John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

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John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby semper occultus » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:41 am

John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

How do we deal with a purposeless universe and the finality of death? From Victorian séances to the embalming of Lenin's corpse to schemes for uploading our minds into cyberspace, there have have been numerous attempts to deny man's mortality. Why can't we accept the limits of science?

John Gray The Guardian, Saturday 8 January 2011

Image
Lenin's embalmed corpse on display in his mausoleum.

The séance that Charles Darwin attended in January 1874 at the house of his brother Erasmus brought the pioneering biologist together with Francis Galton, eugenicist and one of the founders of modern psychology, and the novelist George Eliot. All three were anxious that the rise of spiritualism would block the advance of scientific materialism. They were unimpressed with what they witnessed – Darwin found the experience "hot and tiring" and left before sparks were seen and rapping heard – but they would have been seriously concerned had they known the future career of a fourth participant in the séance, the classical scholar and psychologist FWH Myers.

The inventor of the word "telepathy" and the writer who first introduced the work of Freud into Britain, Frederic Myers went on to become one of the founders of the Society for Psychical Research. Supported by some of the leading figures of the day, including the Cambridge philosopher Henry Sidgwick and Arthur Balfour, president of the society and later prime minister, the psychical researchers believed human immortality might prove to be a scientifically demonstrable fact.

Their quest for an afterlife was partly driven by revulsion against materialism. Science had revealed a world in which humans were no different from other animals in facing oblivion when they died and eventual extinction as a species. For nearly everyone the vision was intolerable. Not fully accepted by Darwin himself, it led the biologist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace – acknowledged by Darwin as the co-discoverer of natural selection – to become a convert to spiritualism. Wallace insisted he did not reject scientific method. Like Sidgwick and Myers, he was convinced science could show the materialist view of the world to be mistaken.

Very often these Victorian seekers also had other, more personal motives. Members of an elite that protected itself from scrutiny by keeping to a code of secrecy, leading psychical researchers used their investigations to reveal, and then again conceal, aspects of their lives that they or their culture could not or would not accept. For Myers the search for evidence of survival became a passion when a married woman for whom he had formed a deep attachment committed suicide, leading him to spend the remainder of his life trying to contact her through mediums. Sidgwick spent decades earnestly searching for proof of life after death because without this evidence, he believed, there is no reason for living a moral life. If the visible world is the only reality, he wrote at the end of Methods of Ethics (1874), morality is "reduced to chaos". He excised this passage from subsequent editions of the book, but never altered his view. Sidgwick feared the finality of death because it left no reason to restrain one's desires – a thought he must have found extremely troubling, since he seems to have spent much of his life suppressing a part of his sexuality.

Balfour was celebrated for his aloof detachment. Yet through his brother Gerald, a former Conservative minister who gave up politics to study the paranormal, the former prime minister entered into what purported to be a correspondence with a long-dead woman, whom many believed he had once loved. Balfour's ostensible correspondent communicated by automatic writing – texts produced without conscious awareness in which another mind seems to be guiding the pen, which became a vehicle for unresolved personal loss and secret love.

Starting early in the 20th century, tens of thousands of scripts were produced by different mediums in several countries over a period of more than 30 years. Known as the "cross-correspondences" because they seemed to be linked together, the scripts contained texts claiming to be messages from deceased psychical researchers, including Sidgwick and Myers, which together demonstrated the reality of life after death. As the flow of scripts continued an even larger claim emerged: the dead had taken on the task of saving the world of the living by means of a post-mortem experiment in eugenics. Scientists who had passed to "the other side" were fashioning an exceptional human being, a posthumously designed messiah-child who would deliver humankind from chaos and bring peace to the world.

A child was in fact born – the offspring of Balfour's brother and the medium who transcribed the scripts, the wife of a much older man who took up automatic writing under the cover of a pseudonym after her daughter died in infancy – but seems to have known nothing of the role he had been assigned until late in life, and then probably less than the whole truth. Featuring a spell in MI6 (where for a time he worked alongside Kim Philby) followed by life in a monastery, the career of the supposed messiah was certainly unusual. But he had no impact on the world at large, which continued its normal course of conflict and drift.

The idea of dead scientists engaging in an experiment in eugenics is incredible enough. Yet the most striking feature in this episode – only fully revealed more than 100 years after the scripts began to appear – is the power that is ascribed to science itself. While spiritualism evolved into a popular religion, complete with a heavenly "Summerland" where the dead lived free from care and sorrow, the intellectual elite of psychical researchers thought of their quest as a rigorously scientific inquiry. But if these Victorian seekers turned to science, it was to look for an exit from the world that science had revealed. Darwinism had disclosed a purposeless universe without human meaning; but purpose and meaning could be restored, if only science could show that the human mind carried on evolving after the death of the body. All of these seekers had abandoned any belief in traditional religion. Still, the human need for a meaning in life that religion once satisfied could not be denied, and fuelled the faith that scientific investigation would show that the human story continues after death. In effect, science was used against science, and became a channel for belief in magic.

Much of what the psychical researchers viewed as science we would now call pseudo science. But the boundaries of scientific knowledge are smudged and shifting, and seem clear only in hindsight. There is no pristine science untouched by the vagaries of faith. The psychical researchers used science not only to deal with private anguish but also to bolster their weakening belief in progress. Especially after the catastrophe of the first world war, the gradual improvement that most people expected would continue indefinitely appeared to be faltering. What had been achieved in the past seemed to be falling away. If the scripts were to be believed, however, there was no cause for anxiety or despair. The world might be sliding into anarchy, but progress continued on the other side.

Many of the psychical researchers believed they were doing no more than show that evolution continues in a post-mortem world. Like many others, then and now, they confused two wholly different things. Progress assumes some goal or direction. But evolution has neither of these attributes, and if natural selection continued in another world it would feature the same random death and wasted lives we find here below.

Darwinism is impossible to reconcile with the notion that humans have any special exemption from mortality. In Darwin's scheme of things species are not fixed or everlasting; there is no impassable barrier between human minds and those of other animals. How then could only humans go on to a life beyond the grave? If all life were extinguished on Earth, possibly as a result of climate change caused by humans, would they look down from the after-world, alone, on the wasteland they had left beneath? Surely, in terms of the prospect of immortality, all sentient beings stand or fall together. Then again, how could anyone imagine all the legions of the dead – not only the human generations that have come and gone but the countless animal species that are now extinct – living on in the ether, forever?

Science could not give these seekers what they were looking for. Yet at the same time that sections of the English elite were looking for a scientific version of immortality, a similar quest was under way in Russia among the "God-builders" – a section of the Bolshevik intelligentsia that believed science could someday, perhaps quite soon, be used to defeat death. The God-builders included Maxim Gorky, Anatoly Lunacharsky, a former Theosophist who was appointed commissar of enlightenment in the new Soviet regime, and the trade minister Leonid Krasin, an engineer and disciple of the Russian mystic Nikolai Fedorov, who believed that the dead could be technologically resurrected. Krasin was a key figure in the decisions that were made about how Lenin's remains would be preserved.

Weakened in Britain, belief in gradual progress had ceased to exist in Russia. An entire civilisation had collapsed, and the incremental improvement cherished by liberals was simply not possible. The idea of progress was not abandoned, however. Instead it was radicalised, as Russia's new rulers were confirmed in their conviction that humanity advances through a succession of catastrophes. Not only society but human nature had to be destroyed, and only then rebuilt. Humans did not go on to a new life on the other side. There was no other side. When humans died they returned to dust, just like other animals. But once the power of science was fully harnessed, the God-builders believed, death could be overcome by force. Eventually all of humankind could look forward to scientifically guaranteed immortality, but the process of technological resurrection would begin with the most valuable of human beings – Lenin.

