Thu 12 Oct 2006 6:00 AM
If I’m not careful, one of these days I’m going to join a cult. I got about ten minutes into What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? before something seemed a little fishy. I paused the movie and did a little research and bam. What I thought was going to be a passively eye-opening brain-fest is some recruitment video for a faith led by a 35,000 year-old warrior named Ramtha. The film basically makes unsubstantiated claims regarding quantum physics and spirituality that are presented as fact, and satisfactorily lead us to believe that we can manifest our world through positive thinking. It’s tempting to believe that reality is simply a manifestation of our thoughts, because we can control our thoughts right? And it’s easy to bend the unanswered questions of quantum physics to be evidence of that conclusion, because it’s a blank canvas for your imagination with no real danger of being disproved. This in itself is relatively harmless. The real problem comes from a polarization of outcomes. People like myself want to believe that these claims are true so much, that once you find out it’s a new age sect (read: cult), the spell of fantasy melding with reality is broken. I find myself hanging in the balance of despair at the thought that any fantasy is impossible in the face of accepting these facts. It’s my speculation that an inability to reconcile or cope with these feelings leads some people to move in the opposite direction and seek out even more fantastic claims that are so unbelievable, they must be true. The consolation – and in fact what I believe to be a superior solution – is that the mystical or spiritual can be seen in very concrete examples. I’m constantly astounded by the wealth of information constantly flowing before our eyes, and all we have to do is reach out our fingers and watch it bend around our hands. Indeed, if you’ve ever shown someone how to email a photo who has relatively little knowledge of the internet, it can seem like magic to them. I’m not sure that it isn’t. I think that the explanation of something gives it power rather than taking it away. Is a space shuttle trip to the moon more amazing before or after you learn how scientists did it? I’m surprised that the rise of the internet hasn’t heralded a mysticism of its own. Or perhaps it has and I’ve just never seen it that way. Or maybe the average person doesn’t know enough about how it works to appreciate how unknowable it is. It’s the realization that you’ll never read all the books in the world times a million. Blogging can be seen as being a conduit for this unknowable stream; a network of priests preaching the gospel to those who will listen. Only this time it’s not abstract, you can see it, and it will answer your questions. Spam bots are creating other spam bots, and the net as organism is building its own anti-viruses. There are too many autonomous entities existing solely in cyberspace to name and they’re growing on a daily basis. Worlds within worlds. At least this is my protection against the various cults out there. If I
suddenly disappear you’ll know that I’ve found the truth and it’s not in books or the net, but actually purchaseable for ever increasing amounts right here in San Francisco.