Sex, Drugs, Einstein and Elves

Clifford Pickover, Sex, Drugs, Einstein and Elves

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts when presenting my reading list for the next weeks, this book seems to polarize a lot: people either love it or hate it (at least juding from the reviews on amazon). There were even some users who speculated whether all the five star reviews came from friends of the author. Clifford Pickover, however, is a very profilic writer who has authored more than 30 books in the last 20 years, on very diverse subjects like Time, Mathematics, God, The Mobius Strip, Prophecies as well as some novels. So it is safe assume that he has a fan base and that the people who wrote raving reviews on amazon indeed enjoyed the ride he takes you on in this book. Of course the negative reviewers have some good points also when they complain about Pickover again and again mentioning other books he wrote or filling pages with more or less irrelevant lists. However, my personal opinion is that while not all chapters are equally interesting, there is enough fascinating information hidden in them – especially for people interested in a wide range of topics – that I didn’t regret the time I spent reading this book – quite on the contrary!

I am posting here the most interesting facts I found in his book. This is a shortened version of the notes I made for myself.


breakthroughs in science have been discovered
accidentally. In particular, science is filled with hundreds of great
discoveries that have emerged through chance happenings and serendipity,
for example: Velcro, Teflon, X-rays, penicillin, nylon, safety glass, sugar
substitutes, dynamite, and polyethylene plastics.

Human forebrains are a few ounces bigger
than a poodle’s, and we can ask many more questions than a poodle. Are
there facets of the universe we can never know? Are there questions we
can’t even ask? Michael Murphy discusses a related idea in The Future
of the Body:

‘To a frog with its simple eye, the world is a dim array of grays and
blacks. Are we like frogs in our limited sensorium, apprehending just
part of the universe we inhabit? Are we as a species now awakening
to the reality of multidimensional worlds in which matter undergoes
subtle reorganizations in some sort of hyperspace?’ 10

10. Murphy, Michael, The Future of the Body: Explorations into the
Further Evolution of Human Nature (New York: Putnam, 1992).

A quote by John Steinbeck from The Sea of Cortez gives me permission
to play:

‘The design of a book is the pattern of reality controlled and shaped
by the mind of the writer. This is completely understood about poetry
or fiction, but is too seldom realized about a book of facts.’12

12. Steinbeck, John and Edward Flanders Ricketts, The Log from the
Sea of Cortez (New York: Penguin Books; reprint edition, 1995).

“Each reader reads only what is already within himself. The
book is only a sort of optical instrument which the writer offers
to the reader to enable the latter to discover in himself what he
would not have found but for the aid of the book.”
—Marcel Proust, The Past Recaptured

Chapter 1

My longtime fascination with topics at the edges of science
started with Everard B. Britton’s provocative paper, “A Pointer to a
New Hallucinogen of Insect Origin.”5

(Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 12(3): 331–333, December 1984)

This short paper sparked my curiosity
about such far-flung topics as psychoactive drugs, parallel universes,
and chemicals in the brain that induce visions of alien “elves” (Chapter
4) who seem to weave the fabric of reality.

(…) Back in 1984, Britton called my attention to the existence of a new
hallucinogen, unusual because its source is an insect. The extinct Malalis
natives of eastern Brazil once regarded the bicho de tacuara (bamboo
worm) as a special culinary treat that tasted like sweet cream. The small
creatures are found in bamboo stems.

One of the popular routes to enlightenment
for many explorers of the mind is through ayahuasca, an
Amazonian plant potion containing DMT. We will discuss ayahuasca
(pronounced I-yuh-WUHS-kuh) extensively in future chapters. This
strong liquid brew is also known as yagé (pronounced yah-hey). In the
1950s, William Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch, sought the psychedelic
in South America, and he later wrote, ‘There is nothing to fear.
Your ayahuasca consciousness is more valid than normal consciousness.…’

Ethnobotanist and ethnomycologist Giorgio Samorni has studied psychoactive
substances for decades and believes that the desire to take drugs
results from a universal, biologically based urge to expand our minds.
His book Animals and Psychedelics suggests that all creatures seek transcendence
and altered states—from caffeine-dependent goats to nectaraddicted
ants, mushroom-loving reindeer, drunken elephants, and intoxicated
birds. Psychedelics create new patterns of behavior and alter evolution

Many trend-setting scientists
experienced both social and professional resistance to their ideas.
Electronics whiz Nikola Tesla was often laughed at when he proposed
correct ideas. Alexander Fleming’s revolutionary discoveries on
antibiotics were met with apathy from his colleagues. Niels Bohr’s
doctoral thesis on the structure of the atom was turned down by his
university—and yet the work later won him the Nobel Prize. Louis de
Broglie was belittled for thinking matter could be both particles and waves,
and later won a Nobel Prize for his theories. Joseph Lister’s advocacy of
antisepsis was resisted by surgeons. Reaction to Alfred Wegener’s theory
of continental drift was generally hostile and scathing. (…) The message of Arroway, Einstein, and perhaps even of the dream fish, is to avoid where the path leads, and to go, instead, where there is
no path, and blaze a trail.

