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September 14, 2020


I haven't gotten to the second link, but the first link was very enlightening. I enjoy a good bubble-piercing now and again. Thank you.

for a similar take on music theory...

I've been contending for a while now that the U.S. is just a really rich Third-World country. A bigger Saudi Arabia.

Dennett's description sounds like he's looking at Trump opponents and Trump supporters.

But as long as Trump's supporters remain a minority, it's an overstatement to say that the US has left the Developed World. Yet.

(Apologies for bringing politics into a designated non-political thread.)

I don't recall accusing my employers of sedition in that public information job either, not do I recall communicating to the public in meetings that they should be purchasing ammunition to murder the scientists I worked for:


I was laid off from that job during the Reagan administration's purge of public information jobs across the government as they tried to halt all communication to the public about government's work on behalf of the taxpayer.

They outsourced that job to subhumans to limbaugh and the rest of the filthy right wing liars.

Now, the conservative movement is interposing propaganda ministers loyal only to trump the killer to lie to the public about agency missions and goals, and the state of the Union.

I do agree with that lout that ammunition should be purchased for what is coming.

Trump is not leaving.

If he is re-elected, his actions will be unspeakable for another four years.

If he loses to Biden, his actions will be unbelievable and unlike anything this country has ever experienced.

The Constitution has nothing to do with it, since the Founders lacked a certain modernist cast of fascist imagination.

Dang it. Wrong thread. Sorry.

Should be under "Tactics".

The second link touches on a topic that is of interest to me - the variety of modes of human consciousness, and the ways in which different modes are or are not available to people who belong to particular cultures.

In the other thread, sapient links to a post on LGM about kris dances in Bali, in which the dancers enter into trance states. Similar things occur in some Afro-Cuban and Afro-Latin traditions, where and individual's consciousness is seemingly taken over by what they believe to be an orisha - a divine or maybe archetypal spirit or personality.

I played with and studied conga very briefly with a Cuban santero, and also studied Latin music on the drum set with an American - a regular white guy, but who had studied with and performed with some deep Latin and Caribbean guys. One conversation I had with the American guy was whether Americans could even step into the trance and possession aspects of the music at all, whether they wanted to or not.

There are people who have, but only after a really deep immersion in the broader culture of the music. It's unusual.

For most Americans - or presumably any flavor of WEIRD person - there doesn't seem to be a natural path into that. It's like some channel in our consciousness has been turned off.

Not that everybody needs to participate in possession cults, but that's just one example of a range of, for lack of a better term, modes of consciousness that we appear to have lost, or never learned.

Our analytic skills are profound, but our intuitive perception is kind of vestigial.

Our analytic skills are profound, but our intuitive perception is kind of vestigial.

I think there is good reason to be afraid of this kind of trance phenomenon. I have often been interested in it. I would like to have a rapport with God. In the end, though, God is much more capable of reaching me through logic and science (and music, art, and poetry).

I see what's around me, people such as Barr, Pompeo, Cruz - people who claim divine sources. I'll trust logic, and if beauty affirms (or doesn't contradict) logic, it's all good, and makes me incredibly happy. But I'm not going to go with "belief".

My logical mind leads me to suspect that one of the attractions of the trance state is that, if you were in a trance, you obviously aren't responsible for anything you did or said. Doesn't even have to be a conscious desire for plausible deniability.

Do edibles count? I was grooving pretty hard to Black Sabbath's "Master of Reality" Saturday. Not sure I stayed in my usual plane.

words like "trance" and "possession" are pretty heavily loaded with sinister connotations. even "meditation" sends fundamentalist Christians running for their Bible - my MiL truly thinks yoga is Satanic.

and then add the 60's drug panic around the ideas of altered states of consciousness and different 'mental planes' and you end up with a culture that teaches people to be terrified of any mental state where you're not in complete conscious control - alcohol doesn't count of course. why, you could get pregnant, or murder everyone, or jump off a cliff, or embarrass yourself in front of the neighbors!

Do edibles count?

i have a milestone birthday coming up in a couple of weeks. edibles will be eaten.

