Star Wars: The Force Awakens – spoiler free review

I saw this on opening day, and had avoided the hype and trailers as much as possible, as I knew I wanted to see it. I wasn’t quite sure why until the night before, when it came to me.

I wanted to know what happens to Luke Skywalker.

Star Wars was always his story. He was the iconic heroic mythic figure of my childhood. And getting to find out what happened next is a lure too tempting to ignore. (In a way, where the prequels went wrong was by misunderstanding this central premise, and trying to make it about Anakin.)

So I was in.

Fundamentally, the first Star Wars was a wonderful imaginative ride. Fill a story sandpit with space ships, laser blasters, non stop pulp adventure, monsters to fight and aliens to meet, and underlying it all a spirituality that can speak to the modern age via the mythology of the Force, with Good and a real temptation of Evil, wizards and swords and magic, and you have something gloriously fun, fertile and special in which to play.

The Force Awakens gives us exactly this.

Where the prequels fucked it up, The Force Awakens gets it about right.

In fact, it is almost slavishly true to the original trilogy. But I think it needed to be after the catastrophe of the prequels; in order to get goodwill from the fans, it needed to communicate that it gets and respects the source material, and from here it can build on that, and evolve and mature the series.

And that is as much as I will say without delving into what happens in any way, other than that I really enjoyed the ride.

bacterial utopia or oblivion

 

Recently somehow came across this very interesting fellow: Stephen Harrod Buhner. Author of 20 or so books, a wide ranging scholar interested in all kinds of interesting stuff, I recently listened to a couple of interviews with him. Both were wide ranging and there was little overlap between them, and the content was at times so wild and exciting I ordered one of his books, which hasn’t happened in a while.

By way of a sampling of what I mean by wild and exciting: bacteria build cities with streets and buildings; plants take psychotropic drugs and respond to them in much the same way humans do; an apple tree can get itself drunk; if antibiotics stop working in the next 10-15 years, we will also lose surgery, as you can’t cut people open if they are susceptible to infection – the ramifications of this for modern medicine are total, and he argues we will return to herbal etc remedies by necessity, and has written books about herbal antibiotics and antivirals etc…

(A fascinating counterpoint to this is Craig Venter’s current work in creating synthetic life. Essentially, he can now analyse a bacteria, digitize its DNA, send that digital code around the world, and rebuild the organism synthetically from that digital code – while synthetic it will be alive and able to self-replicate etc. The speed with which this is becoming possible is what may save us from the failing of antibiotics. As Howard Bloom argued back in ’98 in Global Brain, we need to get our species wide global brain up and running to combat the billions of year old bacterial global brain that will otherwise kick our ass.

As Buckminster Fuller said, whether it will be utopia or oblivion will be a touch and go relay race until the very end; and this bacterial struggle is one of the clearest illustrations of that.)

Ultimately Buhner argues that the way out of all this is for people to reacquaint themselves with their thinking/feeling/sensing intuitive direct knowing and follow what that tells them. For example, the first generation of psychoanalysts were never trained, they just created the field. We have the ability in ourselves to come up with new things, and need to use it.

The thread of Buhner’s work I found most interesting is the plant intelligence side of things, and it is a fabulous extension of what Jeremy Narby was talking about in Intelligence in Nature back in 2005 and that I was writing about in my main nonfiction book about consciousness back in ’08. His compelling vision is of a very alive and aware cosmos in constant interaction and dialogue with itself, and his reasons for thinking this are electrifying.

So I am awaiting a book in the mail, with a reasonable hope it will be able to live up to expectation. Also, nice to feel intellectual stimulation again.

 

 

 

excellent Buckminster Fuller quote

encountered during today’s reading:

“Quite clearly, our task is predominantly metaphysical, for it is how to get all of humanity to educate itself swiftly enough to generate spontaneous behaviours that will avoid extinction.”

– Buckminster Fuller,  Synergetics, page xxvii

Tesla on Tesla

 

Tesla is getting a lot of love on the internet at the moment. He wrote a short autobiography in which he explains his life and process of invention. It is very worth reading.

My Inventions – Nikola Tesla (it is a direct download link to a pdf)

 

Farsight Institute experiment in remote viewing the future

 

The Farsight Institute are interested in scientifically exploring Remote Viewing, and experimenting with it in a really rigorous way. Almost 20 years ago I read Psychic Warrior by David Morehouse, which is the fascinating account of a soldier inducted into military remote viewing program, and remote viewing seems to have come a long way since then. (The US military spent millions on testing remote viewing, a kind of means of gathering information at a distance.) While it is not something I have personal experience of, the concepts are similar enough to lucid dreams, out of body experiences, and shamanic journeying type things, all of which I have experienced, that I am willing to consider the possibility.

This video, from 2010, presents the summary of their research findings from a remote viewing experiment focused on 2008 and two different future 2013s. From the description, it seems about as sane as you could manage to make research of this kind.

