Christopher Fry on the Global Brain

Cover of "Psychosynthesis" number 20 (Firenze, Italy: Instituto di Psicosentesi, October 2013)

Cover of "Psychosynthesis" number 20 (Firenze, Italy: Instituto di Psicosentesi, October 2013)

The human heart can go to the lengths of God.
Dark and cold we may be, but this
Is no winter now. The frozen misery
Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;
The thunder is the thunder of the floes.
The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.
Thank God our time is now when wrong
Comes up to face us everywhere,
Never to leave us ‘til we take
The longest stride of soul men ever took.
Affairs are now soul size.
The enterprise is exploration into God.
Where are you making for? It takes
So many thousand years to wake,
But will you wake for pity’s sake?

Christopher Fry in his play “A Sleep of Prisoners” (New York: Oxford University Press, 1951) written at the invitation of the Religious Drama Society for the Festival of Britain (1950). Cited by Peter Russell in the conclusion of the film “The Global Brain” (Los Angeles, California: Penny Price Productions, 1983) at 33:07. The film is an adaptation of an audio-visual presentation Russell directed at the International Psychosynthesis Conference (Toronto, Canada: July 1, 1983). In turn, the presentation is an adaptation of his text, _The Global Brain: Speculations on the Evolutionary Leap to Planetary Consciousness_, ISBN: 0874772486, (Los Angeles, California: J.P. Tarcher, Inc., 1983). Originally published as _The Awakening Earth: The Global Brain_, ISBN: 1850631018, (London: Arkana, 1982).

Christopher Fry Peter Russell Posted on behalf of and on Friday, November 15th, 2013 under Source Texts.


Rosa Luxemburg on a story of revolution

Lulz vs. Lulz

Lulz vs. Lulz
Image credit: @ArsTechnica (March 7, 2012) - Doxed: how Sabu was outed by former Anons long before his arrest by Peter Bright [ @DrPizza ]

What does the entire history of socialism and of all modern revolutions show us? The first spark of class struggle in Europe, the revolt of the silk weavers in Lyon in 1831, ended with a heavy defeat; the Chartist movement in Britain ended in defeat; the uprising of the Parisian proletariat in the June days of 1848 ended with a crushing defeat; and the Paris commune ended with a terrible defeat. The whole road of socialism – so far as revolutionary struggles are concerned – is paved with nothing but thunderous defeats. Yet, at the same time, history marches inexorably, step by step, toward final victory! Where would we be today without those “defeats,” from which we draw historical experience, understanding, power and idealism? Today, as we advance into the final battle of the proletarian class war, we stand on the foundation of those very defeats; and we can do without any of them, because each one contributes to our strength and understanding.

The revolutionary struggle is the very antithesis of the parliamentary struggle. In Germany, for four decades we had nothing but parliamentary “victories.” We practically walked from victory to victory. And when faced with the great historical test of August 4, 1914, the result was the devastating political and moral defeat, an outrageous debacle and rot without parallel. To date, revolutions have given us nothing but defeats. Yet these unavoidable defeats pile up guarantee upon guarantee of the future final victory.

There is but one condition. The question of why each defeat occurred must be answered. Did it occur because the forward-storming combative energy of the masses collided with the barrier of unripe historical conditions, or was it that indecision, vacillation, and internal frailty crippled the revolutionary impulse itself?

Classic examples of both cases are the February revolution in France on the one hand and the March revolution in Germany on the other. The courage of the Parisian proletariat in the year 1848 has become a fountain of energy for the class struggle of the entire international proletariat. The deplorable events of the German March revolution of the same year have weighed down the whole development of modern Germany like a ball and chain. In the particular history of official German Social Democracy, they have reverberated right up into the most recent developments in the German revolution and on into the dramatic crisis we have just experienced.

How does the defeat of “Spartacus week” appear in the light of the above historical question? Was it a case of raging, uncontrollable revolutionary energy colliding with an insufficiently ripe situation, or was it a case of weak and indecisive action?

Both! The crisis had a dual nature. The contradiction between the powerful, decisive, aggressive offensive of the Berlin masses on the one hand and the indecisive, half-hearted vacillation of the Berlin leadership on the other is the mark of this latest episode. The leadership failed. But a new leadership can and must be created by the masses and from the masses. The masses are the crucial factor. They are the rock on which the ultimate victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were up to the challenge, and out of this “defeat” they have forged a link in the chain of historic defeats, which is the pride and strength of international socialism. That is why future victories will spring from this “defeat.”

