March, 2014


31
Mar 14

When Smoking Feathers from the Wings of Angels and Demons

All this talk of legalizing marijuana and the various types of medical marijuana, various effects of different strains, makes me feel it’s time to legalize “dangel ganja”. That, of course, is the street name for the material burned and inhaled when smoking feathers from the wings of angels and devils. I’ve been into it for years.

It’s a myth, by the way, that devils don’t have wings or that they have something like bat wings. No, they have wings with feathers, they’re just really oily, ill-smelling coppery red or black feathers, very very dark, whereas of course angel wings have gleaming white or burnished gold or platinum colored feathers. Obtaining the feathers of either entails risks unless you can find a place of combat between angels and devils, in which case you simply harvest them from the ground nearby (uninformed people often mistake them for bird feathers). They drift down from the combatants.

Anyway, the main point is, there is more than one sort of angel, more than one sort of devil, and the qualities of the high, or the medicinal effect if you like, relate to the type of supernatural being you are smoking. Naturally an archangel’s wing feathers will give you a more “heady”, intellectually objective state of mind; whereas you’ll get a kind of maternal glow from a guardian angel, and a standard vision-message angel provides a sort of peyote-like shimmer, with hallucinatory visits to sky castles. Feathers from the wings of a tempting devil tend to be very “body”, very sensual in their effects, especially when smoked in a good sized bong, whereas a torturing devil’s pinfeathers give a kind of meth/bath salts effect–you don’t want to use too much, or you’ll kill everyone nearby. The feathers from the wings of a war-fostering demon will put you in a fierce, resentful mood, so you’ll be patrolling the borders of your property with a shotgun. It’s a high but a paranoid one. . .

Of course the real epicure of dangel smoking mixes the polarities, a bit of archangel with a bit of war demon, combined with a goodly pinch of the feathers of a guardian angel to mellow you out. The result is difficult to describe. Get the proportions right and you’ll party deliciously; overdo one or the other and you may wake up two weeks later, if you come out of it at all, in a very secure psych ward. Everything in moderation. Stories about the dangers of dangel smoking are wildly exaggerated. Don’t drive while smoking the pinfeathers of a war demon–of course! But used in moderation dangel smoking can be deeply satisfying and only rarely fatal.


31
Mar 14

When They Find my Body in 2000 years

What will researchers think if they examine my exhumed remains in say 2000 or so years? “This is a male who died in his early 80s…No gravestone remains so we have no clear date or name…This was before land-use laws forbade bodies in graves…We see the remains of books in the coffin with him, crumbled beyond reading…traces of a shoulder tattoo on scraps of mummified skin hint at a relationship to an ancient spiritual lodge…In the teeth we see evidence that the fillings were replaced with neutral material, indicating some anxiety, common at the time, about mercury in tooth fillings, and perhaps indicating a personality prone to thinking about mortality, risk, and toxins. We see he was married, by the wedding ring; the skull ring on his right hand might indicate a membership in the “cult of Keith Richards”; we find a titanium disk in his spine indicating surgery for spinal stenosis; this and the shape of the spine, and fingers with arthritic deposits in a pattern common to keyboard users, indicates much time spent in a chair at a desk. The eye repair implants, circa 2033 CE, are of a kind that suggests much exposure to a computer screen. He may have been a programmer but the presence of books included in the coffin suggests writer or critic, or possibly a devoted aficionado.

“Also in the coffin is a damaged CD, which may be a song mix. Its contents are so far unknown. His coffin is high grade steel suggesting both some disposable income, at least in his family, and another hint at strong concerns about mortality. The traces of food found in the intestines analyze as partly lab grown artificial meat, indicating he may have been a vegetarian, refusing to involve himself in animal slaughter, but not a vegan; we also find very low traces of pesticides suggesting he preferred sustainable produce, again an indication of a personality with a strong concern about toxicity…

“And that’s it for this subject…oh, I’m receiving a transmission, something previously undiscovered has been located in the coffin. It appears to be a note scratched into plastic. In the North American language of the time it says, ‘Go stand in the rain and get rusty you robot bastards, and send in a real archaeologist.’ It is also pointed out that the middle finger of his skeletal right hand is extended in a way that suggests a popular gesture of insult of his time…It’s remarkable, it must be said, that he realized that his own race would be extinct, replaced by artificial intelligences in nano-charged carapaces like you and I. I salute his foresight.”


