Thursday, July 31, 2008

People: Agency, Love, Friends' Dalton Letter

Given the tens of thousands of generations that precede us, I think human beings - homo sapiens - can be thought of in the following ways:

Humans are experiential, feeling, thinking, remembering, imagining, sentient, networking, idiosyncratic, embodied, procreating computers {conscious, cultural, distributed input-think/feel-output bodymind systems that can have babies and can self-program (“add/remove programs?”;) / learn / plan and that also have been 'selected for' / “encoded” in ancestral environments via Darwinian natural selection, and by family and community (acculturation)}.

I see this as the beginning of a 'theory' of the 'person' - as well as the 'subject,' the 'individual' and the 'actor', in anthropological and social theory senses - that incorporates information technology metaphors, evolutionary biology {Darwinian evolution by natural selection}, as well as a conception of agency {choice}.
I contextualize this conception of human-ness in this letter - scottmacleod.com/daltonletter.htm - about love and loving bliss vis-a-vis a kind of far-reaching 'realism' :).





Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tree: Evolutionary Biology & Nontheist Friends

Here's an overview of one possible way of thinking about evolutionary biology and nontheist friends, involving a kind of historicization of biological developments as I see them.

{For one definition, see the Wikipedia entry on nontheist friend. Although partly engaging a contemporary Quaker conversation, I think of this term in a broad sense}.

There are so many tens of thousands of generations that precede us - to the beginning of life 3.5 billion years ago - and a predisposition for people affiliated with even nontheism (atheism) not to engage questions concerning evolution. This is curious to me, perhaps because this seems to represent a significant disjunction between biological legacies and cultural ones, to use language I engage.


So, a quick sketch from my perspective vis-a-vis life and nontheistic (atheistic) friends:

In the Cambrian explosion some 530 million years ago, a little cordate creature developed, through evolution by natural selection, - perhaps something that could have been an ancestor of ours. (See Gould's "Wonderful Life" on the fossil finds in the Burgess Shale from the Cambrian).

65 million years ago, dinosaurs disappeared in the K-T extinction, but frog-size reptiles and squirrel-size mammals survived. (It was warm and there was food, even if it was dark for extended periods of time, is one main hypothesis).

7-5 million years ago homo sapiens emerged, standing upright.

About 60 000 - 100 000 all of our ancestors left Africa. (See anthropologist and geneticist Spencer Wells' research).

Language's emergence is lost in the depths of time and generations (although see Terrence Deacon's "The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of the Brain and Language" for an explanation of how the human brain got bigger due to articulation of symbols (his thesis)). 5500 years ago is the first evidence for the beginnings of writing.


There's lots of history to 1660s, when Friends (Quakers) started to sit in silent meeting, and conduct meeting for business, and develop the peace testimony, generating social forms that have continued through to today.

Staying with the biological, I wonder if the centering down that occurred in a) silent meeting and the listening that occurred in b) meetings for business, as well as the orientation to c) peaceableness, were forms of the relaxation response (Benson 1972 - a biological phenomenon, that can be very harmonizing and integrating), leading to calm, group, social networking, and a successful approach to age-old, human, group, conflictual tensions through nonviolence, in an increasingly prosperous, yet industrializingly-chaotic Britain - with long, evolutionary biological antecedents. (Were Quakers somehow more like Bonobo chimps {Pan paniscus}, about whom data so far shows to be peaceful and without war or homicide, than common chimps (Pan troglodytes}, which make war and commit homicide?) In this privileging of biology, early Friends would have troopbonded (Money 1988) around the above practices, as well as early Friends' (Quaker) language, which they found beneficial and socially integrative for the group, but wouldn't even have considered explaining these in biological terms, as this discourse didn't exist 350 years ago.

Nontheistic friendly thinking emerges (see link above), and the 'biological' logically (if not theism, then biology ... ) comes into the conversation, but with thus far a lack of engagement with questions of biology and human evolution by nontheist friends, that I have read.

Originating from anthropological, sociological and information technological interests and knowledge, I think that engaging questions of biology/human evolutionary history & nontheist friends' discourse, exclusive of identity questions (vis-a-vis anthropology), if possible, has merit.

And given the centrality of the Internet (as a new, far-reaching cultural development) to this nontheistically friendly conversation, perhaps giving rise to a new nontheistically friendly {Quaker identity & other}, where are nontheistically friendly kids (biology)?

I think it would be fascinating to engage questions of evolutionary biology to complement the questions nontheist friends have been exploring thus far. Looking forward to further conversation with nontheists and theists.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Evolutionary Biology & Nontheist Friends

I'm writing to see if we might develop a far-reaching conversation about evolutionary biology vis-a-vis nontheist friends. Here's an overview of one possible way of thinking about evolutionary biology and nontheist friends, involving a kind of historicization of human evolution.

More soon ... limited internet access.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Forest: World University as Linux-like OS for world learning

Over the past 10 weeks on Berkman Island (I'm not on Harvard's faculty) in Second Life, the 3-D virtual world, the class I teach there has been exploring the idea of a global, degree-granting, open, free, multilingual, virtual world University, with Harvard {or great Universities) as a key player, and using a Linux OS / Wikipedia / Global Voices Online model, for the developing world (third and fourth worlds) and everyone.

