Thursday, November 30, 2023

Thin, strange, secret frogs

"Like thin, strange, secret frogs" -- the bizarre and memorable simile with which T. H. White introduces the brothers Gawaine, Agravaine, Gaheris, and Gareth in his Arthurian novel The Once and Future King. (This is Gawain of Green Knight fame; The Green Knight is also the title of an Iris Murdoch novel.) They live in Orkney, in the extreme north of Scotland, and speak Gaelic.

"Thin, strange, secret frogs" could also be yet another name for the "monkeys"/"bugs" of my early childhood. Thin, check. Strange, check. Secret, check. Frogs? Well, my 2013 poem "The Bugs" appropriates for its title characters the distinctive onomatopoeia from The Frogs, and in a comment I speculate that  "Aristophanes might have been acquainted with this same riffraff, whom he dubbed 'frogs' for those same 'orrible starin' eyes which led me to call them 'bugs.'" The poem also has an epigraph from another Murdoch novel, A Fairly Honourable Defeat, and connects the bugs with the "minor presences" that haunt the character Tallis Browne. In a memorable scene, Tallis pushes a wheelbarrow around the city; "a useful wheelbarrow for putting things in" is one of the "three mysterious gifts" Tim and Patrick give William Alizio. Tallis's estranged wife is called Morgan; Morgan le Fay is the sister of Morgause, who is the mother of White's four thin, strange, secret frogs.

Basidiumites, the Mushroom People in Eleanor Cameron's novels, also have frog-like characteristics, being baldish, greenish, and big-eyed. Frogs are associated with mushrooms ("toadstools"). Mycetians -- "resident alien" Mushroom People, like Tyco Bass, who come from families that have been living on Earth for generations and who can pass as human -- consider Wales to be their Earthly homeland, and most of them have very Welsh names and speak with a Welsh accent. (Tyco eventually reveals that his original name was Tyco ap Bassyd.) This ties in with White's Celtic "frogs."

Contemporary memes (I saved this one on November 13) also associate frogs with a word suggesting Bassyd and Basidium:

Little Green Men with Celtic names are of course a link to the leprechauns that came up in "William Alizio's links to other stories." In fact, the dismissive way the news reports the story of Tyco Bass's "blowing away" reminds me of the "Crichton Leprechaun" incident. Even when a leprechaun shows up in Mobile, Alabama, it's in a neighborhood with a Scottish/Welsh name. Who all seen da leprechaun say yeeaahh!

Mushroom Planet = Little Skinny Planet = Narrow Desert

This morning I was wondering about this possible identification but hesitated because the Mushroom Planet is (as it would have to be) damp and humid and very much the opposite of a desert. They couldn't be symbolically identical -- could they?

I very rarely use public restrooms, but this morning I had occasion to do so. On a wooden shelf above the urinal was this odd little tchotchke:

In what seems like a pretty direct answer to my question, here we have mushrooms growing alongside cacti in a "desert" environment. Furthermore, the part where the mushrooms are growing is blue. In my January 21 post "The strait and wide gates, ripe and green figs, abundant life, red and white doves," I posted an image of the Three Wise Men riding through a blue desert. The image was a tall and narrow one, leading Wandering Gondola to leave the following comment:

Hee, the recent appearance of both strait/narrow and desert... You could even call the desert on that decoration narrow (albeit blue -- hm, would the moon's surface be classified as desert?).

WG was alluding to the expression blue moon and more specifically to the Blue Moon Valley from the novel Lost Horizon. Oddly enough, there is a passing reference to this very valley in one of the Mushroom Planet novels. David and Chuck are on a tiny satellite (not the Mushroom Planet) and are scanning the Earth with a telescope:

And they beheld a sight they had dreamed of ever since Mrs. Topman had read them Lost Horizon: a green and lovely valley high in the Himalayas between India and Tibet.

This valley plays no role in the plot -- it's just one of several amazing sights they see while looking for something else -- but there it is nevertheless.

Only three of the inhabitants of the Mushroom Planet of Basidium are important enough to have names, and two of them, Mebe and Oru, bear the title of Wise Men. These two are mainly comic-relief characters, not wise at all, and it is clear that the only truly wise Basidiumite is the third: Ta, the king.

Mushrooms in a blue desert. Wise Men in a blue desert. Wise Men on the Mushroom Planet. It all fits together. There's also the consistent Moon motif. The Mushroom Planet is not technically a planet but a second moon of Earth; WG's comment links the Narrow Desert with the Moon; and I did a whole post called "The Little Skinny Planet and the Moon."

The same restroom had this on the wall:

There obviously used to be a d there, but now it says "Have a nice ay." I assume that last word would be pronounced the same as ayy, Internet slang for an extraterrestrial. It also syncs up with two comments I left on my own post "Giraffe on the 'big fat planet'":

In Russian, the backwards R is the pronoun I, and is pronounced "ya."

Some Egyptologists identify the left wedjat eye (which looks like R) with the Eye of Horus and its mirror image with the Eye of Ra.

If "ya" = Я = Eye of Ra, then it follows that "ay" = R = Eye of Horus. According to one common interpretation, the right wedjat eye ("of Ra") is the Sun, and the left ("of Horus") is, you guessed it, the Moon. (William Wright had asked where I was going with the Russian comment, and I'd said I didn't know yet. Now I know.)

Also in this restroom -- I think this is the most photos I've ever taken in a toilet! -- was this:

The caption for this wouldn't be "No smoking"; it'd be "Gravity: It's the law. Maximum fine $10,000." Cigarettes and cigars have recently entered the sync-stream, and the defiance of gravity is a link to the translation of Tyco Bass.

Tyco Mycetes Bass as a translated being

Near the end of The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, David Topman, realizing that his mother doesn't really believe he has been to Basidium but is just humoring him, he determines to take her to see Mr. Bass and go to the Mushroom Planet herself. Just then they are interrupted by a voice from the radio:

"-- and here's a little item that's been giving us a great deal of amusement in the newsroom. A small boy phoned in a few minutes ago to tell us that this morning, very early, before the storm had gotten well under way, but after the big wind had already begun, he looked out of his window and saw a neighbor of his swooped up by the gale and whipped right off into the sky. Up and up he went -- so the little boy said -- turning this way and that, his coat flapping about his ears, until he finally vanished altogether, a mere speck in the clouds." Over the radio came the deep, hearty, jolly voice of the newscaster, relishing to the fullest this ridiculous story. "Well," he finished, still chuckling, "I guess there's just no telling what's going to happen around here. Some storm!"

Mrs. Topman turned, laughing.

"Isn't that funny?" she said. "Imagine!"

"No," said David. "I don't really think it's funny," and he turned and went off to his room to think . . . (p. 148).

Later they go to Mr. Bass's house and meet the boy who made the report:

"I saw him this morning," said he, "but he blew away."

