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Blind Boy Apollo
and the All-White Astronauts

New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Saturday, June 2

diachronicity: a causal disconnecting principle

It's a shame when you find the best you can do is hint around. But it happens. I blame a surfeit of passionate intensity -- so much that it's left me sputtering. These hints are from the Wikipedia page for Pierre Blowhard de Chardin.

  • Teilhard de Chardin was suggested in Stephen J. Gould's 1980 book The Panda's Thumb to have been a participant in the Piltdown Man hoax. He did work on the dig at the site in 1913 at which the fraudulent items were "discovered," but the allegation of Teilhard's participation in this has been discredited by a number of historians. [damn. too bad.]
  • Jean Houston, past president of the Association of Humanistic Psychology and former spiritual director to Hillary Clinton [omfg, how could I have forgotten this?], culminates her book Life-Force: The Psycho-Historical Recovery of the Self (1980: 218-20) by recounting her extended encounter with Teilhard when she was 13 years old, which she further elaborates in her autobiography A Mythic Life: Learning to Live Our Greater Story (1996: 142-48). [juicy!]
  • According to Tom Wolfe's 2000 book Hooking Up, the teachings of Teilhard de Chardin influenced many of the engineers that were the creators of Silicon Valley in California. [I started reading this last month. I knew I should have pressed on.]

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. And yet... look again, they are not all alike. They look, in fact, very different. They just all lead to the same place. I go into the Trident bookstore last night after sitting out front for an hour and a half, talking to myself about the impossibility of human communication. If you'd been watching, you would have sworn I was talking to someone. I have mastered the illusion, I guess. So I take what's left of the too-strong iced espresso (or was it the fucking Prednisone?) and go into the store to find the bathroom. Aha, here it is now. But on the way out, I make the mistake of glancing at the shelves. Just a peek. It's a USED bookstore. I got away with only four extra books...

  • Fantasies of the Master Race: Literature, Cinema and the Colonization of American Indians
    Author Ward Churchill is real big in Boulder right now. Oh yeah. But that wasn't what did it. It has an essay on Castaneda's "Don Juan." Now there was a fucker who plagiarized. I don't remember anyone crying for his blood, though. Because Carlos, he was like, you know, mellow, man, and he did cool drugs.
  • Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press
    Speaking of which... I've been wanting this book for years. It's got that certain come-hither bookfeel. But I've never been able to rationalize buying it. Last night I actually looked inside. Oh wow. Operation Paperclip, MK-ULTRA. Nazis fucking everywhere. Well, of course that stuff would be in it. Sometimes you have to wait till the tumblers click. Click!
  • Cloak and Dollar: A History of American Secret Intelligence
    Never heard of it, but it fits my mood. If I'd read the reviews on Amazon, maybe I wouldn't have picked it up. But I can't stop wondering about Alan Dulles and Carl Jung. I know, I know, it was probably nothing. (But what did Bowie know? And his little China Girl? I'll give you men who want to rule the world!)
  • From West to East: California and the Making of the American Mind
    This one might have been the real score. Again, never heard of it. I pick it up... what's this, then? I read the back flap...

    "California intoxicated America, yet its radical culture produced no new singular idea, no sustained program, no groundbreaking human conception or social paradigm. Rather, it evinced an innovation that was radical: the transformation of revolt into style. It was this that California contributed to the American mind and that America has exported, with staggering success, to the rest of the world."

    Does the author think that's a good thing? With my luck, he probably does. But either way, I can't lose. Worst case: more sauce for the gander. Perhaps a nice orange glacé...

This is the opening of Sir Peter Medewar's 1961 review of Teilhard de Chardin's The Phenomenon of Man. Bon apetit!

"Everything does not happen continuously at any one moment in the universe. Neither does everything happen everywhere in it."

"There are no summits without abysses."

"When the end of the world is mentioned, the idea that leaps into our minds is always one of catastrophe."

"Life is born and propagates itself on the earth as a solitary pulsation."

"In the last analysis the best guarantee that a thing should happen is that it appears to us as vitally necessary."

This little bouquet of aphorism, each one thought sufficiently important by its author to deserve a paragraph to itself, is taken from Père Teilhard's The Phenomenon of Man. It is a book widely held to be of the utmost profundity and significance; it created something like a sensation upon its publication in France, and some reviewers hereabouts called it the Book of the Year --- one, the Book of the Century. Yet the greater part of it, I shall show, is nonsense, tricked out with a variety of metaphysical conceits, and its author can be excused of dishonesty only on the grounds that before deceiving others he has taken great pains to deceive himself. The Phenomenon of Man cannot be read without a feeling of suffocation, a gasping and flailing around for sense.
And I said, speaking into the air, "I am working on the theory that what we are seeing displayed here is a deadly serious spiritual circle jerk of mutual self-admiration."