Sunday, August 12, 2018

First Contact

Meteor crosiing Andromeda galaxy: APOD Aug 12, 2018

To open ourselves to pleasure:
It's what the aliens want to teach us
For who would wish telepathic contact
with a world of whiners?

Aliens call Earth
"Planet of the Hates"
We are so bitter
so pain-obsessed
so cruel and full of malice.

All acts of love and pleasure
are invitations to alien contact
Are you ready to merge
with the Neighboring Other?

Have you freed yourself from hatred?
Have you made your mind a pleasure dome?
Have you adorned yourself as ready bridegroom?
Have you adorned yourself as temple prostitute
offering your golden body/mind at bargain rate?

Are you ready to merge 
with the Neighboring Other?
Have you prepared your body/mind 
as worthy playground
for beings with superior notions of play?
What substances have you ingested
to make your mind receptive
to unearthly forms of enjoyment?

Are you prepared to open your body
to alien pleasure transmissions?
Are you prepared to open your mind
to an otherworldly physics of orgasm?

Yes, they all want to marry our sisters.
And they want us to marry their sisters too.

All acts of love and pleasure
are invitations to alien contact.
Are you ready to join the Galactic Club?
They are opening their warm arms
their sticky tentacles
their moist fur-lined cavities
to Earth's uniquely beautiful males and females.

They know what they want.
They've made the first move.
They've touched us gently so as not to frighten.
For those with eyes to see
they are opening themselves 
and yearning for contact.

What then holds you back
from joining the Galactic Dance? 
What then holds you back
from wholeheartedly embracing
the beckoning Cosmos?

Nick at the God Farm, Boulder Creek, CA


Sunday, July 15, 2018

The KleurNet Interview

In the flower-filled back garden of Conrad Santos's Boulder Creek Bistro, Dutch entrepreneur and TV producer Luc Sala interviews visionary physicist Nick Herbert concerning mind, matter and quantum tantra for Luc's KleurNet Channel in Amsterdam.

Videoed by local media wizard Allan Lundell (now operating as Dr Future), Luc's interview succinctly captures the gist of Nick's dream of a new sensual science in a mere thirty minutes.

The best TV interview of Nick ever, on his home turf. All killer. No filler.

M57: the Ring Nebula

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Kalamidas Effect as Fake News

The Kalamidas Effect as Fake News

This month marks the 10th anniversary of Quantum Tantra blog for which I will soon be publishing a retrospective. But as I was reviewing dozens of exciting projects reported here, one event shone out in my mind, the day I was standing in my friend Reno's driveway overcome by intellectual ecstasy: I had calculated a way to send signals faster-than-light (FTL).

My thrill lasted only a few hours till a friend found an error in my calculation.

This particular FTL mind high was instigated by Demetrios Kalamidas, a Greek-American physicist, now employed by Raith Nanofabrication, who had recently published in an optics journal a particularly ingenious FTL communication scheme. The quest to refute Kalamidas's proposal was for me a particularly fine adventure: my brief ecstasy in Reno's parking lot was the result of calculating my own refinement of the Kalamidas effect; and it was Demetrios himself who pointed out my math mistake.

I called the Kalamidas proposal KISS (for Kalamidas's Instant Signaling Scheme) and documented the struggle to refute this scheme in six blog posts.

1. KISS: A New Superluminal Communication Scheme
2. Demetrios! The Opera
3. The Kalamidas Experiment
4. FTL Signaling Made Easy
5. Kalamidas Refuted
6. The Kalamidas Experiment -- Easy Pickins
A seventh post: 7. Some Notes on Quantum Entanglement provides useful background material for understanding FTL proposals of the Kalamidas kind.

When DK put forth his proposal, it attracted the attention of three prominent physicists, GianCarlo Ghiraldi (Trieste), John Howell (Rochester) and Christopher Gerry (CUNY), one of DK's former teachers, who each quickly came up with three different but quite solid refutations.

These three separate refutations should have put an end to the Kalamidas affair, but the feisty Greek came back fighting. Since you know I am wrong, Demetrios replied, it should be "easy pickins" for you to point out my specific mistake. General proofs are fine, but the devil is in the details. Show me that devil, Kalamidas challenged his critics.

The first detailed calculation of the Kalamidas effect was due to Martin Suda at the Technical University of Vienna followed by a similar calculation by Nick Herbert from Boulder Creek. Both of us showed why KISS wouldn't work but the physical meaning of some of the terms in our calculations were difficult for us to understand. But after much conversation, these difficulties were eventually resolved.

And that was the end of the KISS affair. Or was it?

One of the features of the Kalamidas proposal is its extreme cleverness, a feature, that in my opinion, has been insufficiently recognized and appreciated. I intend in this post to briefly explain the Kalamidas effect, and to show off its beauty by placing it in a more familiar context than the physics of photons.