There was a moment of stunned silence.

"Blew away!" burst out Cap'n Tom at last. "Great jumpin' Jehosaphat! What was that ye said -- blew away?"

"Yes, sir," said the little boy respectfully, but in a perfectly matter-of-fact voice. "My mom let me phone the radio station and I told 'em he blew away. I saw him. I looked out of my window when the wind was really getting strong, and I saw Mr. Bass go up in the air like a leaf in the sky --" here the little boy made an upward, fluttering movement of his hand -- "and that was the last of him. After it stopped raining, I came over here to look for him. I looked in his planta . . . in his observatory, and in the closets, and under the bed, and behind the curtains, and down in the cellar, and everywhere, but he's gone. He just blew away" (pp. 157-58).

Mr. Bass reappears in later books in the series, but he is different after blowing away. Most notably, he now has the power to travel by thought -- to think of a place and instantly appear there. The spaceship is no longer necessary. In Time and Mr. Bass, Chuck Masterson asks him what exactly happened that morning when he "blew away," and he explains:

You will recall I told you at the time that I knew I was about to have the most important appointment of my life. I knew somehow that the Ancient Ones had work for me to do, but I did not know what work, nor where. And so when, moved by some strange impulse, I went out into the wind and looked up into the sky, I had a feeling that I was about to leave earth and I was happy and peaceful that I had left my affairs in good order. Then -- away I went, lifted up, up, as if by the wind, but I knew it was a greater power than the wind trying to teach me something I had never experienced before.

At first I was hollow with loneliness, for it seemed to me that surely I had been cast adrift forever in the vast reaches of space. And even after I found myself in my new home on a little planet in a solar system in the galaxy of M 81 in Ursa Major, it was is if I were a blurred picture of Tyco Bass trying to become clear again. I couldn't get focused -- I couldn't get my "me" focused. And when I first used to travel by thought, it exhausted me because I was trying so hard to help my mind and my imagination (because they work together) do something they can do quite easily by themselves. But no longer -- no longer. Now I am focused very clearly and I can do whatever I have to do (p. 24-25).

The parallel to the prophet Elijah, who "went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (2 Kgs. 2:11), is clear. As with Tyco, everyone understands that Elijah was in fact taken up by "a greater power than the wind" and that the experience changed him into something other than an ordinary mortal. In Joseph Smith's terminology, Elijah was "translated" -- a state distinct both from mortality and from the full immortality that comes with resurrection.

Tyco Bass didn't "go to heaven" in the religious sense but rather to a planet in a distant galaxy,among whose people he has some unspecified work to do for the Ancient Ones. He also makes frequent visits to Earth and to Basidium. This fits remarkably well with what Joseph Smith said of translated beings like Elijah:

Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God, and into an eternal fullness, but this is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for such characters He held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets, and who as yet have not entered into so great a fullness as those who are resurrected from the dead (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 170).

The Mushroom Planet series is full of little surprises like this. Another impressive one is the invention of a "hole in space" several years before the term black hole was coined.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Giraffe on the "big fat planet"

I've been thinking about my 2021 dream of spindle-legged giraffes walking across farmland -- a dream which was recently brought back to mind because of its connection to the Little Skinny Planet, where "skinny" giraffes are livestock. I noted that in the dream "the giraffes looked somewhat less real than the surrounding countryside, as if they might have been some sort of holographic projection."

I can't seem to find the post anywhere on his blog, but some years ago (in or around 2009, the heydey of Internet synchromysticism), Richard Arrowsmith starting connecting giraffes with the star Sirius. One of these links was the Toys"R"Us logo, which used to feature a hidden Sirius (if each quotation mark is seen as a tiny lowercase i) and a blue star, and of course their mascot of Geoffrey the Giraffe.

Another of Arrowsmith's giraffe-Sirius syncs was from one of the Harry Potter films. I remembered this as someone having a vision of Sirius Black with a giraffe walking past in the background, and because it was a magical vision the giraffe looked slightly "unreal," just like the ones in my dream.

After a bit of searching, I found the scene, from The Prisoner of Azkaban. It's actually a magically animated painting, not a vision, but the effect is the same: The giraffe walks like a real giraffe but has a slightly unreal quality because it is a painting. Sirius Black himself is not on screen, but the Fat Lady says his name just after the giraffe walks past:

I don't think I ever saw this film, and I only read the novel once, in 2005. Apparently, the Fat Lady (an animate painting) is a sort of gatekeeper who asks people for a password. When she refuses to give Sirius the password, he slashes her painting with a knife, and she flees for safety to a different painting. In the novel, she ends up in a map of Argyllshire (lots of little skinny islands there!), but in the film she tries to hide in a painting of several hippopotamuses grazing on the African savanna, and it is in the background of this painting that the giraffe walks past.

This scene is pretty much the opposite of a planet where all the animals are little and skinny. The Fat Lady (that's what she's called) is obviously big and fat, and I assume hippos were chosen because it would be natural for her to try to hide among animals that are also big and fat. I suppose the giraffe was added just to make the painting look more dynamic, since the hippos aren't really moving around much.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Sometimes a banana is just a banana -- right?

I may have mentioned a time or two that the sync fairies ain't got no class. This post will contain quite a lot of anatomical vulgarity.

I've never listened to the Sex Pistols. I mean I literally don't think I've ever listened to a single Sex Pistols song. They're not the sort of band that gets played on the radio, let alone as background music in public places. Nevertheless, they're supposed to have been an "important" group in the history of popular music, and I've picked up a thing or two about them through cultural osmosis. So when I needed a title for a sync post about seeing the word caster twice in rapid succession -- not Castor and Pollux but Caster and Caster -- what came to mind was "Never mind the Pollux," a reference to the 1977 album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.

Not really knowing anything about the album, I looked it up after posting and found this:

Mortimer produced an expert witness, Professor James Kinsley, Head of the School of English at the University of Nottingham, who argued that the word "bollocks" was not obscene, and was actually a legitimate Old English term formerly used to refer to a priest, and which, in the context of the title, meant "nonsense." Lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, who appeared with Mortimer, recalled the professor saying that early English translations of the Bible used "bollocks" to refer to testicles, this being replaced by the word "stones" in the King James Version of the Bible, at which point Rotten handed Robertson a note saying, "Don't worry. If we lose the case, we'll retitle the album Never Mind the Stones, Here's the Sex Pistols."

Johnny Rotten was referencing the Rolling Stones, of course, and implying that his band was better. (By the way, one of the Bible passages with stones for "testicles" is Job 40:16-17, which is subtly alluded to in one of the most secret parts of the Mormon temple ceremony.) After William Wright left a comment on the post, though, I thought of the Stones he is so obsessed with, so I left a comment mentioning Rotten's quip. William replied with this:

Hmmm - that [Sex Pistols reference] went over my head. I've never listened to them and don't know a thing about them, until I looked them up just now.

