Friday, December 31, 2010

First impressions upon first listen to Liz Phair's 'Funstyle'

I tend to disown my previous decade's favorite music. Like others change wardrobes and wives, I change Favorite Music. In 1981, I rejected Classic Rawk and embraced (in turn) New Wave, post-punk, and alternative. In 1991, I embraced hip-hip, then grunge, then post-grunge. In 2001, I turned my back on commercial radio entirely and fled to free jazz, which, I predict, I will never reject. But I don't listen to much of my fav, pre-2000 music.

(Okay, I flirted briefly with Latin pop, and you might catch me still listening to Shakira.)

So, it was with GREAT reservations that I bought Liz Phair's 'Funstyle.'. "Career suicide"? Um, no thank you; I have enough of that in my own life, and besides, can she ever write anything as brilliant as "Greased Lightning," which, characteristically, was never issued on LP?  She, the shining star of my fav '90s music? It can only turn out bad.

Well, turns out that 'Funstyle' is good for all the right reasons; i.e., not for her "blow-job queen" lyrics that tricked out her initial revenge-of-the-nerdcore audience, and not for her sub-par (but still listenable) Aughts efforts. There is something about Liz Phair that has always managed to appeal to me: we are simpatico on a fundamental level--we are polarizing figures. We are loved and loathed in equal measures. Hard to know how to respond to such a world. What should we give it?  Damned if you do, damned if you don't.  So, ultimately, you're tempted to say "screw it," return to your roots and from this screwedness toss your audience a 'Funstyle.' This is what we have with Liz's latest effort. It can't be niched, and it can't be forgotten. But I predict I will be listening to it again.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A miscellanea of things...

I noticed that David Jacobs has appeared on Coast To Coast to offer a defense of his practice in the face of "attacks" and "criticisms" of his work (as per the blurb on the C2C website). In fairness, I probably ought to listen to what he has to say, but I don't think that anything he could say would convince me of his side of the argument. I stopped paying attention to the standard abduction argument about a decade ago. Dr. Jacobs in particular bothered me with some of his more conspiratorial alarms concerning alien encroachment of, and gradual assimilation of, the human race by a presumed extraterrestrial species. While I won't rule out his scenario completely (there's always a chance of it happening), the evidence he musters in his defense is highly flawed. In essence, both he and Hopkins have constructed an elaborate and detailed model of "alien" and human interaction from flawed methodology and highly questionable evidence. Hard to believe that both he and Hopkins had me scared shitless about twenty years ago with these theories--which just goes to show that the demons of our imagination are far scarier than the real ones. At the time, I remember thinking that Phil Klass was incredibly naive for labeling Budd Hopkins as the "Typhoid Mary" of abduction research. Phil Klass?? The arch debunker? Turned out... he was right.

Which should demonstrate that while you are not obligated to apply the scientific method to a pseudo-scientific venture, it doesn't hurt to borrow what are the best aspects of science when studying the paranormal: objectivity, collection of evidence, repeatability (I believe that paranormal phenomena can be replicated), and above all, emotional detachment from "your" theories so that if your theories are proven false, you can easily discard them.

Which, in a nutshell, means that if you collect evidence in the wrong way (either ethically or procedurally), if the evidence is demonstrably flawed, I'm not going to bother to listen to any theories you construct on that evidence. And that's the bottom line. That's how science works. We did not drag ourselves from the dark ages of superstition and fantasy, to reach the height of technological achievement of being able to blow up several worlds based on what a supreme being tells us what to do, for naught.

The second thing I want to mention (unfortunately, I have no segue for this), concerns "sleep paralysis." This topic has come up quite a bit on paranormal shows and forums. Usually, "sleep paralysis" is offered as the scientific explanation of the various visions and experiences that experiencers associate with "abductions." While usually much of my writing addresses subjects that I know diddly squat about, I actually do know a bit about "sleep paralysis." Anyone who has experimented with out-of-body experiences is very familiar with the sleep paralysis stage: It is an in-between state where the ego consciousness begins to lose awareness of the physical body and transfers this awareness to (for lack of a better term) the "astral" body. I always know when an OOBE is about to happen: my physical body feels paralyzed. At this stage, you have essentially two choices: you can either push on out and try to launch yourself beyond your body, or you can try to reactivate the physical body and terminate the OOBE. This sleep paralysis state is frequently accompanied by various sounds; the most common sound is of rushing wind. Other sounds that I have "heard" include something that seems to be radio broadcasts, low-frequency rumblings, and--music. I really don't know why these sounds happen, or what they mean. They may not mean anything--they may just be an aspect of the out-of-body experience. But what I'd like to do for the next few blog entries is write about some of the things that I've encountered. I think that this is important because many people have experienced the paralysis state, accompanied by unusual sounds, right before the stereotypical "alien abduction." The skeptic points to this aspect and says, "Ah ha! You weren't abducted--you just had sleep paralysis." But for me, "sleep paralysis" is a validating experience--it indicates to me that you were undergoing a tangible experience, albeit non-physical, and that your encounters afterward were very "real."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thoughts on David Jacobs' defense re: Emma Woods

Dr. David Jacobs has just posted a response to charges leveled by Emma Woods (or at least I just now noticed it). I found it on the George Knapp section via the Coast To Coast iPhone web app, strangely enough, which I almost never use. I don't follow the abduction subject in its current context and no longer have much of an interest in it. I'm not a party to any particular group advocating any specific approach to it. But the Emma Woods story is compelling on many levels, particularly as it illustrates (in my opinion) an apparent abuse of power by someone with the cloak of academic authority.