Modern FTL communication schemes conventionally involve two QUANTUM-ENTANGLED photons A and B -- one sent to ALICE and the other to BOB.

Since Bell's Theorem seems to prove that entangled photons such as A and B are  instantly connected, there exists some hope that clever action by BOB on his (B) photon might have some measurable (and instantaneous) action on ALICE's distant (A) photon. However, by using the same quantum math that describes entanglement one can easily prove such instantaneous signaling to be impossible. (To which John Bell was said to have famously remarked that what impossibility proofs show is failure of imagination.)

The KISS scheme begins with a pair of PATH-ENTANGLED photons. This situation is difficult to visualize (because it's a quantum thing) but easy to produce in any modern optics lab. In the manner of Schrödinger's famous Cat, each photon takes two paths at once (path #1 and path #2) as long as you do not observe it. Furthermore, the path of Alice's photon A is perfectly correlated with the path of Bob's photon B: if photon A is observed to be present in its path A1, photon B will be found also in its path B1.

FIG 2 shows a path-entangled photon source S, sending one photon to Alice on the left and a second photon to Bob on the right. Under certain conditions a photon that takes two paths at once can be made to INTERFERE with itself. To prepare for this eventuality, Alice has constructed an INTERFEROMETER by combining her two photon paths at a 50/50 Beam Splitter BS(A) and by placing a variable phase-shifter Q in path A1.

To look for interference, Alice varies the phase Q of path A1. If two waves meet out-of-phase, they cancel one another, and no photons will be observed in Detector A3. In the other detector, waves will meet in-phase and all photons will be observed in detector A4. When the conditions for interference are met, Alice should be able, by varying Q, to vary the percentage of photons in counters A3 and A4 from 0% to 100%.

On the other hand, when the conditions for interference do not exist, the photon counts at Alice's detectors are always 50% each, no matter how she sets phase angle Q. FIG 2 shows such a no-interference condition (called "the Fock choice", for reasons I won't mention here). Because Bob has chosen to measure which path his photons take, his choice forces Alice's photons to take definite paths as well. Since only a photon that TAKES BOTH PATHS can interfere, Bob's choice of what to look at absolutely precludes any interference on Alice's part.

The gist of any purported FTL signaling scheme is to discover something that Bob can do with his two-path photon that will allow interference to occur at Alice's detectors. Fortunately this is easy to do.

As long as Bob makes any kind of measurement that reveals which path his photon took, he destroys any chance of interference. On the other hand if Bob makes a measurement which ERASES which-path information, then interference at Alice's site becomes possible.

The essence of the Kalamidas proposal is his discovery of a clever scheme that Bob can use for erasing his which-path information.

The simplest way that Bob can erase his which-path information is to create an interferometer just like Alice did. An interferometer combines both paths without prejudice. Once so combined, the question of "which path?" becomes meaningless.

FIG 3 illustrates Bob's choice to measure his photon using an interferometer (called "the Frost choice" for reasons not relevant here). Bob's choice does indeed lead to measurable interference at Alice's detector, but there is a condition on this interference that precludes using this setup for FTL signaling.

Bob's interferometer has two outputs, Detectors B1 and B2. If we just look at the output of B1 and what happens at Alice's detectors we observe a clear interference pattern P1.

Likewise, if we just look at output B2, we see an interference pattern P2 at Alice's interferometer.

However these two interference patterns, P1 and P2 are exact complements of one another, where one has peaks the other has valleys. The sum of P1 and P2 is exactly 50% in each of Alice's detectors, hence no interference pattern at all. This feature seems to be common to all putative FTL schemes of the path-entangled type -- that whatever interference pattern Bob's action creates at Alice's site will be exactly canceled by an equal and opposite anti-interference pattern.

The genius of the Kalamidas scheme was that he had apparently created a way that Bob could erase his which-path information without creating a self-canceling anti-interference partner.

Kalamidas begins with the simple which-path setup of FIG 2, and, rather than erasing or recombining Bob's two separate beams, he "ambiguifies" Bob's path information by randomly adding photons from a synced external source in such a manner that for a certain output (labeled (1,1), it is impossible to say which path the photon took. Furthermore, this process is asymmetric: there is no partner anti-process that might produce at Alice's site a self-canceling anti-interference pattern.

FIG 4 illustrates the "Kalamidas Choice". A mirror with reflectivity "r" is introduced into Bob's path B1. This mirror can add or subtract photons from Bob's beam. The added photons end up at detector B3; the subtracted photons end up at detector B4. The source of added photons is designated U1 which produces a single photon a% of the time; and no photon (100 - a)% of the time.