“As the island of knowledge grows, the surface that makes
contact with mystery expands. When major theories are
overturned, what we thought was certain knowledge gives
way, and knowledge touches upon mystery differently. This
newly uncovered mystery may be humbling and unsettling,
but it is the cost of truth. Creative scientists, philosophers,
and poets thrive at this shoreline.”
—W. Mark Richardson, “A Skeptic’s Sense of Wonder”

Chapter 2

the Japanese language doesn’t have a
single word for water but rather two words: mizu (cold water) and oyu
(hot water). Mizu can sometimes be used more generically, but oyu can
never be cold, although it can be tepid. The point is that neither of these
words translates accurately the notion of plain “water.” To a Japanese,
the two concepts cannot easily be grouped under a single word, as they
are in English.

counts only about fifteen basic Eskimo lexemes for snow, restricting
himself to lexemes used in a small subpart of the Central Alaskan Yupikspeaking
region. However, he does note that the terms are inflectionally
so complicated that each single noun lexeme may have about 280 distinct
inflected forms—and each verb lexeme may have more than 1,000!

the New Guinea language
Dani has just two words for colors! One word covers “hot” colors like
white, red, and yellow. The other word covers “cool” colors like black,
green, and blue

Indeed, speakers of Guugu Yimithirr, a language of
Australia, have a very different concept of “left” and “right” than do
Western speakers, and this appears to mold both their thoughts and
behaviors in fascinating ways. For example, the Guugu Yimithirr don’t
even have words like left and right. Its speakers always describe locations
and directions using the Guugu Yimithirr words for north, south, east,
and west. Thus, they would never say that a tree is on their left, but rather
that the tree is west of their position.

Joumana believes
that “the more languages one is familiar with, the more subtle his or her
thinking will be.” If this is true, another of my heroes, Elihu Burritt (1811–
1879), had very subtle thoughts, because he was the world’s greatest
self-instructed linguist! A blacksmith by trade, he studied mathematics,
languages, and geography and became known as “the learned blacksmith.”
He taught himself more than forty languages and translated Longfellow’s
poems into Sanskrit. Burritt promoted the causes of antislavery,
temperance, and self-education, and he was especially interested in ways
to establish world peace.

The world’s greatest living polyglot is Ziad Fazah, who speaks over
55 languages. Fazah was born in Liberia in 1954, but while still an infant
moved with his Lebanese parents to Beirut. Today, Fazah continues to
learn new languages—his latest acquisition being Papiamento, a Dutch,
Portuguese and Spanish blend spoken in the Caribbean islands of Aruba
and Curaçao. Mandarin was the hardest language for Fazah to learn
because of the large number of ideograms. Fazah hopes that within the
next 10 years he can learn the remainder of the world’s roughly 4,000 to
6,000 languages. Over 99 percent of these languages belong to a mere 19
language families. Interestingly, about 1,000 of all the languages on Earth
are spoken on the island of New Guinea.

Even today, researchers and authors remain divided about whether
thought can exist without language. For example, authors Clive Wynne
(Do Animals Think?) and Euan Macphail (The Evolution of
Consciousness) suggest that thought requires language and, thus, neither
nonhuman animals nor preverbal children are capable of thought. On the
other hand, Jerry Fodor (The Language of Thought) argues that language
is unnecessary for thought but is simply a means of expressing thoughts.23

23. An excellent review of Do Animals Think can be found in Clayton,
Nicola, “An Open Sandwich or an Open Question?” Science 305(5682):
344, July 18, 2004. Here, Nicola discusses the work of Clive Wynne,
Euan Macphail, and Jerry Fodor.

Nicola Clayton of Cambridge University agrees that thought does not
require language and referred me to people with high-functioning autism
(also called Asperger’s syndrome) who think in pictures, not words.

According to New York Times writer Jack Hitt, half of the more than
6,000 languages currently spoken in the world will be extinct by the end
of the century. “In two generations,” he says, “a healthy language—even
one with hundreds of thousands of speakers—can collapse entirely,
sometimes without anyone noticing.”33

33. Hitt, Jack, “Say No More,” New York Times Magazine, 52–54,
February 29, 2004. (Discusses Kawesqar, the language native to

Today, 438 languages have fewer than 50 speakers.

Language as a Skin
Let’s wrap up our discussions of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis by
consulting the famous The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, which
distinguishes between four related hypotheses. The first is that people
have thoughts and put them into words. In this sense, language is like a
skin for internal thoughts. The second is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis,
which we have discussed: language shapes thought. The third is that
language and thought are identical. Here, thought is an internal form of
speech. The fourth is that that language and thought are interdependent.
This is a widely held notion today. Neither language nor thought takes
precedence over the other.

In some sense, reality is
altered and brought into existence from myths and fables. Similarly, other
writers like Grant Morrison believe that magic and language can help us
shape existence. He writes in a Kabbalist fashion, “‘Magic’ is the
hopelessly inadequate Standard English word for the long-established
technology which permits access to the ‘operating codes’ underlying the
current physical universe.”41

41. Morrison, Grant, “Preface.” In Metzger, Richard, Book of Lies:
The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult (New York: The
Disinformation Company, 2003), 9.

Writers like William S. Burroughs and Mark Pesce have suggested
that language is actually a virus. Pesce writes:
‘Our linguistic abilities aren’t innate. They are not encoded in our
DNA. Language is more like E. coli, the bacteria in our gut,
symbiotically helping us to digest our food. Language helps us digest
phenomena, allowing us to ruminate on the nature of the world.’43
Pesce believes that nonhuman animals perceive reality directly, but
humans are clouded by the “fog” of language, which invaded and
“colonized our cerebrums” millennia ago and thus inserted a layer between
us and reality. Pesce writes, “While we think ourselves the masters of
language, precisely the opposite is true. Language is the master of us, a
tyranny from which no escape can be imagined.”