A seeming reference to your latest post on raising eyebrows? Seems like that group raised a few back in the day, from what I've just read.

A group referencing themselves as Dicks (using this slang here on purpose for reasons below) that asks folks to not mind (pay attention to) the Stones is interesting, in a bad way I guess, if one is willing to interpret Stones in a different way than intended.

Your Banana group that charged after the Civil War nuts seemed to be also a reference to dicks, if I understood you correctly?

Dick is a nickname based on Richard, which also has Rick as a nickname. You wrote about a picture of someone who likes to "rick", meaning swinging a massive morningstar, which you mentioned was badass and pretty cool. We see a similar weapon (a flail, technically) in the Iron video held by a person that could probably be described as a badass.

In your post announcing you were sync posting again, you actually did the same thing that the Sex Pistols are telling people to do in their album title, in a way. You changed "Let's rock and roll" to "Let's rick and roll", replacing the rock (Stone) with a rick (dick) in, never mind the Rock-Stone, here is the Rick-Dick.

How is it that I never made any of those connections? I knew the literal meaning of bollocks, and the intended meaning of Sex Pistols, but I never put two and two together and realized that the album title is literally saying "Never mind the testicles, here's the penises." I guess pitting those two parts of the male anatomy against each other is so odd and unnatural that it never crossed my mind.

As for the Bananas vs. the Civil War Nuts (see "Charge! Run away!"), the Freudian implications of bananas vs. nuts seem inescapable once they've been pointed out, but I never made the connection until I read William's comment. When I wrote that "I was very interested in, uh, bananas," I think William took my uh as wink-wink-nudge-nudge, but it was just intended to signal sheepishness as I admitted that, while my peers were interested in intellectually stimulating subjects like the Civil War, I myself was obsessed with something as vacuous as a particular kind of fruit. No double entendre.

Here's how I came to be Banana Man. When I was very young, maybe two or three, I used to wake my parents up almost every night screaming about big-eyed "monkeys" looking in my window or coming into my room. I would later come to think of these unwelcome guests as "the bugs" and superstitiously repeat the prayer "Don't let the bugs bother me tonight," but at this point they were "monkeys." My parents, who believed in tackling phobias head-on (my father would often tell the story of how he overcame his own formerly extreme arachnophobia), responded to this by buying me a Curious George doll and encouraging me to embrace all things monkey -- which I did, with a vengeance. Eating lots of bananas was part of this, and I insisted on eating them "the monkey way" -- meaning with the skin peeled back but not removed, as I had seen monkeys eating them in cartoons. Over time, bananas gradually took over center stage from monkeys, and monkeys began to seem to be an aspect of my obsession with bananas even though it had originally been the other way around. I still have some of my old writing assignments from elementary school, and everything -- everything -- is about monkeys or bananas. When we read Banner in the Sky, I always referred to it as Banana in the Sky, and when I had to create sentences using vocabulary words like edelweiss and reconnoitre, I came out with stuff like, "Few people realize that, like edelweiss, banana trees can flourish at high altitudes." It became a challenge: I saw "Write one sentence using each of the following words" and read "Write a paragraph about monkeys or bananas incorporating each of the following words." I was pretty good at it, and I like to think it made checking homework marginally less boring for my teachers.

As I got older, I got tired of the Banana Man persona but found that it was too well established to be readily shaken off. Fortunately, right around that time the Cold War ended, and my father left Martin Marietta and the land of submarines for an insurance company in Cleveland. This meant a substantial step down in terms of coolness-by-association, but it also meant a fresh start in a new town, and I left Banana Man behind in Maryland.

When I read William's comment about how bananas were clearly "a reference to dicks," my first thought was, "Oh, come on! Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!" -- the line humorously attributed to Sigmund Freud. But of course, much like Freud himself, I have made a habit of reading hidden meanings into everything and therefore have no right to say that. Live by the -- oh, wait, that's a phallic symbol, too, isn't it?

Then I remembered how one of my teachers, adapting a common expression about cigars for the benefit of the Banana Man in his class, used to say "Close but no banana" when a student's answer wasn't quite correct. And I used to have a sync blog called No Cigar. This was a reference to a line in the They Might Be Giants song "See the Constellation" (later Galahad Eridanus would independently use the word constellating to mean noticing connections and synchronicities) but also to the Freud joke: No, a cigar isn't ever just a cigar because nothing is ever just itself; everything has a meaning. Furthermore, the word cigar likely comes from, or was influenced by, cigarra, the Spanish for "cicada." I adopted the cicada as a sort of personal emblem c. 2009. I wore a jade cicada pendant, and my blog was called Bugs to fearen babes withal (a deliberately misinterpreted line from Spenser, also adapted by Melville in his Encantadas), with an anatomical diagram of a cicada as the header image. Real longtime readers (maybe just Bruce?) will remember this. When in 2010 I asked for and received a "sign from God" (which failed to convert me from atheism), it took the form of a cicada.

How did the cicada -- considered a "true bug" by entomologists -- come to succeed the banana as a personal symbol? Well, it goes back to that Spenser line and to my childhood terror of the little chaps I thought of as "monkeys" or "bugs." In other words, the banana and the cicada can ultimately be traced back to the same source.

Now things get really weird. Shortly after moving to Ohio -- so I would have been around 12 -- I had a dream in which my old friends the bugs (long neglected and no longer terrifying) appeared and rather gleefully sang me a song in English (as opposed to the wordless drone that was their normal "song" in my infancy), to a tune similar to the Star Wars theme. Music always makes things easier to remember, and I can give you the cryptic lyrics verbatim all these years later:

Remember the other word: dea-con!
Indestructible worker
Let him without stone cast the first cigarette

I was myself a deacon at that time, as are most Mormon boys of that age. I remember that in the dream I understood RV to stand for preparation worker, even though that doesn't make any sense. The literal meaning of deacon is "servant" (worker), and in Mormonism it is considered to be a "preparatory" office; after two years as a deacon, a boy would normally be promoted up through the ranks of the priesthood, becoming an elder at the ripe old age of 18.

What strikes me now, though, is the last line, which at the time seemed to be nothing but an opaque and apparently meaningless corruption of "let him without sin cast the first stone." Notice how perfectly it fits with our present theme: no stones, but here's a phallic symbol. It even features the word cast. William Wright linked the "casters" of my post (one of which, remember, was a cigarette pack) with Aaron and the magicians "casting" their rods. In Mormonism, it is with ordination as a deacon that one is admitted to the ranks of the Aaronic Priesthood. Mormons are, of course, strictly forbidden to smoke.