The poet Mayakovsky captured the mood among Bolsheviks when Lenin's death was announced on 21 January 1924: "Lenin, even now," he wrote, "is more alive than all the living." For Krasin this was more than a poetic conceit. Soon after Lenin's funeral he published an article in the communist newspaper Izvestia entitled "The Architectural Immortalisation of Lenin". After deliberations involving Stalin and the head of the secret police, Felix Dzerzhinsky, who had organised the funeral, it had been decided to embalm Lenin rather than bury or cremate the body. Krasin wanted Lenin's mausoleum to be a site that surpassed Jerusalem and Mecca in grandeur and significance. In late March the funeral commission that had been set up to organise Lenin's interment was renamed the immortalisation commission.

Lenin's tomb was designed by AV Shchusev, an architect involved in the constructivist movement and influenced by Kazimir Malevich, the founder of suprematism. Malevich viewed abstract geometrical forms as the embodiment of a higher reality. Believing that Lenin's cube-shaped mausoleum represented a "fourth dimension" where death did not exist, he suggested that Lenin's followers keep a cube in their homes. The proposal was adopted by the party, and cubic shrines to the dead leader were set up in "Lenin corners" in offices and factories. Shchusev's design reflected Malevich's belief in the occult properties of the cube. At a meeting of the funeral commission in January 1924, Shchusev declared: "Vladimir Ilyich is eternal . . . In architecture the cube is eternal. Let the mausoleum derive from a cube." He then sketched a design made of three cubes, which the commission accepted.

Krasin was also active. In a speech delivered at the funeral of a fellow revolutionary some years before Lenin's death, he had made clear his belief that in future, revolutionary leaders would not die forever: "I am certain that the time will come when science will become all-powerful, that it will be possible to recreate a diseased organism and resurrect great historical figures. I am certain that when that time will come, among the great figures will be our comrade." With this prospect in mind, towards the end of January 1924 Krasin constructed a refrigeration system designed to keep Lenin's cadaver cool. Unsurprisingly, the primitive cryogenic technology failed to work. The skin of the face had darkened, wrinkles were appearing and the lips had parted. Krasin was adamant that freezing could succeed if a better refrigerator was imported from Germany and double-glazing installed. But the process of deterioration continued, the nose began to lose its shape, one hand was turning greenish-grey, the eyes were sinking in their sockets and the ears were becoming crumpled.

Krasin's early experiment in cryogenics could not have succeeded. The doll-like facsimile that was pieced together from Lenin's earthly remains could never have been revivified. Even now, when cryogenic techniques are much advanced, the process of freezing is highly damaging to the cadaver. Krasin wanted to believe that the advance of knowledge made it possible for humanity to conquer death, but all science could do was fashion a lifeless dummy. Yet the god-builders did not renounce their faith that science would someday defeat death. When Krasin and Lunacharsky announced a competition for designs for a permanent shrine to replace the original wooden structure, they specified that the new mausoleum must include an underground chamber where the apparatus required for preserving Lenin's body would be housed.

Repeatedly re-embalmed, Lenin's enshrined corpse outlasted the Soviet regime. Extreme precautions were taken to secure its safety. When Nazi forces were approaching Moscow in 1941 the body was evacuated ahead of the city's living inhabitants. In 1973, when the Politburo decided to renew party documents, the first party card to be reissued was Lenin's. Throughout the last years of communism his suit was changed every 18 months. The process of rejuvenation continued after the communist collapse, and in 2004 it was announced that Lenin looked younger than he had done in decades.

There was logic in Lenin's immortalisation. He reacted furiously against any suggestion that Bolshevism was a new religion, writing to Gorky in 1913 that trying to construct a new god was an exercise in necrophilia. It was a shrewd observation, but Lenin was not as far from the god-builders as he liked to think. He too aimed to use the power of science to achieve the impossible – a materialist version of the earthly paradise promised in early Christianity. The Soviet experiment would bring into being not only a new society but a new kind of human being. It was a vision shared by HG Wells, who travelled to the Soviet Union to meet the Bolshevik leader. For Wells the new Soviet state was more than a political experiment. Having listened as a young man to the lectures of Darwin's fiercest disciple, TH Huxley, Wells was convinced that humankind would drift to extinction unless a conscious minority seized control of evolution. The Bolsheviks seemed to be doing exactly that, and when Wells met Lenin in 1920 he found the Soviet leader "very refreshing" – "a good type of scientific man". If the new Soviet state killed large numbers of people, Wells wrote, "it did on the whole kill for a reason and for an end". One of the intelligent few, Lenin was using his dictatorial power to fashion a new humanity.

While in Russia visiting Lenin, Wells stayed in Gorky's apartment, where he met the Russian writer's partner, a woman everyone called Moura, then 30 years old, previously the wife of a Baltic landowner killed in the revolution and for a time the lover of one of Britain's unofficial representatives in Russia. As Wells recalled in a suppressed section of his autobiography published only after his death, "a flash of passion" passed between the two and they spent the night together. A decade later, Moura would join Wells in London, and while always refusing to marry or live with him, became his companion for the rest of his life. Wells was involved with many remarkable women, but he was drawn to none of them as he was to Moura Budberg.

She went on to establish herself as one of London's most well-connected figures, positioning herself at the centre of a vast social network (incidentally becoming Nick Clegg's great-great-aunt). For Wells, Moura embodied what he described in his autobiography as the "Lover-Shadow" – the dark side of the personality that eludes conscious awareness – and it is true that his encounter with her transformed Wells's view of himself. She told him she could no longer enter the Soviet Union for fear of arrest – to go back would be to risk her freedom, even her life. But when Wells revisited the Soviet Union in 1934 – this time to talk with Stalin – he discovered that Moura had been in the country on at least three occasions in the past year.

Travelling on to her native Estonia, he confronted her with his discovery. To begin with Moura denied everything, but then she told Wells she had been planted on him by the secret police – just as she had been planted on Gorky. She had no alternative, she explained: working for the secret police was the price of life. Wells would not accept that Moura had no alternative. Were there not some things one must never do whatever the circumstances, actions so dishonourable that it would be better to die than commit them? Unmoved by Wells's challenge, Moura laughed and responded with a question of her own. Had he not studied biology? Did he not know that survival was the first law of life? For the species, Wells answered, not the conscious individual. Again Moura laughed, and let the matter go.

Wells's discovery of Moura's hidden life triggered a mental crisis from which he never fully recovered. In an incessant stream of propaganda, he had always insisted that science could be used to construct a new world – along with a higher species to live in it. His scientific romances tell a very different story. When the time traveller journeys into the future, in The Time Machine, he finds a world built on cannibalism, with the delicate Eloi seemingly content to be farmed as food for the brutish Morlocks, and travelling on into the far future finds a darkening Earth where the only life is green slime. In The Island of Dr Moreau the visionary vivisectionist performs vile experiments on animals with the aim of remaking them as humans. The result is the ugly, tormented "beast-folk" – a travesty of humanity.