Satanic yoga? Your MiL might be a marketing genius.

stretch and relax and terrify your octogenarian relatives!

deeeeep corrupting breath, and hold, and exhale as we move into the pose of the ravenous demon. and glare, and glare, and relax.

FYI: 90% of Canadians support continuing the ban to keep Americans from entering.

Do edibles count?

An interesting question. For many shamanic traditions, hell yeah.

even "meditation" sends fundamentalist Christians running for their Bible

and yet, millions of fundamentalist Christians belonging to charismatic denominations enthusiastically participate in altered state ecstatic religious experience every Sunday.

you end up with a culture that teaches people to be terrified of any mental state where you're not in complete conscious control

who is in complete conscious control of anything? what are the downsides, to a culture or a society, of having that as an expectation?

My point overall is less about whether trance states per se are good or bad, and more about how our cultural situation makes certain modes of consciousness available or not.

who is in complete conscious control of anything? what are the downsides, to a culture or a society, of having that as an expectation?

you get a society where people are terrified of deliberately sidelining their analytical minds in all but a handful of very controlled situations (nearly all of which are religious). Puritanism binds us from the grave.

my MiL truly thinks yoga is Satanic

The first time I heard about people who held this view, I thought it was a joke. I guess I still do.

Haven't had a chance to read the links in lj's post yet, but it (the availability of trance states) is of interest to me. Despite a strong allegiance to the empirical method, and analytical approach, I am also aware that the world is a strange place with many diverse strands of "reality" layered on top of each other. And on the whole, I think that's a good thing.

I have a confession here, well 2. First is that the links don't have anything to do with trance etc. But...

Since the virus, I've been reading quite a bit about hypnosis and NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Just before the shit hit the fan, I was out with an acquaintance who I had met online and then we met in real life. He said he did hypnosis and I said 'O rly?' He then proceeded to hypnotize another person who was with us, but who didn't know him very well. I was able to see, up close, that the other person's eyes were undergoing REM when they were in a trance state, beyond the loss of physical control (picked up her arm and it was totally limp). He suggested that the person would be unable to say the number 4, and when awakened, she count 1, 2, 3 and then could not say 4. First, she just skipped, but when pressed with questions like 'what is the number between 3 and 5?' she got very agitated and resorted to gestures. Took her back down and negated the suggestion and then she could.

This induced me to spend a lot of time reading about hypnotism and what it entails. As this Time article says
If you asked 10 hypnosis experts how hypnosis works, you would probably get 10 different explanations


There is a shit ton of stuff out there about it so it is a great topic for these covid times, the rabbit holes one can go down are astonishing. And hucksters abound. But some of the examples resonated with me, like driving in a car and realize that you went to some place you had no intention of going, playing a musical passage and having no conception how you did it, sleepwalking (something I did as a child and it horrified my mother), and how I often have had 'conversations' just before I go to sleep that have me producing stranger and stranger responses. I believe it also links with the research of Csikszentmihalyi, and his concept of 'flow',
a psychological state where one experiences "the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one's sense of time". The wikipedia page links it to hypnosis, but most research in the field takes pains to separate itself from hypnosis.

Unfortunately, there is a knife edge dividing something is plausible and usable or fake. It appears that NLP falls over to the fake side.


(that's gotta hurt)

However, I have several friends who teach here who swear by NLP and incorporate it in their classes and they are good teachers. In fact, a lot of the things they point to as NLP are commonsense stuff.

I'm really curious if anyone has had any experience with hypnosis and what they think happened. If I hadn't seen my friend do it and was reasonably sure that the other acquaintance wasn't pranking me, I probably would have dismissed it all, but now, not so sure.

Hypnosis, briefly:

I quit smoking via hypnosis, lo these many years ago. It was my seventh attempt to quit, and my first successful one. Whether that means hypnosis was remarkably successful, or that hypnosis is successful if you're already inclined toward the goal that you're using it for, or that hypnosis is utterly bogus and the fact that I quit successfully that time is just coincidence, I cannot answer.

I have some exposure to NLP, mostly through attempts to deal with what was at the time fairly severe agoraphobia, but did not find it helpful. For agoraphobia, plain old pharma was a much better solution. For me.