The gist of Dr. Jacobs self-defense can be summed up as: "Emma Woods is a very unstable individual who acted in a bizarre manner and who attacked me. She is probably mentally ill."

Of course, the paucity of this self-defense is apparent to any fair observer, as it was made by a person of some authority in academia (and in the intellectually incestuous world of UFOlogy) who stepped outside of his role as "oral historian" and humble reporter for the "Daily Planet" and became, instead, a super psychiatric therapist who quickly found himself out of his depth in dealing with very complex behavior. I've been there; I know the temptations, and I know the dangers. And I know that as someone who is barely qualified to deal with my own conscious problems, I might be tempted to think that I can help someone else navigate the truly scary world of the unconscious realm--but I cannot. Dr. Jacobs should have realized this immediately and acted appropriately. And that, in my opinion, is the bottom line of the Emma Woods story.

In a side note, I have dealt with someone who I believe suffered from borderline personality disorder. BPD is, from what I can surmise, a diagnosis in some debate among therapists. But as a pattern of behaviors, it seems well-defined to me. The person that I was involved with was online, so the "dealing with" aspect of it was very difficult. During the course of this involvement I researched BPD extensively and, after months of turmoil, found the tools that allowed me to break out of what was a very intense and destructive relationship. I, however, was not trying to be a therapist, and aside from the intensive negative feedback loop of the relationship, I don't see anything about Emma Woods' behavior to suggest Borderline Personality Disorder. Instead, my gut sense is that she is behaving as someone who has been repeatedly traumatized by something--the nature of which is unknown, and perhaps unknowable.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Dreamland" on the Gateway Experience

Just finished listening to the recent Whitley Strieber Dreamland with Marla Frees describing her experience at the Monroe Institute. Robert Monroe is, of course, the father of modern OOBE studies and truly one of the greats in paranormal research. I stumbled upon his "Journeys Out Of The Body" as a college freshman, and this as well as his later works had a major influence on my personal philosophy. His approach was objective, devoid of mystical mumbo-jumbo, and completely divorced from mainstream religious philosophies (the same qualities that attracted me to Robert Butts' calm commentary throughout the Seth material). I wonder if Whitley elaborates anywhere on his discussions with Monroe. According to Strieber, Monroe had a galley copy of "Communion," and while we aren't told exactly what Monroe thought of the book, he did warn Whitley that he was in serious trouble for publishing it because the US government was deeply involved in the UFO phenomenon.

This particular theme--government and/or military involvement with the UFO phenomenon--has been hijacked by the conspiracy and "disclosure" movements (deliberately, perhaps, to discredit it), but that doesn't mean it's not there. It's not unlikely. No thinking person of the Republicratic party can't help but look at our government and be just a little bit afraid right now.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fiona Apple and Nick Redfern

No, the title is not meant to mislead; I'm trying to save time by writing about two things. I am on a quest for Fiona Apple bootlegs. As various people online have noted, they aren't easy to find. (Any sort of bootlegs aren't easy to find.) By "easy," I mean "free," as bootlegs ought to be. No one should make money off them. I actually do have a one-of-a-kind Fiona Apple bootleg that no one else in the world has, because I recorded it myself. But I would like more of her stuff from ten years ago or so. It's out there. I just have to find it.

I got around to listening to the excellent Nick Redfern being interviewed by the equally excellent George Knapp on Coast To Coast. There aren't too many new ideas in UFOlogy, which is why I stopped paying attention to the field a decade or more ago, but Nick Redfern has one... his research into the "Collins Elite" highlights a strain in UFOlogical thought that associates UFOs with "demons." Particularly, he mentioned the concept that the beings who appear as "aliens" are actually inter-dimensional beings who harvest human souls (cattle genitalia was not specified). Whitley Strieber has mentioned this idea, as well as the link between Aleister Crowley with the birth of contemporary UFO sightings. The theory, in a nutshell, is that Crowley attempted to contact inter-dimensional beings, and he succeeded to such a degree that he opened a "portal" that allowed these entities to come through. It's an interesting idea, and I've never quite heard it articulated like this by other UFO researchers. The reason that I find it interesting is that I personally suspect that the universe (both physical and what we regard as non-physical) has quite a bit of consciousness crawling around it. There's certainly abundant anecdotal evidence of this. And if this is true, we're liable to encounter all sorts of paranormal entities from, practically, anywhere.

My personal gut feeling is that the manifestations that we call "greys" might be associated with mythological archetypes that our ancestors called "demons." The nature of the entities is unknown.

In my youth, my family and I had a number of UFO sightings. Much of the UFO literature during this time was neutral on the nature of these phenomena. Interestingly, though, the dreams (or rather nightmares) that I had concerning UFOs during this same period depicted these manifestations as distinctly malevolent (which is not the same thing as "evil").

Redfern also notes that the "Collins Elite" speculated that these entities sought to be perceived as "real"; that they could only manifest in our reality when we focused on them and "believed" in them--another Strieber idea.

Who knows? Perhaps in a couple of centuries, we humans might have advanced enough to haunt another reality and become "aliens" ourselves.

Now, having said all that--if you have any Fiona Apple bootlegs to trade, let me know.