Sunday, September 12, 2021
Monday, August 2, 2021
|Erato, Muse of Poetry: Sir Edward Poynting (1836-1919)|
In science, music, art and even in ordinary conversation, where does inspiration come from? Often fresh ideas that well up in my mind both in dreams and in waking life seem so strange that it is easy to imagine that they come from somewhere outside myself. Thus the notion of a Muse is born, an actual disembodied entity, conventionally female, who favors the artist from time to time with hints and nudges of where to go next.
"Seems like another lifetime... The Holy Hemp Sisters, educating about the virtues of cannabis through outreach and events, 1990s. Special thanks and gratitude to Theodora Kerry for her tireless leadership, creativity and vision. Also to Sandra Pastorius for her wisdom words and tech skills at the time.
We put on some well attended creative events, Hemp Hop Heaven, and The Hallowed Weed (Oct 31), come to mind, along with many booths at festivals and street corners. One year we had a booth at the county fair and a fundamental Christian group labeled us witches and put out a flyer using the cauldron photo that we created for the Hallowed Weed event. Teehee... we got a kick outta that!
When Theodora and I were at the Jazz Heritage Festival in New Orleans, 1991, we got the news that the HH Sisters were mentioned in an article on the front page of the Wall St Journal. That was an awesome time, the good ol' days."
Friday, July 2, 2021
|Nick Herbert, Quantum Tantric Philosopher|
As long as I've known him, my friend Alan Lundell has always carried a video camera on his person to record a kind of visual diary of the many events he originated or participated in from numerous Burning Mans, to lots of private parties, to lifting weights at the gym, to backstage celebrity scenes. So ubiquitous is Alan's camera that the word in philosophy circles became this: if a tree falls in the forest, and Alan doesn't video it, then that tree never fell.
One of the events that Alan happened to memorialize was the Boulder Creek Bistroscene where for ten or fifteen years, crazy poets came out of the woods to share their outpourings with one another and with an enthusiastic audience. Al managed to video a number of these gatherings and so convey on them a concrete reality they otherwise would never possess.
I recently ran across one of these Lundell-memorialized events on my computer while searching for something else. This one is myself reading a recipe for the best possible sex.
Thank you, Alan Lundell, for recording this historic event.
Here's how it goes:
Thursday, June 24, 2021
|Lex Pelger, Summer 2017|
Lex Pelger is a longtime explorer of forbidden medicine, outlawed sacraments and unconventional behavior, both as chronicler and participant. I first met Lex in 2017 at Bruce Damer's Digibarn in Boulder Creek where he was researching a section of Damer's Timothy Leary archives. Recently he's created his own Lex Files, a series of audio (and now video) interviews with persons working at the edge that have attracted his interest. Lex began this project in January 2020 and has since produced nearly 50 high quality interviews with a variety of individuals which include Britta Love on Sex as a Psychedelic (#11), Erik Davis on UFOs as Spiritual Objects (#16), Mike Crowley on The Psychedelic Roots of Buddhism (#30), Jeffrey Kripal on Mysticism, the Supernormal and Books from the Future (#34), Harald Atmanspacker on The Mind/Matter Problem (#48) and, most recently, Nick Herbert on The Poetry of Quantum Reality (#49).
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
|Fractal-prism Bubbles by Tammy Wetzel|
Saturday, June 5, 2021
|Nick in his new bath pavilion|
40 MEMORABLE FUCKS
Actually some of My Forty Fucks are not sexual at all but what they have in common is a strong and instructive connection with The Mysterious Other -- in this particular list I define The Other to be a member of the opposite sex.
Sometimes on various mind-altering drugs. Sometimes completely straight.
Just for fun a while ago I made a list of (for me) Forty Memorable Fucks. Since then I have added more items, both through subsequent happenings plus reminiscences of ones I'd long forgotten.
It's more than forty now.
Are you the least bit interested in exploring what sexually astonishes you? I encourage you to put together your own list of memorable fucks. Since I was somewhat shy and ignorant in those days, your list will probably be much much longer than mine.
Here's one simple example of a (non-sexual) incident from my list. It may not mean that much to you but it seemed at the time profoundly important and insightful to me.
Your fuck memorable mileage may vary of course.