Another oddity: Earlier this year, around January and February, a persistent idea kept coming into my mind, seemingly out of nowhere, that I should buy an actual cigar and smoke it. The whole thing was weird. I've never smoked anything in my life, and literally no one takes up smoking at the age of 43 -- or at least no one has done so since the Elizabethan era. The idea -- I would say "temptation," but it wasn't at all tempting -- was that I would buy a single cigar from a convenience store, go out in the mountains somewhere and smoke it in secret, and then return to civilization and to being a non-smoker. What could possibly be the point of that? People smoke first for social reasons and then because it's a habit. Who the hell decides in middle age to smoke a single cigar all alone in the mountains and then never smoke again? No one, not even me. I never did it, but the idea kept presenting itself to me with a strange persistence, for a couple of months.

William Wright mentions my September 8 post "I don't care what people say, Rick and roll are here to stay," which marked my return to sync-posting after a long break, and which replaces rock (stones) with Rick (dick). Of course I wasn't thinking of male anatomy but of rickrolling -- which, for those of you who have been living under a rock, refers to the practice of posting bait-and-switch links that unexpectedly lead to a video of Rick Astley singing "Never Gonna Give You Up." (If you're unfamiliar with this childish so-called "joke," Dr. Simon West's presentation "The History and Semiotics of Rickrolling" will bring you up to speed.)

Rickrolling evolved from duckrolling. At one point, 4chan would replace with word egg with duck in posts, changing eggroll to duckroll. This gave rise to bait-and-switch links leading to an image of a mallard duck on wheels accompanied by a song about, of all things, Jean-Luc Picard, the Star Trek character played by Patrick Stewart. Testicles are called "eggs" in many languages, including Spanish and Chinese. In the "Bananas vs. Civil War Nuts" pictures, one of the Nuts always had a duck's bill to indicate that he was Patrick, who had played the role of a duck named Dr. Mallard in a school play. The duckroll meme also links a mallard duck to a role (duckrole?) played by an actor named Patrick. In case you missed it, William Wright recently brought up Jean-Luc Picard, and the significance of his being played by an actor named Patrick, in a context completely unrelated to duckrolling.

One more thing: Last night, I was thinking about my dream about "One and forty-four" and possible meanings of those numbers, when a book on my shelf caught my eye: Number by Tobias Dantzig. I thought, "Well, there's a book called Number. I'll just take it down and see what's on page 144."

Page 144 was blank.

Since I had the book down, I flipped through it a bit, and between pages 220 and 221 I found an old bookmark which I must have left there when I last read it -- which, according to my records, was in 2009:

The Chinese is my wife's handwriting, and I'd added a transliteration because I was still pretty illiterate in Chinese at that time. It's a song Taiwanese soldiers used to sing, which can be loosely translated as follows:

This here is my longer gun;
I've also got a shorter one.
Long's for killing spies (Red China's).
Short's for sticking in . . .

Well, you get the idea. She'd been singing the song because we were raising sugar gliders at the time -- an animal that literally has two penises -- and I'd asked her to write it down. Then, apparently, I used the note as a bookmark and forgot all about it for 14 years, until the sync fairies needed it.

What's on the cover of my copy of Number? Glad you asked:

A picture of three stones, and a quote from someone named One Stone -- why am I thinking of that Herb Caen line about martinis?

What does it all mean? Well, a penis is a mechanism for delivering what is produced by the testicles, so I guess all dick and no balls is all delivery and no content -- Oscar Wilde's "I have nothing to declare except my genius," or McLuhan's "The medium is the message." The applicability to me likely has to do with sync-posting itself. I have focused almost entirely on the coincidences themselves (the medium), with minimal attempts to interpret what they all mean (the message). This is partly because they're very hard to interpret, and partly because in my experience people who do try to forge their syncs into a coherent narrative always end up succumbing to delusions of grandeur and going completely -- well, as it happens, the mot juste here is nuts, which is subtly different from going bananas.

Galahad Eridanus talks about the tension between blindness and madness and  the need for narrative thinking. I think I've been trying to walk the tightrope between blindness and madness by seeing all kinds of crazy things but declining to interpret them. If I didn't see, I would be blind. If I interpreted, I would likely go mad; at least everyone else seems to do so. But this isn't a clever "middle way"; it's just pointless. It's like learning to "read" a language correctly in terms of pronunciation without learning what any of the words mean -- a completely useless skill, unless you're reading to someone who understands the spoken language but is illiterate. I guess that's the excuse I've been using -- that maybe most of my syncs aren't "for" me, that I'm just reading them off for other people's benefit, and that the interpretation is up to them. I think that's a cop-out, though, and in any case no one else actually seems to be doing that interpretive work successfully. Readers may benefit from an individual sync here or there, but interpreting the whole stream and turning it from one damn thing after another into a story? Well, that's my job. Who else could be expected to do it? Dee-and-Kelley type partnerships have occasionally borne fruit, but I don't have that. I have to play both roles. With some help from my readers and correspondents, yes, but in the end it's my own work to do.

Agnosticism is a cop-out. You have to make hypotheses. You have to plant a seed and see if it grows. Failure to do so is just another version of the contemptible ethic of safety first.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Now that the eyebrows have settled . . .

I keep documenting these influence-of-adjacent-lines reading errors because I think they're interesting, and because I at least seem to make them all the time. This one is unusual because one line influenced another across a sizable gap:

I at first misread this as "But no sooner had eyebrows gotten settled," which I thought was funny and a bit poetic. Something that causes a stir is said to "raise eyebrows," but after a few minutes the eyebrows have mostly settled down again. The beginning of everyone is visually similar to the beginning of eyebrows, and I suppose the string row, together with the ascender from the final letter of solid, must have dropped down from the line above.

Of course as soon as I got to quiet my realized the error and automatically reprocessed the sentence. These errors always last just a fraction of a second, just barely long enough to ping consciousness. I assume many more of them arise and are rectified without ever breaking the surface of the unconscious, but that they may still have some subliminal effect. I wonder if they are in any way predictable -- if, for instance, any significant percentage of readers would make this particular error when reading this particular text. Hard to know, assuming most readers never become conscious of the vast majority of such split-second misreadings.

Update (November 28): The screenshot above is from p. 57 of Eleanor Cameron's A Mystery for Mr. Bass. Today I read this on p. 126 of the same work:

"Would this be the Topman residence?" inquired the little man in soft, musical tones, his thick, standing-out eyebrows going right up. At the same time all the other pairs of eyebrows went up.

Now Annabelle Topman came forward.

"I am Mrs. Topman," she said. "Is there something I can do for you?"

"Mistress Topman," he returned politely, and his eyebrows came down again, . . .