Chapter 3

Proust believed that a book was a dynamic entity
because a person could read it many times, with new meaning emerging
each time the book was read. Thus, rereading a book from one’s teenage
years can be enlightening because it allows readers to see how they have
changed. 45

Noted author Harlan Ellison recently lamented that the Internet is
destroying people’s use of dictionaries, and this in turn decreases our
vocabularies, literacy, and our ability to become great authors. Why?
Ellison believes that whenever you look up a word in a real, physical
dictionary, you pass dozens of other words, some of which will stay in
your memory, triggering serendipitous associations, and engendering a
sense of wonder. 54

While on the subject of beauty, I am tempted to speculate upon what
aliens would consider as beautiful art. Would an alien race of intelligent
robots prefer a combination of graffiti-like figures echoing the art of
children and primitive societies, or would they prefer the cold regularity
of wires in a photograph of a Pentium computer chip? (…) Whatever their aesthetic differences, alien math and science might
be similar to ours, because the same kinds of mathematical truths will be
discovered by any intelligent aliens. But it’s not clear that our art would
be considered beautiful or profound to aliens. After all, we have a difficult
time ourselves determining what good art is. Picasso said, “Art is the lie
that reveals the truth.” Brain researcher Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
described art as, “That which allows us to transcend our morality by
giving us a foretaste of eternity.”
Because alien senses would not be the same as ours, it’s very difficult
to determine what their art or entertainment would be like. If you
were to visit a world of creatures whose primary sense was smell and
who had little or no vision, their architecture might seem visually quite
boring. Instead of paintings hanging on the walls of their home, they
might use certain aromatic woods and other odor-producing compounds
strategically positioned on their walls. 56

over the centuries word-aholics have created
lipograms—whole stories or books in which a particular letter of the
alphabet is omitted. In 1939, American author Ernest Vincent Wright
composed Gadsby, a 50,000-word novel, without using the letter “e,” the
letter that occurs most often in English writing. 61

A French group of writers and mathematicians called the Oulipo still
discuss and create literary works involving constrained writing, which
provides them with a means of triggering ideas, inspiration, and mind
expansion. The Oulipo (Ouvrior de Littérature Potentielle) have experimented
with such constraints as the N+7 rule in which every noun in a
story is replaced with the word that falls 7 words ahead of it in the dictionary. (…)

Writer Mike Keith ventured into an Oulipian state of mind when he
retold Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” using the constraints that the lengths
of words are the values of the digits in pi. In particular, Keith’s work
“Near a Raven” encodes the first 740 decimals of pi: 3.1415926.…The
poem starts:
Poe, E.
“Near a Raven”
Midnights so dreary, tired and weary.
Silently pondering volumes extolling all by-now obsolete lore.
During my rather long nap—the weirdest tap!
An ominous vibrating sound disturbing my chamber’ 63

In 2001, Christian Bök published Eunoia, which includes five chapters,
each one of which is a prose poem using words with only one of the
five vowels. “Eunoia” is also the shortest word in the English language
to use all five vowels. 64

Antonin Artaud (1896–1948) was a philosopher and glossolaliac who
consumed peyote with the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. He believed
that peyote triggers the brain to remember “supreme truths” difficult to
obtain by other means. (…) His final radio play was “To Have Done with the Judgment of God.”
Artaud wrote this odd piece while in psychiatric institutions, where he
was essentially tortured with excessive electroshock and other therapies.
He wrote, “I myself spent nine years in an insane asylum, and I never
had the obsession of suicide, but I know that each conversation with a
psychiatrist, every morning at the time of his visit, made me want to
hang myself, realizing that I would not be able to cut his throat.” 71

Today, italics have
invaded every aspect of our lives. However, as I poll passersby on the
streets of Shrub Oak, I find that not a single person knows when italics
was invented, why it was invented, or by whom it was invented. For
virtually everyone alive today, the origin of italics is a mystery.
Let me tear away the veils of this mystery. Italic type, with words
slanted like this, was invented around 1500 by Italian printer Aldus
Manutius. Manutius used italics in a dedication for a book of works by
Latin poet Virgil. Manutius’s dedication was for his native Italy. The font
was based on the cursive handwriting called Cancelleresca, used in the
government offices of Venice and other Italian city-states. This new
slanting style came to be known as Italicus, which means Italian. 72 f.

“There is a disease which consists in loving words too much.
Logophilia first manifests itself in childhood and is, alas,
—Peter Ackroyd, “Visions from an addiction to fiction,”
The Times (London), March 20, 2002 77

Chapter 4

[Einstein] said, “I assert
that the cosmic religious experience is the strongest and the noblest driving
force behind scientific research.”2 79

2. Einstein, Albert, “On ‘Cosmic Religion,’ a Worship of the Harmony
and Beauties of Nature That Became the Common Faith of Physicists.”
In Einstein, Albert, Cosmic Religion with Other Opinions and
Aphorisms (New York: Covici-Friede, 1931), 52

Daniel Pinchbeck in Breaking Open
the Head says, “smoking DMT is like being shot from a cannon into
another dimension and returning to this world in less than ten minutes.”
The transition from our world to the DMT universe (“DMTverse”) occurs
with no cessation of consciousness or quality of awareness. In
DMTverse, beings often emerge and interact with the DMT user. The
beings appear to inhabit this parallel realm. 82 f.

