Saturday, October 31, 2009

Indulge this Halloween

Halloween--Egyptian style

From colleague Andrea Byrnes' Egyptology News blog ...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Courier Press

The Evansville Museum will throw a Halloween welcome party Saturday for its newest guest, a 2,000-year-old baby mummy.

A family public opening for the new show, "The Child Mummy," will run from noon to 2 p.m. in the museum, where the exhibition will remain through Nov. 29.

The display features the mummified remains of an Egyptian child who scientists believe was 7 to 8 months old when he died. They estimate he lived sometime between 40 B.C. and 130 A.D., and likely was the son of a wealthy or at least upper-middle-class family that could afford the expense of mummification. Courtesy of St. Louis Science Center Scientists used computerized tomography to determine the age of the mummified Egyptian child on loan to the Evansville Museum.

Courtesy of St. Louis Science Center Scientists used computerized tomography to determine the age of the mummified Egyptian child on loan to the Evansville Museum.

The exhibition, on loan from the St. Louis Science Center, includes a video presentation and hands-on, touch-interactive components with more information.

Archaeology Magazine

A right old mix of stories about the more lurid archeaological discoveries from around the planet, including the story "Zombie Attack at Hierakonpolis". All great fun.

In October, days shorten and cold wind begins to howl through the trees of Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum near Hamilton. As leaves fall, the park remains a beacon of natural beauty and man-made artistic splendor. Nonetheless, staff and visitors have noticed an increase in mysterious occurrences on the property. There can be only one explanation: the Mummy’s curse. . . .

Some staff members have spotted an unidentified creature near the ruins of an old stone house on the property. “Never be the last one to leave at night,” says Dave Smith, Manager of Facilities, “it gets so dark you can’t tell what’s moving in the distance.” When asked about this creature, one intrepid 8-year-old paranormal activities expert provided a theory: “It’s the mummy. He lives in the woods during the day and at the old stone house at night. He wants to get back into to his coffin, but the doors are locked.” As Halloween approaches, we cannot say whether the afterlife has been kind to Ankh Takelot.

A pro-curse article which argues that the Tutankhamun curse is alive and kicking and giving him strange feelings at the Tutankhamun exhibtiion.

The curse a result of ancient bacteria?

Firefox News

This article considers the idea that ancient bacteria were responsible for the deaths.

The curse of the pharaohs on Wikipedia


An overview of the concept of pharaonic curses, with the nice little statistic that of the 58 people who were present when the tomb and sarcophagus were opened, only eight died within a dozen year

For anyone unfamiliar with Hallowe'en there's a good overview on Wikipedia and a look at its Celtic roots on the Archeaology Magazine website.

Friday, October 30, 2009

October 30th, 1938

OCTOBER 30TH, 1938

Bill Ashworth in the Linda Hall Library Newsletter wrote:

On Oct. 30, 1939, the Mercury Theatre of the Air broadcast a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds. The narrator was Orson Welles, and the show was cast in the form of series of radio bulletins announcing a Martian invasion. Many people did not hear the preliminary disclaimer, and supposedly many listeners thought the end of the world was at hand. It is not clear whether there was truly widespread panic as a result, but there certainly was outrage toward CBS from those that were fooled.

"Spooky" science fiction...the October 30th, 1938 War of the Worlds.

The entire 1938 radio script:

"The War of the Worlds"
by H. G. Wells

as performed by
Orson Welles & the
Mercury Theatre on the Air

and broadcast on the
Columbia Broadcasting System
on Sunday, October 30, 1938
from 8:00 to 9:00 P. M.