South of Esalen Institute in Big Sur a public campground is located near the beach at Lime Kiln Creek. There's also a restricted access private campground that extends into the hills and encompasses the actual lime kilns for paying customers only and (in our case) we were friends with the manager of the camp.
My future wife Betsy Rasumny and I car-camped at the private Lime Kiln park, spending a few days there, and decided to explore the premises on LSD. We wandered up to the famous lime kilns and viewed them in their ritualistic splendor.
Betsy was a dancer trained both in ballet and dance improv in New York City and at the late Ann Halprin's Dancer's Workshop in San Francisco. So I was surprised when we crossed Lime Kiln Creek barefoot (and probably naked as well) that she was stumbling over the smooth rocks that lay beneath the surface of the stream, while I (totally untrained in dance) had no problem in skillfully traversing this little Big Sur rivulet.
"Hey Betsy," I shouted. "I thought you were a dancer. What happened to your gracefulness?"
Betsy looked me straight in the eye and replied: "Nick dear, dance is not only about grace."
And in that moment I wordlessly realized that she with her seemingly clumsy movements was moving fully in the imperfect moment while I, who am accustomed to seeing life more as a problem to be solved rather than a miracle to be savored, was experiencing what was happening from a totally different perspective.
It's not that her way was better than mine. But her answer raised a question in my mind that persists to this day.
Betsy was expert in living in the present; Nick's monkey mind is usually somewhere else entirely .
Is being clumsily fully present better than being gracefully fully in charge?
In Esalen co-founder Mike Murphy's terms, what is the way to more deeply employ and enjoy "this life we are given?"
And could your own Five or Five Hundred Memorable Fucks become useful clues for learning to live more fully this strange miracle of waking each morning inside a needy animal body?
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
|Lao Tzu, the "Old Master"|
FIVE VIEWS OF LAO TZU
In the late 60s I discovered the Tao Te Ching, a 2500-year-old Chinese text attributed to Lao Tzu, the "Old Master", which forms the basis of Taoist philosophy and is one of the world's most translated books. Over the years I've collected about a dozen versions of this Chinese classic and would like to share five of my favorites here.
"Tao Te Ching" literally means "Way Virtue Book"or "Book of the Virtue of The Way" and its 81 concise chapters concern themselves with eliciting the nature of The Way (Tao) and how and why one might best follow that Way. Tao might also be construed to mean "Nature", both physical nature and especially human nature. The Tao Te Ching tries to capture the unspeakable elusiveness, ambiguity and power of human and physical nature, The Chinese character "Tao" is also the "-do" in Aikido, Tai Kwan Do and similar oriental martial arts. Spontaneous dance, jazz improv, surfing: each a splendid embodiment of the Tao. Especially surfing.
The popular philosopher Alan Watts never attempted a translation of this ancient Chinese text. But Watts did write a book on Taoism naming it "The Watercourse Way."
Bushido (Japanese): the way of the warrior.
In keeping with the quirky nature of this sacred Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching begins with a pun. The Chinese character "Tao" can mean both "the Way" and "to speak". So the first line of the watercourse way can be rendered "The tao that can be taoed is not the tao." From then on it just gets deeper.
Here I'm posting five different versions of Lao Tzu's first short chapter by five very different translators (including myself).
First up is Ursula Le Guin, a prolific author of science fiction and fantasy, whose NAFAL (Nearly-As-Fast-As-Light) starships and her instant ansible communicator entered the sci-fi canon and has been adopted by other writers. Le Guin's stories, however, are not primarily about hardware but about people, and about cultures depicted in empathetic and imaginative prose. Of the five translators, Le Guin, because of her sympathetic treatment of so many of her fictional people, seems best positioned to express the human nature of the Watercourse Way.
The way you can go
isn't the real way.
The name you can say
Isn't the real name.
Heaven and earth
begin in the unnamed:
name's the mother
of the ten thousand things.
So the unwanting soul
sees what's hidden
and the ever-wanting soul
sees only what it wants.
Two things: one origin
but different in name,
whose identity is mystery.
Mystery of all mysteries!