The DMTverse can feel utterly real in terms of detail and potential
for exploration. Most subjects have the feeling that it is an independent
and constant reality that persists and progresses without their paying attention
to it. The reality seems more real than our normal reality. Daniel
Pinchbeck, for example, is convinced that the DMTverse is not simply a
hallucination. He writes, “I knew it was impossible that my mind, on any
level, had created what I was seeing. This was no mental projection. This
was not a structure within the brain that the drug had somehow tapped
into. It was a nonhuman reality, existing at a deeper level than the physical
world.” The creatures encountered are often identified as being
alienlike or elflike. Some of the creatures appear to be three-dimensional.
Others appear to lack depth. 84

What is the guarantee that our minds are naturally designed to sense
reality as it “really” is? Perhaps there is no guarantee. If this concept
seems weird, consider a far-fetched example. Imagine a phenomenon or
a creature called a cryptozoid that has been lurking among us since the
dawn of evolution. If our ancient ancestors died every time they perceived
these phenomena, evolution would favor creatures who did not perceive
those creatures or phenomena. [!!] 86

[Benny Shanon, The Antipodes of the Mind]

Among Shanon’s striking findings is that visions different people
experience while under the influence of DMT are similar. People with
different backgrounds, languages, and cultures often see intricate and
majestic landscapes with “lofty towers,” factories with precision parts,
“steeple-like mitres sewn with precious stones,” sparkling palaces with
networks of light constructed by “God,” and visions that they feel
represent the celestial and mathematical fabric on which reality sits. 90


with near-death experiences also often have visions of cities of light—
almost identical to those described in the DMTverse. 90

DMT visions closely parallel the jeweled palaces in religious texts
describing the afterlife or heaven. 91

Many DMT psychonauts return with a certainty that consciousness
continues after death. In particular, they return to our world believing
that their souls exist beyond the body and woven into the fabric of the
universe. 91

do so many people see the machine elves, palaces, and cats? Is it possible
that the mind has certain worn trenches in which we have a tendency to
travel when our blinders are removed, just like the mice with their genes
knocked out? Humans seem to be engineered to seek the transcendent
and ponder God. Shanon suggests that human beings are also constructed
to develop art and worship the holy. If DMT tells us how our minds are
architected, perhaps Homo sapiens were “engineered” to create palaces
and temples, and be delighted by gold and sparkling jewels. 96

Alexander Shulgin once said, “There is a wealth of information built
into us…tucked away in the genetic material in every one of our cells.
Without some means of access, there is no way even to begin to guess at
the extent and quality of what is there. The psychedelic drugs allow
exploration of this interior world, and insights into its nature.”21 99

21. Shulgin, Alexander and Ann Shulgin, Pihkal: A Chemical Love
Story (Berkely, California: Transform Press, 1991).

[James Kent] believes the DMTverse to be no more than an aberration of
the brain’s perceptual mechanics. According to Kent, when DMT enters
the brain, perceptual distortion occurs in the same way that a line of code
inserted into a computer program can drastically alter the way information
is presented on a computer screen. He also points out that the sensation
of seeing aliens, elves, or being in the presence of God(s) is not unique to
DMT users. Otherwise sane people who have never tried DMT report
these sensations all the time, and it is generally treated as a sign of
psychosis. Recent research has shown that, by stimulating parts of the
temporal lobe, one can reliably reproduce the feeling of being in the
presence of God or angels, or of being watched.29

29. Kent, James, “The Case Against DMT Elves: James Kent Attempts
to Tie a Knot in the Meme of Autonomous Elves and Other DMT Entities,”

For Kent,
the appearance of elves is less interesting than the messages they
sometimes give [right on!], which Kent says revolve around the environment or
botanical ecosystems. Even the skeptic Kent wonders if DMT provides
some way for “plant consciousness to commune with us.” 105

Chapter 5

Did you know that a significantly large number of established writers
and artists have had bipolar disorder, a disease in which patients oscillate
between depression and hyperactive euphoria? (…) Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, Cole Porter, Anne Sexton, Vincent van Gogh, Gustav Mahler, John Berryman, Edgar Allan
Poe, Virginia Woolf, Herman Hesse, Mark Rothko, Mark Twain, Charles
Mingus, Tennessee Williams, Georgia O’Keefe, and Ezra Pound. (…) (Bipolar
disorder used to be called manic depression.) 111 f.

For a long time, I have been interested in brain syndromes that appear
to open portals to new realities. For example, in the previous chapter, we
discussed temporal lobe epilepsy and its effect on religiosity and
transcendent experience.
Here I want to focus on people afflicted with certain eye diseases
who report encounters with elflike beings from parallel universes. In
particular, people with Charles Bonnet syndrome see beings from another
world. Many scientists would call these beings hallucinations. Others
call this syndrome a portal to a parallel reality. These individuals with
Charles Bonnet syndrome (or “Bonnet people”) are otherwise mentally
sound. The beings appear when Bonnet people’s visions deteriorate as a
result of eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration—or when
patients have had both eyes removed. Charles Bonnet syndrome is more
common in older people with a high level of education. 116

[the Charles Bonnet Syndrome will play a major role in anothe book I will be reading shortly, Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks]