The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air in "The War of the Worlds" by H. G. Wells.
Ladies and gentlemen, the director of the Mercury Theatre and star of these broadcasts, Orson Welles.
We know now that in the early years of the twentieth century this world was being watched closely by intelligences greater than man's, and yet as mortal as his own. We know now that as human beings busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
With infinite complacence people went to and fro over the earth about their little affairs, serene in the assurance of their dominion over this small, spinning fragment of solar driftwood which, by chance or design, man has inherited out of the dark mystery of Time and Space.
Yet across an immense ethereal gulf, minds that are to our minds as ours are to the beasts in the jungle, intellects vast, cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.
In the thirty-ninth year of the twentieth century came the great disillusionment. It was near the end of October. Business was better. The war scare was over. More men were back at work. Sales were picking up. On this particular evening, October 30th, the Crosley service estimated that thirty-two million people were listening in on radios.
(FADE IN) ... for the next twenty-four hours not much change in temperature. A slight atmospheric disturbance of undetermined origin is reported over Nova Scotia, causing a low pressure area to move down rather rapidly over the northeastern states, bringing a forecast of rain, accompanied by winds of light gale force. Maximum temperature 66; minimum 48.
This weather report comes to you from the Government Weather Bureau.
We take you now to the Meridian Room in the Hotel Park Plaza in downtown New York, where you'll be entertained by the music of Ramón Raquello and his orchestra.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. From the Meridian Room in the Park Plaza Hotel in New York City, we bring you the music of Ramón Raquello and his orchestra. With a touch of the Spanish, Ramón Raquello leads off with "La Cumparsita."
Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News.
At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars. The spectroscope indicates the gas to be hydrogen and moving towards the earth with enormous velocity.
Professor Pierson of the Observatory at Princeton confirms Farrell's observation, and describes the phenomenon as, quote, "like a jet of blue flame shot from a gun," unquote.
We now return you to the music of Ramón Raquello, playing for you in the Meridian Room of the Park Plaza Hotel, situated in downtown New York.
And now a tune that never loses favor, the ever-popular "Stardust." Ramón Raquello and his orchestra...
Ladies and gentlemen, following on the news given in our bulletin a moment ago, the Government Meteorological Bureau has requested the large observatories of the country to keep an astronomical watch on any further disturbances occurring on the planet Mars.
Due to the unusual nature of this occurrence, we have arranged an interview with a noted astronomer, Professor Pierson, who will give us his views on this event. In a few moments we will take you to the Princeton Observatory at Princeton, New Jersey.
We return you until then to the music of Ramón Raquello and his orchestra.
We are ready now to take you to the Princeton Observatory at Princeton where Carl Phillips, our commentator, will interview Professor Richard Pierson, famous astronomer. We take you now to Princeton, New Jersey.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. This is Carl Phillips, speaking to you from the observatory of Princeton. I am standing in a large semi-circular room, pitch black except for an oblong split in the ceiling. Through this opening I can see a sprinkling of stars that cast a kind of frosty glow over the intricate mechanism of the huge telescope. The ticking sound you hear is the vibration of the clockwork.
Professor Pierson stands directly above me on a small platform, peering through the giant lens. I ask you to be patient, ladies and gentlemen, during any delay that may arise during our interview. Besides his ceaseless watch of the heavens, Professor Pierson may be interrupted by telephone or other communications. During this period he is in constant touch with the astronomical centers of the world...
Professor, may I begin our questions?
At any time, Mr. Phillips.
Professor, would you please tell our radio audience exactly what you see as you observe the planet Mars through your telescope?
Nothing unusual at the moment, Mr. Phillips. A red disk swimming in a blue sea. Transverse stripes across the disk. Quite distinct now because Mars happens to be the point nearest the earth... in opposition, as we call it.
In your opinion, what do these transverse stripes signify, Professor Pierson?
Not canals, I can assure you, Mr. Phillips —
(OFF-MIC) I see.
— although that's the popular conjecture of those who imagine Mars to be inhabited. From a scientific viewpoint the stripes are merely the result of atmospheric conditions peculiar to the planet.
Then you're quite convinced as a scientist that living intelligence as we know it does not exist on Mars?
I'd say the chances against it are a thousand to one.
And yet, how do you account for these gas eruptions occurring on the surface of the planet at regular intervals?
Mr. Phillips, I cannot account for it.
By the way, Professor, for the benefit of our listeners, how far is Mars from the earth?
Approximately forty million miles.
Well, that seems a safe enough distance.
(OFF-MIC) Thank you.
Just a moment, ladies and gentlemen, someone has just handed Professor Pierson a message. While he reads it, let me remind you that we are speaking to you from the observatory in Princeton, New Jersey, where we are interviewing the world-famous astronomer, Professor Pierson...
Oh, one moment, please. Professor Pierson has passed me a message which he has just received... Professor, may I read the message to the listening audience?
Certainly, Mr. Phillips
Ladies and gentlemen, I shall read you a wire addressed to Professor Pierson from Dr. Gray of the National History Museum, New York.
Quote, "9:15 P. M. eastern standard time. Seismograph registered shock of almost earthquake intensity occurring within a radius of twenty miles of Princeton. Please investigate. Signed, Lloyd Gray, Chief of Astronomical Division," unquote.
Professor Pierson, could this occurrence possibly have something to do with the disturbances observed on the planet Mars?
Hardly, Mr. Phillips. This is probably a meteorite of unusual size and its arrival at this particular time is merely a coincidence. However, we shall conduct a search, as soon as daylight permits.
Thank you, Professor. Ladies and gentlemen, for the past ten minutes we've been speaking to you from the observatory at Princeton, bringing you a special interview with Professor Pierson, noted astronomer.
This is Carl Phillips speaking. We are returning you now to our New York studio.
Ladies and gentlemen, here is the latest bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. Toronto, Canada: Professor Morse of McMillan University reports observing a total of three explosions on the planet Mars, between the hours of 7:45 P. M. and 9:20 P. M., eastern standard time. This confirms earlier reports received from American observatories.
Now, nearer home, comes a special bulletin from Trenton, New Jersey. It is reported that at 8:50 P. M. a huge, flaming object, believed to be a meteorite, fell on a farm in the neighborhood of Grovers Mill, New Jersey, twenty-two miles from Trenton.
The flash in the sky was visible within a radius of several hundred miles and the noise of the impact was heard as far north as Elizabeth.
We have dispatched a special mobile unit to the scene, and will have our commentator, Carl Phillips, give you a word picture of the scene as soon as he can reach there from Princeton.
In the meantime, we take you to the Hotel Martinet in Brooklyn, where Bobby Millette and his orchestra are offering a program of dance music.
We take you now to Grovers Mill, New Jersey.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is Carl Phillips again, out of the Wilmuth farm, Grovers Mill, New Jersey. Professor Pierson and myself made the eleven miles from Princeton in ten minutes.
Well, I... hardly know where to begin, to paint for you a word picture of the strange scene before my eyes, like something out of a modern "Arabian Nights."
Well, I just got here. I haven't had a chance to look around yet. I guess that's it. Yes, I guess that's the thing, directly in front of me, half buried in a vast pit. Must have struck with terrific force. The ground is covered with splinters of a tree it must have struck on its way down.
What I can see of the object itself doesn't look very much like a meteor, at least not the meteors I've seen. It looks more like a huge cylinder. It has a diameter of... what would you say, Professor Pierson?
(OFF-MIC) What's that?
What would you say... what is the diameter of this?
About thirty yards.
About thirty yards... The metal on the sheath is... well, I've never seen anything like it. The color is sort of yellowish-white. Curious spectators now are pressing close to the object in spite of the efforts of the police to keep them back. They're getting in front of my line of vision. Would you mind standing to one side, please?
One side, there, one side.
While the policemen are pushing the crowd back, here's Mr. Wilmuth, owner of the farm here. He may have some interesting facts to add.
Mr. Wilmuth, would you please tell the radio audience as much as you remember of this rather unusual visitor that dropped in your backyard? Step closer, please.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is Mr. Wilmuth.
Well, I was listenin' to the radio.
Closer and louder please.
Pardon me!
Louder, please, and closer.
Yes, sir — I was listening to the radio and kinda drowsin', that Professor fellow was talkin' about Mars, so I was half dozin' and half...
Yes, yes, Mr. Wilmuth. And er... then what happened?
Well, as I was sayin', I was listenin' to the radio kinda halfways...
Yes, Mr. Wilmuth, and then you saw something?
Not first off. I heard something.
And what did you hear?
A hissing sound. Like this: (HISSES)
Kinda like a fourth of July rocket.
Yes, then what?
I turned my head out the window and would have swore I was to sleep and dreamin'.
I seen that kinda greenish streak and then zingo! Somethin' smacked the ground. Knocked me clear out of my chair!
Well, were you frightened, Mr. Wilmuth?
Well, I — I ain't quite sure. I reckon I — I was kinda riled.
Thank you, Mr. Wilmuth. Thank you very much.
Want me to tell you some more?
No... That's quite all right, that's plenty.
Ladies and gentlemen, you've just heard Mr. Wilmuth, owner of the farm where this thing has fallen. I wish I could convey the atmosphere... the background of this... fantastic scene.
Hundreds of cars are parked in a field in back of us and the police are trying to rope off the roadway leading into the farm but it's no use. They're breaking right through. Cars' headlights throw an enormous spotlight on the pit where the object's half buried.
Now some of the more daring souls are now venturing near the edge. Their silhouettes stand out against the metal sheen.
