Jelly, jelly so fine

Monday, April 7, 2008

Group Grok on Sinai

My good buddy Shawn in Thailand sent me a blurb on an interesting article by Israeli Professor of Cognitive Psychology Benny Shanon. It was taken from Berg's Time and Mind Journal of Philosophy. ( a pointy headed tome with a nasty policy on reprinting). Mr. Shanon's contention (which I paraphrase) is that Moses was high on psychedelic drugs when he joined his people to god in the Sinai.

"As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics," Shanon told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.

Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the "burning bush," suggested Shanon, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances.

"The Bible says people see sounds, and that is a classic phenomenon," he said citing the example of religious ceremonies in the Amazon in which drugs are used that induce people to "see music."

Now I am not sure of the veracity of Shanon's claim but think that the synesthesia he documents (the seeing of music as colors or visual hallucinations) is probably common fare amongst ecstasy users at your average neighborhood techno rave on any ordinary saturday night.

Now I haven't tripped the night fantastic in a decade or two but I remember quite well how it was done. And it leads me to a number of paths of inquiry about the supposed group hallucination. Because I have been involved in a quite a few myself, some even while stone cold sober.

When I was courting my first wife, Diann, (may her image never cross my retina again) we went jogging one night, accompanied by our friend Alex. (Alex, btw you still owe me $2500 on the tofu business) We were running on a full moon night at one or two in the morning on a series of trails in the San Diego backcountry.

Suddenly we were all confronted by a 20 or 30' ball of fire on the trail about ten feet off the ground. We collectively gasped, and the thing shot about 1000' away in the blink of an eye. We looked at each other and in some unspoken internal agreement willed the thing back to us. It appeared again and then dissappeared. We were quite shaken and went back to Diann's home and talked about what we saw. Ball lightning my ass. We all had the some concurrence regarding what we saw and the odd feeling that the apparition was responding to our thoughts and will.

Now several years later I was reading some book about the area in the 19th century and found that others had seen a similar ball of white energy. The local mountain range is called DeLuz or "the lights" in spanish. Makes you think.

So I woke up this morning thinking about the linear nature of our reality systems and our faith in the rational - but also aware of how many times in my life the whole thing has collapsed into the equivalent of cosmic swiss cheese.

Another anecdote - I woke up screaming and crying at a girlfriend's house in New York ( I forget the exact date, around 1971) "There's going to be an earthquake" at 4:30a.m. Two or three hours later the big one hit in Los Angeles. And the spooky thing is, my mom called at 5:00 a.m. because she heard me crying from 100 miles away in Manhattan. Now a mathematical scientist will tell you that there are always coincidences and patterns in a random universe.

Another local event that I have read in 19th century enthographical texts concerning the local Pala Indians. The brujo or medicine man would wipe datura root on the indians feet to give them the ability to fly. In ceremony there is documentation that he, clothed in a robe made of condor feathers, would cut his own tongue out with a knife and turning slowly in a circle, show it to the crowd. Then he would place it in his mouth and totally reattach it. How do you practice a trick like that? Have we lost the magic somewhere on our road? Are these occurrences possibly true?

We had dinner with a very sober, straight and wonderful couple the other night who love the southwest as we do. They were telling me a story about a particular anasazi site where straight arrow rangers have seen fires burning supernaturally in kivas in the middle of the night and have been instructed not to talk about it.

I could go on for days, and won't, but hope that I can get some response.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Mr. Blue Heron, the shame of you and Mr. Shanon for your blasphemy of Moses the sacred Torah. Save your drug induced politics for the next magic mushroom trip you take.

Anonymous said...

Anon has got it right Rob, you better look out! And God, this time when you spontaneously combust Mr. Sommers, please leave a note so that the heretics don't continue to make this mistake!

And Rob, if I'm around next time you do shrooms, please leave the politics for another day!

Anonymous said...

When I was thirteen and living with my father in La Jolla, I stayed home from school with an earache and very high temperature. I heard voices coming from the radio and television when they weren't on--hallucinating from the fever. I went to the kitchen to get a glass of orange juice and passed out on the floor. Five minutes later, my mother, who lived in Los Angeles, called and demanded to know what was wrong. Her sixth sense or whatever told her I was in trouble.
People have tried to tell me over the years that it is a coincidence but I don't buy it.

I can remember waking up in Santa Barbara that day of the earthquake and holding onto the bed--wondering sleepily how it had become a waterbed overnight.


Anonymous said...

Blasphemy schmasphemy...According to Grateful Dead "Most came riding up on a Quasar." That says it all to me. Moses my man! As for Rob's politics - It's like chicken soup, it couldn't hoyt! Blaze on Blue Heron!
- The Graceful Duck

Anonymous said...

Check that spelling:
"Moses came riding up on a Quasar."
Must the lasting effects of clearlight.