Using this setup, there are many outcomes where "which path Bob's photon took" can be inferred. But there is one special outcome where we are left in ignorance. This is the outcome [1,1] where both B3 and B5 detect a photon. Did the real photon take the upper path and a "fake photon" take the lower? Or did the opposite occur?

A simple physics calculation shows that this abiguification works. Whenever Bob observes the [1,1] outcome, a corresponding interference pattern appears at Alice's detectors. Furthermore, there seems to exist no obvious Bob outcome that could cancel out this singular effect.

I will return to the resolution of the KISS paradox, but first I would like to pursue an amusing metaphor inspired by Kalamidas's clever and beautiful scheme.

For each photonic event, Bob's two detectors can have several different outcomes but only four are important for this discussion. the outcomes [1,0]. [1,1], [0,1] and [0,0] where the brackets enclose the outcomes of detectors B3 and B5 thus [B3, B5]. Let's look at how each of these 4 outcomes might have been produced by the Kalamidas scheme.

1. The [1,0] outcome ostensibly represents TRUTH: one real photon ended up in detector B3. No "fake photons" were added. No "real photons" subtracted.

2. For the [1,1] outcome, one photon is "real", the other is "fake" (it came from the external U1 source, not the original entangled source S) but there is no way to tell which is which, so "which path" information is totally erased for this outcome.

But the situation rapidly gets more complicated as we can see here:

The [1,0] --> [1,1] is analogous to confusing an issue by deliberately adding "fake news". Suppose someone is claiming that certain towers were taken down by demolition charges rather than by airplanes. Instead of defending the airplane story, one can "muddy the waters" by publicizing a claim that the whole thing was "done by holograms".

One of the features of the Kalamidas effect is that, by virtue of the partially-silvered mirror, a photon can be lost from a beam as well as added. This can lead to the peculiar situation [1,0] --> [0,1] where a photon in the upper beam is incorrectly recorded as though it came from the lower beam. This outcome is produced when the upper mirror deletes the upper photon while the lower mirror adds a "fake photon". This complete reversal of the facts finds many an analogy in mainstream media which also employs both fact suppression and fake news oftentimes simultaneously. A common example is the fabrication of atrocities on the part of the enemy (fake news) while unreporting the atrocities carried out by "the good guys". I call this "switched news", in which the truth is the very opposite of what the media presents. As it turns out, "switched news" is crucial to the resolution of the KISS paradox: what prevents Kalamidas's clever scheme from working?

In the final Kalamidas transformation [1,0] --> [0,0], neither of Bob's primary detectors detects a photon. Whatever channel once held a photon, that photon has been censored, sequestered, quashed, hidden from public view, leaving no evidence of which channel it once occupied. In the media analogy, suppressing the true facts is a not uncommon way of conducting government business as the brave work of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and many others has shown. "What never happened" never needs to be justified.

Make no mistake, fake news, switched news and suppressed news is not confined to obscure photon physics experiments. It constitutes most of what you see and hear on TV. And other media forms are not immune.

Speaking of obscure photon physics experiments, we now return to the resolution of the Kalamidas proposal. As it turns out, all three of these fake processes add enough ambiguity to the question of which path Bob's photon took that they produce interference at Alice's distant site.

But where then is the anti-interference that usually appears to save the day in situations of attempted signaling using quantum entanglement? What exactly intervenes to prevent quantum time travel, humans messing with the past, and general disruption of the space-time continuum?

You might imagine that the [1,1] result is balanced by the [0,0] result, but actually they produce the same kind of interference.

Instead, as calculated first by Martin Suda in Vienna and Nick Herbert somewhere in the redwoods, what cancels out the "fake news" and the "suppressed news", which act in concert, is (surprisingly) the "switched news" which produces equal and opposite interference at Alice's site. No interference. No signaling, FTL or otherwise.

As illustrated by this calculation of interference at Alice's A3 detector as witnessed by my cat.


Monday, June 18, 2018

The Best Science

Sciencegasm by Rian Fike
(For John Bell)

The best science
Is done after midnight
In the darkest part
Of the night.

The best science
Is done
On hands and knees
Some obscure delight.

The best science
Is done
By two or by one:
A risky high-wire act
Which only few can see.

The best science done
Is done for fun
And love of mystery.

The best science
Where the darkness is deepest
Not merely to bring home a kill
But to become the very first seeker
Of a deeper darkness still.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Nick Chakras: Part Three

12 Cranial Chakras


Worship at your local TEMPLE
At the forward lobe dividing man from ape
And the hind brain situated near the NAPE
Then the CHEEK bones, the MAXILLA
And the MANDIBLE's estate.
Little landmarks on the skin. 
Toast skoal to the skull, your CRANIUM's domain
Protecting a thing thought useful called the brain.


Most creatures whom you meet today
Will be propped up by vertebrae
They'll have a PELVIS and a TAIL
A NECK and THORAX without fail.
Though all were born for different fates
Salute your fellow vertebrates.