One man wants to touch the thing... he's having an argument with a policeman. The policeman wins... Now, ladies and gentlemen, there's something I haven't mentioned in all this excitement, but now it's becoming more distinct. Perhaps you've caught it already on your radio. Listen, please...
Do you hear it? It's a curious humming sound that seems to come from inside the object. I'll move the microphone nearer. Now...
Now we're not more than twenty-five feet away. Can you hear it now? Oh, Professor Pierson!
Yes, Mr. Phillips?
Can you tell us the meaning of that scraping noise inside the thing?
Possibly the unequal cooling of its surface.
I see, do you still think it's a meteor, Professor?
I don't know what to think. The metal casing is definitely extraterrestrial... not found on this earth. Friction with the earth's atmosphere usually tears holes in a meteorite. This thing is smooth and, as you can see, of cylindrical shape.
Just a minute! Something's happening! Ladies and gentlemen, this is terrific! This end of the thing is beginning to flake off! The top is beginning to rotate like a screw and the thing must be hollow!
She's movin'! Look, the darn thing's unscrewing! Stand back, there! Keep those men back, I tell you! Maybe there's men in it trying to escape! It's red hot, they'll burn to a cinder! Keep back there. Keep those idiots back!
She's off! The top's loose! Look out there! Stand back!
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed... Wait a minute! Someone's crawling out of the hollow top. Someone or... something. I can see peering out of that black hole two luminous disks . . are they eyes? It might be a face. It might be...
Good heavens, something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now it's another one, and another one, and another one! They look like tentacles to me. I can see the thing's body now. It's large, large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather. But that face, it... Ladies and gentlemen, it's indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it, so awful. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate. The monster or whatever it is can hardly move. It seems weighed down by... possibly gravity or something. The thing's... rising up now, and the crowd falls back now. They've seen plenty. This is the most extraordinary experience, ladies and gentlemen. I can't find words... I'll pull this microphone with me as I talk. I'll have to stop the description until I can take a new position. Hold on, will you please, I'll be right back in a minute...
We are bringing you an eyewitness account of what's happening on the Wilmuth farm, Grovers Mill, New Jersey.
We now return you to Carl Phillips at Grovers Mill.
Ladies and gent... Am I on? Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, here I am, back of a stone wall that adjoins Mr. Wilmuth's garden. From here I get a sweep of the whole scene. I'll give you every detail as long as I can talk and as long as I can see.
More state police have arrived They're drawing up a cordon in front of the pit, about thirty of them. No need to push the crowd back now. They're willing to keep their distance.
The captain is conferring with someone. We can't quite see who. Oh yes, I believe it's Professor Pierson. Yes, it is. Now they've parted and the Professor moves around one side, studying the object, while the captain and two policemen advance with something in their hands.
I can see it now. It's a white handkerchief tied to a pole... a flag of truce. If those creatures know what that means... what ANYTHING means...
Wait a minute! Something's happening...
A humped shape is rising out of the pit. I can make out a small beam of light against a mirror. What's that? There's a jet of flame springing from that mirror, and it leaps right at the advancing men. It strikes them head on! Good Lord, they're turning into flame!
Now the whole field's caught fire.
The woods... the barns... the gas tanks of automobiles... it's spreading everywhere. It's coming this way. About twenty yards to my right...
Ladies and gentlemen, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to continue the broadcast from Grovers Mill. Evidently there's some difficulty with our field transmission. However, we will return to that point at the earliest opportunity.
In the meantime, we have a late bulletin from San Diego, California.
Professor Indellkoffer, speaking at a dinner of the California Astronomical Society, expressed the opinion that the explosions on Mars are undoubtedly nothing more than severe volcanic disturbances on the surface of the planet.
We continue now with our piano interlude.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have just been handed a message that came in from Grovers Mill by telephone. Just one moment please.
At least forty people, including six state troopers lie dead in a field east of the village of Grovers Mill, their bodies burned and distorted beyond all possible recognition.
The next voice you hear will be that of Brigadier General Montgomery Smith, commander of the state militia at Trenton, New Jersey.
I have been requested by the governor of New Jersey to place the counties of Mercer and Middlesex as far west as Princeton, and east to Jamesburg, under martial law. No one will be permitted to enter this area except by special pass issued by state or military authorities.
Four companies of state militia are proceeding from Trenton to Grovers Mill, and will aid in the evacuation of homes within the range of military operations.
Thank you.
You have just been listening to General Montgomery Smith commanding the state militia at Trenton.
In the meantime, further details of the catastrophe at Grovers Mill are coming in. The strange creatures, after unleashing their deadly assault, crawled back in their pit and made no attempt to prevent the efforts of the firemen to recover the bodies and extinguish the fire. The combined fire departments of Mercer County are fighting the flames which menace the entire countryside.
We have been unable to establish any contact with our mobile unit at Grovers Mill, but we hope to be able to return you there at the earliest possible moment. In the meantime we take you to... just one moment please!
Ladies and gentlemen, I have just been informed that we have finally established communication with an eyewitness of the tragedy.
Professor Pierson has been located at a farmhouse near Grovers Mill where he has established an emergency observation post. As a scientist, he will give you his explanation of the calamity. The next voice you hear will be that of Professor Pierson, brought to you by direct wire.
Professor Pierson.
Of the creatures in the rocket cylinder at Grovers Mill, I can give you no authoritative information — either to their nature, their origin, or their purposes here on earth. Of their destructive instrument I might venture some conjectural explanation.
For want of a better term, I shall refer to the mysterious weapon as a heat ray. It's all too evident that these creatures have scientific knowledge far in advance of our own. It's my guess that in some way they are able to generate an intense heat in a chamber of practically absolute no conductivity. This intense heat they project in a parallel beam against any object they choose, by means of a polished parabolic mirror of unknown composition, much as the mirror of a lighthouse projects a beam of light. That is my conjecture of the origin of the heat ray...
Thank you, Professor Pierson.
Ladies and gentlemen, here is a bulletin from Trenton. It is a brief statement informing us that the charred body of Carl Phillips has been identified in a Trenton hospital.
Now here's another bulletin from Washington, D.C. The office of the director of the National Red Cross reports ten units of Red Cross emergency workers have been assigned to the headquarters of the state militia stationed outside Grovers Mill, New Jersey.
Here's a bulletin from state police, Princeton Junction: The fires at Grovers Mill and vicinity are now under control. Scouts report all quiet in the pit, and there is no sign of life appearing from the mouth of the cylinder...
And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have a special statement from Mr. Harry McDonald, vice-president in charge of operations.
We have received a request from the state militia at Trenton to place at their disposal our entire broadcasting facilities. In view of the gravity of the situation, and believing that radio has a responsibility to serve in the public interest at all times, we are turning over our facilities to the state militia at Trenton.
We take you now to the field headquarters of the state militia near Grovers Mill, New Jersey.
This is Captain Lansing of the signal corps, attached to the state militia, now engaged in military operations in the vicinity of Grovers Mill. Situation arising from the reported presence of certain individuals of unidentified nature is now under complete control.
The cylindrical object which lies in a pit directly below our position is surrounded on all sides by eight battalions of infantry. Without heavy field pieces, but adequately armed with rifles and machine guns. All cause for alarm, if such cause ever existed, is now entirely unjustified.
The things, whatever they are, do not even venture to poke their heads above the pit. I can see their hiding place plainly in the glare of the searchlights here. With all their reported resources, these creatures can scarcely stand up against heavy machine-gun fire.
Anyway, it's an interesting outing for the troops. I can make out their khaki uniforms, crossing back and forth in front of the lights. It looks almost like a real war.
There appears to be some slight smoke in the woods bordering the Millstone River. Probably fire started by campers.
Well, we ought to see some action soon. One of the companies is deploying on the left flank. A quick thrust and it will all be over.
Now wait a minute! I see something on top of the cylinder. No, it's nothing but a shadow. Now the troops are on the edge of the Wilmuth farm. Seven thousand armed men closing in on an old metal tube. A tub rather.
Wait, that wasn't a shadow! It's something moving... solid metal... kind of a shield like affair rising up out of the cylinder... It's going higher and higher. Why, it's standing on legs... actually rearing up on a sort of metal framework. Now it's reaching above the trees and the searchlights are on it. Hold on!
Ladies and gentlemen, I have a grave announcement to make.
Incredible as it may seem, both the observations of science and the evidence of our eyes lead to the inescapable assumption that those strange beings who landed in the Jersey farmlands tonight are the vanguard of an invading army from the planet Mars.
The battle which took place tonight at Grovers Mill has ended in one of the most startling defeats ever suffered by an army in modern times; seven thousand men armed with rifles and machine guns pitted against a single fighting machine of the invaders from Mars. One hundred and twenty known survivors. The rest strewn over the battle area from Grovers Mill to Plainsboro, crushed and trampled to death under the metal feet of the monster, or burned to cinders by its heat ray.
The monster is now in control of the middle section of New Jersey and has effectively cut the state through its center. Communication lines are down from Pennsylvania to the Atlantic Ocean.