People with Capgras syndrome (“Capgras people”) act as if they are
in a parallel universe in which family members are “doubles” or
“impostors.” When Capgras people see a friend, spouse, or themselves
in a mirror, they believe they are seeing an impostor who looks just like
the original person. Sometimes Capgras people even believe that
inanimate objects—like a chair, watch, book, or lamp—have been
replaced by exact replicas. If Capgras people own a pet, the pet may be
seen as an impostor, a strange animal roaming through their lives and
homes. In one case, a man with a large pituitary tumor believed that his
wife had replaced hundreds of his possessions with similar, but inferior
Capgras patients are often so disturbed when they see their
doppelgängers in the mirror that they remove all mirrors from the home.
(Doppelgänger is the German word for a ghostly double of a living
person.) Capgras syndrome, named for French psychiatrist Jean Marie
Joseph Capgras, afflicts thousands of people in the United States. Some
people with Capgras syndrome have epilepsy or strange-looking temporal
lobes in the brain. In fact, about 30% of Capgras cases are associated
with obvious brain pathologies like those produced by head traumas or
epilepsy. However, these conspicuous physical factors do not seem
necessary or sufficient to explain the peculiar manifestation of Capgras’
syndrome. Some Capgras people exhibit an imbalance in dopamine or
serotonin levels in the brain.
What generalizations can we make? An analysis of dozens of Capgras
people suggests that, in most married patients, the spouse is the primary
double. In widows, other relatives are the doubles. In single persons,
usually the parent or sibling becomes the double. The Capgras patient
identifies his or her spouse as being a fake—identical in every possible
way, but still a replica. The patient will accept living with these impostors
but will secretly “know” that they are not the people they claim to be.
This reminds me of the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. 119

I’ve also had friends with relatives who were asomatognosiacs. People
with asomatognosia do not recognize a portion of their bodies as their
own. You might point to an asomatognosiac’s hand, ask them what it is,
and the asomatognosiac might say “my brother’s hand.” People afflicted
with prosopagnosia are unable to recognize faces, even if they can
recognize almost everything else. Prosopagnosiacs can be quite intelligent
and live fairly successful lives, but they can walk past family members at
a party and not recognize them. Often a prosopagnosiac tries to identify
and distinguish family members by studying their clothing. 120

M. David Enoch and Hadrian Ball list several other related syndromes
in their blockbuster book Uncommon Psychiatric Syndromes

[Reduplicative paramnesia; intermetamorphosis; Syndrome of Subjective Doubles]

chapter 6

In 1933, Einstein wrote, “If one purges
all subsequent additions from the original teachings of the Prophets and
Christianity, especially those of the priests, one is left with a pedagogy
that is capable of curing all the social ills of humankind.”11

11. Statement published in the Romanian Jewish journal Renasterea
Noastra, January 1933. Also published in Mein Weltbild; reprinted in
Einstein, Albert, Ideas and Opinions (New York: Crown, 1954), 184–

In 1943,
Einstein reaffirmed, “It is quite possible that we can do greater things
than Jesus, for what is written in the Bible about him is poetically
embellished.”12 131

12. Quoted in William Hermanns, “A Talk with Einstein,” October
1943, Einstein Archive 44-285.

In Deirdre Bair’s recent Jung: A Biography, we learn that Jung was
“Agent 488,” secretly working for the Office of Strategic Services, the
predecessor to our CIA. In 1943, during World War II, Jung’s job was to
analyze the psychology of Nazi leaders for spy-recruiter Allen Dulles. In
1945, General Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander, actually
read Jung’s ideas for persuading the German public to accept defeat.
Dulles thoroughly relied on Jung’s psychological advice, including
Jung’s prediction that Hitler would kill himself. Later, Dulles said that
“nobody will probably ever know how much Professor Jung contributed
to the Allied cause during the war…[and that his work needed to remain]
highly classified for the indefinite future.” 135 f.

Probably the best book about The Project [Benjamin’s Arcades] is The Dialectics of Seeing:
Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project by Susan Buck-Morss.
She writes, “Benjamin took seriously the debris of mass culture as the
source of philosophical truth.…The surrealists recognized reality as a
dream; The Arcades Project was to evoke history in order to awaken its
readers from it.” 137

Pi, symbolized by the Greek letter π, is a “transcendental number.” It
is a never-ending, patternless sequence of digits. Each digit appears with
equal frequency. 152

about how pi lets us transcend our Earthly existences.
Incidentally, the first person to uncover an infinite product formula for pi
was French mathematician François Viete (1540–1603). This remarkable
gem of an equation involves just 2 numbers—π and 2:

π = 2 x 2/√2 x 2/√(2+√2) …

never worked with a negative number like -3. The concept of negative
numbers started in the seventh century AD. At this time, we first see
negative numbers used in bookkeeping in India. The earliest documented
evidence of the European use of negative numbers occurs in the Ars
Magna, published by Italian mathematician Girolamo Cardano in 1545.
Al-Khwarizmi, who was born in Baghdad, discovered the rules for algebra
around 800 AD. Obviously, there is quite a bit of surprisingly simple
mathematics that was not around in Jesus’s time.


there is a man today who
forced himself to achieve over 100 goals set down on paper in the early
years of his life. The man’s name is John Goddard. When John was only
a teenager, he took out a pencil and paper and made a long list of all the
things he wanted to achieve in life. He set down 127 goals. Here is a list
of just some of his goals:
1. Explore the Nile River
2. Play “Claire de Lune” on the piano
3. Read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica
4. Climb Mt. Everest
5. Study primitive tribes in the Sudan
6. Write a book
7. Read the entire Bible
8. Dive in a submarine
9. Run a five-minute mile
10. Circumnavigate the globe
11. Explore the Great Barrier Reef of Australia
12. Climb to the very top of Cheops’s Pyramid
Impractical? Not at all. John Goddard has accomplished more than a
hundred of his original 127 goals. He’s become one of the most famous
explorers in the world. Goddard is the first man in human history to
explore the entire length of both the Nile and Congo rivers.