Wells's fables were a kind of automatic writing – messages from his subliminal self that his conscious mind dismissed. They teach a lesson starkly at odds with the one he spent his life preaching: the advance of knowledge cannot deliver humans from themselves, and if they use science to direct the course of evolution the result will be to engender monsters. This was Wells's true vision, always inwardly denied, and for much of his life expressed only in his scientific romances. Moura released this "esoteric philosophy" (as he later described it) into Wells's conscious awareness.

No longer trusting her, he tried to break with her; but he needed her too much, and was forced to accept that he was not the conscious individual he had imagined. There was no intelligent minority that could seize control of evolution, only a process of unending drift. It was a revelation that left him without hope, a state of mind reflected in one of his last books, The Mind at The End of Its Tether (1945). But that is not the full story, for Moura gave Wells a happiness he had not known before, a mood of serene acceptance expressed in The Happy Turning, also written near the end of his life, where he turns from struggling to change the world to contemplating "the deathless finality of beauty".

Like many others Wells had gone to Soviet Russia in the belief that a new type of humanity was being created there. But the homunculus never materialised – it was an apparition, more insubstantial than the ectoplasm that appeared by sleight of hand in spiritualist seances. Gorky, who believed humans were not far from becoming gods, died miserably, probably poisoned on Stalin's orders. Too weak to write, the god-builder dictated the last entry in his notebook: "The end of the novel the end of the hero the end of the author."

The hopes that led to Lenin's corpse being sealed in a cubist mausoleum have not been surrendered. More than ever, science is seen as a technique for solving the insoluble. Leonid Krasin's failed attempt to preserve Lenin's body has been followed by other projects of technological resurrection – including further attempts at cryonic suspension. A more radical approach is that of the American futurist Ray Kurzweil, who proposes not resurrecting the body but instead shedding it altogether and uploading minds into cyberspace. In The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, Kurzweil suggests that an explosive acceleration in the growth of scientific knowledge is under way, which will enable people to migrate into a virtual world of their own creation. Already, Kurzweil tells us in Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever, we can prepare for immortality through a programme of vitamin supplementation, diet, exercise and preventive medical care, which will enhance longevity until it becomes possible for us to leave the flesh behind. For all its hi-tech novelty this is as incredible as the idea that dead scientists are at work to save the living, or a cryogenically preserved Lenin waiting to return to life and revolutionise the world.

The fantasies that possessed the psychical researchers and the god-builders still have us in their grip today. Freezing our bodies or uploading our minds into a supercomputer will not deliver us from ourselves. Wars and revolutions will disturb our frozen remains, while death will stalk us in cyberspace – also a realm of mortal conflict. Science enlarges what humans can do. It cannot reprieve them from being what they are.

John Gray's The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death is published by Allen Lane
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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby cptmarginal » Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:48 am

This is a really good book... As will probably be obvious from reading that summary, it covers ground that a lot of people on this forum would find exceedingly interesting.

I found this thread to bump up by searching for "Balfour", just looking for some conversation about the brothers and their incredible connections. Does anyone know of a more expansive overview covering the political aspects of the automatic writing "cross-correspondences" affair?

By the time I reached the second half of the book, about the "god-builders" of Soviet Russia, nearly every single page had me wishing that someone like Picknett & Prince would cover this and expand on all of the weird implications and connections to esoteric groups. It's directly up their alley... It must be said, Gray does a very good job with pointing out the crucial figures in the background, but he pretty much leaves it to the reader to expand on the details. He seems more interested in making a philosophical point about teleological theories of evolution, a point that I happen to have some problems with (haven't finished the book yet, though).

Very stimulating thinking, though, and major fodder for follow-up research.
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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby cptmarginal » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:15 am

Let me try and get this straight

Around the late 19th century, supposed disincarnate spirits began communicating via automatic writing through a pseudonymous "medium" called Mrs Willett (actually Winifred Coombe-Tennant, British delegate at the League of Nations) to a receiving group situated firmly in the very highest echelons of government. An elaborate coded story regarding evidence for an after-life is gradually uncovered, the personal details of which surround various officials of the Society for Psychical Research (a prestigious group indeed) and particularly one-time prime minister Arthur Balfour, inspiring a decades long effort of interpretation.

And yet, the full story of these communications wasn't completely revealed until a book published in 2008. The ascended "spirits" outline a plan for what they actually call "psychological eugenics", entailing the purportedly scientific creation of a perfected child-savior which would regenerate the world! This was to be manifested in the form of a pregnancy conceived in secrecy by Arthur Balfour's also-eminent brother Gerald and Mrs Coombe-Tennant. The spirits of various famous scientists, now deceased, would scientifically design the child from the after-life in order to fulfill its purpose.

This child, Augustus Coombe-Tennant, was apparently not informed of his supposed divine providence and ordained role. Later in life he happened to join MI6 and work with infamous Soviet agent Kim Philby! A perfect segue to part 2 of the story, which takes place in Soviet Russia, but Gray elaborates other interesting links between the two stories (and omits some) as well. People involved in the intelligence world and psychological warfare appear in various places throughout.

Of course, this messianic-child idea directly parallels the Theosophy world-teacher and many other strange groups with similar plans. As a matter of fact Lady Emily Lutyens, Krishnamurti's sometime-muse while under the thumb of Theosophy, was both the granddaughter of the super-influential Edward Bulwer Lytton and the sister-in-law of Gerald Balfour (father of another supposed world-teacher). Small world? Or something more to the story that isn't being said? Personally I would lean towards something like the first option, but ever since reading Picknett & Prince's "Sion Revelation" stuff like this just sends me on a frenzy of speculation. I don't want to bust out the pitchforks and go hunting for Martinists/Synarchists, but it does seem to be the case that certain obscure forms of Freemasonry have a strange vested interest in promoting the idea of "unknown superiors" via highly manufactured scenarios that ensnare prominent social figures or otherwise influential people.

The "spirit messages" of the SPR group definitely fit the bill and were a key part of this shift in cultural attitudes that took place then, even if they supposedly came from deceased people and not some form of secret chiefs. Their experiences were very important in paving the way for the acceptance of this sort of idea, and the addition of "The Plan" for a messiah devised by an imagined community of spirits is, to me, really the poison pill. It occurs to me that the stuff about chatting up your dead relatives could really work well in hooking people in, driving them to admit such possibilities regarding communication by disincarnate intelligence and spread these attitudes in the world.

To what end? I really don't know. But it looks like the last pages of this short book are going to get even better, and Gray seems ready to pull some crazy facts out and tie up the connections between the SPR, the mass-murdering "god-builders", and the intelligence services of the British & the Soviets.
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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby brekin » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:28 am

Fascinating stuff. Interestingly Balfour's personality was the subject of some note. I wonder how much
his beliefs influenced the "Balfour Manner".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Balfour#Personality

Balfour was unusual for himself as much as for his politics. He developed a manner well known to his friends, which has been described as the Balfourian manner. Harold Begbie, a journalist of the period, wrote a book called Mirrors of Downing Street, in which he criticised Balfour for his manner, personality and self-obsession. Begbie wrote as one who disagreed strongly with Balfour's political views, but even his one-sided criticisms do not entirely conceal another facet of Balfour's personality, his shyness and diffidence. The sections of the work dealing with Balfour's personality have been reproduced below:

This Balfourian manner, as I understand it, has its roots in an attitude of mind—an attitude of convinced superiority which insists in the first place on complete detachment from the enthusiasms of the human race, and in the second place on keeping the vulgar world at arm's length.