Railroad tracks are torn and service from New York to Philadelphia discontinued except routing some of the trains through Allentown and Phoenixville.
Highways to the north, south, and west are clogged with frantic human traffic. Police and army reserves are unable to control the mad flight. By morning the fugitives will have swelled Philadelphia, Camden, and Trenton, it is estimated, to twice their normal population.
Martial law prevails throughout New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.
At this time we take you to Washington for a special broadcast on the National Emergency... the Secretary of the Interior...
Citizens of the nation: I shall not try to conceal the gravity of the situation that confronts the country, nor the concern of your government in protecting the lives and property of its people. However, I wish to impress upon you — private citizens and public officials, all of you — the urgent need of calm and resourceful action.
Fortunately, this formidable enemy is still confined to a comparatively small area, and we may place our faith in the military forces to keep them there.
In the meantime placing our faith in God we must continue the performance of our duties each and every one of us, so that we may confront this destructive adversary with a nation united, courageous, and consecrated to the preservation of human supremacy on this earth.
I thank you.
You have just heard the secretary of the Interior speaking from Washington.
Bulletins too numerous to read are piling up in the studio here.
We are informed the central portion of New Jersey is blacked out from radio communication due to the effect of the heat ray upon power lines and electrical equipment.
Here is a special bulletin New York. Cables have been received from English, French, and German scientific bodies offering assistance.
Astronomers report continued gas outbursts at regular intervals on the planet Mars. The majority voice the opinion that the enemy will be reinforced by additional rocket machines.
There have been several attempts made to locate Professor Pierson of Princeton, who has observed Martians at close range. It is feared he was lost in the recent battle.
Langham Field, Virginia: Scouting planes report three Martian machines visible above treetops, moving north towards Somerville with population fleeing ahead of them. The heat ray is not in use; although advancing at express-train speed, invaders pick their way carefully. They seem to be making a conscious effort to avoid destruction of cities and countryside. However, they stop to uproot power lines, bridges, and railroad tracks. Their apparent objective is to crush resistance, paralyze communication, and disorganize human society.
Here is a bulletin from Basking Ridge, New Jersey: Coon hunters have stumbled on a second cylinder similar to the first embedded in the great swamp twenty miles south of Morristown.
Army fieldpieces are proceeding from Newark to blow up second invading unit before cylinder can be opened and the fighting machine rigged. They are taking up a position in the foothills of Watchung Mountains.
Another bulletin from Langham Field, Virginia: Scouting planes report enemy machines, now three in number, increasing speed northward kicking over houses and trees in their evident haste to form a conjunction with their allies south of Morristown.
Machines also sighted by telephone operator east of Middlesex within ten miles of Plainfield.
Here's a bulletin from Winston Field, Long Island: A fleet of army bombers carrying heavy explosives flying north in pursuit of enemy. Scouting planes act as guides. They keep the speeding enemy in sight.
Just a moment please, ladies and gentlemen. We've er... We've run special wires to the artillery line in adjacent villages to give you direct reports in the zone of the advancing enemy. First we take you to the battery of the 22nd Field Artillery, located in the Watchtung Mountains.
Range, thirty-two meters.
Thirty-two meters.
Projection, thirty-nine degrees.
Thirty-nine degrees.
One hundred and forty yards to the right, sir.
Shift range... thirty-one meters.
Thirty-one meters
Projection... thirty-seven degrees.
Thirty-seven degrees.
A hit, sir! We got the tripod of one of them. They've stopped. The others are trying to repair it.
Quick, get the range! Shift thirty meters.
Thirty meters.
Projection... twenty-seven degrees.
Twenty-seven degrees.
Can't see the shell land, sir. They're letting off a smoke.
What is it?
A black smoke, sir. Moving this way. Lying close to the ground. It's moving fast.
Put on gas masks.
Get ready to fire. Shift to twenty-four meters.
Twenty-four meters.
Projection, twenty-four degrees.
Twenty-four degrees.
Still can't see, sir. The smoke's coming nearer.
Get the range. (COUGHS)
Twenty-three meters. (COUGHS)
Twenty-three meters. (COUGHS)
Twenty-three meters (COUGHS)
Projection, twenty-two degrees. (COUGHING)
Twenty-two degrees. (FADE-IN COUGHING)
Army bombing plane, V-8-43, off Bayonne, New Jersey, Lieutenant Voght, commanding eight bombers. Reporting to Commander Fairfax, Langham Field... This is Voght, reporting to Commander Fairfax, Langham Field... Enemy tripod machines now in sight. Reinforced by three machines from the Morristown cylinder... Six altogether. One machine partially crippled. Believed hit by a shell from army gun in Watchung Mountains. Guns now appear silent.
A heavy black fog hanging close to the earth... of extreme density, nature unknown. No sign of heat ray. Enemy now turns east, crossing Passaic River into the Jersey marshes. Another straddles the Pulaski Skyway. Evident objective is New York City.
They're pushing down a high tension power station. The machines are close together now, and we're ready to attack.
Planes circling, ready to strike. A thousand yards and we'll be over the first — eight hundred yards... six hundred... four hundred... two hundred... There they go! The giant arm raised...
Green flash! They're spraying us with flame! Two thousand feet. Engines are giving out. No chance to release bombs. Only one thing left... drop on them, plane and all. We're diving on the first one. Now the engine's gone! Eight... (PLANE GOES DOWN)
This is Bayonne, New Jersey, calling Langham Field... This is Bayonne, New Jersey, calling Langham Field... Come in, please...
This is Langham Field... Go ahead...
Eight army bombers in engagement with enemy tripod machines over Jersey flats. Engines incapacitated by heat ray. All crashed. One enemy machine destroyed. Enemy now discharging heavy black smoke in direction of...
This is Newark, New Jersey... This is Newark, New Jersey... Warning! Poisonous black smoke pouring in from Jersey marshes. Reaches South Street. Gas masks useless. Urge population to move into open spaces... automobiles use Routes 7, 23, 24... Avoid congested areas. Smoke now spreading over Raymond Boulevard...
2X2L... calling CQ... 2X2L... calling CQ... 2X2L... calling 8X3R... Come in, please...
This is 8X3R... coming back at 2X2L.
How's reception? How's reception? K, please (PAUSE)
Where are you, 8X3R? What's the matter? Where are you?
I'm speaking from the roof of Broadcasting Building, New York City...
I'm speaking from the roof of Broadcasting Building, New York City. The bells you hear are ringing to warn the people to evacuate the city as the Martians approach. Estimated in last two hours three million people have moved out along the roads to the north...
Hutchison River Parkway still kept open for motor traffic. Avoid bridges to Long Island... hopelessly jammed. All communication with Jersey shore closed ten minutes ago.
No more defenses. Our army is... wiped out... artillery, air force, everything wiped out.
This may be the last broadcast. We'll stay here to the end...
People are holding service here below us... in the cathedral.
Now I look down the harbor. All manner of boats, overloaded with fleeing population, pulling out from docks.
Streets are all jammed. Noise in crowds like New Year's Eve in city. Wait a minute... The... the enemy is now in sight above the Palisades. Five — five great machines. First one is crossing the river. I can see it from here, wading... wading the Hudson like a man wading through a brook...
A bulletin is handed me...
Martian cylinders are falling all over the country. One outside of Buffalo, one in Chicago... St. Louis... seem to be timed and spaced...
Now the first machine reaches the shore. He stands watching, looking over the city. His steel, cowlish head is even with the skyscrapers. He waits for the others. They rise like a line of new towers on the city's west side...
Now they're lifting their metal hands. This is the end now. Smoke comes out... black smoke, drifting over the city. People in the streets see it now. They're running towards the East River... thousands of them, dropping in like rats.
Now the smoke's spreading faster. It's reached Times Square. People are trying to run away from it, but it's no use. They're falling like flies.
Now the smoke's crossing Sixth Avenue... Fifth Avenue... a... a hundred yards away... it's fifty feet...
2X2L calling CQ... 2X2L calling CQ... 2X2L calling CQ... New York. Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone... 2X2L...
You are listening to a CBS presentation of Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air in an original dramatization of "The War of the Worlds" by H. G. Wells. The performance will continue after a brief intermission. This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.
As I set down these notes on paper, I'm obsessed by the thought that I may be the last living man on Earth. I have been hiding in this empty house near Grovers Mill — a small island of daylight cut off by the black smoke from the rest of the world.
All that happened before the arrival of these monstrous creatures in the world now seems part of another life... a life that has no continuity with the present, furtive existence of the lonely derelict who pencils these words on the back of some astronomical notes bearing the signature of Richard Pierson.
I look down at my blackened hands, my torn shoes, my tattered clothes, and I... try to connect them with a professor who lives at Princeton, and who on the night of October 30th, glimpsed through his telescope an orange splash of light on a distant planet.
My wife, my colleagues, my students, my books, my observatory, my... my world... where are they? Did they ever exist? Am I Richard Pierson? What day is it? Do days exist without calendars? Does time pass when there are no human hands left to wind the clocks?...
In writing down my daily life I tell myself I shall preserve human history between the dark covers of this little book that was meant to record the movements of the stars, but... to write I must live, and to live, I must eat... I find moldy bread in the kitchen, and an orange not too spoiled to swallow.
I keep watch at the window. From time to time I catch sight of a... Martian above the black smoke. The smoke still holds the house in its black coil, but... at length there is a hissing sound and suddenly I see a Martian mounted on his machine, spraying the air with a jet of steam, as if to dissipate the smoke. I watch in a corner as his huge metal legs nearly brush against the house. Exhausted by terror, I fall asleep... it's morning...
Morning! Sun streams in the window. The black cloud of gas has lifted, and the scorched meadows to the north look as though a black snowstorm has passed over them.