27
Mar 14

Me and GI Gurdjieff

To me, the Gurdjieff work has to be about the practice, about methodology, about the movement of attention within oneself, and toward the present moment, and toward the finer vibrations from the higher. The ideas can be over emphasized, in my opinion, to the detriment of actual Work; and actual Work is the real point. At its best it’s experiential.

Gurdjieff didn’t have to be right about everything. I doubt this exiohary business–enough that I’m not going to reach for the book to check its spelling–I doubt that the moon will ever be like the Earth, and the Earth like the sun, and so on. I take Darwin quite seriously and while he was not any sort of absurd creationist Gurdjieff didn’t seem to respect Darwin much (as witness Beelzebub’s Tales) …

I think that probably his “autobiographical” work Meetings with Remarkable Men is true…and not true, in places. Some of it is likely conflation of several events and places; some is sheer allegory; some of it happened. Paul Beekman Taylor’s newest book makes a persuasive argument that Gurdjieff probably never actually visited Tibet (though Taylor isn’t certain), and there’s no one who respects Gurdjieff more than he. Gurdjieff had his reasons for adapting bits of Hindu/Chinese “alchemy” into his system, for adapting neo-Platonism and Kircher into his system. I think he was exposed to many esoteric schools, like the Naqshbandi–but I think a lot of the Fourth Way is the product of his experimentation, his personal experience. His effort to find a way to set people free from the subjection that leads to war and needless human miseries…that could free humanity from “the terror of the situation”. And that way actually succeeds in providing, bit by bit, inner freedom for practitioners.

And that’s what matters to me. It’s why I’m a committed Gurdjieffian and it’s why I’ll have an enneagram on my gravestone some day.

Anyway, here’s a link to an article I wrote introducing Gurdjieff. http://www.darkecho.com/JohnShirley/jsgurd.html


22
Mar 14

The Poor Frustrated Invisible Creature Wants you to Know

I know, you weren’t particularly wondering what my newest novel was, those of you who didn’t already know–you weren’t going to ask. You were thinking about something else entirely. But a small translucent purple-black angel-like (but not angelic) figure, fluttering unseen over your head like an unnoticed black butterfly, has been trying to get you to read my novel DOYLE AFTER DEATH. So for the sake of that poor frustrated creature, I’m telling you about this dark fantasy novel, available as a paperback or ebook. And here’s the link to its place at the HarperCollins site: http://harpercollins.com/books/Doyle-After-Death-John-Shirley/?isbn=9780062305008