Come and join the last class of the summer in-world (Second Life) this upcoming Wednesday, July 30, 2008) to converse - socinfotech.pbwiki.com - click on "How to Get There."

As we've been envisioning it, anyone might add courses to or take courses from this University, like Wikipedia, although degree-granting, at first, would be for matriculated students, perhaps, for example, at Harvard, MIT or Cal Berkeley. While all countries (around 200, perhaps starting with the countries in Global Voices Online) and all languages (possibly 3000, but starting with those languages in Wikipedia) will be part of this, I'd like to focus at first on the countries that MIT's One Laptop Per Child is also engaging: Rwanda, Ethiopia, Colombia, Haiti, Mexico, Peru, USA (Birmingham, Alabama), Uruguay, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Cambodia, & Papua New Guinea.

World University might offer four courses, at first, in each of these countries, to be engaged possibly on One Laptop Per Child and iPhone-like devices. And people in these countries can, of course, add their own courses to the wiki, with knowledge they would like to share. And Harvard professors, for example, might also teach 4 courses at the undergraduate level, and 1 graduate level course, in the fall of 2009, with at-large participation possible. A video-capable iPhone-like device would allow people who are illiterate to take and post courses to this wiki.

World University is doable and far-reaching. It's also already open in rudimentary form, to which you can add courses, and could extend thousands of years in the future - http://globaluniversity.pbwiki.com, generating a remarkable archive of courses over time. Perusing this wiki will give you an idea of ways in which this University may develop, and you can add to this wiki by, at present, contacting me. In addition to academic courses, this "Multilingual University" will be open to almost all possible courses, including Ph.D.-related ones, and those in Medicine, Music (both Western and Indian classical, with instrumental training possible), Veterinary, Law, Electrical Engineering, etc., as well as 'harmonizing' and therapeutic courses like yoga, Watsu, and acupuncture.

At present, if you're oriented to learning on your own, you can start taking courses from, for example, MIT's Open Course Ware listing of 1800 courses, with many video lectures already posted. But credit and degree-granting isn't yet pragmatic in this envisioning, and I think this might take possibly 10 years to develop. People ultimately train their own minds in whatever learning context, and World University may well facilitate this in new ways.

Almost every aspect of learning that takes place in a classroom or learning situation now, is possible to engage in virtual worlds like Second Life today, and these virtual world technologies will develop a lot in the next few years.

I've posted the roughly 9 transcripts about "World University," so far, from the "Society and Information Technology" course I teach in Second Life here http://socinfotech.pbwiki.com.

I think this project might cost at least 1 billion U.S. dollars per year, and a "World University Foundation" would facilitate the financial side of this project, but this University would be free to students.

We've been talking about names for this University, and right now World University, Multilingual University, Aphilo's Multilingual University, Rainbow University, World School or Knowledge University have come up for discussion.

Please share your thoughts here about "Global School," "Aphilos University Multilingual" or "World University." Enjoy this forest :)


World University, in Africa

Why not create a U.S. $10 solar, video-capable, iPhone-like device, in conjunction with One Laptop Per Child, to distribute easily in Africa, for example, in the Congo, so that peoples there might start to teach and learn courses vis-a-vis World University's Wiki, in Agriculture, Business, Computer Science, English, and in Kikongo, Lingala, Tshiluba, Swahili, French and English languages (of the estimated 242 languages of the Congo)?

With this World University Wiki, local teachers could use such devices to teach one-to-many wherever Internet access is available, in conjunction, to start, with the most competent University there, and to record courses directly to the World Wide Web.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sun: Watsu ~ water shiatsu

Harbin Hot Springs experimented a lot in the 1970s, affirming massage, bodywork and touch, as modalities in human interaction, and as part of the Human Potential Movement. Watsu {water shiatsu} developed uniquely at Harbin, in the context of its pools and beautiful milieu. And from this, a Watsu school emerged at Harbin.

At the end of a Watsu {water shiatsu treatment} recently, I found much relaxation & inspiration. In Watsu a practitioner draws a recipient of Watsu through the water, generally on top of the water; waterdance is done underwater. The recipient of the session, which might last an hour, is cradled, nurtured and moved through warm (96 degrees?) water in a way that is kind of a dance between two people in the most fluid and enjoyable environment imaginable. The recipient can explore releasing.

A communication grows out of this between the two that is very receptive, opening & wonderful. It's a kind of dance in the sun in water, a watery sundance.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Purple Sage: Ishvara, Words & 'Flow' Experiences


Ishvara


Ishvara bought the Harbin land in 1972 and something remarkable has emerged there since then. {Ishvara is the name for lord or 'supreme controller' in the Hindu pantheon of concepts of divinity}. I think Harbin gives rise to whole new kinds of 'flow' experiences in the aggregate ~ the pools, the relaxation response there, the clothing-optional pool area, Watsu {water shiatsu}, the 'New Age' language and related, shared understandings, the sociality, dances in the conference center, and in the mini-masterpiece of a new cob and bale Temple, that's like a rose, the free films, the restaurant, the openness and freedom, the nature - all these come together to shape a milieu that is unique and wondrous. Much of this originates in relation to the warm pool, and leads me to consider how the Harbin pools are 'technologies' for both releasing, as well as 'virtualization.' Harbin hasn't developed very much in terms of building since the time when Ish bought the land, which also contributes significantly to its beauty and milieu. :)