I venture from the house. I make my way to a road. No traffic. Here and there a wrecked car, baggage overturned, a blackened skeleton. I push on north.
For some reason I feel safer trailing these monsters than running away from them. And I keep a careful watch. I have seen the Martians... feed. Should one of their machines appear over the top of trees, I am ready to fling myself flat on the earth.
I come to a chestnut tree. October... chestnuts are ripe. I fill my pockets. I must keep alive.
Two days I wander in a vague northerly direction through a desolate world.
Finally I notice a living creature... a small red squirrel in a beech tree. I stare at him, and wonder. He stares back at me. I believe at that moment the animal and I shared the same emotion. . .the joy of finding another living being.
I push on north. I... find dead cows in a brackish field, and beyond the charred ruins of a dairy, the silo remains standing guard over the waste land like a lighthouse deserted by the sea. Astride the silo perches a weathercock. The arrow points north.
Next day I come to a city... a city vaguely familiar in its contours, yet its buildings strangely dwarfed and leveled off, as if a giant had sliced off its highest towers with a capricious sweep of his hand. I reached the outskirts. I found Newark, undemolished, but humbled by some whim of the advancing Martians.
Presently, with an odd feeling of being watched, I caught sight of something crouching in a doorway. I made a step towards it... it rose up and became a man! — a man, armed with a large knife.
(OFF-MIC) Stop!
(CLOSER) Where do you come from?
I come from... from many places! A long time ago from Princeton.
Princeton, huh? That's near Grovers Mill!
There's no food here! This is my country... all this end of town down to the river. There's only food for one...
Which way are you going?
I don't know. I guess I'm looking for — for people.
(NERVOUSLY) What was that? Did you hear something just then?
No... only a bird... (AMAZED) A live bird!
Yeah... You get to know that birds have shadows these days... Hey, we're in the open here. Let's crawl in this doorway here and talk.
Have you seen any... Martians?
Naah. They've gone over to New York. At night the sky is alive with their lights. Just as if people were still livin' in it. By daylight you can't see them. Five days ago a couple of them carried somethin' big across the flats from the airport. I think they're learning how to fly.
Yeah, fly.
Then it's all over with humanity.
Stranger, there's still you and I. Two of us left.
Yeah... They got themselves in solid; they wrecked the greatest country in the world. Those green stars, they're probably falling somewhere every night. They've only lost one machine. There isn't anything to do. We're done. We're licked.
Where were you? You're in a uniform.
Yeah, what's left of it. I was in the militia — National Guard?... Heh! That's good! There wasn't any war... any more than there's war between men and ants!
Yes, but we're... eatable ants! I found that out... What'll they do with us?
I've thought it all out. Right now we're caught as we're wanted. The Martian only has to go a few miles to get a crowd on the run. But they won't keep on doing that. They'll begin catching us systematic-like — keeping the best and storing us in cages and things. They haven't begun on us yet!
Not begun?
Not begun! All that's happened so far is because we don't have sense enough to keep quiet... botherin' them with guns and such stuff and losing our heads and rushing off in crowds. Now instead of our rushing around blind we've got to fix ourselves up — fix ourselves up according to the way things are NOW. Cities, nations, civilization, progress... done.
Yes, but if that's so... what is there to live for?
Well, there won't be any more concerts for a million years or so, and no nice little dinners at restaurants. If it's amusement you're after, I guess the game's up.
What is there left?
Life! That's what! I want to live. Yeah, and so do you. We're not going to be exterminated. And I don't mean to be caught, either! Tamed, and fattened, and bred, like an ox!
What are you going to do?
I'm going on... right under their feet. I got a plan. We men as men are finished. We don't know enough. We gotta learn plenty before we've got a chance. And we've got to live and keep free while we learn, see? I've thought it all out, see.
Tell me the rest.
Well, it isn't all of us that are made for wild beasts, and that's what it's got to be! That's why I watched you... watched YOU.
All these little office workers that used to live in these houses — they'd be no good. They haven't any stuff in 'em.
They used to run... run off to work. I've seen hundreds of 'em, running to catch their commuter's train in the morning afraid they'd be canned if they didn't; running back at night afraid they won't be in time for dinner. Lives insured and a little invested in case of accidents.
Yeah, and on Sundays, worried about the hereafter. The Martians will be a godsend for those guys. Nice roomy cages, good food, careful breeding, no worries.
Yeah, after a week or so chasing about the fields on empty stomachs they'll come and be glad to be caught.
You've thought it all out, haven't you?
Sure... you bet I have! That isn't all. These Martians, they're going to make pets of some of 'em, train 'em to do tricks. Who knows? Get sentimental over the pet boy who grew up and had to be killed... Yeah... and some, maybe, they'll train to hunt us!
No, that's impossible. No human being...
Yes they will. There's men who'll do it gladly. If one of them ever comes after me, why...
In the meantime... you and I and others like us... where are we to live when the Martians own the earth?
I've got it all figured out.
We'll live underground. I've been thinking about the sewers. Under New York there are miles and miles of 'em. The main ones are big enough for anybody. And there's cellars, vaults, underground storerooms, railway tunnels, subways...
You begin to see, eh? We'll get a bunch of strong men together. No weak ones; that rubbish — out!
As you meant me to go?
Well, I... gave you a chance, didn't I?
We won't quarrel about that. Go on.
Well... we've got to make safe places for us to stay in, see? Get all the books we can... science books. That's where men like you come in, see? We'll raid the museums, we'll even spy on the Martians.
It may not be so much we have to learn before — listen, just imagine this
four or five of their own fighting machines suddenly start off — heat rays right and left and not a Martian in 'em. Not a Martian in 'em, see? But MEN — men who've learned the way how. It may even be in our time.
Gee! Imagine having one of them lovely things with a heat ray wide and free! We'd turn it on Martians, we'd turn it on men. We'd bring everybody down on their knees!
That's your plan?
You, me, and a few more of us... we'd own the world!
I see...
(FADING OUT) Hey... hey, what's the matter?... Where are you going?
Not to your world!
Bye, stranger...
Well, after parting with the artilleryman, I came at last to the Holland Tunnel. I entered that silent tube anxious to know the fate of the great city on the other side of the Hudson. Cautiously I came out of the tunnel and made my way up Canal Street.
I reached Fourteenth Street, and there again were black powder and several bodies, and an evil ominous smell from the gratings of the cellars of some of the houses.
I wandered up through the Thirties and Forties; I stood alone on Times Square. I caught sight of a lean dog running down Seventh Avenue with a piece of dark brown meat in his jaws, and a pack of starving mongrels at his heels. He made a wide circle around me, as though he feared I might prove a fresh competitor.
I walked up Broadway in the direction of that strange powder — past silent shop windows, displaying their mute wares to empty sidewalks — past the Capitol Theatre, silent, dark — past a shooting gallery, where a row of empty guns faced an arrested line of wooden ducks.
Near Columbus Circle I noticed models of 1939 motorcars in the showrooms facing empty streets. From over the top of the General Motors Building, I watched a flock of black birds circling in the sky. I hurried on.
Suddenly I caught sight of the hood of a Martian machine, standing somewhere in Central Park, gleaming in the late afternoon sun. An insane idea! I rushed recklessly across Columbus Circle and into the Park. I climbed a small hill above the pond at Sixtieth Street and from there I could see, standing in a silent row along the mall, nineteen of those great metal Titans, their cowls empty, their steel arms hanging listlessly by their sides. I looked in vain for the monsters that inhabit those machines.
Suddenly, my eyes were attracted to the immense flock of black birds that hovered directly below me. They circled to the ground, and there before my eyes, stark and silent, lay the Martians, with the hungry birds pecking and tearing brown shreds of flesh from their dead bodies.
Later when their bodies were examined in the laboratories, it was found that they were killed by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared... slain, after all man's defenses had failed, by the humblest thing that God in His wisdom has put upon this earth.
Before the cylinder fell there was a general persuasion that through all the deep of space no life existed beyond the petty surface of our minute sphere. Now we see further. Dim and wonderful is the vision I have conjured up in my mind of life spreading slowly from this little seedbed of the solar system throughout the inanimate vastnesses of sidereal space, but... that's a remote dream. It may be that the destruction of the Martians is only a reprieve. To them, and not to us, is the future ordained perhaps.
Strange it now seems to sit in my peaceful study at Princeton writing down this last chapter of the record begun at a deserted farm in Grovers Mill. Strange to watch children... playing in the streets. Strange to see young people strolling on the green, where the new spring grass heals the last black scars of a bruised earth. Strange to watch the sightseers enter the museum where the dissembled parts of a Martian machine are kept on public view. Strange when I recall the time when I first saw it, bright and clean-cut, hard, and silent, under the dawn of that last great day...
This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that "The War of The Worlds" has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be. The Mercury Theatre's own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying Boo!
Starting now, we couldn't soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night... so we did the best next thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears, and utterly destroyed the C. B. S. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn't mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business.
So goodbye everybody, and remember please, for the next day or so, the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no Martian... it's Halloween.
Tonight the Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations coast-to-coast have brought you "The War of the Worlds," by H. G. Wells, the seventeenth in its weekly series of dramatic broadcasts featuring Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air.
Next week we present a dramatization of three famous short stories.
This is the Columbia Broadcasting System. 