“Order prevails in Berlin!” You foolish lackeys! Your “order” is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will “rise up again, clashing its weapons,” and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing:

I was, I am, I shall be!
Rosa Luxemburg in her essay “Die Ordnung herrscht in Berlin” (“Order Prevails in Berlin”) written in the midst of a successful counterrevolution (Berlin: January 14, 1919). It was published the same day in Die Rote Fahne (“The Red Flag”), the paper Luxemburg co-founded (November 9, 1918) with Karl Liebknecht, the more radical son of the founder of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD). The paper was originally an organ of the Spartakusbund (“Spartacus League”), co-founded by Luxemburg and Liebknecht in rejection of the SPD members who voted in the Reichstag to embrace Germany’s imperial war in 1914. Shortly thereafter (City Council reception hall, Berlin: December 30, 1918 – January 1, 1919) the Spartacus League became the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (“Communist Party of Germany”, KPD) at a conference which Liebknecht opened (“The crisis of the USPD”) and Luxemburg engaged (“Our Program and the Political Situation”). In January, a small group of workers seized control of several streets in the newspaper quarter, precipitating embrace by the KPD and a general strike in which half a million workers occupied parts of Berlin. The strike was suppressed by hired Freikorps (“Free Corps”), paramilitaries freshly armed with defeat from WWI, who captured and murdered Luxemburg and Liebknecht the next day (Berlin: January 15, 1919).

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"Die Revolution sagt ich bin, ich war, ich werde sein."

"Die Revolution sagt ich bin, ich war, ich werde sein."
@anonymouSabu on Twitter (March 5, 2012 @ 5:57pm)

“Die Revolution sagt ich bin, ich war, ich werde sein.”
(“The Revolution says I am, I was, I shall be.”)
— (allegedly) Hector “Sabu” Monsegur in the last tweet on @anonymouSabu‘s account, (March 5, 2012 5:57pm CST). The next day, the FBI announced his capture along with five other Anons whom he is alleged to have directly implicated.

Rosa Luxemburg Karl Liebknecht Posted on behalf of and on Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 under Quotations.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on Art’s refutation of lies

Artist's rendering of a transistor radio, the means by which Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Lecture was smuggled out of Russia in the form of nine black and white photographic negatives.

Artist's rendering of a transistor radio, the means by which Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Lecture was smuggled out of Russia in the form of nine black and white photographic negatives.
Image credit: - "How I Helped Alexandr Solzhenitsyn Smuggle His Nobel Lecture from the USSR" by Stig Fredrikson


I AM, HOWEVER, ENCOURAGED BY A keen sense OF WORLD LITERATURE as the one great heart that beats for the cares and misfortunes of our world, even though each corner sees and experiences them in a different way.

In past times, also, besides age-old national literatures there existed a concept of world literature as the link between the summits of national literatures and as the aggregate of reciprocal literary influences. But there was a time lag: readers and writers came to know foreign writers only belatedly, sometimes centuries later, so that mutual influences were delayed and the network of national literary high points was visible not to contemporaries but to later generations.

Today, between writers of one country and the readers and writers of another, there is an almost instantaneous reciprocity, as I myself know. My books, unpublished, alas, in my own country, despite hasty and often bad translations have quickly found a responsive world readership. Critical analysis of them has been undertaken by such leading Western writers as Heinrich Boll. During all these recent years, when both my work and my freedom did not collapse, when against the laws of gravity they held on seemingly in thin air, seemingly ON NOTHING, on the invisible, mute surface tension of sympathetic people, with warm gratitude I learned, to my complete surprise, of the support of the world’s writing fraternity. On my fiftieth birthday I was astounded to receive greetings from well-known European writers. No pressure put on me now passed unnoticed. During the dangerous weeks when I was being expelled from the Writers’ Union, THE PROTECTIVE WALL put forward by prominent writers of the world saved me from worse persecution, and Norwegian writers and artists hospitably prepared shelter for me in the event that I was exiled from my country, Finally, my being nominated for a Nobel Prize was originated not in the land where I live and write but by Francois Mauriac and his colleagues. Afterward, national writers’ organizations expressed unanimous support for me.