It is an attitude of mind which a critic or a cynic might be justified in assuming, for it is the attitude of one who desires rather to observe the world than to shoulder any of its burdens; but it is a posture of exceeding danger to anyone who lacks tenderness or sympathy, whatever his purpose or office may be, for it tends to breed the most dangerous of all intellectual vices, that spirit of self-satisfaction which Dostoievsky declares to be the infallible mark of an inferior mind.

To Mr. Arthur Balfour this studied attitude of aloofness has been fatal, both to his character and to his career. He has said nothing, written nothing, done nothing, which lives in the heart of his countrymen. To look back upon his record is to see a desert, and a desert with no altar and with no monument, without even one tomb at which a friend might weep. One does not say of him, "He nearly succeeded there", or "What a tragedy that he turned from this to take up that"; one does not feel for him at any point in his career as one feels for Mr. George Wyndham or even for Lord Randolph Churchill; from its outset until now that career stretches before our eyes in a flat and uneventful plain of successful but inglorious and ineffective self-seeking.

There is one signal characteristic of the Balfourian manner which is worthy of remark. It is an assumption in general company of a most urbane, nay, even a most cordial spirit. I have heard many people declare at a public reception that he is the most gracious of men, and seen many more retire from shaking his hand with a flush of pride on their faces as though Royalty had stooped to inquire after the measles of their youngest child. Such is ever the effect upon vulgar minds of geniality in superiors: they love to be stooped to from the heights.

But this heartiness of manner is of the moment only, and for everybody; it manifests itself more personally in the circle of his intimates and is irresistible in week-end parties; but it disappears when Mr. Balfour retires into the shell of his private life and there deals with individuals, particularly with dependants. It has no more to do with his spirit than his tail-coat and his white tie. Its remarkable impression comes from its unexpectedness; its effect is the shock of surprise. In public he is ready to shake the whole world by the hand, almost to pat it on the shoulder; but in private he is careful to see that the world does not enter even the remotest of his lodge gates.

"The truth about Arthur Balfour," said George Wyndham, "is this: he knows there's been one ice-age, and he thinks there's going to be another."

Little as the general public may suspect it, the charming, gracious, and cultured Mr. Balfour is the most egotistical of men, and a man who would make almost any sacrifice to remain in office. It costs him nothing to serve under Mr. Lloyd George; it would have cost him almost his life to be out of office during a period so exciting as that of the Great War. He loves office more than anything this world can offer; neither in philosophy nor music, literature nor science, has he ever been able to find rest for his soul. It is profoundly instructive that a man with a real talent for the noblest of those pursuits which make solitude desirable and retirement an opportunity should be so restless and dissatisfied, even in old age, outside the doors of public life.
—Begbie, Harold (as 'A Gentleman with a Duster'): Mirrors of Downing Street: Some political reflections, Mills and Boon (1920), p. 76–79

Winston Churchill once compared Balfour to Herbert Asquith by stating, "The difference between Balfour and Asquith is that Arthur is wicked and moral, while Asquith is good and immoral."
If I knew all mysteries and all knowledge, and have not charity, I am nothing. St. Paul
I hang onto my prejudices, they are the testicles of my mind. Eric Hoffer
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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby semper occultus » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:47 am

brekin wrote:He has said nothing, written nothing, done nothing, which lives in the heart of his countrymen....


he did do this though......
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 (dated 2 November 1917) was a letter from the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.

His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
The statement was issued through the efforts of Chaim Weizmann and Nahum Sokolow, the principal Zionist leaders based in London; as they had asked for the reconstitution of Palestine as “the” Jewish national home, the declaration fell short of Zionist expectations.

wikipedia.org
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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby brekin » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:34 pm

semper occultus wrote:
brekin wrote:
He has said nothing, written nothing, done nothing, which lives in the heart of his countrymen....


Hi semper occultus, just for clarification that was actually
Harold Begbie, a journalist of the period,
who
wrote a book called Mirrors of Downing Street, in which he criticised Balfour for his manner, personality and self-obsession.
and not I that wrote that. (I honestly knew nothing about him until reading the OP). Although perhaps Harold was saying he did nothing positive "which lives in the heart of his countrymen"? And not so much anything at all?

In the same wiki article it looks like he also did some nasty things in Ireland at the time.

semper occultus wrote:
he did do this though......


Quote:
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 (dated 2 November 1917) was a letter from the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.

His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
The statement was issued through the efforts of Chaim Weizmann and Nahum Sokolow, the principal Zionist leaders based in London; as they had asked for the reconstitution of Palestine as “the” Jewish national home, the declaration fell short of Zionist expectations.

wikipedia.org
If I knew all mysteries and all knowledge, and have not charity, I am nothing. St. Paul
I hang onto my prejudices, they are the testicles of my mind. Eric Hoffer
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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby Harvey » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:11 pm

For SF fans Vitals by Greg Bear is an extremely entertaining near future thriller which deals with this very material in an aggressively paranoid and thrilling ride. Even Stalin makes an appearance. Highly recommended. (Note: Vitals received a critical savaging from the Nuts and Bolts school.)
And while we spoke of many things, fools and kings
This he said to me
"The greatest thing
You'll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return"


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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby cptmarginal » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:08 am

Here's Philip Coppens talking about the recent book that first told the story of what Colin Wilson calls the "designer baby"

http://www.philipcoppens.com/eagerdead.html

The Eager Dead

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Deborah Blum’s Ghost Hunters and Archie E Roy’s The Eager Dead focus on the so-called Cross-correspondences, which in the eyes of some is definitive proof that we survive death.

Philip Coppens

Deborah Blum’s Ghost Hunters and Archie E Roy’s The Eager Dead have both focused on the so-called Cross-correspondences. Blum’s book is somewhat larger in scope, in the sense that she commences her story by providing an interesting and detailed overview of what the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) did and tried to accomplish; Roy’s book focuses almost exclusively on the Cross-correspondences, and hence provides more detail; yet, and especially when read in the Blum-Roy sequence, both books manage to convey a tremendous amount of information on these Cross-correspondences.
Largely, one group of people will never have heard of the Cross-correspondences. The other – much smaller – group will argue that the Cross-correspondences are the best if not definitive proof that something of us survives death and is able to communicate back to the world of the living. To quote from Colin Wilson in his introduction to The Eager Dead, the Cross-correspondences are “a series of scripts, apparently authored by several deceased founders of the Society for Psychical Research, including Frederic Myers, Edmund Gurney and professor Henry Sidgwick, whose purpose was to provide irrefutable evidence of the reality of life after death.”

The Cross-correspondences are an enormous amount of literature, which – as a result of their sheer volume – few people have been able to tackle or understand. The (privately) printed volumes detailing the case alone amounts to over 6400 pages. The “Notes and Excursuses”, also privately printed, adds 4,400 pages more, to which the SPR Proceedings, “only” 3000 pages long, provides us with a grand total of 14,000 pages.
Few have therefore studied this massive amount of information, and Blum merely touches upon the basic outline of the story. Roy, however, has been able to do a detailed study, which seems to have taken him approximately thirty years of his lifetime. Even then, in his introduction, he makes it clear that rendering that information in a book aimed towards the general public was not an easy task – but one in which he has succeeded.