Words

In the context of ongoing study of counterculture, I'd like to examine how words are technologies, that can have virtualization effects. I'd also like to examine ways in which reading is a technology of the mind, that can have similar qualities to virtualization. Both of these can not only be 'trippy,' - a psychedelic experience, characterized by the perception of aspects of one's mind previously unknown, including hallucinations, changes of perception, synesthesia, altered states of awareness, and mystical states, and literally meaning 'mind-manifesting' - but also rich, 'flow' experiences. When both come together, what occurs can be wondrous, wild & beautiful. Since language is with us in so many ways from early childhood, it's hard to see how remarkable and virtual language is. It's also difficult to cultivate it explicitly as 'virtualization' techniques, say, to explore loving bliss or 'trippiness.'


Someone gave me a new name recently at Harbin in the pool area, I think:

~ Plant Trees Scott




*



Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Water: Harbin Hot Springs


Harbin Hot Springs


I enjoy how free-flowing going into and out of the Harbin pools is. People trickle in and out at all times of the day and night, all days of the year, - quite wonderfully. The process is very organic, like water flowing down hill. When people come out of the pools, things seem quite harmonious for them, and they’ve only been soaking in warm water.

I’d like to document Harbin in the form of an ethnography to create an interpretive record. I’d like to start by characterizing the physical property of Harbin as a field site, leaving aside, for the moment, Sierra Hot Springs and the other properties that Heart Consciousness Church (Harbin) owns.

An anthropology of communities like Harbin on the west coast of the U.S., informed by the 1960s and 1970s, would also include Alpha Farm and Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon, for example. They have many aspects in common as communities and organizations, including having achieved economic sustainability. And they each have developed in conjunction with ‘cultural’ developments of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Perhaps there is less idealism, exploration, radicalism, and free-thought in U.S. culture at large, and, instead, a kind of basic business orientation. But each of these communities has survived because individuals here have paid attention to the business side of the communities that have emerged.

I see Harbin also as a kind of far-reaching 'virtual' space, with a unique fabric of life. I think many people share this at Harbin, as well. In one sense, Harbin is a leading expression of the New Age. Significantly influenced by the 1960s and 1970s, Ishvara bought the land in 1972 to be a Gestalt Center with hot pools. Lots of hippies came here in the 1960s as well, when Harbin was nominally Harbinger University. Institutionalized as Heart Consciousness Church around 1975, Harbin perhaps expresses its visionary aspect here, as well in its architecture, and the residents who live here.

What are the effects of the Harbin waters? People come to visit the Harbin pools, and some settle in the area, so Harbin contributes to building a fabric of life beyond the Harbin valley. The relaxation response that Harbin's pools elicit has an effect on people's sense of ease and community, which then translates Harbin 'rippling' in to the local community. And there are a lot of other effects of the pools, including 'virtualization' ones ... :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Flax Seed: Loving Bliss, Omega-3 Fatty Acids & Harbin's Warm Pool ~ L.B. 'Musical' Explorations


Loving Bliss


What's the biology, or more specifically, neurophysiology of the experience of loving bliss? And what is the anthropology of loving bliss?

Again, here's my definition of loving bliss:

~ experiences that are deeply, gratefully, reciprocally appreciative and affectionate, both with a friend or friends, and alone, as well as profoundly and naturally high at the same time, and which are ongoing, biological, 'flow' experiences.

Omega-3 fatty acids (1000 mg 3-4 times per day from flax seed oil, for example) seem to allow for the neurophysiology of loving bliss's emergence, in my experience. For me, ingesting omega-3 fatty acids lead to a biological, harmonizing effect. (Please let me know of studies that support this clinically as this is anecdotal, but Dr. Andy Weil's web site is a rich reference).

For me, too, Harbin Hot Spring's warm pool, as well as Harbin's milieu, can lead to a far-reaching, relaxation response (Benson 1972) which richly contributes to a basis for loving bliss.

{And Ecstasy - [MDMA - methylene_dioxy_meth_amphetamine] is another instance that loving bliss is neurochemical, although I don't recommend taking it.}

For 'flow,' Csikszentmihalyi's book "Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience," about how enjoyment works, shows empirically that this process involves focus or concentration with a goal in mind.

In an anthropological sense, some liminal spaces - places outside social structure - e.g. Harbin, some religious gatherings, Grateful Dead concerts, ragas, traveling, etc. - are sometimes where communitas emerges, and can give rise to loving bliss, in my experience. But I find the 'flow' experience of releasing to elicit the relaxation response particularly salutary, and especially in the Harbin warm pool.


Thinking novelly, with a knowledge-orientation, and systematically, how to access loving bliss when one wants to, and in the ways one wants to, naturally and in far-reaching ways, while functioning well in Modernity, and raising kids, for example?