Chapter 7

[Marcel] Proust apparently had a darker side to his life, with which most people
are unfamiliar. For example, according to French writer Maurice Sachs
(1906–1945), Proust achieved sexual release by watching pins stuck into
live rats.4 He also seemed to get sexual enjoyment by defiling objects of
veneration, for example, by spitting on or insulting photos of his mother,
whom he loved.5

4. + 5. White, Edmund, Marcel Proust (New York: Viking, 1999), 136.

(…) The essence of In Search of Lost Time can be described in just a few
words: A man leaves home, searching for happiness. He does not find
happiness by traveling, but instead learns that happiness comes from
within and in the home he left behind. True journey is return. Another
Proustian message: Slow down. Take life at a more leisurely pace. Take
your time. 166

According to Marc McCutcheon, author of Damn! Why
Didn’t I Write That?, of the 50,000-plus new books published each year,
only about 3,500 are fiction. A mere 120 fiction releases each year are
first novels of an author 169

I submitted this book to about 80 publishers. All rejected it except for
the current publisher. The first rejection letter came on August 2, 2004,
and the acceptance letter came on October 4, 2004. The current publisher
sent the contract as a Word document through e-mail. I returned the
contract with some modifications, and then we signed. The contract states
that I will receive 15% of the gross sales, that is, money received by the
publisher for sales of this book. I will receive 50% of the amount received
for the disposition of secondary rights such as translation or motion picture
rights. 171

I was able to publish more than 30 books since
1990 because of “drive,” not “talent.” Dean Koontz says that “If I’ve
learned one lesson in life, it is that you can have all the ability in the
world and it means absolutely nothing without perseverance.”19 187

19. Ramsland, Katherine, Dean Koontz: A Writer’s Biography (New
York: HarperPrism, 1997).

I love collecting books, and occasionally face the sad task of discarding
older books in order to make room for new ones. I do not know if
many psychiatrists consider “bibliomania” to be an obsessive-compulsive
disorder, but the lengths to which some individuals go to handle,
possess, and accumulate books seems to be a form of madness. Some
bibliomaniacs purchase so many books that their social relations and
health are jeopardized. 192

Chapter 8

The anthropic cosmological principle asserts, in part, that the laws
of the universe are not arbitrary. Instead the laws are constrained by the
requirement that they must permit intelligent observers to evolve.
Proponents of the anthropic principle say that human existence is only
possible because the constants of physics lie within certain highly
restricted ranges. Physicist John Wheeler and others interpret these
amazing “coincidences” as proof that human existence somehow
determines the design of the universe. There are alternative explanations
for why the universe appears to be fine-tuned for life, and these
explanations do not require a God or designer. For example, our universe
may be one among a huge number of universes. If these universes have
random values for their fundamental physical constants, then, just by
chance, some of them will permit life to emerge. Using this reasoning,
we would be living in one of those special universes, but no designer is
needed to set the parameters.
This area is of speculation is controversial. Victor J. Stenger, Emeritus
Professor of Physics at the University of Hawaii, has published numerous
books and articles that suggest that the conditions for the appearance
of a universe with life (and heavy element nucleosynthesis) are not
quite as improbable as other physicists have suggested. For more information,
see his Web site
Also see his various books listed at such as The Unconscious
Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology
(Amherst, New York: Prometheus, 1995), and his paper, “Cosmythology:
Is the Universe Fine-Tuned to Produce Us?” Skeptic 4(2), 1996. Also see
the Craig-Pigliucci Debate (William Lane Craig vs. Massimo Pigliucci),
“Does God Exist?”

Paul Davies, John Barrow, and Frank Tipler estimated
that a change in the strength of gravity or of the weak force by only one
part in 10100 would have prevented advanced life forms from evolving.16

16. Barrow, John and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological
Principle (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).

There is no a priori physical reason these constants and quantities should
possess the values they do. This has led the one-time agnostic physicist
Paul Davies to write, “Through my scientific work I have come to believe
more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an
ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact.”17 201

17. Davies, Paul, The Mind of God (New York: Simon & Schuster:
1992), 16.

curiously, one milligram of
matter may initiate an eternal self-reproducing universe.19 202

19. Rucker, Rudy, Seek! (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows,
1999), 150–151. See the chapter “Goodbye Big Bang,” which discusses
Andre Linde’s baby universes.

Chapter 9

Angelus Silesius (1624–
1677), a German mystic of the Counter-Reformation, thought the flow
of time could be suspended by mental powers. He wrote: “Time is of
your own making; its clock ticks in your head. The moment you stop
thought time too stops dead.”