What made the Cross-correspondences so special? Let us quote from W.H. Salter, who also studied the correspondences, and how he summed them up: “It began with Mrs Verrall starting to write automatically in the spring of 1901, so as to give F.W.H. Myers an opportunity to communicate, if he could. [Myers had been a founder of the SPR and hence was “felt” to potentially try and make contact with the living.] He died 17th January 1901: her first script was written on 5th March 1901 and her scripts continued till shortly before her death in July 1916. [This was therefore a period of 15 years, in which Mrs. Verrall, through automatic writing, received transmissions apparently coming from beyond the grave.]
In 1903 Mrs. Holland began writing. She was the wife of an officer serving in India, named Fleming and the sister of Rudyard Kipling. Her scripts continued till 1910, when her health broke down.
Also in 1903 Helen Verrall [Mrs. Verrall daughter], now Mrs Salter, began writing. Her scripts continued till about 1930, when Mr Piddington invited her and also Mr Stuart Wilson to discontinue as he had more to annotate than he could manage.
In 1908 Mrs Willett got in touch with Mrs Verrall.
In 1915 Mrs Stuart Wilson the American wife of Brig. Gen. Wilson began telepathy experiments with Helen Verrall. Her scripts, which were contemporary records of impressions received before going to sleep, showed signs of connection with the scripts of earlier members of the group, of whom only Helen Verrall was known to her. Her scripts continued until about 1930.
There was also a family group in Scotland, known as “the Macs” (the Mackinnon) who wrote a few scripts that also fitted in, between 1908 and 1911.”

The people trying to contact the living became were largely Henry Sidgwick, Frederic Myers, Edmund Gurney, Francis Maitland Balfour, Annie Marshal, Laura Lyttleton and Mary Catherine Lyttleton. This group included members, founding members and presidents of the SPR, which had been founded in 1882 by Frederic Myers himself. But as the correspondence lasted several decades, other people died, and some joined the group of communicators.
Gurney had died in 1888 at the young age of 41. Sidgwick was the SPR’s first president and had died in 1900. He was succeeded by Myers, who died on January 17, 1901 in Rome. Mrs. Verrall, who had been a friend and neighbour of Myers in Cambridge, began her automatic writing again in case Myers was able to communicate proof of his survival to her. It seems her idea to “open up” a channel with the Afterlife, was the start of the saga – allowing Myers to contact the living.
In the end, several mediums were involved, including the prominent American Leonaro Piper. As mentioned, in 1903, Mrs. Holland, who was in fact Mrs. Alice Fleming, the sister of Rudyard Kipling, who lived in India, received communications which she sent into the SPR. And Margareth Verrall’s daughter Helen too became a channel for the dead eager to communicate.

In short, all of these women sent their automatic writings into the SPR, not knowing that they were not the only channel through which this specific group of dead people were communicating with the living. It was during 1906-7 that “it was discovered that the automatic scripts from different automatists bore certain significant resemblances to one another and to the material being produced by Mrs. Piper. From then on, efforts were made by the society to keep the automatists in ignorance of each others output.”
As they were all in different places, it was not too difficult. In fact, the honour of discovering that certain mediums across the world seemed to be channelling the same information was made by Alice Johnson, who recognised the ingenious nature of the communications and their relation to each other. She was also the person who labelled them “Cross-correspondences”.
Reflecting on her findings, she noted: "Thus, in one case, Mrs. Forbes' script, purporting to come from her son, Talbot, stated that he must now leave her, since he was looking for a sensitive who wrote automatically, in order that he might obtain corroboration of her own writing. Mrs. Verrall, on the same day, wrote of a fir-tree planted in a garden, and the script was signed with a sword and a suspended bugle. The latter was part of the badge of the regiment to which Talbot Forbes had belonged, and Mrs. Forbes had in her garden some fir-trees, grown from seed sent to her by her son. These facts were unknown to Mrs. Verrall.”
She concluded: “We have reason to believe that the idea of making a statement in one script complementary of a statement in another had not occurred to Mr. Myers in his lifetime – for there is no reference to it in any of his written utterances on the subject that I have been able to discover. Neither did those who have been investigating automatic script since his death invent this plan, if plan it be. It was not the automatists themselves that detected it, but a student of their scripts; it has every appearance of being an element imported from outside; it suggests an independent invention, an active intelligence constantly at work in the present, not a mere echo or remnant of individualities of the past.”

When the “dead psychical researchers society” realised the living understood they were using different mediums, each message “cross corresponding” to other messages, in an effort not merely to communicate, but to “prove” they had survived death, the messages became even more complex, with references to obscure Classical authors and quotes which the living had no idea about, and sometimes had to ask for clues from the “Script Intelligence”. Eventually, it was found to come out of a book, Greek Melic Poets, the only source in which all references found in the Cross-correspondences occur. No-one but a specialist in or student of the Classics would be likely to read this book, but Dr. Verrall was known to have used it as a textbook in connection with his lectures. The dead, while alive, had therefore been aware of the book, and in death, were quoting it to the living, to signal they were alive.
Montague Keen observed that “by scattering fragments of these messages, in themselves meaningless, through scripts recorded by different mediums at different times in different places, the ostensible communicators appeared dedicated to the provision of unchallengeable evidence and when the disparate pieces were fitted together they would show unmistakeable signs of an organising intelligence.” And that is precisely why some, who have known about and studied the Cross-correspondences, argue it is scientific evidence that something survives death.

Because of the family connection, Salter focused on the Verralls, and even though they were instrumental, the experiment involved a much wider group of people – all women involved with automatic writing – that received messages from the beyond. These women were scattered across the world, including India and America. And though with names such as Kipling, some prominent members of society have already been mentioned, they were not the most prominent of those involved.
First of all, Mrs. Willett was known as one of Britain’s best mediums, but it was only after her death in 1956 that it was revealed, with the permission of her family, that she was actually Winifred Coombe-Tennant, a well-known British figure, known for fighting several social causes.
The biggest name in this story is nevertheless that of the Balfour family, and, specifically, British Prime Minister (1902-1906) Arthur James Balfour. Sidgwick himself, one of the Script Intelligences and a founder-president of the SPR, had married a sister of the Balfours.

Arthur Balfour never married. He was known for being a very private individual. Very few people knew that Arthur had once been in love, but the love of his life Mary Lyttleton had died. Mary was one of the intelligences that contacted the living through the mediums – and would provide some clear evidence that the Intelligence passed on information which the mediums could never have known themselves.
It was Mrs. Willett who channelled her and it was in 1916 that the Script Intelligence implored Arthur to sit with Willett, which he reluctantly did. The Intelligence passed on certain information, which Arthur – the private individual he was – refused to confirm or comment upon at the time. It was only a long time after the session that Arthur sat down with his brother Gerald and told him about the action he had taken after Mary’s death four decades ago. All of sudden, some of the enigmatic references in the automatic scripts became clear, and both men knew something of Mary had survived death
Specifically, the SPR had labelled the references “The Palm Sunday Maiden”. It was a reference to how, on Palm Sunday, 1875, Mary Lyttelton had died of typhus. At the time of her death, Arthur and Mary’s sister Lavinia had decided to remember Mary in a very special and most intimate way – a secret rendez-vous, each Palm Sunday, to remember Mary, involving e.g. a lock of hair in a special reliquary that only the two of them knew about. But the Script Intelligence knew about it too.
Indeed, throughout his very public life, Arthur would keep Palm Sunday as a special day of remembrance, passing it in seclusion with Lavinia. For him, Mary’s death had been devastating, and he never married.
Because the Cross-correspondences lasted so many decades, after Mrs. Willett’s own death, Miss Cummins channelled her in 1958. In these communications, Willett’s spirit talked about Arthur – who had since died too – and how Mary had stayed in apparently a type of “waiting room” of the Afterlife waiting for him to arrive: “they tell me that she remained waiting, waiting at the border for him, returned from the higher level, at what sacrifice! A world so tempting, beckoning, but she ignored it. She put all that away from her so as to meet an old man’s soul. Therefore it need hardly be said that she was the first to greet A.J.B. when he came home to her. […] They have gone to that other level together.”