Loving Bliss Explorations

Seeking loving bliss 'chamber music' musicians, improvisers and composers :)
for the next many decades

For a creative exploration of loving bliss qualities

Naturally and neurophysiologically

Contact - scott@scottmacleod.com


Loving Bliss as Musical Explorations


Guidelines
for practicing loving bliss
scottmacleod.com/GuidelinesPracticingLovingBlissvavMusicalInstrument.htm
vis-à-vis practicing a musical instrument



Sunday, July 20, 2008

Light at Rainbow: Photo Show, Countercultural Places & Organizations

Here's a Rainbow Gathering 2008 photo show:)





And here are some 'places' and organizations that started in the 1960s and 1970s, emerging from counterculture:


Harbin Hot Springs (Ishvara bought the land in 1972): harbin.org

Esalen Institute (1962): esalen.org

Naropa University (1974): naropa.edu

Omega Institute (1977): mahalo.com/Omega_Institute


Alpha Farm in the Oregon coastal range (1972): pioneer.net/~alpha/index.htm

Rainbow Gathering (1972): welcomehome.org

The Hog Farm (1960s): campwinnarainbow.org

The Farm in Tennessee (1971): thefarm.org

Green Tortoise Adventure Bus Line : greentortoise.com

Oregon Country Fair (1969): oregoncountryfair.org

Twin Oaks Intentional Community (1967): twinoaks.org

Grateful Dead (1965): dead.net

Contact Improv (1972): contactimprov.net




And these places played significant roles, as well:

Hot Springs

Wilderness areas

Cal Berkeley: berkeley.edu

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Roots: Source code, Anthropology & Counterculture

Countercultural Roots

Harbin Hot Springs, the Rainbow Gathering and the Internet (like reading) all 'generate' source code, metaphorically, and especially vis-a-vis counterculture.

Hippies are creative and can be very amusing and clever in responding to Modernity. Harbin is one such example. Wavy Gravy is another {wavygravy.net}. There are a lot of these ;)


Field Sites

I'm interested in the anthropology of counterculture, information technology {cyberspace & TCP/IP}, in California and the west coast of the U.S., India (esp. Kerala and the Malayalam language), Switzerland (German, Italian, French and Romansh languages), Greece, Turkey, and Scotland (Scots' Gaelic), - as field sites.


Rainbow Gathering

I didn't see any money changing hands at Rainbow. It was also free to attend the Rainbow Gathering, and the kitchens and camps gave away good food, so food is free there. There were also trading circles, where people exchange things about which value they agreed upon. These are interesting ways of doing things differently in contemporary America.

At Rainbow I heard people talk about the end of Babylon (which, for me, means Modernity, but is Rastafarian meaning corrupt and decadent society) and the envisioning of a new age. It was particularly Rainbow people from northern California – Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties - that I heard express this. I haven't heard this language much at Harbin.


Blogging

And we can all generate 'source code' to the Internet for free with blogs, - here: blogger.com (one of the easiest and best) to participate in this conversation.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lotus: Harbin, India & Freedom

I was talking with B at Harbin today on the sun deck near the Mainside pool area. He has visited India, as have I. India feels and is very connected, we agreed ~ it's an incredible place for its tolerant and wide-ranging fabric of life. But India is very ritualistic, he observed, and these patterns are very ingrained in an age-old society. I observed that social patterns there are very unconscious, especially around conceptions of the divine, and there are a lot of these in India. And the U.S., in particular, has 'broken' this, I observed, with, for example, both with Modernity and the separation of church (with some historical connotations of culture, etc.) and state (e.g. see George L. Alexander's 'Separation of Church and State' online in “Friends' Journal” in Jan 2008), written into the U.S. constitution. And the U.S. also has deep-rooted strands of individualism and libertarianism in its fabric of life, which support this freedom to express, to think freely, and to create as one wants. But in some ways, B observed, the U.S. is more spiritual than India. You can create your own 'thing' spiritually in the U.S., that isn't ritualistic, - much more easily than in India, and especially on the west coast of the U.S., I said, {and at places, for example, like Harbin Hot Springs and vis-a-vis the Rainbow Gathering}. And these opportunities for creation expanded enormously and creatively with the 1960s and 1970s.

Anthropological research into the west coast of the U.S. especially California, as well as India, will lead to different interpretations than the above, or extend them in far-reaching ways.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blackberries: Harbin Haiku-ish

Harbin Haiku-ish


Watsu in the heart pool
Two people water dance
Fluent ease together




Mind flowers stream
Through you, be-easing
Us deeply into warm waters




Sun on the hill trees
Above the pools
One bougainvillea crimson alit




Stylus on parchment
Love-symbols emerge
Warm pools' emergent ideas




the future of harbin
ten generations ahead ~
water, warmth, love




Harbin neurophysiology sings ~
what would extend these chemical
flows of mind-freedom?




hot pool, cold plunge
light through a leaf ~ fig:
green light smile




After the cold plunge, look up
through the woods 'round the pools
complexity, depth and light




deep sleep night
rad tent skylights
rested bodymind merges in pools




Wailing to the Harbin pools
Along the mountain path
Snow in the green canopy




Snow covers the pools' ridge line
Steam rises from the heart pool
Pool's warmth lingers in my body




walk over quiet water bridge
green springing up
here harbin hail now










(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2008/07/harbin-haiku-ish.html - July 17, 2008)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rose: Loving Bliss & Harbin Hot Springs


