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planet Earth’s oldest surgical procedure…
Trepanation is the process of cutting a hole in the skull. According to John Verano, a professor of anthropology at Tulane University, trepanation is the oldest surgical practice and is still performed ceremonially by some African tribes. A trepanned skull found in France was dated at about 5,000 BCE. About 1,000 trepanned skulls from Peru and Bolivia date from 500 BCE to the 16th century.
Bart Huges (b. 1934), a medical school graduate who has never practiced medicine except for a bit of self-surgery, believes that trepanation is the way to higher consciousness. He says that he wanted to be a psychiatrist but failed the obstetrics exam and so never went into practice. In 1965, after years of experimentation with LSD, cannabis, and other drugs, Dr. Huges realized that the way to enlightenment was by boring a hole in his skull. He used an electric drill, a scalpel, and a hypodermic needle (to administer a local anesthetic). The operation took him 45 minutes. How does it feel to be enlightened? “I feel like I did when I was 14,” says Huges.
What led Dr. Huges to believe that trepanation would lead to enlightenment? His first insight came when he was taught that he could get high by standing on his head. He came to believe that by permanently relieving pressure he could increase the flow of blood to the brain and achieve his goal. After he took a little mescaline he soon understood what was going on. “I recognized that the expanded consciousness was attributed to an increase in the volume of blood to the brain.” How has such a simple fact eluded scientists and mystics alike for so many millennia?
In the past, trepanation was used either to relieve pressure on the brain caused by disease or trauma, or to release evil spirits. The former is still an accepted medical procedure. The latter has died out in those parts of the world where scientific understanding has replaced belief in invading demons. Huges has yet to command a large following of trepanners, but he has managed to attract a few supporters with holes in their heads. One of his most illustrious pupils was Amanda Fielding from Oxford, England, who not only lived through the filming of her self-surgery but also became a candidate for Parliament. She received 40 votes from the people of Chelsea in 1978 where she ran on the promise of free trepanation from the National Health Service.
Feilding maintains that having a hole in her head allows more oxygen to reach her brain and helps expand her consciousness. It’s safer than LSD, she says, apparently convinced those are her only two options to expand her consciousness. She claims she now has more energy and inspiration, and is on a permanent natural high. She claims the trepanned are better prepared to fight neurosis and depression and less likely to become prone to alcoholism and drug addiction. One could say that she is very open-minded.
It should go without saying but it must be said anyway: trepanation is risky and can cause brain damage and infection. Also, according to Sugey Restituyo, many trepanners “later claim to have alien contacts and join the Raël movement.”
the Raël are folks trying to build a nice place for Aliens to land when they finally arrive…
have a look at the trailer for “A Hole In The Head” — a documentary on practitioners of contemporary trepanation…
“A HOLE IN THE HEAD” 1998 directed by Eli Kabillio
The United Nations was set today to appoint an obscure Malaysian astrophysicist to act as Earths first contact for any aliens that may come visiting.
Mazlan Othman, the head of the UN’s little-known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), is to describe her potential new role next week at a scientific conference at the Royal Society’s Kavli conference centre in Buckinghamshire.
She is scheduled to tell delegates that the recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before – and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity’s response to any “first contact”.
During a talk Othman gave recently to fellow scientists, she said: “The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day humankind will receive signals from extraterrestrials.
“When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.”
Professor Richard Crowther, an expert in space law and governance at the UK Space Agency and who leads British delegations to the UN on such matters, said: “Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a ‘take me to your leader’ person.”
However, he thinks humanity’s first encounter with any intelligent aliens is more likely to be via radio or light signals from a distant planet than by beings arriving on Earth. And, he suggests, even if we do encounter aliens in the flesh, they are more likely to be microbes than anything intelligent.
welcome to Roky ‘X…
It’s Record Store Day, and Roky Erickson has just finished signing autographs at Waterloo Records in his hometown of Austin, Texas. Now, he’s treating himself to ice cream—rocky road!—as his partner, Dana Morris, shows him a book of bumper-sticker photos she just bought. One is written upside-down. “If you can read this,” Erickson begins, reciting it word for word, “then you are crazy as a nut.”
That’s not how the bumper sticker ends—it says something about rolling your SUV—but perhaps this is Erickson’s way of acknowledging what he is not. Namely, crazy as a nut.
Most crazy people don’t come back from the insane asylum, electroshock treatment, illicit drug use, and alien encounters that have besieged Erickson these past 40 years, as is startlingly conveyed in the 2005 documentary You’re Gonna Miss Me. And they certainly don’t record a triumphant comeback album at 62, as he has now done with True Love Cast Out All Evil, a glorious new collection of autobiographical numbers culled from his old songbooks and meticulously recast by Will Sheff and his Austin rock band, Okkervil River.
“When I heard the songs,” Sheff explains, “there were 60 to choose from, and there are songs like ‘Please, Judge’ [a broken-down piano ballad with a chorus of cicadas, written by Erickson while at Rusk State Hospital following a drug bust in ’69] and ‘Be and Bring Me Home’ [another incarceration song, with redemptive effects fit for an Irish pub following a wake] . . . I just really fell in love with the songs. I knew that as long as I didn’t screw it up, the songs would speak for themselves.”
True Love is truly symphonic, with tranquil touches and a rise-and-fall-and-rise completeness. It’s a much different feel from when Erickson’s 13th Floor Elevators beat the Grateful Dead to psychedelia with 10-plus-minute, peyote-laced jams, later inventing horror rock (heavy metal, really) with songs like “Two Headed Dog” and “Bloody Hammer.” True Love is the at-peace Erickson, his voice front and center, shedding his various myths. (Have you heard the one about the time he levitated?)