It blows me away that this is a real experiment rather than science fiction. The entire thing is deeply fascinating to me, and frankly kind of exciting.

I think it is worth watching, so I am not going to summarise their theory or results. Go in with an open mind. Hell, go in watching it as a short science fiction movie if you like. It will be a worthwhile 18 minutes either way.

One way or another, it will be worth checking back with the project in mid 2013.

The Farsight Institute are currently trying to get support to “organize a tightly controlled, publicly viewable scientific display of the phenomenon of remote viewing in return for mainstream recognition of the validity of the phenomenon itself”, later this year.

I would support that.

 

belated mutants

Hmm. Some links have stacked up without really trying. (Lots of this via innovation patterns.)

map of europe from 1000AD to present. ch ch ch changes.

Bill Gates’s holiday reading. interesting and obvious trend evident.

pathology of power: really disturbing description of how no one is in control at the US Department of Defense

towards a psychological operations reading list. terrifying amounts of brainfood.

the world’s most powerful mercenary armies.

shift happens: excellent essay on Kuhn and his effect on thought

guess i missed this while traveling: human/animal hybrids being made in labs in the UK.

I figured this was going on in unregulated countries, interesting to see them cop to it.

also, on biology: sequencing the genome has achieved sod all so far.

general support against the notion of reductionism to our genetic code; also notes rise of epigenetics

a really worthwhile four minute video introducing the notion of social and planetary boundaries

sunday mutants (no fooling edition)

 

This week, almost by theme…

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An unexpected clump of data on prisons:

Analysis of incarceration and death rates (abstract) turns up some weird nuggets :

Black male prisoners, however consistently exhibited lower death rates than black male nonprisoners did.

Cue this tweet from Nils Gilman: “Stat of the day: More black men are disenfranchised today (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than when the 15th Amendment was ratified”

(Oh, and there are now more Americans in jail than there were in Stalin’s gulag archipelago.)

 

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All about information:

* A universe of self-replicating code – Brain food from George Dyson.

* Fascinating short piece with graph revealing that lots of books written in the 20th Century have effectively vanished/no longer available due to being copyrighted: the missing 20th century

* Apparently there’s been an explosion in the number of retractions in scientific journals.

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Randomness from around the world:

Chinese wedding with a 6 ferrari dowry and 70 million overall price-tag.

Micro-chip embedded intelligent t-shirts used to track student truancy in Brazil.

(Man school uniforms are going to be fun in the future.)

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And a wee dose of utopian future, almost: Free ebook of Lester Brown’s World on the Edge – How to prevent economic and environmental collapse.

Sunday Mutants 8-1-12

 

This week the theme really seems to be content worth spreading; some serious high grade amazing coming below. Take the time to explore it.

 

First, we catch up with some best-of collections of last year, with a focus on things that should be more widely known.

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– Project Censored’s top 25 under-reported news stories of 2011 and 2012. Always worth catching up with.

– Global Voices 20 most read stories of 2011.

(For those who aren’t familiar with them:

Global Voices is a community of more than 500 bloggers and translators around the world who work together to bring you reports from blogs and citizen media everywhere, with emphasis on voices that are not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media.)

Huffington Posts lists the 18 best TED talks of 2011. Some interesting stuff in there.

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Now three really interesting and inspiring ones:

 

Building sustainable community – literally:

The Open Source Ecology project applies open source principles to creating tools capable of building sustainable communities using recycled and scrap materials.

The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) would lower entry into farming, building and manufacturing.

It’s perhaps best explained as Lego-like construction tools, which can be used to create entire economies. This sort of technology can be used in urban redevelopment or in the developing world.

The technology is a inexpensive, DIY, high-performance platform that enables the creation of 50 different industrial machines it would take to build a small, sustainable civilisation with modern comforts.

This seriously sounds six shades of awesome.

Here is a 2011 TED talk by the founder.

This is the free contents of their DVD explaining what they are on.

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Fascinating Guardian opinion piece linking personal debt, national debt, and banks creating money out of nothing: Yes, defaulting on debts is an option.

What really got me was this bit:

After a bit of research, I realised the debt collectors buy debts for less than 10p in the pound, after the bank writes the debt off. I also found out that under the Bills of Exchange Act 1882, the debt collector is actually paying off our debt when they buy it. I also realised how debt collectors trick us into contracts with them, by asking us how much we could pay. When you agree to one pound a month, which costs more to administrate, they now have a contract with you, where none existed.

Now, this is from England, so the same may not apply here, but that is still really interesting.

The guy’s site is Getoutofdebtfree.org. Definitely seems content worth spreading. Spreading memes along the lines that “money created out of nothing really doesn’t exist, so why pay it back with real money?” gets us closer to the actual state of things: “money only exists since we believe in it.” Which is probably still too drastic for most people to face up to.