Loving Bliss


harbin hot springs' pools elicit bliss

via the relaxation response

friendly eyes and naked bodies soften

dream time affects the brain

sing with that lyric in your mind


rise, rise, explore and delve

loving bliss comes, ~ let it grow

and flourish like a flower, in your mind

ring out, sing out, fly with those mind-chemicals

and see what transpires


under-examined ~

where does bliss come from? what can elicit it? when will you live it?

and all the time? can you evoke it as you will?

what is it? what stimulates it? what is the soup?

place, people, milieu, ideas

a lily, a friend abloom,

a blush, a rose in the water

we snuggle and embrace in the water,

so softly,

so lovely

and people cuddle in the water

and do watsu and water dance

under the fig tree


the ridge,

the dragon's ridge -

look now, ~

in the golden light

so old, so present -

let it grow in your mind as you soften

into that bliss of ease and the moment


but love - that is rarer,

and for it to rock out,

to sing,

to rise to bloom -

something is needed -

or is it random?


loving bliss -

like a rose in bloom in your mind -

is an old experience,

which I find cultivatable

let's and now ~

but soften first,

and if you allow an opening ...

it can and does emerge

now ~ into the warm waters,

into the harbin pools

or create your own


http://scottmacleod.com/LovingBlissPractices.htm















(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2008/07/loving-bliss-harbin-hot-springs.html - July 16, 2008)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ferns & Horsetails: Plant Evolution at the Rainbow Gathering

Botany one day ~

Walking up the beautiful, flower-filled way through the birch forest toward main Meadow on July 3, I came upon a plant walk, led by 7 Song {Northeast School of Botanical Medicine} and Frank {Plants and Healers}, two knowledgeable botanists who have come to the Rainbow Gathering a lot, I think.


To a large group, they talked about and brought alive the natural flora around us.


They told us about:

willow - salix

spring beauty

lodgepole pine - pinus contorta

shooting star - dodecatheon

veronica scrofulacia - speedwell

the rose family

juniper - a gymnosperm

clover - in the pea family - trifolium


7 Song had to go to another plant talk, so Frank continued to tell us about plants. He recommended "Botany in a Day" by Thomas J. Eppel, which had a table that listed the evolutionary calendar I was asking him for information about. For example, this table showed that angiosperms emerged around 180-140 million years ago, and horsetails and ferns' (the phylum or division Pteridophyta, also known as Filicophyta) emerged beginning about 360 million years ago, in the early Carboniferous, and their emergence spanned around 300 millions years.



It was fascinating to learn about plant evolution and plants in this wilderness at the 2008 Rainbow Gathering, focusing all of our minds, and helping to see the natural world in much detail.


Omega-3 fatty acids

7 Song and Frank also mentioned some plants that had Omega-3 fatty acids in them that are found at 9000 feet in forests like these.

I'm curious, but didn't ask, why omega-3s seem to have a harmonizing effect on the bodymind. Dr. Andy Weil's web site's search field {http://www.drweil.com/} provides information about this, but I haven't seen a lot of clinical studies about this specific effect. Omega-3 fatty acids, (200-1000 mg, 3-4 times a day from flax seed oil) also are beneficial for heart disease, bone density, and many other things, for which there is evidence.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fire! - Rainbow, National Forest Service, Law Enforcement and Counterculture

Fire!

Toward the end of the Vision Council in the middle of a beautiful meadow in lovely weather on the last day of the Gathering, after the speaking feather had passed around the circle of 75 or so people, and most people had said something, a woman came running toward the group shouting: "Fire, fire - fire at Handicamp!"

Many people immediately ran toward the plume of smoke in the distance, grabbing shovels and water.

I headed toward the smoke after 10 minutes or so, and after trying to find out more information.

I walked with many others for 30-45 minutes, probably 1.5 miles to 2.5 miles, in the direction of the smoke through a Lodgepole pine forest, over lots of fallen wood, but still open forest. After crossing a wire fence possibly 1.5 miles away from the main meadow, which may have indicated leaving National Forest land, and entering Bureau of Land Management land, many Rainbow people were spread out making their way through the forest to try to help put out the fire. By the time I and another woman got close enough to the fire to see dark smoke, the mosquitoes were thick, and a helicopter was flying over head dropping flame retardant. There was a wind, and I was trying to get upwind of the fire, and was also concerned about fire's fickleness, and the woman I was with was scared, so we turned back. The distance we had covered, and the fence we had crossed made it clear that this fire hadn't started in a Rainbow Gathering camp, contrary to what the woman at the Vision Circle said. Some young men from the Rainbow Gathering who were nearby said they had to come to put out the fire, one saying he would risk his life to do so.

When we got back to the meadow, much of the Rainbow Gathering was heading home. The fire was put out. I didn't hear from anyone who had gotten close to the fire. And it was a curious fire with curious timing. To have a fire around 2 miles from the Gathering was not safe. As we were driving out of the Bridger-Teton National Forest and leaving the Gathering, I saw about 15 fire fighting vehicles, including the helicopter, parked in a meadow. How did they get up there so fast? Was this fire near the Rainbow Gathering a National Forest Service planned, controlled burn?