What partners with the small of back?
Was a matter of no small debate
Both of them are saddle-shaped

Bring attention to the WHOLE body
Then turn your thoughts to a larger goal
Imagine all and everything you're not:
The Universe with a you-shaped HOLE.

Pelvis by Emma Craig

Nick Chakras: Part Two


This little PIGGIE went to Stanford
This little PIGGIE stayed in bed
This little PIGGIE joined the convent
This little PIGGIE got wed
This little PIGGIE texted Oui, Oui, Oui
On his iPhone.

Clever piggies in your HAND
Some piggies even play Chopin.


connected to
Humerus connected to
The ELBOW joint
Elbow connected to
Forearm connected to
The joint of the WRIST.

Now please
What's a nice girl like you doing
With joints like these? 


ANKLE joint
connected to
The SHIN bone
Shin connected to
The KNEE joint
Knee connected to
The THIGH bone
Thigh connected to
The joint of the HIP.

now please
What's a nice girls like you doing
With joints like these?


This little PIGGIE went to market
This little PIGGIE stayed home
This little PIGGIE ate roast beef
This little PIGGIE had none.
This little PIGGIE went Wee, Wee, Wee
All the way home.

Restless piggies in your FEET
Some piggies even live in Crete.

Exploring the little finger chakra

Nick Chakras: Part One


This being sucks energy out of the GROUND
Sitting tight and secure on its ROOT
Fulfilling your debt to the species with SEX
Ruled by BELLY the ego, the core absolute
The HEART has its reasons that bypass the brain
The THROAT fills your silence with history
The BROW vainly tries to make sense of it all
While the CROWN connects you to mystery.



To hear and see
To smell and feel
To taste and fabricate the vowels
And for breathing in and pushing out
Thank your servants LUNGS and BOWELS

Hindu Chakras: after Sir John Woodroffe

Friday, June 1, 2018

Nick Chakras 2018

84 Nick Chakras 2018

In the year 1918, Sir John Woodroffe, Indian High Court Judge and Sanskrit scholar, published his highly influential Serpent Power (under the pen name of Arthur Avalon) which introduced the Indian tantric notion of  "chakras" to the English-speaking world. These classical chakras, seven in number, form the central organs of a "psychic anatomy" -- seven physical locations in the body that also serve psychic functions as well.

One hundred years later, books on the chakras publish pictures of the same seven chakras with or without the elaborate decorations illustrated in Woodroffe's Serpent Power. Why only seven? I wondered. Has the last century witnessed no progress whatsoever in psychic anatomy? A century ago, physicists recognized only three elementary particles --  proton, neutron and electron. Now today's Standard Model shows us more than a dozen of the Universe's fundamental parts. Why aren't there more chakras than seven?

For more than fifty years, since I was working at a psychic bookstore in Menlo Park while studying physics at Stanford,  I have been considering this problem, working to rationally expand the traditional Hindu system of elementary bodily physical/psychical centers and have now reached a satisfactory conclusion.

A preliminary account of this research can be found here. 

What is a chakra anyway? At the very least it is a part of the body to which one can direct one's attention and observe what happens. Most of the time we take our body parts for granted. And except when they are in pain we pay them no mind. How might our life change if from time to time we systematically brought our attention to each particular body part with as strong a mental intensity as we could muster?

When I was a kid in Ohio, the floor of our boy's room (Nick and his brothers Tom and Duke) was covered with a gigantic linoleum map of the United States which we boys traversed in our imaginations using toy cars, planes, trains, trucks and tanks. Similarly one might regard Nick's 84 Chakras as a map of 84 of your body's principle cities (not including suburbs) and let your imagination go exploring.

Nick Chakras contain the classic seven Hindu chakras plus many extras. For the sake of symmetry I require each chakra to possess a partner chakra which is in some sense its consort, its opposite, its dark side. This partner chakra is designated symbolically by a black/white reversal. In most cases the "dark chakras" are located in the lower part of the body. For example, the Thumb Chakra's opposite is the Big Toe. And the classic Heart Chakra's opposite is the Belly Chakra.

In place of Woodroofe's spectral-colored, multi-leaved lotus symbols, I have chosen simple black-and-white symbols based on geometric shapes each intended to be suggestive of the body parts they signify.

Nick Chakras are divided into 5 categories: the Hindu Chakras, Spinal Chakras and Sensual Chakras, each with eight members, the Cranial Chakras with twelve members, and the Limb Chakras which possess 48 members. (8 + 8 + 8 + 12+ 48 = 84.