Many modern novelists, philosophers, madmen, and provocateurs
deeply believe that time is not what we think it to be. Novelist Philip K.
Dick, for example, suggested that time on Earth has stopped in the year
50 AD, and he gives concrete reasons for his theory in his breathtaking
essay “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later,”
in I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon. In short, he believes that our world today
is not taking place in the 21st century, and we are deceived and live in a
counterfeit reality lodged in a spacetime pocket in 50 AD. He writes:
My theory is this: time is not real.…Despite all the change we see, a
specific permanent landscape underlies the world of change: and this
invisible underlying landscape is that of the Bible; it, specifically, is
the period immediately following the death and resurrection of Christ;
it is, in other words, the time period of the Book of Acts.…[There is]
internal evidence…that another reality, an unchanging one, exactly
as Parmenides and Plato suspected, underlies the visible phenomenal
world of change…and we can cut through to it.…Thousands of years
pass, but the world of the Bible is concealed beneath it, still there
and still real. 215

Unlike today’s researchers,
Einstein required little or no collaboration. Einstein’s paper on special
relativity contained no references to others or to prior work. 220

I wonder how Proust and Einstein would have reacted to increasing
interest in the subject of future-life progression? Probably many of you
have heard of past-life regression, in which a hypnotist “regresses” a
person so that she appears to recall information from past lives. Believers
in past-life regression say that people are able to recall details about life
in earlier times, and this is proof of reincarnation and the existence of
past lives. Skeptics of past-life regression say that, under hypnosis, people
can recall all kinds of information learned during their normal lives and
then incorporate the information into a realistic fantasy.18 Similarly, the
hypnotist’s precise words may implant in a regressee’s mind a past that
never actually existed.
Less well known is the practice of future-life progression, in which a
subject attempts to give information about the future while under hypnosis.
I find this most fascinating. For example, in 1960, California psychologist
Dr. Helen Wambach, author of Life Before Life,16

19. Wambach, Helen, Life Before Life (New York: Bantam, 1979).

began a series of studies
in hypnosis to debunk the notion of reincarnation. Using more than a
thousand subjects, she conducted a long-term survey of past-life recalls
under hypnosis. Dr. Wambach asked specific questions about past time
periods in which people said they lived. She asked subjects to recall their
clothing, footwear, utensils, money, and housing. Wambach came to
believe that these people were actually having recollections and that they
were often quite accurate.
Surprisingly, Dr. Wambach also found that some hypnotized clients
seemed to see their future lives, where they lived in a devastated and
depopulated Earth. Over the next few years, Dr. Wambach conducted a
study of more than 2,000 people undergoing hypnotic future-life
progression. During hypnosis, Wambach offered the participants a choice
of three past time periods and two future time periods in which to enter.
Of the 2,500 people in the study, six percent reported being alive in 2100
AD, and 13 percent said they were alive in the 2300 AD period. In other
words, only a few of the subjects progressed to the future.
Based on what people said under hypnosis, Wambach came to believe
that 95 percent of the Earth’s population would be wiped out within a
few generations. Concerned, Wambach asked one of her students to
progress to a specific date in the late 1990s, but had to rapidly bring the
woman out of hypnotic trance after the woman found herself “choking
to death on a big, black cloud.” Wambach’s subjects told of a future that
included severe earthquakes, a new U.S. currency, severe weather patterns,
financial crises, bank failures, an increase in volcanic activity, the death
of a large number of people, and a European nuclear explosion killing
many people.
Between 1983 and 1985, Wambach worked with Dr. Chet Snow, who,
after Wambach’s death, published Mass Dreams of the Future,20

20. Snow, Chet and Helen Wambach, Mass Dreams of the Future
(New York: McGraw Hill, 1989). Note that Chet Snow received his Ph.D.
in sociology and history and taught at Columbia University before meeting
psychologist Helen Wambach.

contained the results of many future-life progressions performed in the
80s. In an interview published in the Rainbow Ark magazine,21 Snow
said the massive changes in the Earth would take place in the early 21st
century. Subjects saw fleeting images of an Arab-Israeli war. Snow said,
“With regard to atomic weapons, there will be one more atomic explosion
before the end of the atomic era. This explosion will be so terrible and
will shock humanity so badly that no one will dare to use that weapon
again.”22 Later, Snow described how a portion of California would slip
into the sea in 1998. “The dates could change,” Chet said in his book.
“The left-brain linear time-dating system is the most difficult aspect of
right-brain psychic predictions. However, it should not be incorrect by
more than a few decades.”23

21. + 22. + 23. Paragon Online, “Prophets, Scholars and Predictors,” http:// See also,
“Star knowledge UFO conference, interview with Chet Snow,” http://

In an interview in the Leading Edge Newspaper, Dr. Snow suggests
that the future is not set in stone, and that the mind can somehow alter the
I believe, by changing our present behavior, we can change our future.
We can go back in time, through past-life regression, and heal
relationships in the past, and our present will then change because
our vibration is no longer the same. As you think, so you are. The
mind is the builder. I encourage my clients to work now, in the present,
on the pathways they are forming which will build their future. People
ask, “Where do I go? Where are the safe lands?” I say to them, “At
least get away from water.” Let synchronicities guide you. You will
be drawn to a place of safety for you. The new energy on the planet is
about service, but not in a servile way. Be each other’s servant, each
giving your best and receiving the best from others. 24 Dr. Snow focuses two different regions of time: 2100 to 2200 AD and 2300 to 2400 AD.25