Law Enforcement in the Rainbow Kids' Village

On July 1, 2008 at dusk, the first day of the Gathering, during the first circle in main Meadow, law enforcement officials came into Kiddiecamp - the kids' village at Rainbow Gathering, - with guns. Here are some videos:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=S1SL58BHBSc&feature=related
http://youtube.com/watch?v=cV9s7rT1-iY&feature=related

There are more videos on youtube.

I stayed in the circle 150 yards away, and from a distance saw a kind of Rainbow mob reaction to this intrusion, where about 1/4 of possibly 200-400 people broke away from the main circle to go to this challenge.


The State and Rainbow Councils

The "state," in the form of law enforcement, seemed to do something very dangerous and senseless here by going into the kids' camp with guns. And did they have any kind of role in starting the fire 2 miles away? These events echo a social pattern from the 60s and 70s that helped produce and enlarge counterculture.

Rainbow Gathering councils, drawing on native American decision-making processes, as a viable form of group decision-making process that are now 37 years old, are a refreshing and fascinating alternative to 'mainstream' decision-making processes such as those used by state bureaucracies in our rational-technical-legal order.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lodgepole Pine & Meadows ~ Connectedness

July 7, 2008

Connectedness

Someone walks by as I'm writing this on my electronic organizer which can connect to the Internet, but not at 9000 feet in a remote National Forest - and asked me if I was "getting a signal?"


States of Consciousness

I talked with Beetha oustide the Early Birds' kitchen-camp. I was exploring the idea of accessing states of mind that psychedelic compounds offer access to, but without compounds.

He mentioned "controlled folly," that is, letting go, as well as "angel walk," as an exploration of positive affirmativeness, where people praise and affirm each other over extended periods of time. Right there at Early Birds' camp, I also talked with two young folks who trip a lot, to find out their thoughts about tripping naturally. One mentioned DSM extracted from Robitussin (an over-the-counter cough medicine), which gave him an experience of tripping in synch with a friend. The woman mentioned complexity as a way to access trippy states naturally, through music, for example, but other ways as well. She also mentioned a book by some French researchers, - Paulwell and Bergier "Magic of Egyptians." I'll look it up. I think I got the worm. Rainbow is a fascinating resource for this kind of anthropological research. Are psychedelic compounds kinds of technologies, that then offer access to novel kinds of information technologies - one's own ideas? Rainbow is an amazing source for perspectives on psychedelics, - technologies for the mind. (I'm only interested in these effects naturally).

When I asked Beetha about how he would access loving bliss naturally - a question I'm interested in - he observed that he saw drumming as a way for him and others to access loving bliss, as well as natural trips, and as a group. People can do this together - by coming in sync with one another through music, like drumming, which is a relatively accessible way to make music. Beetha also mentioned music and dancing as ways to do this.

Yes! - Ethnography of counterculture is a great lifetime project ...


Counterculture


Circle in the meadow is like what I imagine Indian festivals in India to be like. Food was served to us, as if to mendicants, with two rings of people - all hippies - facing each other, and 2-3 people bringing around a huge pot of food and serving us in our bliss-ware, our bowls and spoons, - ah, bliss, this food is good, and we're hungry.

Camps or kitchens at Rainbow are open to anyone coming in for food when it's served. When one camp stops serving food, another starts, but in a distributed way - intensely distributed - but organized very organically or loosely.

Technologies are adopted at Rainbow but very slowly. There are dish cleaning stations, which are three water containers for wash, rinse and bleach, with foot pedals, - very quaint, but effective. There was one solar generator for electricity for the Granola Funk
Theater (at Rainbow for 14 years). People use technologies of tents and camping gear, including solar showers, but apart from the one solar electrical system, there was no electricity so I didn't see one laptop computer. There were no vehicles powered by engines, or megaphones for group communication, and no sound amplifiers, even in the largest circles, so communications were curious. All this expressed to me a kind of back to the land hippie-vision, in sync with nature. I liked this gathering a lot. It was 1972 in many ways, except in date - how was it not? - but I also wondered where the creative developments in instantiations of hippie-mindedness are. Perhaps Harbin Hot Springs in northern California is an example of this. Rainbow is a partly a gathering where a lot of people take trips, - drugs are technologies of the mind here. I could imagine Beetha from NY as a kind of Carlos Casteneda-like teacher in these ways. At Rainbow there's a geography of countercultural memes, with freedom at its core.

Things emerge and happen in hippie ways here, - it's far out.


Rainbow is pretty harmonious and wondrous - a hippie life emerged around a couple of high mountain meadows and lodgepole pine forest over 4 weeks - and people tuned in, turned on and dropped out. From this connectedness, love emerged, - counterculturally. How did this happen?

In the 1960s and 70s, people gravitated pretty naturally and fulsomely to the the counterculture, partly in reaction to Babylon. The 60s were a very innovative time, as well as very attractive and sensible to many. Everything was questioned and explored creatively, and a counterculture with its own language emerged. This is still around, but not as widespread as then, and the Rainbow Gathering creates it again.