It wasn't my intent to steer the conversation down the path of trance, specifically, that was really just an example. Although probably an interesting one.

FYI: 90% of Canadians support continuing the ban to keep Americans from entering

Who can blame them? After taking all the trouble to get the pandemic under control, why lose it because the neighbors either were willfully ignorant or just couldn't be bothered? As the article notes, it's definitely hurting them. But the alternative seems unarguably worse.


I would say that most Western persons won't get their mentally altered states via religion. It is sports where you get to fall into a controlled mass psychosis. A football match is almost indistinguishable from Aborigine rites that Durkheim described in his 1912 book.

But that's just not cricket.

Lurker, you may be right.

not being much of a fan of watching other people play sports, i don't have much experience there.

playing sports, on the other hand, and getting into 'the zone' is another way a lot of people find a different kind of awareness.

my MiL truly thinks yoga is Satanic

Emily Litella thinks that yogurt is Satanic, so I hear.

"I would say that most Western persons won't get their mentally altered states via religion. It is sports where you get to fall into a controlled mass psychosis. A football match is almost indistinguishable from Aborigine rites that Durkheim described in his 1912 book."

Or, as a stable genius hippie said yesterday: "You'll develop like a herd mentality, (man)!"

From lj's Wiki link on Flow:

The concept of being in the zone during an athletic performance fits within Csíkszentmihályi's description of the flow experience, and theories and applications of being in the zone and its relationship with athletic competitive advantage are topics studied in the field of sport psychology.[42]

Timothy Gallwey's influential works on the "inner game" of sports such as golf and tennis described the mental coaching and attitudes required to "get in the zone" and fully internalize mastery of the sport.[43]

Roy Palmer suggests that "being in the zone" may also influence movement patterns as better integration of the conscious and subconscious reflex functions improves coordination. Many athletes describe the effortless nature of their performance while achieving personal bests.[44][45][46]

In many martial arts, the term Budō is used to describe psychological flow.[47] Mixed martial arts champion and Karate master Lyoto Machida uses meditation techniques before fights to attain mushin, a concept that, by his description, is in all respects equal to flow.

The Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, during qualifying for the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix, explained: "I was already on pole, [...] and I just kept going. Suddenly I was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else, including my team mate with the same car. And suddenly I realised that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel."[48]

Former 500 GP rider Wayne Gardner talking about his victory at the 1990 Australian Grand Prix on The Unrideables 2 documentary said: ''During these last five laps I had this sort of above body experience where actually raised up above and I could see myself racing. It was kind of a remote control and it's the weirdest thing I've ever had in my life. [...] After the race Mick [Doohan] and in fact Wayne Rainey said: ''How the hell did you do that?'' and I said: ''I have no idea.''''[49]

Sports were the first thing I thought of when reading lj's comment, mostly because of the mentioned change in one's sense of time. The most vivid memories I have of that personally involve making difficult catches when playing football (Murican football, that is). Everything ssssllllooooowwwwssss dooowwwwwwnnnnn.

The altered states are not impervious to outside influence, though.

... “I would kind of get ticked off,” she said, “because he was making fun of my president.”

After a while, though, she found that she kept asking her husband, “Did [Trump] really say that? Did he really tweet that? Did he really do that?” She would then look up what Trump said, tweeted, or did, and she began to wonder if she could vote for him again.

“And then, when COVID came,” she said, “and the way that he handled it and just said it was going to go away, I guess that was finally the minute that I was able to step out of that cognitive dissonance and say, ‘I cannot—I cannot—vote for this man.’ ”...

I wrote a paper about flow states a couple years back that got no love from any journals.

One really huge and efficient flow generator that has not yet been mentioned is video games. All the feedback loops built into a good video game are optimized for creating and sustaining flow.

The other thing that I find fascinating about them is the way that they seem to extend the embodiment that I think is at the heart of flow. Sports and dance and the like are all large muscle embodiment, and while there is a lot of fine muscle in playing music, a lot of the more trance inducing musical modes are aimed at dance and enlist a sense of larger movement in the playing.

Video games are mostly hands and small movement and the large movement elements are all in the harmony of virtual bodies and mirror neurons. McLuhan's extensions, indeed.

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