So that's weird enough that I guess I have to add subconscious precognition to the list of possible factors causing my misreading. How often does a book bother to mention raised eyebrows coming back down? And what are the odds that it would be this book, the same one that occasioned the misreading about eyebrows settling? A word search shows that the novel's first mention of eyebrows (lifted but not lowered) is on p. 104, so my misreading on p. 57 was not influenced by anything I had already read.

I suppose one non-paranormal explanation would be that the author subconsciously misread her own manuscript in the same way I would later do, and that this ghost text about eyebrows settling planted a seed which found expression later in the text. This seems highly unlikely, though, since the line breaks in the manuscript would be very unlikely to correspond to those on my phone's Kindle app.

One and forty-four

I had another talking dream last night, though I have no sense of who the speaker was or what language he was speaking. It was a discussion about the meaning of the numbers one and forty-four. I've forgotten almost all of the content, but I remember the gist was that 1 represents the Sun and the Living; 44 represents the Moon and the Dead; and when 1 and 44 are combined, that is the Universal Eclipse. (This last bit at least was in French, I think: l'éclipse universelle, which is a line from "Le Flying Saucer Hat.") Many examples were given in the dream of the numbers 1 and 44 turning up in contexts suggestive of these meanings, and I awoke with a sense that this was an incredible web of synchronicities -- but of course they existed only in the dream. The only specific one I can remember was a quote from Heber J. Grant (president of the Mormon Church from 1918 to 1945) that mentioned "forty-four ancestors" -- a sync because our ancestors are among the Dead. I saw a visual image of this quote -- President Grant's photo on the left, the quote in white text on a black background on the right -- but can't remember anything about it other than the phrase "forty-four ancestors."

In The Philosopher's Pupil, the title character, George McCaffrey, is 44 years old and keeps seeing the number 44 everywhere, which fills him with a sense of foreboding. One of the things Tim said in my first Tim dream was that George was me, that I was to see this character as representing myself -- not very flattering, as George is portrayed as a spiteful putz with no real redeeming qualities. My attention was first attracted to The Philosopher's Pupil because of the Galahad Eridanus video "Contact 2020," in which an eclipse was compared to the pupil of an eye.

Disappearing tools and double frogs

In my November 22 post "They shall take up serpents," I quoted this passage from the Book of Helaman:

Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle. Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land. O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us; for behold the land is cursed, and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them (Hel. 13:34-36).

Today I checked The Secret Sun and found this in a November 24 meme post:

I quoted the same passage in my October 21 post "17 years ago our eyes were opened," which prominently features two identical frogs:

Never mind the Pollux

My wife recently ordered some new luggage, and it arrived a couple of days ago. She kept the box it was delivered in because she wanted to use it for something else later.

This morning, just before I went out, she asked me about the word caster, which appeared on the box, wanting to know if it was used only for wheels on luggage or more broadly.

Immediately after answering her question (I had learned the word caster as a child from a Piers Anthony novel, where it figured in a pun about castor oil), I went out to run some errands. At my first stop, I found this on the ground right next to where I had parked:

Caster paired with the numeral 5 on an empty box, and maybe 10 minutes between the two occurrences. This strikes me as an extremely low-probability sync. Caster, the Internet informs me, was a Japanese cigarette brand that was discontinued in 2015, which makes running across a discarded Caster pack in 2023 even more improbable. Five wheels on a suitcase is also quite unusual, two or four being much more common.

As for the possible significance of the sync, the first thing that came to mind is that caster could mean a spell-caster, i.e. a wizard, and that there are five Wizards in Tolkien: Saruman, Gandalf, Radagast, and the two Blue Wizards. Both Saruman and the Blue Wizards have been popping up in the sync-stream these days.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Likeness in anything is likeness to him.

I had a dream last night consisting primarily of this sentence, spoken in English: "Likeness in anything is likeness to him." The word him was spoken in such a way that it sounded as if it were capitalized and meant God, but the visual accompanying it was of a different "him" -- Mr. Tyco M. Bass from the Mushroom Planet novels flying away into the sky, an image very similar to this one:

Like most people named Tychonievich (we're a rather small set), I have from time to time been known as Tycho, so this character is synchronistically interesting.

A secondary quasi-visual image associated with the sentence had something to do with nine-ness. As I tried to recall it after waking, it seemed sometimes like a table with three rows and three columns and sometimes like a long wooden rod with nine convex sections that looked as if they had been made with a lathe.

My feeling upon waking was that "Likeness in anything is likeness to him" was deep, and that I understood what it meant, but that feeling of understanding rapidly dissipated. My interpretation, as best I can reconstruct it, was that whenever any two things are similar or correspond in any way, that is a manifestation of God -- not that God created or arranged the similarity, but that similarity and correspondence as such are aspects of God. Now I'm no longer sure that makes any sense. Perhaps the idea is that any sort of coherence at all is a reminder that we live in a created cosmos?

I have no idea what the three-by-three table, or the nine-sectioned rod, means. Immediately after waking, I had a sense that the three rows of the table corresponded to before, during, and after something or other -- and the columns? It all evaporated too fast for me to get a handle on it.

Later in the morning, I realized that that picture of Tyco -- a short man with a big almost-bald head, wearing a suit and flying up into the sky -- reminded me of someone: Mr. Mxyztplk as he first appeared in Superman #30 in 1944. The story was even called "The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk," synching with "A Most Mysterious Disappearance":

Tyco's house, which is both a home and an observatory with a dome for a telescope, also reminds me of the similar home of Aline Carter in San Antonio, where the young Whitley Strieber attended an astronomy class.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

The Drink of Forgetfulness and illegible notes: The Key, Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet, and Tim

I've been reading Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet, Eleanor Cameron's 1956 sequel to The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. The titular stowaway is Horatio Q. Peabody, a self-important scientist who hopes to make  his name by publishing a description of Basidium, the Mushroom Planet, the very existence of which the boys have been keeping secret, and open it up to explorers, miners, tourists, and so on.

In order to prevent this, the Mushroom People bring out The Drink, which they present as a great honor -- "Such a person, worthy of The Drink, rarely comes to us -- he is hard to find" (p. 134). The pompous Horatio takes it for granted that he is the person they mean, and he downs The Drink. The boys are disgusted at Horatio's arrogance, but later one of the two Wise Men explains to them the true nature of The Drink:

"You see," went on Mebe, "that was The Drink of Forgetfulness. Only once or twice in a lifetime is it necessary to give some misguided person this drink, usually someone very conceited . . . . The Ancient Ones have decreed that The Drink is never to be forced on the guilty person. But it is never necessary to force him to drink. Out of vanity and pride, he always takes it eagerly and drinks it all -- every drop" (p. 137).

The Drink works slowly. By the time they arrive back on Earth, all the details of the journey are beginning to fade from Horatio's mind. Horatio, however, had been taking copious notes the whole time they were on Basidium, and he reassures himself that even if his memory fades he still has his notebook.