As I have understood it and experienced it myself, world literature is no longer an abstraction or a generalized concept invented by literary critics, but a common body and common spirit, a living, heartfelt unity reflecting the growing spiritual unity of mankind. State borders still turn crimson, heated red-hot by electric fences and machine-gun fire; some ministries of internal affairs still suppose that literature is “an internal affair” of the countries under their jurisdiction; and newspaper headlines still herald, “They have no right to interfere in our internal affairs!” Meanwhile, no such thing as INTERNAL AFFAIRS remains on our crowded Earth. Mankind’s salvation lies exclusively in everyone’s making everything his business, in the people of the East being anything but indifferent to what is thought in the West, and in the people of the West being anything but indifferent to what happens in the East. Literature, one of the most sensitive and responsive tools of human , existence, has been the first to pick up, adopt, and assimilate this sense of the growing unity of mankind. , I therefore confidently turn to the world literature of the present, to hundreds of friends whom I have not met face to face and perhaps never will see.

My friends! Let us try to be helpful, if we are worth anything. In our own countries, torn by differences among parties, movements, castes, and groups, who for ages past has been not the dividing but the uniting force? This, essentially, is the position of writers, spokesmen of a national language, of the chief tie binding the nation, the very soil which the people inhabit, and, in fortunate circumstances, the nation’s spirit too.

I think that world literature has the power in these frightening times to help mankind see itself accurately despite what is advocated by partisans and by parties. It has the power to transmit the condensed experience of one region to another, so that different scales of values are combined, and so that one people accurately and concisely knows the true history of another with a power of recognition and acute awareness as if it had lived through that history itself–and could thus be spared repeating old mistakes. At the same time, perhaps we ourselves may succeed in developing our own WORLD-WIDE VIEW, like any man, with the center of the eye seeing what is nearby but the periphery of vision taking in what is happening in the rest of the world. We will make correlations and maintain world-wide standards.

Who, if not writers, are to condemn their own unsuccessful governments (in some states this is the easiest way to make a living; everyone who is not too lazy does it) as well as society itself, whether for its cowardly humiliation or for its self-satisfied weakness, or the lightheaded escapades of the young, or the youthful pirates brandishing knives?

We will be told: What can literature do against the pitiless onslaught of naked violence? Let us not forget that violence does not and cannot flourish by itself; it is inevitably intertwined with LYING. Between them there is the closest, the most profound and natural bond: nothing screens violence except lies, and the only way lies can hold out is by violence. Whoever has once announced violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose lying as his PRINCIPLE. At birth, violence behaves openly and even proudly. But as soon as it becomes stronger and firmly established, it senses the thinning of the air around it and cannot go on without befogging itself in lies, coating itself with lying’s sugary oratory. It does not always or necessarily go straight for the gullet; usually it demands of its victims only allegiance to the lie, only complicity in the lie.

The simple act of an ordinary courageous man is not to take part, not to support lies! Let that come into the world and even reign over it, but not through me. Writers and artists can do more: they can VANQUISH LIES! In the struggle against lies, art has always won and always will. Conspicuously, incontestably for everyone. Lies can stand up against much in the world, but not against art.

Once lies have been dispelled, the repulsive nakedness of violence will be exposed–and hollow violence will collapse.

That, my friends, is why I think we can help the world in its red-hot hour: not by the nay-saying of having no armaments, not by abandoning oneself to the carefree life, but by going into battle!

In Russian, proverbs about TRUTH are favorites. They persistently express the considerable, bitter, grim experience of the people, often astonishingly:


On such a seemingly fantastic violation of the law of the conservation of mass and energy are based both my own activities and my appeal to the writers of the whole world.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (also transliterated as “Alexander”) in part 7 (the conclusion) of his Lecture for the Nobel Prize in Literature (1970). Solzhenitsyn did not accept the Nobel Prize until 1974, and had to smuggle the lecture out of Russia in April 1972. Translated from the Russian by F. D. Reeve in _Nobel Lecture_ (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1972). Cited by The Augustine Club (Columbia University, New York: 1999). Cited in part by Jacob Appelbaum [ @ioerror ] in his keynote address “WikiLeaks: We Open Governments” delivered at The Next HOPE Conference (The Pennsylvania Hotel, New York: 2010). Cited by Nigel Parry [ @FlyingMonkeyAir ] in his blog post “Jacob Appelbaum’s keynote speech at 2010 HOPE Conference in New York City”.

Related Media: @ioerror’s The Next HOPE keynote

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Posted on behalf of on Tuesday, September 6th, 2011 under Quotations.

Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard in the conclusion of “The Great Dictator”

A Jewish Barber: Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up Hannah! The clouds are lifting! The sun is breaking through! We are coming out of the darkness into the light! We are coming into a new world; a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed, and brutality. Look up, Hannah! The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow! Into the light of hope, into the future! The glorious future, that belongs to you, to me and to all of us. Look up, Hannah. Look up!

Mr. Jaeckel: Hannah, did you hear that?

Hannah: Listen…
Charles “Charlie” Chaplin as “A Jewish Barber” and Paulette Goddard as “Hannah” in “The Great Dictator” (California: Charles Chaplin Productions, 1940). Cited as a “Memorable Quote” at IMDB.

Charlie Chaplin Paulette Goddard Posted on behalf of and on Saturday, September 3rd, 2011 under Quotations.


Charlie Chaplin on the patrimony of greed, and its conquest

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone, and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The airplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say, do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you, enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it is written that the kingdom of God is within man, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power. Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill that promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!
Charles “Charlie” Chaplin as “A Jewish Barber” in “The Great Dictator” (California: Charles Chaplin Productions, 1940). Cited as a “Memorable Quote” at IMDB. Thank you to Jamie Corson for the lead.

Charlie Chaplin Posted on behalf of on Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 under Quotations.

Vladimir Vernadsky on “Geochemistry, a New Science for the Twentieth Century”

"Motherland" (Moscow Metro, Moscow, Russia); mosaic

"Motherland" (Moscow Metro, Moscow, Russia); mosaic
Image credit: Art and Faith - Unidentified Artist. Motherland. no date (1960s-80s?))

We live in a critical epoch of the history of humanity.  I am not speaking of the political and social upheaval which takes place before our eyes and appears to be just the beginning.  Much more serious and profound events are unfolding in the domain of human thought.

The foundations of our conceptions on the universe, on nature—the unique entity—on everything, of which one heard so much in the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries, is transforming before our very eyes with an extraordinary speed rare in the history of thought.

We are studying a very small space—but inseparably linked to an immensity of the cosmos—in establishing laws and regularities in the history of the chemical elements of our planet.  Profound analogies—and even more than analogies—exist within.
Vladimir Vernadsky in his text _La Géochimie_ (“Geochemistry“) (1924). Cited by Paul R. Samson, David Pitt, in _The Biosphere and Noosphere Reader: Global environment, society, and change_, (Psychology Press, 1999), ISBN: 0415166446, ISBN: 9780415166447, p. 26.


Vladimir Vernadsky Posted on behalf of on Sunday, August 28th, 2011 under Quotations.

Frank Waters on initiation

“Hush, son! You are in the womb of Our Mother Earth. You will be here many, many months, a long, long time. You have entered a child. You will be reborn from here a man. Then you will know why it is you must stay. Let there be no more whimpering, no more questions, son…. You are in a womb: in it the eyes, the ears, the nose and babbling mouth do not function. The knowledge that will come to you is the intuitive truth of the spirit, the quiescent wisdom of the blood, transmitted through senses you do not use outside. The pulse of the earth throbs through these walls which inclose you; the embers there reflect the heat of its glowing heart; that little hole runs into the center of the world, into the lake of life itself. Remember you are in a womb, child.

“Listen, son. In your mother’s womb you were conceived. From an individual human womb you were born to an individual human life. It was necessary, it was good. But individual human life is not sufficient to itself. It depends upon and is part of all life. So now another umbilical cord must be broken—that which binds you to your mother’s affections, that which binds you to the individual human life she gave you. For twelve years you have belonged to your lesser mother. Now you belong to your greater mother. And you return to her womb to emerge once again, as a man with no mother’s hold upon him, as a man who knows himself not an individual but a unit of his tribe and a part of all life which ever surrounds him.

Lithops, sometimes referenced as "living stones"

Lithops, sometimes referenced as 'living stones'
Image credit: Per-Anders Sjöströms kaktussida / cactus page

“Listen, son. You were born into the human-animal life of sense and nerve and will. But it is necessary that each man sometime be born again: into the consciousness of an even greater life.

“You have learned what in your ordinary animal-existence is necessary for your earthly body.

“Now you must have awakened in you the instinctive need for self-perfection in your inmost spiritual being.

“You must be taught the laws of world creation and world maintenance, the laws of all life whatever form it takes: the living stones, the breathing mountains, the tall walking rain, as well as those of bird and fish, beast and man.