24. + 25. Leading Edge Newspaper, “Interview with Chet Snow on Mass
Dreams of the Future,”

At these times, the population is only about two
billion, and there seems to be four different societies. Twenty-five percent
of the test group whom he progressed into the future found themselves
either living on a space station orbiting Earth or on another planet. Their
society was high-tech and had contact with friendly extraterrestrials. Thirty
percent of the group lived on Earth in a high-tech society with machines,
and they lived in domes or underground. They wore jumpsuits and did
not seem happy. Eighteen percent of the group were vegetarians, wore
loose, flowing robes, and lived happily in harmony with nature. Twenty
percent of the group lived in small rustic towns resembling villages of
the 19th century. They wore jeans, boots, and tunics, and raised farm
animals and ate meat. A small percentage of the experimental group
reported living in the ruins of major cities like New York and existing in
a primitive fashion.
Another famous practitioner of future-life progression is Dr. Bruce
Goldberg, author of Past Lives, Future Lives, originally published in 1982,
with a series of reprints, new editions, and sequels published since.26

26. Goldberg, Bruce, Past Lives, Future Lives (New York: Ballantine,

Early in 1981, Dr. Goldberg believed it was possible, under hypnosis, to
rise above the stream of time and look ahead, just as one can rise in a
helicopter above a highway and view traffic congestion to be encountered
by cars traveling down the road. As an informal test of short-term
prediction, Dr. Goldberg progressed a man named Harry Martin who
worked in a newsroom. Goldberg asked Martin to look at a newsroom
assignment board to see if he could read news items about events that
hadn’t occurred yet.27 This seemed to be a worthwhile test of hypnotic
Here are the details of the journey. On February 2, 1981, Harry began
his first trip into the future. Goldberg progressed him one week forward
to February 9 and told Harry to read from the newsroom assignment
board or from the actual script of the day’s newscast. Harry complied
and progressed a week in the future where he saw state aviation officials
investigating the crash of a light plane near Route 406. It turned out that
a plane did crash in nearby Bowie, Maryland, on February 9, although
the item did not make it on the air.
Next, Harry said he saw a very long name on the newsroom
assignment board. Dr. Golberg’s session was as follows:28
DR. G: What is the next item on the assignment board?
HARRY: It’s the name of a place, I think, but I can’t make it out.
DR. G: Can you spell it?
HARRY: It’s a long name. It’s a very weird combination of
consonants. It’s the name of a man.
DR. G: What letters can you make out?
HARRY: ST W KI…It’s a long Russian-type name.
On February 9, Stanislaw Kania, Poland’s labor leader, was told that he
might soon be fired unless he instructed his workers to return. You can
read Dr. Goldberg’s book for a complete list of short-term predictions
involving accidents, interviews, and fires to decide for yourself if these
are simply minor coincidences or something more meaningful. 220 ff.

chapter 10

Both paper and the Internet break the barriers of time and distance, and
permit unprecedented growth and opportunity. In the next decade, communities
formed by ideas will be as strong as those formed by geography.
The Internet will dissolve away nations as we know them today.
Humanity becomes a single hive mind, with a group intelligence, as geography
becomes putty in the hands of the Internet sculptor. 228

For one thing, I would like humanity to create space probes that travel
to Europa to search for life in the liquid water of this Jovian moon. Second,
I would establish a DMT machine-elf research center, which would
then be able to secure the legal right to perform clinical studies on the
uses of DMT. (…) While our first inclination is to dismiss these machine elves as insane
hallucinations, I would like scientists to investigate them further. At worst,
we will learn more about the human brain and archetype-like themes
buried in our unconscious. At best, we may discover something about
the very structure of reality, space, and time. Because we encounter reality
through the filter of the mind, the more we learn about the mind, the
more we learn about the fabric of reality. 229

Finally, I would also create an on-line virtual reality reminiscent of
Burning Man. I’d call it the Aortic Arch. The emphasis is perhaps less on
art but more on ideas. Here, we’ll discuss books like Geoff Dyer’s Yoga
for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It, Daniel Pinchbeck’s Breaking
Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary
Shamanism, and movies like Vanilla Sky, Jacob’s Ladder, and From
Beyond. But more importantly, we’ll be doing—writing books together,
creating art, generating ideas. Anyone can participate in the Arch, but the
upper realms are open initially to the movers, shakers, and dreamers who
have achieved something in life, like writing a book, making a movie,
patenting an invention, or simply becoming famous. 231

As an aside, I recently experienced a lucid dream in which I stood in
a room with a dozen other people, and I was nearly certain I was dreaming.
I approached one of the women and started to conduct a survey of
the people in the room in order to determine how many of them realized
that they existed in a dream and that they were simply a product of my
mind. The people did not want to comment on my assertion. 233

If I had to manage a foundation that gives money to scientists, I would
also consider high-quality “generalists” as recipients. (…) I would devote
a portion of my money to training generalists who traverse several fields
and then bring together ideas in ways that specialists may be unable to
do. They will also look for overlaps between different domains of research
and try to solve shared problems with a single approach. 234

I have not had drug-induced psychedelic experiences, although many
people who read my Neoreality books seem to think I have had chemically
enhanced hallucinations. In some sense, I have to put a damper on
my creativity and visions. Some of my publishers even tell me I write
too much and should slow down. Nevertheless, my mind, visions, and
ideas continually fly. As Salvador Dali said, “I am the drug!” 242

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