Sheff asks Erickson to name his favorite song on the album. “Well, the one you like,” Erickson replies. “I like ‘Fore’ [as in “Forever,” a dreamy Roy Orbison–inspired song about “the pleasure of knowing one’s own name”]. And I like ‘I Am’—’I Am Satan’s All-Purpose Love,’ or something like that.”
“Wait, which song is that?” Sheff asks.
“I am,” Erickson starts singing softly, “dum, dum, I am Satan’s all-purpose love.” He then quotes the Greek-Armenian mystic George Gurdjieff: “Life is only real, then, when I am.”
Erickson drank a lot of vinegar and honey to preserve his voice for these songs, a trick he learned from his mom, a classically trained singer. Sheff also helped him prepare by playing him old r&b music before each session. Indeed, the Okkervil River gang helped him focus. “Sometimes, you just have to make sure that you have guidance,” Erickson says. “Because some things can really be, I guess, annoying to people, and so I try to always just have faith that I’m doing the right thing and have patience. If you do it, do it right.”
I ask Erickson what love means to him, in reference to True Love’s title track, a song he says his mom asked him to write, and whose titular refrain he sings with Elvis-like bravado.
“Well, I like that song by the Beatles,” he replies, attempting to sing it: “All you need is . . . help . . . somebody to help you write a song.”
“Do you think love is a really important thing to have in your life?” Sheff asks.
“Love is a good thing, yeah.” Just then, a little boy comes over, says hi, and grabs Erickson’s doughy hand, as if to shake it. Erickson obliges and says, “OK, thank you.”
see Roky with Okkervil River @ the Mayan Theatre L.A. 5.18, the Fillmore S.F. 5.20, and Webster Hall, NYC 5.25…
never talk to strangers…
The aliens are out there and Earth had better watch out, at least according to Stephen Hawking. He has suggested that extraterrestrials are almost certain to exist — but that instead of seeking them out, humanity should be doing all it that can to avoid any contact. The suggestions come in a new documentary series in which Hawking, one of the world’s leading scientists, will set out his latest thinking on some of the universe’s greatest mysteries. Alien life, he will suggest, is almost certain to exist in many other parts of the universe: not just in planets, but perhaps in the centre of stars or even floating in interplanetary space.
Hawking’s logic on aliens is, for him, unusually simple. The universe, he points out, has 100 billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of millions of stars. In such a big place, Earth is unlikely to be the only planet where life has evolved. “To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational,” he said. “The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like.” The answer, he suggests, is that most of it will be the equivalent of microbes or simple animals — the sort of life that has dominated Earth for most of its history.
One scene in his documentary for the Discovery Channel shows herds of two-legged herbivores browsing on an alien cliff-face where they are picked off by flying, yellow lizard-like predators. Another shows glowing fluorescent aquatic animals forming vast shoals in the oceans thought to underlie the thick ice coating Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. Such scenes are speculative, but Hawking uses them to lead on to a serious point: that a few life forms could be intelligent and pose a threat. Hawking believes that contact with such a species could be devastating for humanity.
He suggests that aliens might simply raid Earth for its resources and then move on: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.” He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is “a little too risky”. He said: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”
The completion of the documentary marks a triumph for Hawking, now 68, who is paralysed by motor neurone disease and has very limited powers of communication. The project took him and his producers three years, during which he insisted on rewriting large chunks of the script and checking the filming. John Smithson, executive producer for Discovery, said: “He wanted to make a programme that was entertaining for a general audience as well as scientific and that’s a tough job, given the complexity of the ideas involved.”
Hawking has suggested the possibility of alien life before but his views have been clarified by a series of scientific breakthroughs, such as the discovery, since 1995, of more than 450 planets orbiting distant stars, showing that planets are a common phenomenon. So far, all the new planets found have been far larger than Earth, but only because the telescopes used to detect them are not sensitive enough to detect Earth-sized bodies at such distances. Another breakthrough is the discovery that life on Earth has proven able to colonise its most extreme environments. If life can survive and evolve there, scientists reason, then perhaps nowhere is out of bounds.
“STEPHEN HAWKING’S UNIVERSE” begins sunday 5.9.10 @ 9pm on the Discovery Channel — check their website for clips and renderings of Hawking’s ideas…
they’re already here…
Aliens may be “staring us in the face” according to Lord Martin Rees president of the Royal Society and astronomer to the Queen of England, “the existence of extra terrestrial life may be beyond human understanding.” He made the remarks shortly after hosting the national science academy’s first conference on the possibility of alien life. “They could be staring us in the face and we just don’t recognize them. The problem is that we’re looking for something very much like us, assuming that they at least have something like the same mathematics and technology,” he said. “I suspect there could be life and intelligence out there in forms we can’t conceive. Just as a chimpanzee can’t understand quantum theory, it could be there as aspects of reality that are beyond the capacity of our brains.” Lord Rees used the conference in January, entitled The Detection of Extraterrestrial Life and the Consequences for Science and Society, to ask whether the discovery of aliens would cause terror or delight on earth. He told Prospect magazine that improved telescopes made the chance of finding extra-terrestrial life “better than ever”. But Dr. Frank Drake, the world’s leading “ET hunter”, told the conference that satellite TV and the “digital revolution” was making humanity invisible to aliens by cutting the transmission of TV and radio signals into space. At present, the Earth is surrounded by a 50 light year-wide “shell” of radiation from analogue TV, radio and radar transmissions. But although the signals have spread far enough to reach many nearby star systems, they are rapidly vanishing in the wake of digital technology, according to Dr. Drake. The scientist, who founded the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence organization in the United States, said digital TV signals would look like noise to a race of observing aliens.