. Tim Brigham, a personal friend of Moseley’s and a Contributing Editor at Saucer Smear, sent out the following brief communique to announce the digital release of the final issue:

Don’t let the MIB stop it. Download your copy of the Last issue of the longest running flying saucer zine in the galaxy: Jim Moseley’s ‘Saucer Smear.’ In loving memory (and free!)

Watch The Skies

Tim Brigham, Phd

Contributing Editor, Saucer Smear (Ret)

In true form this issue covers critical exchanges with Nick Redfern over the reality of MIB’s, Stanton Friedman over his credentials as a physicist, and the sad state of contemporary UFOlogy.… Read the rest

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W. S. Burroughs Restored

Viruses are obligatory cellular parasites and are thus wholly dependant upon the integrity of the cellular systems they parasitize for their survival in an active state. It is something of a paradox that many viruses ultimately destroy the cells in which they are living…

- from “Virus Adaptibility and Host Resistance” by G. Belyavin, as qouted by William S. Burroughs in The Electronic Revolution: Feedback from Watergate to the Garden of Eden

“What we are up against: liars with no honesty or integrity or decency, just plain bastards…”

- William S. Burroughs, from Last Words

William S. Burroughs’ post-mortem existence is predicated on the maintenance of his mediated body, and one of his current hosts is in need of restoration. Howard Brookner’s documentary, Burroughs: The Movie, originally released in 1985 by Giorno Poetry Systems, has been out of print for quite some time. Long available only at a collectors price, and in the original VHS, Brookner’s nephew, Aaron Brookner, has created a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the release of a digitally re-mastered version taken from an original archival print of the documentary:

“Our aim is to remaster and re-release the first long feature documentary ever made about literary icon William S.

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Expanding Our Experience of Psi – Biophysical and Clinical Approaches to Parapsychology

While much of the current debate around the existence of psi exists in the field of psychology and cultural studies, the history of psychical research is actually based as much, if not more, in the physical sciences and clinical medicine. In a recent piece for Reality Sandwich researcher Paul Devereux discusses the biophysical experiments of Dr. Michael Persinger and Blake Dotta at Laurentian University, Ontario, and how the evidence from experiments like these is bringing our attention back to the physical characteristics of the phenomena:

“Parapsychology generally provides its evidence in the form of statistics, and so is all too readily subject to the charge of “lies, damned lies and statistics” – how reliable is monitoring lots of subjective responses to laboratory tests, and why isn’t psi robustly repeatable in experimental conditions?  When it comes to actual, real-life psi experiences – telepathic or precognitive events, apparitions and so forth – critics tend to level accusations of misperception or dishonesty against the claimants, and point out that in any case such reports are merely anecdotal, and not acceptable as scientific evidence.

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