And, if you like, you may download the original radio broadcast.

"The War of the Worlds (October 30, 1938)"

And finally:

Script of the 1953 movie of "War of the Worlds"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Solitude and TV character identification

I suppose there is no harm in this form of identification and it may well be symptomatic of a growing condition of individual isolation.

"Solitude contributes to a person's imagined intimacy with a TV character"


October 28th, 2009

A new study from the University of Michigan says lonely people may use television characters to cope with solitude and to feel a sense of belonging.

The study examines how social and emotional tendencies—social inclusion needs and solitude experiences—are related to people's imagined intimacy with media characters and emotional connection with television programs.

"Media programs are, after all, inherently social and may offer individuals a soothing if temporary replacement for genuine social interaction," said Dara Greenwood, assistant professor of communications studies who co-authored the study with Christopher Long, an assistant professor of psychology at Ouachita Baptist University.

More than 300 participants completed a questionnaire that looked at how the need to belong and different experiences of solitude (such as inspiring self-discovery, diversionary activities, or loneliness) contributed to increased emotional connection to TV characters and programs.

Solitude was defined for participants as time spent alone—or, if in the presence of others, without any social interaction. Participants rated the frequency with which they experienced different types of solitude as well as the importance they placed on these experiences.

After participants identified a favorite character or personality and the show they are featured on, they responded to 15 items to determine what imagined friendship and affinity for a media persona. Items include "My favorite TV personality seems to understand the things I know," and "My favorite TV personality keeps me company when his or her program is on television."

Results showed that increased affiliation needs (e.g., "I try hard not to do things that will make other people avoid or reject me") and lonely solitude experiences predicted increased emotional involvement with media characters. Engaging more intensely with media may be one way that individuals with unmet intimacy goals cope with loneliness, the research indicated.

Solitude experienced as self-discovery also predicted increased involvement with TV characters and programs.

"This underscores the emotional versatility of entertainment media and suggests that the alternative realities of movies or television programs may provide opportunities for imaginative and emotional processing that facilitate personal growth," she said.

This study found that, not surprisingly, the most popular characters were drawn from successful TV programs like "Grey's Anatomy" and "The Office." Most participants (218 people) selected fictional characters; the next most frequently chosen characters were real people, such as Oprah, reality show participants, and Jon Stewart (53 people); followed by cartoon characters (20 people).

"However, there may be a downside to this kind of attachment if the viewer in question idealizes the character and consequently holds her or himself up to unrealistic standards of physical attractiveness, romantic, or professional success," said Greenwood, whose research focuses on emotional well-being and media involvement and on young women's media affinities and self/body image.

Future research will continue investigating the conditions under which media involvement may be more or less beneficial to emotional well-being over the short and long term.

Rape of Mother and technology

"An Interview with Derrick Jensen on Science and Technology"

Against Prometheus


Frank Joseph Smecker

October 28th, 2009


Derrick Jensen is the prize-winning author of A Language Older Than Words, The Culture of Make Believe, Listening to the Land, Strangely Like War, Welcome to the Machine, and Walking on Water. He was one of two finalists for the 2003 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, which cited The Culture of Make Believe as "a passionate and provocative meditation on the nexus of racism, genocide, environmental destruction and corporate malfeasance, where civilization meets its discontents." He is an environmental activist and lives on the coast of northern California.

Frank Joseph Smecker: You write that this culture is murdering the planet – species extinction, entire continents of clear-cuts, the removal of 90 percent of the large fish from the oceans, global warming – all are but a handful of the dire effects of industrial civilization; how has philosophy shaped and influenced the behavior that has led to these despairing conditions?

Derrick Jensen: The stories we are told shape the way we see the world, which shapes the way we experience the world. R.D. Laing once wrote that how we experience the world shapes how we behave in the world. If the world is presented as resources to be exploited, then more than likely, you’re going to exploit the world. For example, if one sees trees as dollar bills, then one will look at trees and treat trees one way; if one sees trees as trees, for what they are – as other beings to be in communion with – then one will see them and treat them another way. Philosophy is the telling of the world a certain way.

FJS: Would you say that the stories and ideas passed on by Western philosophers and other ideologues, which have influenced the modern behavior of the dominant culture, are perpetuated through other mediums today?

DJ: Absolutely. Even today our media and entertainment present stories that affect our behavior. Take for example Ugly Betty – that new show on television. This is just cruel, and ultimately influences the way this culture sees and treats women. Personally, I think she’s fairly cute, and if I'm going to do the objectifying rating of women thing, scores easily a six or more on a scale of one to ten– but they throw some glasses and braces on her and suddenly the culture is telling us that she is ugly. My point is that in Hollywood, even someone who is explicitly labeled as "Ugly Betty" is still reasonably good looking. What does that, along with all the other images of women that are put out there, do to both women's and men's perception of women? Newspapers, too, are just as responsible. For example, I recently read an article in some newspaper about the decline of certain frog populations, and the header of the article read something along the lines as: “Another Frog Croaks…” What that does is trivializes… it makes a joke out of species extinction! Or how about the salmon that are going extinct? In this culture, if salmon are of no economic utility then what good are they? This seems to come from a place of hatred and narcissism. I write in Endgame how the narratives we are told shape the way we live. If you are told your entire life that only the most successful at dominating survive; that nonhumans have no desires of their own and are here for us to use; that the U.S. has your best interests at heart; that those in power hold some inherent moral and ethical value; that trees and mountains are resources to be extracted, then you will come to believe all of that and behave in the world one way. If the stories that are told are different, then you will come to believe and act much differently. If your culture told you stories since childhood that eating dog shit tasted good, that’s going to affect your behavior. What I mean by this is that if someone told you story after story extolling the virtues of eating dog shit since you were a child, you’ll grow to believe them. Sooner or later, if you are exposed to other foods, you might discover that eating dog shit doesn’t taste too great. Or if you cling too tightly to these stories of eating dog shit – that is if your enculturation is so strong that it actually does taste good to you, the diet might make you sick or kill you. To make this example less silly, substitute pesticides for dog shit, or for that matter, substitute Big Mac™, Whopper™, or Coke™. Eventually physical reality trumps narrative. It can just take a long time.

FJS: You often write that the dominant culture has robbed the world of its subjectivity; how does this influence our behavior? And if the stories we are told inculcate an objective perception of the world and those around us, then how do we shatter those lenses in order to begin perceiving the world for what it is – a matrix of subjective relations to be in communion with?

DJ: If you do not perceive the fundamental beingness of others (i.e. nonhuman animals, trees, mountains, rivers, rocks, etc), or in some senses do not even perceive their existence, then nothing I say or write can convince you. Nor will evidence be likely to convince you, since, as already mentioned, you won’t perceive it, or more accurately, won’t allow yourself to perceive it. No matter how well I write, if you have never made love, I cannot adequately describe to you what it feels like to do so. Even moreso, if you insist that no such thing as making love even exists, then I will certainly never be able to adequately explain to you what it feels like. For that matter, I cannot describe the color green to someone who is blind, and who even moreso insists that green does not exist, could never exist; as well as to someone who knows that philosophers from Aristotle to Descartes to Dawkins have conclusively shown that green does not exist, could not exist, has never existed, and will never exist; or to someone who is under the thrall of economic and legal systems (insofar as there is a meaningful difference, since the primary function of this culture’s legal systems is to protect—through laws, police, courts, and prisons—the exploitative activities of the already-wealthy) based so profoundly on green not existing; who cannot acknowledge that this culture would collapse if its members individually and/or collectively perceived this green that cannot be allowed to exist. If I could describe the color green to you, I would do it. I would drive you, as R.D. Laing put it, out of your wretched mind. And you might be able to see the color green. Or someone else could drive you out of your wretched mind. It certainly needn’t be me. I’m not the point. You’re not the point. Your perceived experience isn’t even the point. The point is your wretched mind, and getting out of it. And beyond that, the point then is your experience.

FJS: So to “see green,” figuratively speaking, is to experience the world personally, emotionally, convivially and reciprocally with other beings, rather than to experience it as a set of objective truths for personal material gain or information, or as protocol to maintain the status quo?

DJ: Exactly. This culture is based on the assumption that all of the world is without volition, is mechanistic, and is therefore predictable. The existence of the willfully unpredictable destroys a foundational assumption of this culture. The existence of the willfully unpredictable also invalidates this culture’s ontology, epistemology, and philosophies, and reveals them for what they are: lies upon which to base this omnicidal system of exploitation, theft, and murder; it’s much easier to exploit, steal from, or murder someone you pretend has no meaningful existence (especially if you have an entire culture’s ontology, epistemology, and philosophy to back you up), indeed, it becomes your right, even your duty (e.g. war, genocide, death squads, mercenaries, etc). The existence of the willfully unpredictable reveals this culture’s governmental and economic systems for what they are as well: means to not only rationalize but enforce systems of exploitation, theft, and murder (e.g., effectively stop Monsanto’s exploitation, theft, and murder, and see how you are treated by governments across the world).