The door to the hidden.
|US postage stamp honoring Ursula Le Guin|
When I was working at Memorex in Silicon Valley, on my long drive home to Boulder Creek, I would sometimes stop for hot tub, tea and conversation at Stillpoint, a mountain top retreat center presided over by Gia-fu Feng, who taught Tai Chi and kept the books on his abacus in the early days of Esalen Institute. Gia-fu christened my son Khola at Stillpoint and gave him a Chinese middle name "Shou" which means 'long life". Gia-fu and his wife, physicist/photographer Jane English put together one of the most physically beautiful versions of the Tao Te Ching illustrated with Jane's evocative black-and-white photographs and Gia-fu's hand-drawn calligraphy. Of all five translators (including me) Gia-fu is the only one that spoke Chinese.
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name:
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.
|Gia-fu Feng at Stillpoint|
Next up is former Harvard professor and LSD advocate Timothy Leary. I interacted many times with Leary (never got stoned with him) in several different contexts. Leary holds the unusual distinction of being arrested and imprisoned for carrying (a tiny bit of) marijuana INTO MEXICO. Even after drugs Leary was an instinctive academic and wrote lots and lots of books about his experiences with these then-outlawed mind-altering substances. Leary's version of the Chinese classic, Psychedelic Prayers, imagines that the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching describe the perfect acid trip.
That Which is Called The Tao
Is Not The Tao
The flow of energy . . . . . .Here . . . .
It . . . . . .
Is . . . . . .
Nameless . . . . .
Timeless . . . . .
Speed of light . . . . .
Float . . . . . . beyond fear . . . . .
Float . . . . . . beyond desire . . . .
Into . . . . . this Mystery of Mysteries
through this Gate . . . . . of All Wonder
|Dr. Timothy Leary, PhD|
My first literary introduction to the Pathless Tao was via The Way of Life by Witter Bynner. Bynner was a Harvard graduate, a scholar and writer who divided his time between Sante Fe, NM and Chapala in Mexico. Bynner was a close friend of D. H. Lawrence with whom he explored Mexico and gathered experiences that inspired Lawrence's novel The Plumed Serpent. Bynner's version of the Tao appears a bit dated compared to Ursula Le Guin's splendid modern rendition, but I first fell under the spell of the Tao through his particular words. And first loves are often our most memorable.
Existence is beyond the power of words
Terms may be used
But are none of them absolute.
In the beginning of heaven and earth there were no words.
Words came out of the womb of matter;
And whether a man dispassionately
Sees to the core of life
Sees the surface,
The core and the surface
Are essentially the same,
Words making them seem different
Only to express appearance.
If name be needed, wonder names them both:
From wonder into wonder
|Witter Bynner by Rockwell Kent|
My own version of the Tao Te Ching is inspired by the crazy paradoxes of quantum theory. Here we have a perfect mathematical representation of the world. But not even the smartest physicist can explain to his kids "what Nature is actually doing" at the sub-atomic level. Nor can we really justify how this unvisualizable quantum reality turns into the ordinary reality we experience every day. I hoped eventually to devise a physics version of all 81 chapters of the Chinese classic, but only managed to compose the very first. To follow the tradition of beginning with a pun, I use the term "quantum state" as a physicist's customary way of representing the invisible quantum world. None of us really know what sort of "reality" corresponds to a quantum state, but a good deal of modern technology (this computer for instance) directly grew out of our increasing ability to manipulate these mysterious mathematical objects.
THE TAO OF PHYSICSThe state you can state is not things-as-they-are
Language, like highway, goes only so far
Unnamed is the Source from which everything springs
Naming gives rise to the "Ten Thousand Things"
Unlooked at: She exceeds what can possibly be
What you get when you look? No more than you see
Yet the world She is One whether looked at or not
Nature's own nature's not something that's taught
But reach out to feel Her invisible flesh
Hear, see and smell: everything fresh!
|Nick Herbert composed this post|
Friday, May 7, 2021
Tastes like the Seven Seas
Tastes like egg white
Tastes like Mephistopheles.
Tastes like a bit of bleach
Tastes like Bolinas Beach.
Tastes like zinc
Tastes like something peachy
Tastes like deep-sea bladder kelp
Tastes like Frederick Nietzsche.
Tastes like Big Sur hot spring
Tastes like a living thing.
Tastes like a gush of wisdom
Tastes like something French
Tastes like mozzarella
Tastes like the Übermensch.
Tastes like cream of tartar
Tastes like holy water.