It should not come as a surprise that the events of 1916 and the Cross-correspondences as a whole convinced Arthur Balfour that something of us indeed survived death.
No wonder therefore that Jean Balfour had observed, when being around Arthur, that “it seemed to me that there were people there too; they had no concern with me, they were invisible; but I knew that they were clustered about A.J.B.’s bed, and that their whole attention was concentrated on him. They seemed to be me to be most terribly eager, and very loving and strong.”
Lots of work into the Cross-correspondences was done by Jean Balfour, daughter-in-law of Gerald. She became the official custodian of “a secret” in 1930 and continued to keep it till her death in 1981. It was her daughter Lady Alison Kremer who contacted Roy to study the Cross-correspondences and to reveal what the secret was. Again, to quote from Wilson’s introduction: “As she [Mrs. Willett/Winifred Coombe-Tennant] became more involved in mediumship, the ‘communicators’ made it known that they had in mind an interesting plan that involved Winifred. This was nothing less than that she should bear a child, a kind of ‘designer baby’, whose paternity should be, in effect, divided among the Cross Correspondence group”, in particular Edmund Gurney. Indeed, the dead were eager to create a child, which they considered to have fathered. The actual father would be Gerald Balfour, the younger brother of Arthur J. Balfour.

That child was a son, who would be named Augustus Henry. The plan was apparently for Henry to be a type of Messiah, an instrument of the spirits, destined to bring peace to the warring human race. As it was noted later, the Script Intelligence “seemed to be claiming an ability to influence the birth of children and the minds and characters of children yet born.”
The communications came through Piper: “It is a request made by E.G. [Gurney] to Mrs. Willett that she will allow him to exercise spiritual control over yet another child – girl or boy not specified – a child by no means yet in contemplation.” But Mrs. Willett did not specifically want to have another child. Nevertheless, she made “preparations” so that she could conceive; but even before the conception of the child, she had a most peculiar dream. She “saw a tall majestic figure coming toward” her, glowing with rays of yellow light and all the figures, except three women, bowed down before it. The entity said “You have not chosen me but I have chosen you”, followed by “Mother.”
Henry was born on April 9, 1913 and it was felt, during birth, that because of complications, he would be stillborn. Later, she admitted that she herself wanted to die in childbirth. His early life seemed indeed to set him apart because of an above average intelligence. To close personal friends, he confided he had had a terrifying dream, which he related on the beach of North Berwick to his sister-in-law, who noted: “He himself seemed to be three persons: he would rise up from the bed, and look at his three selves. There were other people in his bedroom and he got the impression that they were trying to make him do something.” On other occasions, he said he felt as if God had certain plans for him: “I always felt that my hand was held in God’s.”
The Balfour family estate in Scotland at the time was Whittinghame, near Haddington, East Lothian. About the house, Jean Balfour wrote: “I just know the House has another house within its walls which is full of the dead, who simply wait, and watch the world from here.” But when Henry came to visit, she added: “The dead
loved you when you were with us… there were the eager dead waiting.” And elsewhere: “The dead are frightfully pleased with him: I think he excites them somehow.”

During the Second World War, Henry enlisted and was taken a prisoner of war, but escaped. After the war, he worked for British Intelligence. But a Messiah, a Saviour, he never seemed to become, or became. Why? Those who were close to him noted that he lacked emotional enthusiasm, “inner fire”. He never had a love affair and seemed incapable of loving. Some felt that his mothered had smothered him in his youth, overprotected him, which never allowed him to become “fully” adult, which involves some form of rebellion.
Equally, his mother never revealed details of why he was born or the “Plan” “they” had for him. In the end, he withdrew, to become a Benedictine monk, where he seemed to find rest and satisfaction.
Still, some of his closest friends, like Jean Balfour, wondered whether he was indeed not a success, that he had something of an angel, and that he seemed to be a sexless person.
The Script Intelligence had stated before his birth: “You don’t realise that this coming child has been the result of immense work here and that its object is to give you something to live for because we want you where you are and we want to reconcile you to staying there.” When reading Roy’s account, one does ponder the notion that references to the “Plan” might have been some flowery speech by the Script Intelligence to see how much they could accomplish – and nothing more, or rather, to tell Mrs. Willett she would conceive a Messiah, merely to test how much the dead could accomplish with the living.
It is almost a tabloid story, but not unique. Still, in this particular case, only in 1960 did part of mystery become clear. To quote Roy: “There has never been as many as a dozen people who have known the story in its main outline. Indeed for many decades all that a larger number of people knew was that there was some secret, the exact nature of which could not be pinned down.”

Both books provide an overview of the history of psychical research, and some of the famous mediums that existed roughly fifteen and ten decades ago. In this list, Roy has included John Brown, Queen’s Victoria trusted consultant after the death of her husband Albert. Roy is actually able to find evidence that goes some way in showing that at the very least people believed Brown was somehow channelling the dead Albert, that Victoria may have believed this as well – and that before his death, to some extent, Albert told his wife Brown would be the medium that would keep them united until she would pass over as well.
It was only in the late 19th century that individuals became organised and seriously began to question whether they could prove the existence of the hereafter. That the likes of Sidgwick and Myers would have tried their utmost to communicate with the living once dead, is obvious. As early as 1874, Sidgwick, Myers, Gurney and Arthur Balfour were conducting a series of investigations into both physical and mental mediumship. As soon as some of them “transferred” over, it is clear that if “something” of them did survive, they would have done their utmost to prove from the other side that the other side existed. And that is what the Cross-correspondences show.

Throughout decades of correspondence, the dead were able to convey some information about what it felt like to be dead. Gurney communicated: “You never seem to realize how little we know. I’m not – sometimes I know and can’t get it through, but very often I don’t know.” Myers sent: “the nearest simile I can find to express the difficulties of sending a message – is that I appear to be standing behind a sheet of frosted glass – which blurs sight and deadens sound – dictating feebly – to a reluctant and very obtuse secretary. A feeling of terrible impotence burdens me – I am so powerless to tell what means so much – I cannot get into communications with those who would understand and believe me.”
Other communications read: ““It is for us a Gargantuan task the reaching back. It is only to those whose Hearts hold a welcome for us that we can come with any ease.” And: “The inner mind is very difficult to deal with from this side. We impress it with our message. We never impress the brain of the medium directly. That is out of the question. But the inner mind receives our message and sends it to the brain. The brain is a mere mechanism. The inner mind is like soft wax, it receives our thoughts, their whole content, but it must produce the words that clothe it. That is what makes cross-correspondence so very difficult.”
They also noted that “when an intruding stranger is driven by a powerful emotion of love, jealousy or hatred he appears to be able, through its power, to overcome all difficulties of transmission and to be able to convey verifiable facts.” And that may be why the Cross-correspondences were, in essence, a family affair.

After all she had seen and witnessed, in 1917, Eleanor Sidgwick said that the Cross-correspondences, which at the time would still go on in full force for another 13 years, had convinced her that survival of death took place. In the later years of the experiment, most efforts were largely taken up by securing that all the transcripts would not be destroyed by accident, or worse, neglect.
Though the Cross-correspondences are therefore a tremendous body of information, in the end, what they “only” seemed to prove – both to those who studied them and those that were involved with them – is that “something” survived. But, as W.H. Salter wrote in Zoar: “Something continues, and the question that needs an answer is, what is that something?”