This black guy who has been cooking a lot at the Early Birds' camp says to people sleeping around its fire, - "Wake up - everybody's going home" :)

Welcome home.

Rainbow Gathering is free ~ "All Ways Free" is the banner on its news sheet. It doesn't cost anything. And so it brings out the salt of the earth, hobos, hippies, Ram Das, and everyone else - the human condition, America today - and it's harmonious. There might have been 10000 people attending .... Rainbow is wild.

This Rainbow Gathering was also very American - surprisingly to me - I only overheard one young British woman. There were very few folks from other countries that I saw.

And the food is free and good. Camps & kitchens make it in abundance. These are tucked around the meadows in the woods. And each camp is a budding culture itself. People gravitate toward them because of affinities they feel: "Crucual kitchen," "Early Birds' camp," "Popcorner," "Handicamp," Kiddie village," etc.

I see this Rainbow Gathering as a kind of people's action, a "Be in," - occupying a national forest for a month. And it just happens because of a shared vision. And some stragglers probably stay on my the summer.

Thanks to the 150 law enforcement from 2 different regions outside Pinedale, WY, for (mostly) staying away. The way to lessen their influence, someone observed at the Vision Circle on July 7, 2008, is to not hold a gathering on National Forest land or BLM from 2 - 3 years, and then their budget would dry up.

The shortest distance in to the meadows was about 1.5 miles from the gates or parking areas, so everybody carried a lot of stuff in for their own camps.

"Hey brother," "hey sister" were familiar greetings, as were "take it easy brother - loving you."

"We love you" was shouted a lot, by circles and individuals.

Body cleanliness questions at Rainbow are rewritten for a week vis-a-vis American culture here - everybody got dirty and dusty. Everything is seen a new in counterculture.

At the Vision Council on the last day, the feather was passed around a large circle of people and most everybody spoke.

Loving Ovens', a person, first choice for a site for the Rainbow Gathering next year is the Vince Lombardi parking lot along the Interstate in New Jersey. But many people talked about New Mexico, New England, and Washington State.

Fire!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Springs: Rainbow & Harbin

Rainbow and Harbin

After returning recently from the Rainbow Gathering, I was glad to see how similar are both Harbin and Rainbow, ~ counterculturally. Both began in 1972, when Ishvara bought the Harbin land, and the first Rainbow Gathering met. Both focus on freedoms that found expression in the 1960s and early 1970s, but in different ways. At Harbin, which isn't an annual gathering like Rainbow, but a Hot Springs' Retreat Center that is open all the time, there's an openness about bodies & a Beat or Bohemian quality of life that emerges from counterculture after 37 years, as well as a connectedness which, for all its fractures and disjunctions, gives rise to a fabric of life (culture) that is really rich. There are only a few people who have been here for around 3 decades, and they have a historical view of the Harbin experience and life at Harbin, which patterns and energies are fascinating and uniquely its own. Rainbow started in 1972, as well, and gives rise to expressions of freedom, & peace, love and happiness. "Welcome Home" - in a very positive sense of belonging , of being included - is a familiar greeting there, and I experience a similar feeling here at Harbin at times. Does this emerge out of a countercultural response to the alienation of modernity, now articulated again and again at the Rainbow Gathering? Harbin historically has been welcoming and very inclusive of many people. Almost anyone who comes to the gate can come in - 365 days a year, 24 hours a day - and stay. And Harbin takes in and might give a job to almost anyone, as well. Many of the people who become residents at Harbin have not found a home in the wider society, I think, and Harbin welcomes them.


Counterculture

By countercultural, I mean those human articulations that reflect the transformations and radical re-envisionings of the 1960s and 70s - including the political, spiritual, sexual, psychedelic, communitarian, as well as the back to the land movements and revolutions. These heralded and creatively explored in far-reaching ways the possibility to change society for the better, often against corporate interests, as well as responded to limitations of tradition and modernity (including consumerism). Significant and widespread aspects of society were touched by these transformations and these ways of thinking. Much of this began because mostly white, middle class youth had time on their hands to protest against the war in Vietnam and for civil rights, engaging their first amendment rights of freedom of speech and expression. People very creatively made art with life in a very wide variety of ways. From this emerged a variety of ways of thinking, patterns, new traditions, organizations and institutions, including Harbin Hot Springs and the Rainbow Gathering, which are ongoing sources or springs for living of the future.


Internet

And the Internet, another well-spring, makes both Harbin and Rainbow accessible in new ways.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Oranges: Social Psychology, Wilderness & Freedom, India

Rainbow & Social Psychology

July 5, 2008

Rainbow is wondrous! - especially in the way a sense of countercultural organization just emerges, as well as in the communitas and harmony here, while still remaining very loose. I can see easily this gathering as a social psychology experiment (Milgram, Zimbardo, Darley and Batson), only not designed by a researcher. People come into this national forest, set up a village / town, of possibly 10,000 people and 3 weeks later take it down, and people engage a specific situation and code, which include wilderness and hippie-mindedness, - it's uncannily like 1972 here! There's so much counterculture and exploration of freedom in so many ways. The social determinants are hippie, in contrast to the focus on obedience to authority that informs some social psychological experiments.