Tastes like pulque
Tastes like a Valentine
Tastes like marijuana butter
Tastes like the Gegenschein.
Tastes like folded silk
Tastes like malted milk.
Tastes like Holy Communion
Tastes like water mixed with rum
Tastes like goat’s milk
Tastes like Götterdämmerung.
Tastes like a gush of grace
Tastes like outer space.
Tastes like soy sauce
Tastes like the Wild West
Tastes like tapioca
Tastes like Oktoberfest.
Tastes like the night sky
Tastes like the right guy.
Tastes like Chardonnay
Tastes like salt lick
Tastes like s’il vous plait.
Tastes like lemon rind
Tastes like a silver mine.
Tastes like butterscotch pudding
Tastes like sushi raw
Tastes like Turkish Taffy
Tastes like je ne sais quoi.
Tastes like valerian tea
Tastes like Lake Isle of Innisfree.
Tastes like oyster
Tastes like champagne
Tastes like vanilla
Tastes like je t’aime.
Tastes like creme de mushroom
Tastes like tablespoon of moon.
Tastes like Yosemite
Tastes like Irish stew
Tastes like hijiki seaweed
Tastes like deja vu.
Tastes like hazel-nut honey
Tastes like stolen money.
Tastes like fish.
Like fish, I say
And, honey, you know
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
The Way to Shambhala by Nicholas RoerichNear the First of April of this year I received an eMail from my physicist friend Demetrios Kalamidas proposing an original new way to use quantum entanglement to send signals faster-than-light. Kalamidas and I have a long history in which he proposes such a scheme, I try to understand, clarify, simplify it, give it a cute acronym and then work together with him to eventually refute it. Previous Kalamidas FTL proposals have included KISS (Kalamidas Instant Signaling System), TKO (The Kalamidas Option) and KHAN (Kalamidas-Herbert Augmented Nearness).Kalamidas's latest scheme I call TIBET for "TIme-Bin-Entangled Telegraphy".All of these schemes involve Alice and Bob receiving a series of photon pairs--one photon going to Alice, the other to Bob. These two photons are emitted from a source S located somewhere between Alice and Bob and are characterized by one or more of their properties P being "quantum-entangled". Entanglement means that, before measurement, neither Bob's property P, nor Alice's property P possesses a definite value but, in the quantum representation at least, the value of Bob's property P appears to depend on how Alice choses to measure her property P, and vice versa. Seemingly then, quantum entanglement appears to permit superluminal signaling resulting from, say, Alice's choice of how she measures P.However, a proof due to Philippe Eberhard (no-signaling theorem) shows that no way of making measurements on an entangled system can produce such distant instantaneous effects. The gist of Eberhard's Proof is that the intrinsic randomness that characterizes every quantum measurement destroys any coded pattern Alice attempts to impose. Another limit to Entanglement Telegraphy is the Holevo Bound which limits the amount of classical information one can extract from a quantum system. The polarization state of a single photon, for instance, encodes an infinite amount of quantum information, corresponding to the infinite number of directions an arrow can point on the Bloch sphere. The amount of classical information that can be extracted from a polarized photon, however, is exactly one classical bit. The most you can learn about the polarization of a single photon is the answer to a single yes/no question. You can pick the question, the photon provides the answer but is irreversibly changed in the process of measurement.There is a sense in which my own FTL FLASH proposal was an unsuccessful attempt to violate the Holevo bound on the amount of classical information one is able to extract about the polarization state of a single photon.Kalimidas's previous proposals involved either path-entangled or polarization-entangled photon pairs. His newest proposal uses time-bin-entangled photon pairs, which I had never heard of but which apparently have the potential to play an important role in future quantum communication systems.The source S emits a pair of photons, one to Alice, one to Bob. In the peculiar quantum manner, each photon is uncertain into which time bin it was emitted. Was it a Late Photon L or an Early Photon E? Until measurement, neither Alice, nor Bob knows the answer to this question. But one thing is certain (the essence of entanglement) whatever time bin Bob's photon is measured to be in, Alice's photon will be the same. In the pictured situation, both photons possess the same (Horizontal) polarization, symbolized by H.It must be understood that although there are two time bins in each pulse, there is only one photon which occupies both bins in a manner only possible in quantum mechanics before a measurement