To the seven classic Hindu Chakras, I have added a "Ground Chakra" (whose opposite is the Crown Chakra) which I later learned corresponds to the Yung Chuan or "Bubbling Spring Chakra" of Taoist esotericism.  As a partner to the Lumbar Chakra I have added a "Perineum Chakra" which corresponds to the Chinese "Hui Yin" Chakra or "Gateway of Life and Death."

This post introduces the new chakra system. The following three posts will connect names to each symbol and clarify some of my choices:

Part One: Hindu and Sensual Chakras

Part Two: Limb Chakras

Part Three: Spinal and Cranial Chakras.
(Unlike the rest, none of the 12 Cranial Chakras is paired with a partner.)

I have constructed this new chakra system for the fun of it. My main interest lies in the search for a brand new science I call quantum tantra based on an as yet to be discovered quantum-inspired way of connecting with Nature.

I want to woo Her, not view Her
Pet Reality until She purrs
Longing to merge with Dame Nature bodily
Yearning to mingle my substance with Hers
And them content with merely observing
Are nothing but Nature's voyeurs.

Nick Chakras might be considered a map of naked-eye objects of the body compared to what the deep-space quantum compassionscopes of the future will reveal about the nature of Mind and its hidden relations to this marvelously agile meat machine.

Artist's conception of quantum-tantric chakras

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Khlit Coin

First example of a Khlit Coin? Artist's conception of an old US Silver Dollar infused with quantum-tantric vibes.


At the local bank a few days ago I was cashing a royalty check from one of my physics books.

 [Warning: gratuitous blog ad!] The book was Quantum Reality, Beyond the New Physics which more than 30 years after publication is still one of the royal roads to understanding why no physicist can tell his kids a believable story about how the physical world effortlessly comes into being. [End of blog ad.]

 As the teller was counting out my bills, I mentioned that I had once come across a bill with a lipstick kiss on it and speculated that her bank must get a lot of bills disfigured in unusual ways. She reached into her cash drawer and pulled out a big wad of bills that were worn, torn and otherwise degraded but none that seemed at first glace to be imaginatively defaced. In particular, in the Boulder Creek branch of Liberty Bank distressed currency stash, no kisses did I see.

A contemporary smooch for old Ben Franklin (from Bitter Lemon)
A few nights later, I was still wondering about unorthodox ways of infusing ordinary objects with non-ordinary energies. Kissed currency and the the occasional perfumed letter aside, I don't believe mere paper has much of a potential as a "psychotronic medium"? As we shall see, metals are more marvelous than paper on the quantum level, and may be the most appropriate medium for recording "psychic impressions" on every scale imaginable. Indeed some sort of ordinary metal object, acted upon in a seemingly preposterous way, might be the first concrete manifestation of quantum tantra among human beings. (More advanced cultures, I presume, have been practicing these sorts of things for millennia.)

Metals have a long history as containers for extra-physical powers. Besides coinage, which possesses a conventional secular power, one thinks of jewelry, holy medals, amulets, lucky charms, magic swords, the Holy Grail, and various rings of power, from Wagner to Tolkien to the simple Western wedding ring. But that's ancient history. What can we do now with metals in the modern quantum era that's akin to kissing a hundred-dollar bill?

From the quantum-physical point of view metals are well-understood. (Part of that quantum understanding has been utilized to create the multi-billion dollar semi-conductor industry). A metal consists of a regular crystal lattice of say, silver ions, interpenetrated by a number of bound electrons plus a delocalized gas of free electrons called the Fermi Sea after Italian physicist Enrico Fermi. Unlike the bound electrons, the electrons in the Fermi Sea can move about which accounts for the fact that metals are good conductors of electricity. For reasons which I don't completely understand (I am not a solid -state physicist.), the temperature of the electrons at the top of Fermi's Sea is hotter than the surface of the Sun.

Because the silver crystal lattice possesses different properties in different directions, the surface of the Fermi Sea is not spherical. The shape of the Fermi Sea illustrates how easy it is to pull an electron out of a silver crystal using an electric field acting in various directions.

Map of the silver Fermi Sea: from Tuo Li & W.A. Schroeder)
 The most peculiar feature of this diagram is that in certain special directions (shown in green) the Fermi Sea for silver exhibits "nipples" through which electrons can be "milked" most easily.

Building on our intimate technical knowledge of the quantum state of metals, the quantum tantrika is looking for a way in which metal objects can be filled with "psychic energy" of a (most probably) erotic nature.

More particularly, we want to take certain US quarters and "charge them up" in such a way that almost anyone (even dull old Nick Herbert) can sense their intrinsic "vibes". Women and men who by nature or by practice are more sensitive to such things should be able to unerringly select the single "charged up" coin from a pile of ordinary pocket change.