20
Mar 14

Fred Phelps In the Afterlife

“Westboro church founder Fred Phelps dies” – CNN

“Hello, Fred Phelps, welcome to the afterlife, I’ll be your directing angel.”
“You?! You’re an angel? You’re wearing a leather cap and some kind of leather underwear! That’s no angel! Where’s St Peter? You ain’t St Peter!”
“St Peter doesn’t actually decide who goes into Heaven and Hell, Fred, that’s a myth. My name’s Bruce. I decide where people go, in this plane. I get to do it for awhile–it’s my new job. Of course on the Buddhist afterlife planes, people get redistributed according to reincarnation, or bardo learning needs, and in the Muslim–”
“Muslim! Buddhist! They’re all in Hell burning with the fags!”
“Well, no, Phelps, not particularly–some are, though they’re not there for all eternity. Hell is ultimately just a state of mind. Anyway, Phelps, I’m assigned to decide which circle of Hell to send you to–later your state of mind might make it possible for you to rise out of it but for now, I think the sixth circle of Standard Christian Hell. You didn’t actually commit murder so the sixth should do–oh, *hi* Freddie! You look so hot in that white suit!”
“Who’s that? Another fag?!”
“Oh this is Freddie, Mr. Phelps–Freddie Mercury, in fact. I can’t help it, I’m proud to be dating Freddie Mercury himself! He’s in charge of the choir on our plane. He’s actually a Zoroastrian but he came over to our plane to live with me.”
“Bruce–I have to go to the Standard Christian Throne and see if Jesus has time to hear the choir before the AIDs victim reunion, just wanted to tell you I’ll be over there. Can I have a kissy-kiss kiss?”
“What the–you fags are going to *kiss* right in front of me?!”
“Mmm, I love that mustache, Freddie, never cut it off. See you later. Oh sorry, Phelps.”
“God hates fags! He does! He hates queers and lesbos and all that! I figure you’re some kind of test, to see for sure if I hate ‘em too! Well I do!”
“God hates….? She doesn’t hate gay people, Phelps! She’s a lesbian on many planes. On other planes she–”
“You are tryin’ to tell me God is a woman…a damn lesbian?!”
“Well gender is not exactly as defined with respect to a higher being, here, as on Earth–and even there, of course–”
“This is a test! I’ll kill you! I’ll strangle you, fag!”…..
… “Oh dear…you did strangle me! Of course you can’t kill me really, Phelps but…that does seem to be murder, or at least attempted murder. You’re going to a lower level of Hell I think…I’ll put you in the upper part of Dante’s seventh. But remember–hell is just a state of mind. There’s a demon down there who’ll take care of you…he’s so in the closet, poor thing, but he’s coming out now, and since it’s Hell I can’t really guarantee…however if you are nice to him we’ll take that into account. It’s out of my hands now! Off you go. I’m redecorating my place in the Many Mansions today and this is the end of my shift. See you in ten or twenty thousand years, Phelps.”
* * *
“YAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
The End for 10 or 20 Millenia or so


17
Mar 14

The Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey–and Our Cell Phones

Have you ever noticed that a cell phone is shaped like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey? As in the scene where the apish proto-people dance about it in fascination…Good technology can be and will be misused….What are we modeling for children when we’re too fixated on smartphones, tablets etc ? Recently I was in a convenience store–to my surprise it had a display of cell phones. A small child, perhaps 6, was looking at them, trying to pluck one down. The child spent some time at this–candy was nearby, and toys. But he was into that cell phone. His mom had to call him away from it several times. I often see adults ignoring their children in parks, in their yards, etc, when they think they’re engaging in “quality time” with the kid but the parent is thumbing the phone, thumbing, thumbing. And you can see the kid’s frustration. I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying, “That is unintentional, passive child abuse. Slow child abuse but genuine.” These are small children hungry for interaction. . .They will turn to the phone, the monolith, for their interaction, their comfort, their replacement “parenting”…

Tech is good–I’m using it to write. But we can be, as Paul Mavrides said, “tech drunk”.


17
Mar 14

The Skull Was Talking to the Pumpkin

I was listening to the skull talk to the pumpkin, over the last couple months–oh, I should explain that. You see on Halloween I bought one of those bumpy weird looking pumpkins, for display, the kind that looks like a skin disease under a magnifying glass, and like all pumpkins it lasts a remarkably long time without visibly rotting. I kept monitoring it and it didn’t seem to rot, and I was impressed. So the pumpkin became prideful, and I was nearby, heard it boasting of its longevity. Next to the pumpkin is a plaster skull we actually bought at Target, made in China, covered with decorative Chinese characters; it came that way and we have no idea what the Chinese writing says. I figure the writing says good luck or is a conciliation to ancestor spirits, but it could say, “Screw you, American, we hate this sweat shop.” The skull doesn’t know either, I asked it. But it has opinions about the pumpkin–says it’s vain and foolish. The pumpkin said “I shall last longer than you. You are plaster. The rain will wear you away.” The skull said, “No–when anyone sees me they think Death. I am Death! Death outlasts life every time. If I wear away or shatter, I’m even more proof of Death. I’m entropy personified then. So Death remains–I remain forever! But you are already rotting!” “I am not rotting!” But it was–today after all these months I checked it, its bottom was finally rotted, and I had to throw it away.