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Introducting Yoxi:

At Yoxi, we search for amazing people who work hard to change the world, and we connect them to new opportunities by telling their stories in the most creative, compelling ways. We call these people Social Innovation Rockstars (SIRs) because they are original thinkers, creative problem-solvers, and fearless leaders who care about creating lasting social value. The world needs them to have more visibility and influence, so we do our part by helping them reach a mainstream audience. When a movement for social innovation becomes part of pop culture, we can make a real difference.

Basically, they want to hack culture and make it about awesome stuff instead of braindead stuff. (If this seems pie-in-the-sky, Yoxi’s founder brought you American Idol.)

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And a couple to make you think about the nature of reality a touch.

Technoccult interview with Douglas Rushkoff. Most interesting to me was him talking about balancing engaging with magic as a path with real world concerns (house, wife, kid). Fascinating as a metaphor in general for anyone getting older.

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Another entry in the Jodorowsky is so cool stakes: Alejandro Jodorowsky leads group of 3000 in Psychomagic ritual for casualties of the War on Drugs in Mexico. Yup.

The call made by the cult mystic Alejandro Jodorowsky said the event would seek to “heal” the country of the cosmic weight of so many dead in the drug war, by gathering for something he called the March of the Skulls.

(Context on Mexican drug violence: Mexico Violence Threatens All Sectors of Civil Society)

 

the return of sunday mutants

The world shifted while the moose was loose in the world. Lots of crazy shit happening ever faster in these unfolding interesting times. We missed a lot, and I’m not even going to try to summarise or catch up. But it seems like we are at least coming closer to facing reality.

Anyhow. Here are the results of my first dedicated info trawl in a long long while, scrying the emerging future in the froth of the web… Much of the best of this comes from the already indispensable Innovation Patterns, the rest from the mutants list, and generally revisiting some of my haunts.

 

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Michael Ventura steps into prophet mode again. Three parts, necessary reading/analysis of what the fuck is going. (Subtitle: “The Worldwide End of Capitalism and Its Replacement by a Mode of Commerce for Which, as Yet, There Is No Ism.”) Flash Mob Dance Revolution Parts One Two & Three. Two parts analysis, third part an attempt at solution.

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fighting muppetocracy: pretty brutal and punchy look at how fucked we are, well worth reading and distressingly difficult to argue against.

This show brought to you by the international community, by government, by the NGOs, by well-intentioned individuals, by the UN, and all the rest of it. The same cast of clowns that screwed up Haiti.
Get it yet? Is it landing?
We are screwed. We don’t need to speculate on how or why, but we have an absolutely clear and rational expectation that there will be no sudden, effective, global and complete transformation in our global governance systems resulting in an effective resolution to our climate crisis.
We did not do it for poverty.
We do not do it for natural disasters.
We will not do it for climate.
Everything rests on us getting a technological fix for climate, and we’re massively, dramatically underfunding research into those breakthrough technologies in favour of continuing to subsidize oil. These are the facts.

Really worth reading the whole thing for context etc.

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kind of an antidote to that: recent interview with zen buddhist master Thich Nhat Hahn :

“Without collective awakening the catastrophe will come,” he warns. “Civilisations have been destroyed many times and this civilisation is no different. It can be destroyed. We can think of time in terms of millions of years and life will resume little by little. The cosmos operates for us very urgently, but geological time is different.

“If you meditate on that, you will not go crazy. You accept that this civilisation could be abolished and life will begin later on after a few thousand years because that is something that has happened in the history of this planet. When you have peace in yourself and accept, then you are calm enough to do something, but if you are carried by despair there is no hope.”

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Excellent Foreign Policy article about the logical limits to China’s growth, and the rise of Turkey, India, Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia.

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DARPA trying to hack the neurobiology of narrative in order to bring in a whole new generation of propaganda control.

Once scientists have perfected the science of how stories affect our neurochemistry, they will develop tools to “detect narrative influence.” These tools will enable “prevention of negative behavioral outcomes … and generation of positive behavioral outcomes, such as building trust.” In other words, the tools will be used to detect who’s been controlled by subversive ideologies, better allowing the military to drown out that message and win people onto their side.

“The government is already trying to control the message, so why not have the science to do it in a systematic way?” said the researcher familiar with the project.

Um. WTF? Disturbing as fuck anyway.

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The Case Against the Spirit World Model of Psychedelic Action

Pretty fascinating/challenging read for entheogenic enthusiasts.

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Cyborg future news: A team at at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen says it’s built the foundation for devices to communicate directly with the human brain.

The researchers’ new graphene-based transistor array is compatible with living biological cells and can, for the first time, record the electrical signals they generate.

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Have you missed these posts? Or are you happier not knowing? 😉

(Hell, for that matter, have I missed making these posts, and am I happier not knowing?)

 

a Moore’s law for solar energy?

Two second good news: a moore’s law of solar energy generation may be emerging. If so, the guts of it is by 2020 solar will be cheaper than coal… and then continue to get cheaper…

(Yet another entry in the utopia vs oblivion stakes.)

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