FJS: So it’s really about personal experience over narrative, over inculcation?

DJ: In many ways it is. R.D. Laing began his extraordinary The Politics of Experience with: “Few books today, are forgivable.” He wrote this, I believe, because we have become very alienated from our own experience, from whom we are, and this alienation is so destructive to others and to ourselves, that if a book does not take this alienation as its starting point and work toward rectifying it, we’d all be better off looking at blank pieces of paper. I of course agree with Laing that few books today are forgivable (and the same is true for films, paintings, songs, relationships, lives, and so on), and I agree for the reasons I believe he was giving. This culture is murdering the planet. Any book (film, painting, song, relationship, life, and so on) that doesn’t begin with this basic understanding—that the culture is murdering the planet—is not forgivable, for an infinitude of reasons, one of which is that without a living planet there can be no books. There can be no paintings, songs, relationships, lives, and so on. There can be no dreams. There can be nothing.

FJS: It’s about experiencing a symbiotic world that is in dynamic equilibrium, not a world that is at our disposal. It’s about recognizing the pervading relationships between all of us: trees and fresh water, birds and wall-eyed pike, mountains and the sky, you and I; not about hours and wages, markets and policy, resources and industrial modes of production.

DJ: Correct.

FJS: The indigenous were and are in kinship with nonhumans, and in fact indigenous peoples never once held a utilitarian worldview over their landbase insofar as they perceived the natural landscape as a matrix of reciprocal relationships to enter into. Why do you think it is that the dominant culture cannot engage with the land in the same way?

DJ: In all of my books I’ve emphasized that the fundamental difference between civilized and indigenous ways of being is that for even the most open-minded of the civilized, listening to the natural world is a metaphor. For traditional indigenous peoples it is not a metaphor. It is how you relate with the real world. This culture’s way of life is based on exploitation, domination, theft, and murder. And why? Because it is based on the perceived right of the powerful to take whatever resources they want. If you see yourself as entitled to a resource, and if you’re not willing or incapable of seeing this other as a being with whom you can and should be in relation with, then you’re going to take the resource.

FJS: Do you believe that scientific philosophy galvanizes the exploitative utilitarian worldview?

DJ: Richard Dawkins, the popular scientific philosopher—he’s got almost as many Google hits as Mick fuckin’ Jagger—states that we exist in “a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication.” Implying that humans are the only meaningful intelligence on earth, and possibly in the universe, the world then consists of objects to be exploited, not other beings to enter into relationship with. Dawkins also writes: “You won't find any rhyme or reason in it [the universe], nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” Because the latter scientific assumption posits that nonhumans have no meaningful intelligence, they have nothing to say, to each other or to us. Thus interspecies communication is bunk, no matter who the nonhumans are: animals, plants, rivers, rocks, stars, muses, and so on. Anyone who thinks otherwise, and this is key, is superstitious, that is, delusional, maybe primitive, maybe crazy, maybe childish, maybe just plain stupid. Suddenly science has a stronger hold on one’s belief moreso than any religion. Scientific philosophy is much better at controlling people because if you don’t buy into it, you’re stupid. The fundamental religion of this culture is that of human dominion, and it does not matter so much whether one self-identifies as a Christian, a Capitalist, a Scientist, or just a regular member of this culture, one’s actions will be to promulgate this fundamentalist religion of unbridled entitlement and exploitation. This religion permeates every aspect of this culture.

FJS: In the book you wrote with George Draffan, Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, and the Culture of Control, you elaborated on the conflation of science and control; can you talk a bit about what you wrote? And would you agree that there’s also something to be said of this culture’s conflation of the power of command and truth?

DJ: Absolutely. First, if the scientific materialist instrumentalist perspective is right and every other culture is wrong, the universe is a gigantic clockwork – a machine: a very predictable and therefore controllable machine. Power in this case, then, is like meaning in that there is no inherent power in the world (or out of it)—just as no power inheres in a toaster or automobile until you put it to use—and the only power that exists is that which you project onto and over others (or that others project onto and over you). Power exists only in how you use raw materials – the more raw materials you use more effectively than anyone else, the more power to you. And science is a potent tool for that. That’s the point of science. This means, of course, that might then makes right, or rather, right, too, is like meaning and doesn’t inhere anyway—if nonhumans are not in any real sense beings and are here for us to use (and not here for their own sakes, with lives as meaningful to them as yours is to you or mine is to me) then using (or destroying) them raises no significant moral questions, any more than whether you or I do or don’t use or destroy any other tool—which means right is what you decide it is, or more accurately, it’s irrelevant, right is whatever you want it to be, which means it’s really nothing at all. But this malleable notion of right means that you can fairly easily talk yourself into feeling good about exploiting the shit out of everyone and everything else. If all of this sounds sociopathological, that’s because it is. Western philosophy and scientific philosophy is sociopathological, it finds logic through the power of command. It makes us all insane. Richard Dawkins wrote, “Science boosts its claim to truth by its spectacular ability to make matter and energy jump through hoops on command, and to predict what will happen and when.” Do you see the fundamental flaw in logic here? I’m guessing that if we lived in a culture that wasn’t sociopathological we would all see through this in a heartbeat. Let’s ask a simple question: How does science boost its claim to truth? Here is Dawkins’s (and the culture’s) answer: by making matter and energy jump through hoops on command, and by predicting what will happen and when. Do you see the problem yet? Okay, let’s try it a different way: Let’s say Dawkins has a gun. Let’s say he points this gun at your head. Let’s say he commands you to jump through hoops. Let’s say you do it. He does, after all, have a gun pointed at your head. Now, with this gun pointed at your head, he tells you to jump through those hoops again. And then he predicts that this is precisely what you will do. You do it. Whaddya know, he’s a fucking genius: He commanded you to jump through hoops, and he predicted right when you’d do it. Dawkins was with this sentence incredibly intellectually dishonest—and sneaky as hell—and the only reason he hasn’t been called out on it – and someone seriously needs to call this fucking guy out – is that he has a whole culture of sociopaths for company. He has conflated the power to command with truth. He has conflated domination with truth. But neither the power to command nor domination is the same as truth. The power to command is the power to command, domination is domination, and truth is truth.

Richard Dawkins could put a gun to my head. He could even kill me. But that wouldn’t mean that he is telling the truth. This culture is dominating the planet. This culture’s domination of the planet is killing it. That does not mean this culture is telling the truth, or is even capable of understanding it. At the same time, the power to dominate is a sort of truth. But there are other truths as well, that can be masked, obscured, or destroyed by this truth. An example should make this clear. Let’s say I force you to jump through hoops. Let’s say I enslave you. Are there not other truths that have been closed off because I forced you to jump through hoops, because I enslaved you? Any path forecloses others. Some paths foreclose more than do other paths. The same is true with truths: some paths to certain forms of knowledge, and some paths to certain forms of truth, irrevocably foreclose other paths to knowledge, and other paths to other truths.

I recently read an essay by Sam Harris, an ally of Dawkins and a full-blown nature-hater in his own right. The essay is entitled “Mother Nature is Not our Friend.” It begins, “Like many people, I once trusted in the wisdom of Nature. I imagined that there were real boundaries between the natural and the artificial, between one species and another, and thought that, with the advent of genetic engineering, we would be tinkering with life at our peril. I now believe that this romantic view of Nature is a stultifying and dangerous mythology. Every 100 million years or so, an asteroid or comet the size of a mountain smashes into the earth, killing nearly everything [sic] that [sic] lives. If ever we needed proof of Nature's indifference to the welfare of complex organisms such as ourselves, there it is. The history of life on this planet has been one of merciless destruction and blind, lurching renewal.”

The whole essay is as shoddy as it is full of nature-hating. I’m not sure why he couldn’t be bothered to spend a whole thirty seconds doing a Google™ search to learn that only one of the major mass extinctions was probably caused by an asteroid. I’m also not sure why he didn’t just say that nature is red in tooth and claw, and be done with it. The exploration of mass extinctions is based on data gathered by scientists using the premises, methods, and tools of science, then turned into stories by these or other scientists using the framework of scientific stories to assign meaning to these data points.