This new psycho-erotically enhanced medium of exchange is expected to possess large intrinsic value among those prepared to appreciate such worth. I have christened this new quantum tantric currency the "Khlit Coin" (rhymes with "Bit Coin"), in honor of Khaliqium, the fundamental immaterial substance whose discovery is destined to completely transform our world, and which itself is named after one of Islam's Ninety-Nine Names of God.

Men who find themselves able to produce such coins out of ordinary US quarters could be called Khlit-coin Mint Masters. Women with this power: Khlit-coin Mint Mistresses. To the ordinary person these chosen few would seem to be creating value out of nothing (similar to the fractional reserve banking system for normal unenlightened currency) but that would be a big mistake. These Masters and Mistresses of the Khlit-coin Mint are encouraged by quantum mechanics and so begin their work not with ordinary nothing, but with the Deep Nothingness that lies at the world's very foundations. (See Physics for Beginners.)

Pay close attention, pal, the next time some beautiful being presses a quarter into your hand. It might be HOT!

Two once-ordinary US quarters fresh from a Khlit-coin Mint

Friday, May 18, 2018

Ode to HIV

HIV virus: a subtle and beautiful enemy

If you seek peace
Prepare for war.
        -- Vegetius

HIV by itself isn't fatal
It merely opens the gate
To opportunistic diseases
Put here like you to replicate.

Who want to swarm over your borders
Uncivilized, unkempt and unfed
Viral barbarians, bacterial Vikings
Make you crippled, wounded and dead.

HIV is a fervent pacifist
A world without war is the slogan it chants
By disarming your violent immunity system
Compelling your body to give peace a chance.

Friday, May 4, 2018


Megellanic Clouds above Laguna Lejia, Chile

(for Ezra Pound)

Saturday night in the Santa Cruz Mountains
Power knocked out by two days of storm
Lull in the rain, clouds clearing
Awakened by bright moonlight filling my bedroom
I walk barefoot out onto the debris-strewn deck
See winter stars: 

Orion, Pleiades, Cepheus, Cassiopeia
Sparkling through the scudding clouds
Raw moonlight illuminating the glistening forest
Like a Spielberg alien contact set
I watch lightning sparking, thunder grumbling
Inside mammoth clouds retreating to the East.

The Greek word for "beauty"
(Cognate to "cosmetic")

That's what our predecessors called this world
Cosmos was their word for Everything
Cosmos: one name for All Phenomena

Inside and out
One name for this uncanny experience
Spread open for all conscious beings
For you, for me, for the fish in the sea.
This one equation:

Cosmos equals Beauty.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The New Flute

Nick playing a (Guinness aluminum) Irish whistle

A dozen years ago I fell in love with Irish music and begin to practice the Irish whistle -- in private, in small groups, in various Irish sessions in Santa Cruz and as part of a band named Blarney.

Last month my friend and bodhran virtuoso, August O'Connor and I played for a party in a cliff-side hacienda called "the SkyPad" with gypsy fiddler Elijah Ray -- we really rocked, one of the most memorable moments of my musical career. A couple of weeks later, August and I were eating supper with Baron, the proprietor of the SkyPad, when he offered me a concert flute that he had just acquired.

"Sure, Baron, compared to the whistle, it takes a thousand years to learn to play a flute."

"Well, bring it back if it doesn't work out for you"

Armstrong 201 Student Flute

So, for better or worse, I now possess a concert flute to experiment with.

The difference between an Irish whistle (also called a "fipple flute") and a concert flute is immense. Like going from riding a tricycle to riding a bicycle. Or, with my moderate musical skill, like going from a tricycle to a unicycle.

Besides a larger number of holes and more complicated ways of opening them (the whistle has only six holes covered by bare fingers), the root sound of the flute is accomplished through a tricky interaction between the player's lips and the flute's tone hole -- a procedure called "embouchure" which is French for something that you do with your mouth to coax music out of a tube's aperture by blowing across it.

To play the whistle, on the other hand, you produce the root sound by simply blowing into its "fipple" which is a fixed, mechanical embouchure made of plastic, wood or metal. Since its embouchure is fixed, there is not much that you can do with your lips to change the sound of the Irish whistle. Most of the whistle's subtlety is achieved by fingering rather than breathing.

The concert flute consists of three parts, the head joint, the foot joint and the body. The head joint is where the root sound is produced and the rest of the flute acts to modulate this root sound in various ways.

The first exercise in taking up the flute consists of practicing with the head joint alone. And exploring how to produce the perfect embouchure that brings out a loud, clear and consistent root tone. Most of the ways that you can blow into the head joint produce no tone at all, only the sound of rushing air. Like so many other things in life, the perfect flute embouchure is surrounded by lots and lots of wrong ways to blow into that tone hole. The path to mastery is bordered by a million mistakes.