Especially Roy’s book lays the foundation for the reader to have an understanding of how our ancestors might have become convinced of the existence of the Afterlife, and why they devoted so much attention to their ancestors and ancestor worship.
The need for a “designer baby” is, as mentioned earlier, not unique, but its inclusion in the Cross-correspondences provides so much detail, that for the first time, we have a body of material that places it into a context. Indeed, “spirits” creating special children for Roy and others is very much like the Virgin birth of Mary, the Son of God, but it also brings up various folkloric themes, such as the changelings, if not the so-called Horus children – Horus himself “spiritually” conceived from Osiris, as Osiris at the time of conception was not only dead, but the dead body actually missing its reproductive organs. Hence, when we read how the Pharaoh was supposedly the child of a or several gods, somehow favoured by them, noting that ancient Egypt was largely an institutionalised shamanic civilisation – and still profoundly into ancestor worship, as the Valley of the Kings and other temple complexes show – The Eager Dead actually allows the reader to transpose all of this material quite easily into an ancient Egyptian setting. As with the ancient Egyptians – and every other culture – the role of the dead and ancestors is explained as one of giving advice to the living, as well as even making plans of their own: gods/spirits from another dimension concocting plans from that other realm for us. It happened in the first half of the 20th century with a most important and influential British family; when reading about ancient history, it is clear that it happened there too. And it might be that there is indeed very little new under the sun.


http://www.aspsi.org/feat/life_after/ty ... erview.php

An interview with Archie E. Roy

excerpt:

After receiving his B.Sc. from Glasgow University in 1950, Roy earned his Ph.D. in 1954. He then spent four years as a science master in Shawlands Academy before returning to G.U. as a lecturer in the Department of Astronomy. "It was a few years later when I received my ‘call up,'" Roy recalls his introduction to psychical research. "I lost my way in the old university library and found shelves of books on spiritualism and psychical research. My first ignorant reaction was ‘What is this rubbish doing in a university library?' But curiosity made me open some of the books. I was surprised to recognize some of the authors of this ‘rubbish,' such as Sir Oliver Lodge, Professor William James, Professor Sir William Crookes, and so on. My balloon of ignorance was punctured by the needle of my scientific curiosity and I found myself called up to a new career.

Ever since then, Roy has pursued a scientific career in both astronomy and psychical research. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Astronomical Society, the British Interplanetary Society, the Society for Psychical Research (of which he is a past-president) and Scottish Society for Psychical Research (of which he was the founder). He is also a member of the International Astronomical Union, which honored him for his work in astronomy by naming an asteroid after him.

I interviewed Professor Roy several months ago for the June issue of "The Searchlight," a quarterly publication of the Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies. Here is that interview.

Professor Roy, your nearly 600-page book, was clearly a monumental project. What prompted you to undertake such a book?

"I well remember the first visit Monty Keen and I made to Honiton to meet Lady Alison Kremer, granddaughter of Gerald, 2nd Earl of Balfour. She had been left the large archive of documents collected by her mother Jean, Countess of Balfour, who had added to them from 1930 onwards, when the Sidgwick Group appointed her their official archivist of anything related to the Cross-Correspondences (C-C). Very little of this archive had ever been published and I could see why. After a preliminary study of the archive I knew I had to accept Lady Kremer's invitation to prepare it for publication. I also knew it would be a long and formidable task assessing the material, ordering it in importance, balancing it and bringing into a more readable form the scores of letters, memoranda, hundreds of automatic writings, considered and confidential opinions of Gerald, his sister Mrs. Sidgwick, Sir Oliver Lodge, Mr. Piddington and others, the part played by Arthur Balfour, Prime Minister in the first decade of the 20th century. And from behind the curtain of death, so to speak, came compelling evidence in the archive that the group of seven, Myers, Gurney, Sidgwick, William Balfour, Edith Lyttelton, Annie Marshall and Mary Catherine Lyttelton, still existed, still had an astounding agenda to be pursued, the Story and the Plan.

"The majority of psychical researchers have long considered the C-C to be a major - possibly the major - survival-related material in existence. But to tackle it required certain qualities. My colleague Monty once likened a serious attempt to research the C-C, in mountaineering terms, to be akin to an assault on the north face of the Eiger. My own feelings were that I required time, patience and optimism. Optimism, well, I was beginning the task in 1998, when I was 74 years of age. And I learned patience in my teens when I spent three years in a TB sanatorium.

"In fact it took almost ten years, studying the material, doing additional research to check data, writing successive drafts and persuading numerous colleagues to read and criticise them, revising and cutting down the length, finding a publisher and collaborating with Book Guild over many months in producing the book - they did a marvelous job.

"The most difficult part of this long slog was to cut out innumerable parts of the material concerning fascinating events in the Victorian era and the 20th century, little-known items of real interest regarding real people. But that is always the way in authorship and I am deeply grateful to all who helped me."


Considering the whole "psychological eugenics" thing, I have to wonder what sort of stuff was left out. Just going by that short profile, Roy seems to have been an ideal choice for someone to be trusted with those archives. For all I know he did a great job, but it's just my part to insolently speculate about his integrity just because he's practically an aristocrat.

And since he mentioned Montague Keen (one of the lead investigators into the "Scole experiment") what's up with the weird shit surrounding his name ever since he died? His posthumous foundation's website promotes David Icke, and if you search for Keen's name on Google there are a ton of sites promoting "channelled" messages from him about "The 2012 Scenario." Relatives gotta pay the bills, I guess.

Their logo:

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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby Simulist » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:46 am

I think we're already immortals, currently playing humans.
"The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego."
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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby Harvey » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:00 pm

Simulist wrote:I think we're already immortals, currently playing humans.


Which begs the question, what actually are ghosts? I don't get any sense of where they fit in to the grand plan. Are they literally, shadows?
And while we spoke of many things, fools and kings
This he said to me
"The greatest thing
You'll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return"


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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby fruhmenschen » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:57 pm

Simulist wrote:I think we're already immortals, currently playing humans.


you do know what to do, eh?


http://www.sloimpact.com/3qs.pdf


also see


http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl ... 7.6.1l14l0

also see

http://books.google.com/books?id=_HrXOx ... &q&f=false
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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby cptmarginal » Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:29 pm

semper occultus » Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:41 am wrote:John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

How do we deal with a purposeless universe and the finality of death? From Victorian séances to the embalming of Lenin's corpse to schemes for uploading our minds into cyberspace, there have have been numerous attempts to deny man's mortality. Why can't we accept the limits of science?

John Gray The Guardian, Saturday 8 January 2011

Image
Lenin's embalmed corpse on display in his mausoleum.

[...]

The poet Mayakovsky captured the mood among Bolsheviks when Lenin's death was announced on 21 January 1924: "Lenin, even now," he wrote, "is more alive than all the living." For Krasin this was more than a poetic conceit. Soon after Lenin's funeral he published an article in the communist newspaper Izvestia entitled "The Architectural Immortalisation of Lenin". After deliberations involving Stalin and the head of the secret police, Felix Dzerzhinsky, who had organised the funeral, it had been decided to embalm Lenin rather than bury or cremate the body. Krasin wanted Lenin's mausoleum to be a site that surpassed Jerusalem and Mecca in grandeur and significance. In late March the funeral commission that had been set up to organise Lenin's interment was renamed the immortalisation commission.