In this he is disappointed. For reasons that are never really explained, when humans visit Basidium they find themselves speaking and understanding the Mushroom People's language quite naturally, but when they return to Earth they find that they cannot remember a single word of it, but are left only with a vague sense that it was a tonal singsong language that sounded a bit like Chinese. When Horatio opens his notebook, he finds that written language has been similarly affected:

"All gone," he whispered. "All gone. Hen-tracks -- that's what it is, just hen-tracks."

Now Chuck darted over and picked up the book and opened it. Then he turned and held it out, his eyes wide with wonder.

"Sure," he breathed. "That's it. It's all in Basidiumite, of course. So now he can't read it. It's just scratchings, just gibberish. He can't remember the language, so now he can't remember how to read it. Poor old Horatio!" (p. 160).
Now compare this to the afterword to Whitley Strieber's The Key (2011 version). Strieber wakes up the morning after a nighttime conversation with a stranger I have identified as Tim:

As I rose from the bed, I saw my yellow notepad on the floor, covered with scrawls. It had been in my briefcase when I went to bed, so I must have pulled it out and taken notes. I grabbed it and looked at them.

They were pretty much just squiggles. They didn't seem to relate to any sort of a conversation.

Had he been real, or a dream? If you took nots in your sleep, they might look like this.

Then I remembered that, as he left, he'd asked me to drink a white liquid that he'd had in one of the glasses from the bathroom. But hadn't I refused? Surely I had.

Then I thought of the Milk of Nepenthe, the drug that was mythically given to people who had visited the gods, in order that they would not suffer the anguish of remembering the pleasures of heaven when they had to return to mortal life.

I had not wanted to drink it, but I hadn't refused.

What's the connection between The Key and the Mushroom Planet novels? Tim. After my Tim dreams, I connected Tim with two other characters: the stranger from The Key and the character Tim from the William Alizio story. After posting a bit about the Little Skinny Planet from the Alizio story, and speculating that it might be connected to the Moon, I received a comment from Kevin McCall saying that The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet featured a very small planet closer to Earth than the Moon. The two books have no connection at all other than this synchronistic link with my Tim dreams -- and yet they also turn out to share these two themes: drinking a Drink of Forgetfulness, and taking copious notes that turn out to be unreadable gibberish.

The phenomenon in the Mushroom Planet stories, where people returning from Basidium can clearly remember that they have been speaking a different language but are unable to remember a single specific word of it, is also a link to my Tim dreams, of which I wrote:

I was left with the impression that the man had been speaking Latin, but I don't think he actually was, and I have no memory of any Latin words he used.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

They shall take up serpents

When I got up this morning, I found that the wallpaper image on my phone had inexplicably been changed from an astronomical photograph to one of a coiled rattlesnake -- a photo I had found online and saved on October 18. I guess I must somehow have set it to wallpaper while asleep or half-asleep, but I have absolutely no hint of any memory of doing so. Changing the wallpaper would have been a multi-step process -- tapping through several screens in Settings, scrolling through to a not-so-recent photo -- and I don't see how I could possibly have done it without the benefit of full waking consciousness, but I did, obviously.

As discussed in my last post, my thoughts after waking soon turned to Jannes and Jambres, the Egyptian magicians who duplicated some of the miracles of Moses and Aaron -- including turning rods into snakes:

And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, "When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent."

And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.

Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods (Ex. 7:8-12).

This echoes an earlier miracle, the first shown to Moses after he was called by the burning bush:

And Moses answered and said, "But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee."

And the Lord said unto him, "What is that in thine hand?"

And he said, "A rod."

And he said, "Cast it on the ground."

And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.

And the Lord said unto Moses, "Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail" -- and he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand -- "that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee" (Ex. 4:1-5).

Taking a snake by the tail is crazy, suicidal behavior -- but Moses did it, and it became a rod in his hand. Not until today did I think to connect this story with the strange promise in the epilogue to the Gospel of Mark:

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover (Mark 16:17-18).

A few fringe groups like the Church of God with Signs Following take this as an invitation to practice ritual snake-handling as a demonstration of faith. I suppose most "normal" Christians are taught what I was: that the intended meaning was that God could miraculously protect believers from snakebite when necessary (as reportedly happened with Paul in Acts 28), not that we should "tempt God" by intentionally risking it. The Bible does say they shall actively take up serpents, though. The only biblical account of someone doing that is that of Moses -- and in his case what had been a serpent became a rod in his hand.

I think this miracle has a similar symbolic meaning to that of Jesus walking on the surface of the stormy sea: You take something slithery and treacherous, treat it as firm and solid, and it becomes so for you. This is shown in the "King and Lionheart" video, where slithery insubstantial creatures of light become solid enough to climb or run across when treated as such:

I think this may also be related to Samuel's prophecy about all things becoming slippery:

Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle. Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land. O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us; for behold the land is cursed, and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them (Hel. 13:34-36).

Isn't this Moses' first miracle in reverse -- or rather the first part of the two-part miracle? Lay a tool down -- a rod, say -- and it comes to life and slithers away. The difference is that the accursed "cannot hold them" again, but Moses can -- provided he has the courage to reach out and take a living snake by the tail.

This connection came to me in a meditative state this afternoon while I was saying my Rosary. It struck me how like a snake the string of beads was, and how when I took it up it became as solid and reliable as the iron rod of Lehi. Then I remembered that very similar imagery had been used in The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet:

And now, to the boys' amazement, Ta drew from around his neck the beautiful necklace of stones and flung it up to them -- and as it came slithering and swerving upward through the green air, it seemed almost like something alive. "You must divide the stones between you," said Ta, "and because of them, you will always remember me . . . . Those stones were taken from our Sacred Hall in the depths of the mountains, and are given only to the kings of our people" (p. 117).

Stones -- more solid and inflexible even than a rod -- slither like something alive. Despite Ta's instruction, the boys never do divide the stones between them; the necklace remains intact.

Back on Earth, the boys believe the necklace has been lost, washed away to sea, but later Chuck produces it, and it is explicitly likened to a serpent:

And like some marvelous rainbow-colored serpent the necklace of Ta poured from his fingers and hung there, swaying back and forth in the bright air (p. 168).

Asked how he had recovered it, Chuck explains:

I looked down into one of those little rock pools, and I thought, 'What a beautiful crab.' And then I thought, 'But there's never been a crab as beautiful as that!' and I got down on my knees and put my hand in the rock pool -- and pulled out Ta's necklace (p. 168).

There's an echo of Moses here, too. Reaching for a crab in a rock pool may be considerably less foolhardy than taking a serpent by the tail, but in ordinary circumstances you would still be risking a nasty nip. When he grasped the "crab," though, it became a necklace of stones in his hand.