“You must learn that each man has the debt of his arising and his individuality of existence to pay; that this debt must be discharged as early and quickly as possible so that you, as I, as all, may assist in turn the most rapid perfecting of other beings—those like ourselves, and those units of life advanced to the degree of self-individuality.

“For only in this way can life progress, can life exist.

“What is more fitting then, son, that to learn this you must return to the womb of the earth which is the mother of all life? That you be reborn from it into the greater spiritual life as you were born into the lesser life of the flesh?

“Peace, my son. And with it understanding. This period of your gestation will be long—twice as long as was the first, for the life it bears will be likewise longer. The lessons will be difficult, but they will be unceasing. Voices will speak them over and over until their meaning flows through your blood, though the words which must never be repeated be unintelligible to those who have no heart to understand.

A Tibetan father and son on a pilgrimage around China's Mount Kailas

A Tibetan father and son on a pilgrimage around China's Mount Kailas
Photograph by Lynn Johnson
Image credit: National Geographic - Tibetans Evolved to Survive High Life, Study Says

“You will be taught the whole history of our people, of our tribe. How they had their last arising from the deep turquoise lake of life in the center of the world, the blue lake in whose depths gleams a tiny star, our Dawn Lake. How they emerged from a great cave whose lips opened into the world we see, from whose lips dripped water to congeal into perpetual flakes of ice whites as eagle-down. You will understand then, son, why those of our clan are called the Deep Water people; why our kiva, this kiva, is called the Eagle-Down Kiva; the meaning of our masks, our dances, our songs. You will see this cave. You will finally see this lake—our Dawn Lake.

“But behind all this you will learn of previous emergences. Of the significance of the four elements, corresponding to the four worlds from which man has successfully risen. The fire world of rampant primordial forces; the world of air which separated from it; the third world of water which then came forth from the vapourous air; and the present world of earth. From your understanding that the body of man is itself a world derived from these four and hence composed of their elements and corresponding attributes, many things will be plain.

“You will perceive this kinship to all the living creatures of these four kingdoms of fire, air, water, earth. Not only his chieftanship over them, but his responsibility to them. For you will begin to understand that there is another world, a fifth world to which we must all arise, and for the gaining of whose attributes this initiate is a preparation.

“Hence you will be taught, as those Old First Ones were taught, that the pine tree, the corn plant, have a life as we, but that they may be used and that they accede to their sacrifice for the maintenance of all life. You will be taught that the eagle, the trout, the deer, each has a life as we, but that they may be used and that they accede to their sacrifice for the need of progression of all life.

Rain clouds seen from Märket

Rain clouds seen from Märket
Photograph by Niklas Sjöblom
Image credit: Flickr

“But through all these truths will run the one great truth: the arising of all individual lives into one great life, and the necessary continuance of this one great life by the continual progression of the individual lives which form it.

“You will learn that this continuous progression seems to extend infinitely into time. But you will learn likewise that time also is an infinity.

“And that is life. Life must be lived, not learned from. And that is why in full consciousness only there is freedom. And that is why you learn awareness. To life life, in full consciousness, in freedom. Unbound by possessiveness, the possessiveness of your mother, the possessiveness for your son.

“Now I can say no more. You will grind your own corn: it makes song come easier. You will make your own moccasins: busy hands free the mind to the spirit.

“Now I, the father, having deposited his seed, withdraw from this womb.

“Now I, the father, say good-bye to his child.

“We will meet again. But as brothers. As men together. As equal parts of one great life. No longer separated. But in that consciousness of our oneness which gives us our only freedom.
Frank Waters [ foundation ] in _The Man Who Killed The Deer: A Novel of Pueblo Indian Life_, ISBN: 0804001944, (Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 1970), p. 97-100. First published (1942).

Frank Waters Posted on behalf of on Sunday, August 21st, 2011 under Quotations.

C.S. Lewis on pluck and courage

#opBART-2: #Anonymous-convened protest (Civic Center, San Francisco, California: August 22, 2011 5pm PDT)

#opBART-2: #Anonymous-convened protest (Civic Center, San Francisco, California: August 22, 2011 5pm PDT)
Image credit: @exiledsurfer (August 17, 2011 22:02)

Or look at it this way. In a battle, or in mountain climbing, there is often one thing which it takes a lot of pluck to do; but it is also, in the long run, the safest thing to do. If you funk it, you will find yourself, hours later, in far worse danger. The cowardly thing is also the most dangerous thing.
C. S. Lewis in _Mere Christianity_, (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1972), p. 168. Originally published as _Beyond Personality_.