happens. If one could bring the two time bins together in some way, it would be possible to make the photon interfere with itself in a wavelike manner. The conventional way of achieving this superposition uses a pair of beam splitters to split the beam in two, delay one beam by a time equal to the pulse separation and then recombine the two beams. I call this the Detour Method. Detour Method of combining time binsThe Detour Method takes in two input pulses Early (E) and Late (L) and transforms them into three output pulses, one of which is the desired Late pulse superposed with the delayed Early pulse (L/dE) The other two pulses are an undelayed Early pulse (E) and a delayed Late pulse (dL)Kalamidas could not find any way of using this Detour Method as an FTL signaling scheme so he devised another way of mixing the two time bins.To keep the time bins separate, the coherence time of each pulse must be smaller than the pulse separation. But if one could increase the coherence times the pulses could be made to overlap. To achieve this kind of superposition, Kalamidas inserts a narrow-band interference filter in both Alice and Bob's photon channel. This I call the Expand Method because it mixes the two time bins by expanding their coherence length The Expand Method of combining time binsKalamidas calculates that when his Expand Method unites the L and E packets, that because they are now indistinguishable, Bob's entanglement with Alice is lost. And that what was once an entangled state is transformed into a product state.The Detour Method adds the L and E states and outputs the result into TWO MODES, the two outputs of the final beam splitter. Kalamidas's narrow-band filter unites the L and E states into ONE MODE, call it |C>, traveling in the same direction as the original L and E states but now coherently overlapping over a portion of their path.The action of Filter F applied to both Alice's and Bob's photon can be written:|EH(a)> + |LH(a)> --- F- --> |CH(a)> Alice's Photon 1)|EH(b)> + |LH(b)> --- F ---> |CH(b)> Bob's Photon 2)As a result of filter F, at least part of the entangled wave function turns into an unentangled product state:|EH(a)>|EH(b)> + |LH(a)> |LH(b)> --- F --->|CH(a)> |CH(b)> 3)In what follows we will consider only this part of the total wave function, regarding the non-overlapping portion of the filter-induced superposition as "noise". Eq 3) describes the essence of the Kalamidas scheme: when both E and L photons have the same polarization (Horizontal in this case), the Filter transforms entangled states into an unentangled product state.The next stage in the Kalamidas scheme is to change the polarization of the Late photons from Horizontal to Vertical by quickly inserting a Late rotator H -->V in both Alice and Bob's beam. This Late rotation takes place before the filter, at a place in the system where the time bins are still cleanly separated.The main consequence of the Late rotation is that now the Early state and the Late state are no longer identical, so even after the Filter they remain entangled:|EH(a)>|EH(b)> + |LV(a)> |LV(b)> --- F --->|CH(a)>|CH(b)> + |CV(a)> |CV(b)> 4)The combination of a Late rotator plus a narrow-band filter has transformed the original time-bin entangled state into a polarization-entangled state.Now comes the clever part. What happens to the superposition if Alice decides to turn off her late rotator but Bob continues to rotate his late state?|EH(a)>|EH(b)> + |LH(a)> |LV(b)> --- F --->|CH(a)>|CH(b)> + |CH(a)> |CV(b)> =|CH(a)> [|CH(b)> + |CV(b)>] =|CH(a)> [ |(H + V) C(b)> ] 5)The final state is again a product state and Bob's photon seems to be in a pure polarization state H + V which we call Diagonal polarization.An alternative way of considering this scheme due to Nick Herbert yields the same general result. Bob's photon is unpolarized when Alice inserts her rotator; Bob's photon is polarized when Alice withholds her Late rotation. Voila! An apparent viable and robust superluminal signaling scheme!In Nick's version, Bob's photon is polarized when Alice withholds her Late rotation, but Bob's polarization depends on the phase of the Filter-induced Early/Late overlap:Bob's Polarization = H cosine (z) + i V sine (z) where z is some phase angle that depends on the nature of the filter but is constant for any given experimental run. Note that Diagonal polarization does not appear in this derivation but when z = 45 degrees, Bob's photon is Right-circularly polarized (RCP).It took me some time and many false steps to understand this scheme and now that I do, I find that I cannot refute it, I will leave that task to others.Congratulations, Demetrios! They said it couldn't be done. And you did it! (At least provisionally) Demetrios Kalamidas emerging from the sea