Given all the brilliant colors of Ta's necklace, I almost think that the crustacean Chuck saw in the pool must have looked more like this:

Two cunning wise ones, "wizards," Blue gowned

In a hypnopompic state this morning before fully waking up, I was thinking about Jay Leno and how odd that he of all people -- someone in whom I had no interest and about whom I knew virtually nothing -- should have appeared in my dreams. In my hypnopompic reverie, I latched onto the fact (discovered in my post-dream research) that Leno always dresses in blue denim when he's not on TV, and that this must shed some light on the meaning of the blue clothing worn by Tim in my dream, by Tim and Patrick in the Alizio story, and by the two wizards in the Joseph story. I started thinking about various terms for blue denim clothing. Denim itself ultimately means "of the sanctuary," while Levis comes from the tribe of Levi, the priestly lineage -- Aaron! Didn't Aaron, the high priest, wear a blue robe?

At this point I was fully awake. A quick word search on a Bible app confirmed that, yes, the only "blue robe" mentioned in the Bible is the one worn by Aaron (Ex. 28:31, 39:22). But Aaron is just one person, and the Blue Wizards are a pair. I had a hunch that I should look up the etymology of jeans. I already knew it -- it comes from Genoa, and Genoa means "knee" -- but I looked it up anyway, and saw something that I probably wouldn't have noticed had I not just been thinking about Aaron:

Did you notice it, too? Jeans comes from the Old French name for Genoa, which was Jannes. Jannes and Jambres are the names given by tradition and in the New Testament (2 Tim. 3:8) to the "wise men" or "magicians of Egypt" (Ex. 7:11) against whom Moses and Aaron faced off in the court of Pharaoh. I had previously mentioned that in the Joseph story and Mushroom Planet we have two Wise Men, in contrast to the traditional three, but in Jannes and Jambres we have a biblical set of two Wise Men. One Midrash has it that they left the Pharaoh and followed Moses out of Egypt.

Yesterday, thinking about Jay Leno and his blue denim outfits led me to "Blue Jays," the album by Justin Hayward and John Lodge. I assume that the album title has no reference to birds except as a pun but refers to Blue J's -- Justin and John, the two Moody Blues members whose names begin with that letter. Jannes and Jambres would be another such pair of J's.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Yellow Light and the Mushroom Planet

I posted the lyric video for "Yellow Light" by Of Monsters and Man because it synched with my post "Golden light, and going 'overseas.'" The whole video shows the same scene: low clouds stretched out horizontally, a huge planet in the sky dwarfing the sun, and people traveling from the left side of the scene to the right on the backs of dinosaur-like creatures:

The same day, I read and posted about The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, the cover of which shows a very similar scene:

The same low clouds, the same giant planet in the sky, the same travelers from left to right. The Sun does not appear on the cover, but it is mentioned in the story that the Earth dwarfs the Sun in the sky of Basidium. As Basidium is only 50,000 miles from Earth, I think the Earth would have about 18 times the diameter of the Sun in its sky, roughly matching the proportions seen in the "Yellow Light" video.

I read The Wonderful Flight because Kevin McCall mentioned it as a story that features a very small planet. I watched the "Yellow Light" video because I heard a different Of Monsters and Men song in a restaurant a few days ago and looked it up, after which YouTube recommended other videos from the same channel. Unrelated, except by synchronicity.

Blue Jays

In a comment on "Jay Leno, Coco, and the killer rabbit," William Wright discusses the possible meanings of the name Jay. When he's not on TV, Leno apparently always wears the same outfit -- blue jeans and a blue shirt -- making him a "blue Jay," and also a possible link to Tim and to the Blue Wizards.

In "William Alizio's links to other stories," I identified the Blue Wizards with the two figures standing in the background of this picture, from the cover or Iris Murdoch's The Philosopher's Pupil:

After the blue jay theme had been introduced, I realized that Blue Jays -- the 1975 album by Moody Blues members Justin Hayward and John Lodge -- features two very similar figures:

As in the Murdoch cover illustration, the two men in blue are standing side by side under an arch and looking across a chasm to the other side.

I've never been a huge fan of Blue Jays, but one of the songs has some potentially relevant lyrics:

Oh, I dreamed last night I was hearing
Hearing your voice
And the things you said, well they left me
Left me no choice

And you told me we had the power
And you told me this was the hour
But that you don't know how
If I could show you now

Well, I dreamed last night you were calling
Calling my name
You were locked inside of your secrets
Calling my name

And you told me lost was the key
And you told me how you long to be free
But that you don't know how
Oh, let me show you now

I introduced Tim (half of the Blue Wizard duo Tim and Patrick) in my post "Well, that didn't take long"; he appeared in the kind of dream where "it's just some guy talking." I later connected him with the stranger in The Key.

Many years ago, I used to entertain the idea that Justin Hayward was the reincarnation of Arnaut Daniel, though I don't remember what first suggested the connection -- probably a dream or something. Possibly relevant in connection with the white rabbit:

I am Arnaut who nets the breeze
and with an ox pursues the hare
and swims against the rising seas.

Monday, November 20, 2023

The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet

Thanks to Kevin McCall to tipping me off to the existence of this children's story, published in 1954 -- just before the West's discovery of psilocybin mushrooms, after which the title would have had rather different connotations!

The titular mushroom planet, called Basidium X, is extremely small, and is not actually a planet in the modern sense but a satellite of Earth, closer to us than the Moon, but invisible to the naked eye and to ordinary telescopes. It is discovered by Mr. Tyco (!) Bass, who lives on Earth but is descended from mushroom people, by putting a special filter on his telescope involving a stroboscope and polarized light. Having a telepathic sense that his people live on that planet and are in distress, he recruits two human boys to build a spaceship and fly there to save them.

When the boys arrive on Basidium, they deal primarily with two mushroom people who bear the title Wise Men. The boys have brought a hen with them on their voyage, which turns out to be the key to saving the mushroom people, who are suffering from a sulfur deficiency which can be rectified by eating egg yolks. Having never seen eggs before, the mushroom people call them "magic stones."

Parallels to Alizio and the Little Skinny Planet are extensive. I have discussed evidence that the Little Skinny Planet is a satellite of Earth. The mushroom people are short and bald, like Tim and Patrick, and are extremely thin. Tyco Bass is described as having "thin spindling arms" -- cf. the "spindle legs" of the giraffes on the Little Skinny Planet. Recall that those giraffes were optically unusual -- shimmering with impossible colors -- and that Basidium's invisibility to ordinary telescopes implies something similar.

The little bald men Tim and Patrick correspond to the two blue-clothed wizards in the Joseph story, who it is suggested are the biblical Wise Men even though there are only two of them. Mebe and Oru, the two Wise Men in The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, are little bald men. In the Alizio story, Patrick eats all of Alizio's Hidden Treasures. In The Wonderful Flight, Mebe and Oru are the first to eat egg yolks and be restored to health. In one of Bilbo's riddles in The Hobbit, egg yolk is called a hidden treasure:

A box without hinges, key, or lid,
Yet golden treasure inside is hid.

