Friday, September 15, 2006
Having read The Lucifer Principle, I looked forward to this book. I actually liked this book a lot, too, but I agree with some of the sentiments on Amazon reviews - there was a little lack of focus.
Even with that - this book was an intense read for me. I think the disinfo.com guys said that the only interview more intense than Howard Bloom was Terrence McKenna, and that seems to come across in the book at times. Ideas and tangents will most likely fire in your mind as you read this - it certainly did for me.
Among many things in the salad of this book was a discussion on how society's norms literally can shape an infant's brain - physically - brain cells not considered useful to adapt to the infant's culture die off. So childhood imprints can actually be considered a physical thing - I wonder if the techniques of re-imprinting are actually capable of doing similar physical changes to the brain? It seems that meditation does. I also wonder what this means for things like NLP - to be fair, I've done nothing more with NLP other than skim a book on it, and never used any of the techniques although I must admit I'm intrigued.
He also talks about what Leary (and RAW) called "reality tunnels" - he has a chapter called "Reality is a Shared Hallucination" - that deals with how language affects "reality", how groups have a shared "reality", etc.
I also found greatly interesting the Athenian-Spartan comparison, and tying in fundamentalists of today to the Spartan tradition. Now this comparison has been around a long time, I can be sure, since our ancient 8th grade text had the same discussion, basically trumpeting the value of Athenian culture with its emphasis on open-mindedness and being well-rounded instead of just trying to breed conformist warrior robots like Sparta did.
It's a lesson worth repeating however, and it's interesting that this book was written in 2000. He mentions how studies have shown that being raised Christian fundamentalist actually retards a child's learning (big surprise) and how many of those raising such children feel that "no education is better than a secular education". Well, that's definitely the Spartan view. The Athenian view is, according to Bloom, the way things are usually run when things are going well. When they turn sour, the Spartan view takes over. Non-conformity is not tolerated, dissent is crushed, and the neural net that generally brings new innovations (which usually come from the fringes of culture) shuts down. Sound familiar? Let's see - "If you're not for us, you're against us", we have people actively waging a war against science in this country, and blaming non-conformists (e.g. immigrants, homosexuals, atheists, etc.) for various ills. The Spartan view is also one of provincialism - we have people bashing virtually every other country on the planet, and I'd be willing to bet many of them never left their state, much less this country. I'd wager the same thing about many of the fundamentalists of Islam.
Very interesting he was talking about this and giving examples of Christian fundamentalist nutballs and their threats of violence as well as Islamic ones before 9/11 - post-9/11, they seem to be only getting more extreme and more vocal.