I was tempted to shatter the skull, to get rid of it and its sneering, but as the skull pointed out–that wouldn’t work.


16
Mar 14

I Was Looking at a Mud Bank

I was on a walk, looking at a mud bank. What could be more interesting? “Almost anything, John.” Yes. Nevertheless I was looking at the mud, the bits of gravel, the moisture, thinking that what if I looked on this and could see the natural laws governing it outright–that is, what if I could see gravitation itself, like gravitons; what if I could see neutrinos passing through it; what if I could see chemical bonds holding it together, actually see visually the action of those bonds, the entropy very very slowly breaking them down, the action of photons on the mineral molecules, the H20, water molecules and…yes, you’re right. “John–you are seeing those things. This is what it looks like. A mud bank. You’re seeing the effect of gravitation on this substance, of photons on it, of air molecules interacting with it–the sum of that interaction is this mud bank.” Well, yes, that’s one way of looking at it. And you’re right.


10
Mar 14

Sometimes Even a Good President Makes Mistakes

Barack Obama’s a good man and a good President, but like all Presidents he makes mistakes. Once you prioritize –and you must–you go on a *course*. And that course has momentum… Obama has been making choices. One of his choices (as recently discussed by an expert on Bill Maher’s show) was not fighting long and hard enough to make the FDA as effective as he *tried* to make it in his early administration–and as he pledged to make it. His regulation efforts to reform the meat industry etc just kept getting slammed by big money political advertising, lobbyists controlling congressmen and so on–Obama had to pick what he could get done. He felt he had to choose his battles. So he chose health care and got the best health care reform he could, and accomplished quite a bit more–like ending the Iraq war, ending USA’s involvement in torture and so on…He decided, it seems, that fracking, leading to more natural gas, also leads to cleaner air (natural gas burning so cleanly and all) and so he became convinced that it was the lesser of evils, something to be put up with in controlling carbon pollution and global warming. Anything to accelerate a greater shift to natural gas. And I think he trades things, as all polticians do, behind the scenes. You give me this, I’ll give you that. But I think those are two particular mistakes: the partial regulatory surrender, and fracking–I think he should oppose big food corp policies more actively, and he should oppose fracking. But I think we can see through the translucent curtain, and guess why he’s doing it and it’s not because he’s a sell-out. It’s because he can only do so much and had to choose his battles….

He also made economic recovery a priority, jobs, and that’s part of his decision making….

All in all, he’d have got more done if not for GOP obstructionism. But he says this is a year of action.

So what’ll he accomplish, this year, and next? He’s not done yet.


8
Mar 14

Who’s that Half Naked Man out Waving a Broom at the Rain?

The other night we were lying in bed, I was reading and my wife was asleep, and suddenly I heard a dramatic YOWWWWW WOWWWWWWW OWWWOWOWOWOOOOW from out front, long drawn out cat yowlings. The kind of thing they do when rival domestic cats face one another outside; they draw in their bodies, hunkering tautly near one another, and lay their ears back and make those long mournful warning sounds, embellished with hisses. One of our cats is very turfy thuggish about his territory. I knew that was him and that he was probably facing off with a notorious orange furred troublemaker. I wanted my wife to sleep peacefully because she’d not had enough sleep the night before and I knew there would be a full blown fight soon so I got up, only half awake really, to try to put a stop to it before the cats fought with squallings and screeches and the dogs heard and started barking at them. So I went out front, in the light rain, with a broom, and yelled, waving the broom, and the orange intruder went streaking away. But then I realized I was standing on the wet sidewalk in my underwear, barefoot, in the rain, with a broom in my hand, waving it at the sky and yelling, “Hey, hey!” I saw lights go on in the neighbor’s windows.

I slunk into the house, grateful no police car had been patrolling past…