Of course William Wright will appreciate the "magic stone" angle. (Note also that the author's name is Eleanor.)

One other possible link: Prior to my Tim dreams, my only experience dreaming in Latin had been under the influence of nutmeg, when I had a conversation in that language with a mantis shrimp. Mantis shrimps are famous for their ability to see many more colors than we can, and to discern different kinds of polarized light.

More golden light

Charge! Run away!

In my recent post “Jay Leno, Coco, and the killer rabbit,” I posted a clip from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, featuring Tim the Enchanter, a reference to breakfast cereals (like Hidden Treasures), and a Holy Hand Grenade in the form of a golden globus cruciger.

I’ve noticed something else potentially significant: When the knights fight the rabbit, they shout “Charge!” and then very soon shout “Run away!” This actually happens several times in the film and is kind of a running gag.

Like most of the characters in the William Alizio story, Tim and Patrick take their names from real people, in this case classmates of mine for one semester in Maryland when I was eight years old. The two of them were known as the Civil War Nuts, for the rather obvious reason that they were both very interested in the American Civil War. As for myself, I was very interested in, uh, bananas, and was known as Banana Man. There was a friendly rivalry between their posse and mine.

One of the ways this rivalry manifested was in drawings we would make of battles between the Bananas and the Civil War Nuts. These were very stereotyped and always had the same basic format. There were two hills with a valley between them. On the left were the Bananas — just big bananas with arms and legs — running down the hill to attack, They flew their battle flag (sable, a banana or), and their leader (representing yours truly) always had a saber and a round shield and was shouting, “Charge!”

On the right we’re the Civil War Nuts running away and shouting, “Run away!” These looked something like the Planters mascot, Mr. Peanut, except that one of them had a duck’s bill to indicate that he was Patrick (who had played the part of Dr. Mallard in the class’s production of Chadwick and the Garplegrungen).

The Civil War Nuts may always have run away, but from the broader point of view, they were the real winners, seeing as how they had successfully roped the Bananas into participating in a Civil War reenactment.

None of this, other than the names Tim and Patrick themselves, made it into the Alizio story. Still, I find the link with Tim the Enchanter interesting. I never watched any Monty Python until my twenties, though I suppose I likely picked up a catchphrase or two by cultural osmosis.

One final note: In the Holy Grail clip, Arthur says, “That rabbit’s dynamite!” I included the clip in a post in which I mentioned trying to find out if Jay Leno had any particular catchphrase. Most of the search results for jay leno “catchphrase” were articles about a feud between Leno and J. J. Walker, the latter always being introduced as “famous for his catchphrase ‘Dy-no-mite!’”

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Golden light, and going "overseas"

On November 18, I went back to the coffee shop that has a framed photo of the Empire State Building and noticed something else on a wall there, this inscription:

In a serener bright
In a more golden light
I see
Each little doubt and fear
Each little discord here Removed

The lines (misprinted slightly) are from a poem by Emily Dickinson. Here's the whole thing:

I have a Bird in spring
Which for myself doth sing –
The spring decoys.
And as the summer nears –
And as the Rose appears,
Robin is gone.

Yet do I not repine
Knowing that Bird of mine
Though flown –
Learneth beyond the sea
Melody new for me
And will return.

Fast in safer hand
Held in a truer Land
Are mine –
And though they now depart,
Tell I my doubting heart
They're thine.

In a serener Bright,
In a more golden light
I see
Each little doubt and fear,
Each little discord here

Then will I not repine,
Knowing that Bird of mine
Though flown
Shall in distant tree
Bright melody for me

Five months earlier, on June 18, when I wasn't blogging, I recorded a sync related to "golden light." I was on a long walk and stopped for a short break in a coffee shop I had never been to before, called Golden Lumière -- the latter word being the French for "light." Its logo was an hourglass in the form of a double crystal, with a total of 34 facets. The upper chamber of the hourglass was full of coffee beans, with liquid coffee dripping down into the lower chamber -- perhaps an allusion to the hourglass-shaped vacuum coffee makers that are still popular in Taiwan.

At that time I had just started reading Joshua Cutchin's very long book Ecology of Souls. I read some of it there in Golden Lumière, including this passage about near-death experiences:

"I didn't ever see a person in this light, but to me the light was a Christ-consciousness, a oneness with all things, a perfect love," an NDEr told Moody. "I think that Jesus meant it literally when he said he was the light of the world." For another survivor, Jesus "was not in a body, but was a being of light in the brightest white, golden light, it did not hurt my eyes."

I read that reference to "golden light" during my first and so far only visit to a coffee shop called Golden Lumière.

In my sync notes taken at the time, I connected the juxtaposition of the word golden and a double crystal with something else I had recently read, in Pleiadians on Autism by Sigal Alexandra Porat:

These days Alexandrit's energy appears in my mind's eye as a triangle composed of three gold bars, with a Rutilated Quartz crystal, or sometimes a pearl at its center. The gold bars are the energetic tools I used to work with in the temples of Ancient Egypt. Working with these golden instruments once again touches the depth of my soul, awakening my knowledge and the ancient memory. The Herkimer diamond, which also appears in the picture at the start of this chapter, helps me connect with Alexandrit.

A footnote at this point explains, "A Herkimer diamond is a double-pointed transparent quartz crystal." The text continues:

Alexandrit reminded me of a significant experience I had when I was 12, following my first trip overseas (a Bat Mitzvah gift from my grandmother). I was not as excited about the flight itself as I was about the encounter awaiting me "there," overseas. At 12 I was still so innocent. There was only one channel on Israeli TV (in black-and-white, and we couldn't even imagine the Internet back then), and I was exposed to very little of the outside world, as I was dreamy and detached by nature. In my naïveté, I was certain that "overseas," (which in Hebrew literally translates into "out of Earth") actually meant a place outside of planet Earth. These days it seems utterly unrealistic for a 12-year-old girl to think that. I was supposed to know something about geography, but I was really detached.

This latter paragraph, about the author's misunderstanding of "overseas," didn't mean anything to me in June. Now, though, it syncs with Dickinson's poem about the Bird that goes "beyond the sea" -- implicitly to another world, not just "overseas" in the ordinary sense -- and with William Wright's speculation, mentioned in my November 18 post "Little Skinny Planet," that "the sea voyages in the Book of Mormon -- those of Lehites and the Jaredites -- may actually have been space voyages." Migrating birds that fly to other planets also appear in The Little Prince.

Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh as one

I was listening to an audio recording of the Book of Mormon, and when it got to the part where Nephi says they "did live upon raw meat ...