C. S. Lewis Posted on behalf of on Friday, August 19th, 2011 under Quotations.


Csíkszentmihályi Mihály on Robertson Davies on “a chance to recombine in new ways” (August 18, 2011 early am) (August 18, 2011 early am)

Robertson Davies, the Canadian author, said one of the most important things in his life was being able to take a nap every day after lunch for twenty minutes. That’s for two reasons. One is that by developing a schedule that’s under your control, you are not being flogged around by life, as he puts it; you are not always jumping to someone else’s tune. You develop your own rhythm of work and rest. The other thing is that it’s during idle time that ideas have a chance to recombine in new ways, because if we think consciously about solving a problem or writing a book, then we are sitting there forcing our ideas to move in a lockstep, in a straight line, and probably what comes out is not very new or original.

For original ideas to come about, you have to let them percolate under the level of consciousness in a place where we have no way to make them obey our own desires or our own direction. So they find their way, their random combinations that are driven by forces we don’t know about. It’s through this recombination that something new may come up, not when we try to push them directly.
Csíkszentmihályi Mihály (also transliterated as Csikszentmihalyi Mihaly, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) as interviewed by Michael Toms in the New Dimensions newsletter. QOTD for 08.18.2011. Submitted by Kathleen Magone on 08.13.2011.

Csíkszentmihályi Mihály Robertson Davies Posted on behalf of and on Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 under Quotations.

Mercè Piqueras on Vladimir Vernadsky and biospheres

SeaWiFS Global Biosphere (September 1997 - August 1998)

SeaWiFS Global Biosphere (September 1997 - August 1998)
Image credit: The SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and ORBIMAGE.

The concept of a biosphere comes from putting together data furnished by several disciplines such as biology, geology, chemistry and biochemistry, which link living matter and the matter of the upper layers of the planet. The term biosphere, which has been usually attributed to Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863–1945), seems to have been coined by Eduard Suess (1831–1914). However, when Suess first used it, in his book Die Entstehung der Alpen (1875), he only intended to make a distinction between the lithospere—which is the upper layer of the Earth, made up by the Earth crust and the Earth upper mantle—, and the thin spherical film where living beings are found [1, 23]. For Suess, the biosphere comprised life and environmental conditions such as temperature, pressure, and chemical compounds. Vernadsky used for the first time the term biosphere in 1924, in his essay La Géochimie, which was based on a series of lectures he had given at La Sorbonne in 1922 and 1923. Philosopher and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955), philosopher Henri Bergson (1859–1941), and mathematician and philosopher Eduard Le Roy (1870–1954) attended those lectures, and they and Vernadsky influenced to each other’s thoughts [1]. It is the concept of biosphere related to biogeochemistry, expressed in La Géochimie, that is widely accepted today. Vernadsky understood biosphere as the external envelope of the Earth which is inhabited by living things, and comprises both all the living organisms of the planet and the elements of inorganic nature providing the medium for their habitat. Thus, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and other elements and chemical compounds involved in the vital process are constituent parts of the biosphere. As are the products of organisms activities, such as animal burrows and lairs, birds’ nests, deposits of lime and of fossil fuels. Even water is a component—a major component—of the biosphere [8]. Solar radiation, which is crucial for the maintenance of life on Earth, should be considered also a biosphere’s component, and so should products of human activities. In fact, the human species is a major changing force in the current composition of the biosphere.

The study of the biosphere cannot be made only by biologists. To study its components and their interactions, a multidisciplinary approach is needed. However, at Vernadsky’s times nobody even thought of interdisciplinarity. His theory was actually far ahead of the times when it arose. By portraying life as a global phenomenon, in which the sun’s energy was transformed on Earth into a kind of “green fire”—it referred to photosynthesis—he made an anticipation of global ecology; and he made also an anticipation of the concept of “ecosystem” [7, 29].
Mercè Piqueras [ @lectoracorrent ] in the Introduction to her paper “Meeting the Biospheres: on the translations of Vernadsky’s work” (PDF).  Published in International Microbiology: The official journal of the Spanish Society for Microbiology, Volume 1, ISSN: 11396709, (Barcelona, Spain: Springer, June 2, 1998), p. 165.