Before the Internet, a music student would seek out a tutor to guide him or her over the rough spots, to show first hand how one can learn from mistakes, and to serve as a living example of what you might be able to accomplish some day. I will certainly seek a few personal lessons, but for starts I'm going to the web where there are dozens of people who want to teach me how to play the flute.

For instance, this nice lady with glasses gives you a first lesson in embouchure. If one picture is worth a thousand words, one video is worth a thousand pictures. I've watched this video a dozen times and still can't easily produce a root tone. But each day I am getting better.

Learning to play the head joint (closed position)
The Internet has the ability to put the student in contact not only with talented amateurs and teachers but with instrumental super stars, such as Sir James Galway (who, among other honors, played flute and Irish whistle for the film version of Lord of the Rings). Galway has produced a series of short YouTube videos called "first flute" that includes this wonderful little lesson on playing the head joint.

Galway playing the head joint (open position)
Taking up a new musical instrument is like traveling to an invisible new country, populated by people with a wide range of experience, stories and accomplishments on that instrument. The process of learning to play the flute consists of letting the instrument itself teach you a new way of kissing (embouchure) that opens up the secret door to making music in this peculiar way. Suggestions for exploring the flute country abound. My friend, Kim Fulton-Bennett, member of Blarney and flute player since his teens, suggested that after practicing with the head joint, I mindfully consume a bottle of Guinness stout and play with my embouchure by blowing across the top of the empty bottle.


Bring attention back to breath
Hours of mindful focus on lips
Is the flautist a species of musical Buddhist?
Do flute players give unforgettable kiss?

Now breathe from your belly
Set thinking on "Less"
Proceed with compassion
Pay heed to the beat.

Lip kiss the Emptiness.



Lord Krishna playing his flute

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

St. Patrick's Day 2018

Matt, August and Kim at the Kelly house party
Nick at the Kelly house party
This St Patrick's Day the Kelly family of Boulder Creek invited our Blarney band to entertain at a gathering of some of our uncommon rural community's elite movers and shakers. Generous servings of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes plus glasses of the traditional harp-labeled beer fortified the laddies, lasses and leprechauns, one of whom was wearing a derby crowned by flashing green lights. And during the break we were made a offer we could hardly refuse: "Would the band be wanting a beverage?" Thank you, Kellys and crew for a memorable celebration.

Also to commemorate this holy Irish saint's day, Trader Joe's Market featured "Blarney Scones" on their bread shelf, Ancestry DNA offered to verify your Celtic ancestry for a reduced price (according to Ancestry DNA, mainly Slovak Nick is 2% Irish) and drunken poets everywhere were reciting the fine verses of William Butler Yeats.
William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth
I look at you, and I sigh. 

The following evening, fair colleen Sun McNamee Lundell (also known as "Mrs Future") celebrated her birthday with dozens of friends at a beach house in Aptos. In one small segment of the multi-talented festivities, August and Nick took up their instruments and played jigs and reels while Corinna danced her heart out. For the time it took to perform a few lively tunes, the three of us seemed to merge for a while into one joyous organism -- being one part of that unplanned musical threesome was one of the high points for me of this year 2018 St. Paddy's Day weekend.

Nick, August and Corinna channel the high spirit of Irish music.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Saint Valentine's Day 2018

Mom's wedding day: Mary Agnus Herbert (1914 - 1989)
Four for Fourteenth of February:

Stonehenge, Hill of Tara
New Grange, Glastonbury Tor.
My sacred sites are her eyes,
Her nipples, the whorls on her fingertips --
Are the origins and insertions of her muscles
Are the places where her bones meet
Are the follicles of her hair
Are the pads of her feet, her buttocks, the slots
Between her toes.

Admiring the play
Of morning light on your body
I imagine what brought us to this place
At this time, in our several eye-catching forms.
I am thinking of that primordial alphabet soup
from which we both emerged
Of our speechless common ancestors
copulating in warm moonlit marshes
Exchanging flesh-to-flesh life's salty broth:
the sacrament of sex
Our lusty lineage:
snake-like, cat-like, ape-like fathers and mothers
Do this in remembrance of them:
Eat my body; drink my blood;
accept my genes; bear my children.
I am thinking of the early macroplasm,
of the hot sticky honey of creation
I am thinking of Original Mind's 

world-creating yearning
(I was a Hidden Treasure 

and desired to be known)
Imagining how that Deep Maternal Urge 

must have felt as she squeezed each of us
out into this bright world
fresh, wide-eyed, laughing, sticky, nude.

Each human language embodies
A new way of grasping with chatter
Ourselves, this world, its creatures
From microphage to Mad Hatter:
Nick's scratching his head for a language
To send valentine greetings to matter.

I wanna wham Mama Nature
in a warm wet dream
Wanna strum Her pond, palpitate Her stream
Wanna feel Her quiver like a tambourine
Wanna hear Her E equals MC scream!