Big deal, you might say. Well, it is a big deal. The premises and other preconditions of any story nearly always overdetermine the direction of that story. They especially overdetermine a story’s morality, and even moreso they overdetermine the moral of the story (which is not the same as the story’s morality). And of course the story about multiple mass extinctions has a moral that is obvious at least to Sam Harris. This moral is precisely that of the larger scientific materialist instrumentalist mechanistic perspective, that, “Nature” is, as Harris says, “indifferent.” Or actually “Nature” is—as Harris would say were he a clear enough thinker to have even the slightest bit of internal consistency—even less than indifferent: “Nature” is insensate: indifference implies a capacity to feel. I can reasonably be described as indifferent as to whether the Knicks or the Spurs win tomorrow night. That may also be true for you. But one does not normally describe one’s clothes hamper as “indifferent” as to the outcome of tomorrow night’s game. I want to focus just a bit more on Harris’s sloppy word usage here, because I think it’s indicative of something far deeper than unclear thinking. Part of my clue for this is that his use of the word indifferent wasn’t the only interesting choice of words. Another was his title: “Mother Nature is Not our Friend.” I am fascinated by the fact that although people like Harris and Dawkins claim to believe that the universe is mechanistic, they so often use emotion-packed words like mother and friend and trust and merciless, and their language is quite often hostile, as though they’re describing not a machine as they pretend, but rather an enemy, or someone who has betrayed them. Think about this in your own life: how often have you said that your clothes hamper is not your friend? How often have you said your toaster is merciless? If you truly believe that something—something—is utterly insensate, you would hardly be likely to describe this thing as either a friend or an enemy or as anything other than a thing. These supposedly clear thinkers are, I believe, very confused in their thinking and most especially in what they feel about all of this, by which I mean what they feel about life. I can’t prove this, of course, but it seems very clear to me that the emotions they express toward life and toward the natural world are not the sort of neutral feelings one would normally experience and express toward an inanimate object, but rather a hatred toward, and fear of, life and the natural. I believe, and once again I can’t prove this, but it feels right, and has felt right since I first read Dawkins twenty years ago, that they really fear life, and fear death, and feel betrayed by life in part because they, too, like everyone else, must suffer, and they, too, like everyone else must die. The fact that they, too, must pay this price of suffering and death as a cost of participating in the joyous web of experience and relationship that is the ongoing and eternally creative process of living, somehow seems to them an affront. To which I have a two-word response: grow up. Clearly in their descriptions of life, they focus more on inherent suffering than they do on inherent joy and delight. Were they not so influential their perspective would merely be pathological and pathetic. As it is, their popularity is of course what one would expect it to be in a culture that hates and fears wild nature, that attempts to control and destroy wild nature, and that is in fact killing life on earth. The perspective of people like Harris and Dawkins (and indeed most people in this culture)—that of believing that the universe is “merciless” or is otherwise insufficient and needs to be significantly manipulated and/or improved in order to make it bearable—is a central perspective and driving motivator of the murder of the planet, and is in utter contrast to the perspectives and motivations of most of the indigenous, who generally perceive the natural world as sufficient, as bountiful, as beautiful, as generous, as provider, as mother, as father, as family. The perspective of people like Harris and Dawkins—the perspective that underlies civilization—is not only murderous, but it is also extraordinarily ungrateful.

Whether or not you believe the universe is mechanical, it gave you your life, your extraordinary, unique, awe-filled life. Unless your life truly is miserable, to not show gratitude for this gift is to show yourself a spoiled, immature wretch.

FJS: Has science provided the world with anything good?

DJ: That’s a very common question that is asked: Hasn’t science done a lot of good for the world? For the world? No. Show me how the world—the real, physical world, once filled with passenger pigeons, great auks, cod, tuna, salmon, sea mink, lions, great apes, migratory songbirds, forests—is a better place because of science. Science has done far more than facilitate the destruction of the natural world: it has increased this culture’s ability to destroy by many orders of magnitude. We can talk all we want about conservation biology and about the use of science to measure biodiversity, but in the real, physical world the real, physical effects of science on real, living nonhumans has been nothing short of atrocious. Science has been given three hundred years or so to prove itself. And of course three hundred years ago great auks (and fish, and whales) filled the seas, and passenger pigeons and Eskimo curlews filled the skies, and soil was deeper, and native forests still stood. If three hundred years of chainsaws, CFCs, depleted uranium, automobiles, genetic engineering, airplanes, routine international trade, computers, plastics, endocrine disrupters, pesticides, vivisection, internal combustion engines, fellerbunchers, dragline excavators, televisions, cellphones, and nuclear (and conventional) bombs are not enough to convey the picture, then that picture will never be conveyed.

Without science, there would not be ten times more plastic than phytoplankton in the oceans. The Nazi Holocaust was, as I made clear in The Culture of Make Believe, and as Zygmunt Bauman made clear in Modernity and the Holocaust, a triumph of the modern industrial rationalistic scientific instrumentalist perspective. Global warming, which may end in planetary murder, would not be running rampant without the assistance of science and scientists. Without science there would be no hole in the ozone. Without science and scientists, we would not face the threat of nuclear annihilation. Without science, there would be no industrial civilization, which even without global warming would still be leading to planetary murder. Sure, science brought us television, modern medicine (and modern diseases), and cardboard-tasting strawberries in January, but anyone who would rather have those than a living planet is, well, a typical member of this culture. If it’s the case that evolution happened so that we would come to exist, then it’s pretty damn obvious we’re fucking up whatever we were brought into being to do. How much sense would it make to have all of this evolution take place simply so that the point, the apex, the pinnacle of this evolution can end life on the planet? Talk about the world’s longest and stupidest shaggy dog story.

FJS: Is there any personal philosophy you do uphold? And is there any hope for the future survival of life on the planet?

DJ: Everything is circumstantial. We can definitely rely on tenets to guide our behavior, but ultimately, care about what happens in the world supersedes philosophy. We need to recognize that physical reality trumps our philosophy. Life is far more complex than philosophy can state. I can’t even figure out romantic relationships, or the relationship between what I eat and my Crohn’s disease. As for philosophy, it is like a map. The map is not the territory – the territory is far more complex than the map, and the constituents of the territory are even far more complex. Ourselves, trees, mountains, nonhuman animals – everyone alive in this world is far more complex than the philosophy or science that seeks understanding (viz. control). In all honesty, we can’t talk a philosophy. Philosophy teaches us how to live, so a philosophy must be land-based. Therefore, the philosophy of Vermont has to be different in Vermont than the philosophy of northern California. As for hope, hope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency. That's how we use it in everyday language: we don't say, "I hope I eat something today." We just do it. But the next time I get on a plane I hope it doesn't crash, because once I'm in the air I have no agency. So I don't hope this culture doesn't kill the planet: I'll do whatever it takes to stop it. I have agency. So do you. We must actively protect as much of the natural as possible. When we realize the degree of agency we actually do have, we no longer have to hope at all. Think about it: what is the real source of our life? Of our food, our air, our water? Is it the economic system? No. It’s the landbase. And those in the future will only care about whether or not we left them with clean air, clean water, and healthy intact landbases. The world is being killed and we have to stop this.

Thousands of years of inculcation and ideology all aimed at driving us out of our minds and bodies, away from any realistic sense of self-defense, real land stewarding, have gotten us to identify not with our bodies and our landbases, but with our abusers, governments, and civilization. Break this identification, and one’s course of action becomes much clearer. Love yourself and love the land, and each other, and you will act in the best interest of, and defend, your beloved. The material world is primary. This doesn’t mean that the spirit does not exist, nor that the material world is all there is. It means that spirit mixes with flesh. It also means that real world actions have real world consequences. It means this mess really is a mess, and we have to face this mess ourselves; that for the time we are here on Earth – whether or not we end up somewhere else after we die, and whether we are condemned or privileged to live here – the Earth is the point. It is primary. It is our home and it is everything. It’s silly to think or act or be as though this world is not real and primary. It is very silly to not live our lives as though our lives are real.

[Frank Joseph Smecker is a writer and social worker from Vermont.]