Yesterday I waited in the dust and dirt with perhaps 10 distinct circles of people, for dinner - a nice 7 course dinner. We had been asked to form circles to avoid creating lines. It was an example of poorly managed dinner process - with someone trying to cleverly mix things up in the name of sensibleness - a hippie cultivating confusion out of craziness.


Rainbow is another instance of a summer gathering, part of the human social condition. It's also a fascinating example of the grand carousel, the merry-go-round of life. What makes it fantastic is the vibe, the people from all walks of life, and the energy which is high and shared ~ counterculture rising.

People! ~ so many young people {20-25 year olds} - just understanding what is going on, finding release, and chilling.

Life is vibrant here in a very Rainbow way ... and there is no electricity, or electronics.

Because countercultural-mindedness offers opportunities for happiness, freedom and exploration which people like, people seem to select hipness en masse.


There are so many instances of whimsy and generosity, two aspects of hippie-mindedness I appreciate: out of nowhere, in the heat of the day, roll oranges to eat.


India

It's 'India' here at this gathering - in its connectedness, openness, tolerance, friendliness, harmoniousness - but in its own unique way.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Flower: Rainbow - July 4, 2008 - All Ways Free


Rainbow ~ All Ways Free

There's silence here in the main meadow from 7 am until 11:30 am on July 4, 2008.

Many people are sitting and a few are dancing around a pole in the center, hippie-like, colorfully and eclectically.

A naked woman, colored white, and with cloth around her neck, wrists, waist and ankles walks by very deliberately, staff in hand.


Some people are doing yoga, many are meditating. What a colorful harmonious disarray of Rainbows sitting in a flower-filled meadow in silence!

How does communication work in this eclectic gathering? There's a tuned-in-ness quality of communication that is both fascinating and unusual, ~ hippieness.

Last night in the Popcorner grove / kitchen~camp, there was an open mike which was far out. People recited poetry, much from memory, standing on a 2 foot high dais, that was wild - especially if you were tripping on acid. Poetry was spoken with such aplomb, and insight into the human condition, love, sensuality, passion and psychedelics, etc., that it turned my mind. It took place in front of a fire, with a long candle next to the reciter, who stood. You could get popcorn or some-mores (graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows, to melt over the fire) from its kitchen in the woods right there. And the popcorn came in many flavors - pizza flavored, barbecue-flavored, almond and coconut-flavored, ganga-flavored, etc. It was wild, reminding me of the Oregon Country Fair in around 1987, and even Reed College, but very beautiful in its sylvan setting, and with poetry.

And earlier in the afternoon there was a Rainbow Family circus that I videoed.


Hippie-mindedness in all its beauty, other-mindedness & freedom is here.

:)))

There are many social constellations here that emerged in the 1960s and have achieved a durability. And the welcomehome.org Rainbow website helped give shape to this gathering.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Meadows of the Rainbow Gathering


The Bridger-Teton National Forest in central Wyoming, USA, is exquisite. The Gathering is at 8700 feet in pristine wilderness with meadows, forests, and snow-covered mountains in the distance. The last Rainbow Gathering in Wyoming in 1994 also met in the Bridger-Teton National Forest about 75 miles away from this one. It's very loosely organized, yet works, and is free. There are possibly around 10,000 people all living in tents, and some teepees, around a series of high meadows that run for about 4 miles. The wilderness area is about 40 miles from the nearest small town. The roads into the area are very nice.

Much of the forest that connects these meadows is white birch, and very beautiful. The snows in these high altitudes melted not too long ago, and, in a way, a medium size hippie tent town has sprung up for this week. In a way, the emergence of a hippie vision or dream time has occurred, and 40 years after 1968. Rainbow is a far-reaching expression of counterculture with a lot of young people here, as they were involved the 1960s. How does this work? For one, counterculture makes sense as a response to society partly through the freedom it offers.


People are very colorfully dressed, and hippies, who are already liminal - betwixt and between - are doubly so, in that the Gathering is a liminal time - a time of communitas, togetherness without boundaries.

I guess this is all illegal, and the National Forest Service decides selectively what it will enforce. I saw probably 10 National Forest Service vehicles today coming into the area as I was leaving to teach my "Society and Information Technology" class on Berkman Island, from the Pinedale Library, so law enforcement is around, and there's a court hearing today and tomorrow, but this is old news, and history, and these hippie gatherings for 37 years haven't yet gone to the Supreme Court yet, that I know of. (My computer stopped functioning, so I used the library's to teach my class, where we're envisioning a Global University - socinfotech.pbwiki.com, and I'm posting the transcripts) and globaluniversity.pbwiki.com. I hope to post pictures and video at a later date. That the Rainbow Family Gathering meets deep in wilderness areas benefits everyone, in some ways, I think, as there is less possibility for conflict between local communities and hippies, and it allows the gathering to come home, ~ "welcome home" to the Rainbow Gathering.

And Rainbow Gatherings continue to occur, regionally and internationally. The radicalism of the mid-1970s when these Gatherings started - 1972 - may be a little tempered by time, but a countercultural constellation of ways of doing things and thinking carries through, which is enlivening. Rainbow life in these wilderness meadows is delightful and fascinating.





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