Industrial-strength Quantum Tantra:


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Quantum Touch

Lavabo inter innocentes et circumdabo altare tuum.

(For Shasta)

As with amber and the lodestone
She hides Her hints in plain sight.
The Hindus called it shaktipat:
A body blessing with a bite.

Franz Anton Mesmer's animal magnetism.
William Blake's "energy is eternal delight".
If Mind be the New Physics wild card
Could mindful massage flood Nick with light?

As the Sacred Secret leaks in
Thru your skillful hands on my skin
Can I truly feel Her Deep Emptiness
Improvising this illusion mid flight?
Birthing the Universe just once was not enough:
Now each moment feeds Her Boundless Appetite.

HAMSA: Hand of Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Mohammed

Monday, January 22, 2018

Four on the Floor

Nick Herbert at Perihelion Party 2018

Our most dangerous patients
are experts
at keeping their sicknesses hid.
If Jack Sarfatti's the New Physics Ego
does that make Nick Herbert
the Id?

(For Jeffrey Kripal and Dale Pendell)

I want to become a second Heisenberg
the Walter White of tantric history
by devising a clever new path
for exploring the body/mind mystery.

A tantra path inspired by quanta
as open and easy as breath
convincingly beautiful
breathtakingly erotic
as addictive as crystalline meth.

The addictive religion of materialism

constipates our strong and deep imaginings.
Will this brash new way of flirting with Nature
help us feel and touch the dear reality of things?


Herr Professor
You are now world famous
for discovering
the Black Cosmic Crack.

Now please tell us your secret:
Which Alma Mater
best taught you
how to put Frau Natur
to the rack?


Like the Dalai Lama.
I too am a student
of tantric Buddhism.

Empty the mind of thought
Empty the mind of words
That's plenty for tonight, pilgrim,
Let these teachings stick.
Next session we'll be tackling
Empty the mind of "Nick".

Deer Dalai Lama: Camp Climax, Boulder Creek

Monday, January 15, 2018

Love (Planet-Earth Style)

Dragon's Heart Nebula in Ara, the Altar

For the love of my extended tribe
My nation ruthlessly smothers all others.
For the love of our own kind
With corn, wheat, rice, roads and cities
My species carelessly drives
Numerous non-human beings
From their homes.

For the love of this lucky embodiment
Predator Nick feasts on tasty prey.
For the love of me (their sovereign)
Nick's personal antibody assassins wage
Hundreds of necessary genocides.

Someday I too will die
From a greater love than me
Wondering whether other worlds require
A love based on biology.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Quantum Tantra: Five Opening Moves

Nick Herbert, Boulder Creek Bistroscene, 1997


Over the past thirty years my friend Allan Lundell (known today as "Doctor Future") has been videoing the goings-on at the fringes of contemporary culture, from Luc Sala's visionary video station in Amsterdam to Alison Kennedy's Mondo 2000 salon in Berkeley, to Ken Kesey, Terence McKenna and Tim Leary productions in San Francisco, California and other altered states here and abroad. Allan is currently archiving and standardizing his videos (which were captured in many formats and media over the years) and occasionally sharing a few clips from these "Future Peak Video Archives" with his friends. Thanks, Al.

For instance, Allan recorded many performances of the long-running legendary Bistroscene in Boulder Creek, CA and environs, during which a large number of locals released their pent-up creative energies into an wide-open and enthusiastic audience, many of whom were themselves waiting to mount the stage. Yesterday at the gym, Allan handed me a thumb drive of a few of these video clips, including one of my own Bistroscene performances two decades ago, which I now call Quantum Tantra: Five Opening Moves. 

For fans of quantum tantra and for posterity's sake, I now post the text of that reading plus Doctor Future's valuable video of that splendidly memorable event:


The purpose of yin-style Ki Gung
a practice I've barely begun
is to open up holes
whose delicate roles
will surpass the tact of the tongue.

To the novice the biggest surprise
is to see without using his eyes
the numerous threads
connecting our heads
and the ribbons entangling our thighs.

With new orifices, apertures, holes
new meanings, new purposes, goals
we've opened our hearts
and our new private parts
to an invisible Network of Souls.

Thru our tantric antenna array
we find new things to hear and to say
to our lovers in bed
to the recently dead
to our friends from the Deep Milky Way.

We fornicate photons in chemical trances
we welcome fresh alien sexual advances
we're big girls and boyses
who've outgrown our toyses
we've extraterrestrially opened our pantses.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Delight in Disorder

Robert Herrick, Cavalier poet (1591 - 1674)


A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness :
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction :
An erring lace which here and there
Enthralls the crimson stomacher :
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly :
A winning wave (deserving note)
In the tempestuous petticoat :
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility :
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.

Sweet Disorder by Diana Warnok