Lenin's tomb was designed by AV Shchusev, an architect involved in the constructivist movement and influenced by Kazimir Malevich, the founder of suprematism. Malevich viewed abstract geometrical forms as the embodiment of a higher reality. Believing that Lenin's cube-shaped mausoleum represented a "fourth dimension" where death did not exist, he suggested that Lenin's followers keep a cube in their homes. The proposal was adopted by the party, and cubic shrines to the dead leader were set up in "Lenin corners" in offices and factories. Shchusev's design reflected Malevich's belief in the occult properties of the cube. At a meeting of the funeral commission in January 1924, Shchusev declared: "Vladimir Ilyich is eternal . . . In architecture the cube is eternal. Let the mausoleum derive from a cube." He then sketched a design made of three cubes, which the commission accepted.

Krasin was also active. In a speech delivered at the funeral of a fellow revolutionary some years before Lenin's death, he had made clear his belief that in future, revolutionary leaders would not die forever: "I am certain that the time will come when science will become all-powerful, that it will be possible to recreate a diseased organism and resurrect great historical figures. I am certain that when that time will come, among the great figures will be our comrade." With this prospect in mind, towards the end of January 1924 Krasin constructed a refrigeration system designed to keep Lenin's cadaver cool. Unsurprisingly, the primitive cryogenic technology failed to work. The skin of the face had darkened, wrinkles were appearing and the lips had parted. Krasin was adamant that freezing could succeed if a better refrigerator was imported from Germany and double-glazing installed. But the process of deterioration continued, the nose began to lose its shape, one hand was turning greenish-grey, the eyes were sinking in their sockets and the ears were becoming crumpled.

Krasin's early experiment in cryogenics could not have succeeded. The doll-like facsimile that was pieced together from Lenin's earthly remains could never have been revivified. Even now, when cryogenic techniques are much advanced, the process of freezing is highly damaging to the cadaver. Krasin wanted to believe that the advance of knowledge made it possible for humanity to conquer death, but all science could do was fashion a lifeless dummy. Yet the god-builders did not renounce their faith that science would someday defeat death. When Krasin and Lunacharsky announced a competition for designs for a permanent shrine to replace the original wooden structure, they specified that the new mausoleum must include an underground chamber where the apparatus required for preserving Lenin's body would be housed.

Repeatedly re-embalmed, Lenin's enshrined corpse outlasted the Soviet regime. Extreme precautions were taken to secure its safety. When Nazi forces were approaching Moscow in 1941 the body was evacuated ahead of the city's living inhabitants. In 1973, when the Politburo decided to renew party documents, the first party card to be reissued was Lenin's. Throughout the last years of communism his suit was changed every 18 months. The process of rejuvenation continued after the communist collapse, and in 2004 it was announced that Lenin looked younger than he had done in decades.


http://nypost.com/2014/03/22/making-of- ... s-leaders/

Vatican’s secret, and deadly, project to preserve its saints

By Theresa Potenza

March 22, 2014

Image

Pope John XXIII, mummified and on display, will be declared a saint next month. Photo: AP

Inspired by Ancient Egypt, the Vatican embarked on a 40-year quest to preserve the remains of its holy adherents — including one of its latest saints, Pope John XXIII


The spiritual making of a saint is rooted in law, bureaucracy and, of course, faith.

The physical making of a saint is something else entirely.

On April 27, popes John XXIII and John Paul II will be granted sainthood by Pope Francis. It will be a day to honor two of the Catholic Church’s most popular leaders, the “Good Pope” who served only five years, and the superstar who toured the world and spoke out against communism, becoming the second-longest-serving pope in history.

It’s also an opportunity to display to the world what has become a tourist attraction under the Vatican: the body of John XXIII, perfectly preserved since his death in 1963, entombed in a glass coffin.

The pope’s body is the most prominent example of a four-decade experiment by the Church to sustain its holy relics. With Ancient Egypt’s mummification process as inspiration, the Vatican had an elite team of embalmers preserve 31 “saints, beatified, and servants of God” between 1975 and 2008.

The work, which tragically proved fatal to many of those who worked on it, is a bridge between heaven and earth. “The bodies and body parts of these holy individuals,” says one embalmer, “kept like a work of art.”

The Incorruptible

The Catholic belief of “incorruptibility” holds that if a body does not decay after death, the person is holy. It takes two miracles to become a saint; the Church once allowed a perfect corpse to count as one.

Incorruptibility is no longer a miracle, however, perhaps because so many tried to help God along. Oil and herbs were inserted into the muscle cavities of some older popes, for instance.

When Pope Pius XII died in 1958, the Vatican used a wrapping technique similar to what was believed to have been applied to Jesus. It failed miserably. Only days after his death, his nose fell off, and a Swiss Guard fainted due to the stench while he was guarding the body.

Pope John XXIII followed the reign of Pope Pius XII. After his death, John was treated with a simple formalin solution and placed in an airtight, layered coffin. It worked remarkably well — though the Church wouldn’t find that out until decades later.

But the Vatican has bigger problems then the bodies of popes. Across the world, the hands, heads and feet of saints are venerated — an extension of the idea of the Incarnation. Just as God became man in Jesus, so the holiness of his greatest followers adheres in the matter which made up their bodies. All these relics face the dangers of decomposition.

In 1975, Monsignor Gianfranco Nolli, the director of the Vatican’s Egyptian Museum, had an inspiration. After examining the excellent state of 4,000-year-old Egyptian mummies, he believed the Church could advance their treatments of popes and saints for the same effect.

The Vatican put together a team of researchers, which worked to update and improve the mummification process. Medical surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, anthropologists and microbiologists came up with a conservation treatment and began treating the newly deceased to bodies and body parts dating back as far as the 3rd century.

Savior of Saints

The team was called by many congregations to treat bodies of saints that had not previously been embalmed at the time of death and were later found in a state of decay.

Such was the case with the body of St. Clare of Assisi, who died in the 13th Century and was found by the nuns working there in 1987 in a casket full of moths.

Clare, one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi, founded the Order of Poor Ladies, nuns who tended to the impoverished; today they are known as the Poor Clares.

She had been treated with primitive methods when she died in 1253, with some herbs inserted into her muscles and wrapped in cotton. The cotton proved to be damaging, leaving the casket damp and inviting insects. For that reason, most holy people are now wrapped in linen.

The conservation team bathed the saint’s bone fragments in a series of solutions for months at a time to render her immune to parasites.

The team also was called to treat the foot of St. Teresa of Avila, a famous nun for her visions of Jesus and her devotion to the poor in Spain. Her followers were called “discalced,” or shoeless for their habit of wearing simple sandals, not shoes.

St. Teresa, who died in 1582, is an example of how obsessed earlier Catholics were with relics of the flesh. After her death, a priest cut off her left hand, from which he took a finger, wearing it around his neck for the rest of his life.

Followers later removed her heart, right arm, right foot and a piece of jaw to display as relics in various sites.

Much of her ended up in Rome. But in 1984, the church she was displayed in was robbed; the glass case containing her relics was shattered and her foot was stolen. It was returned days later wrapped in a communist newspaper.

The embalming team chemically treated the foot and placed it back in the reliquary, perhaps giving St. Teresa a bit of peace.

In sacristies and other back rooms of churches, the team was sometimes given a pile of bones that they had to reconstruct before the sterilization process began. The scientific process was of course not without a bit of bureaucracy. In front of the body upon the opening of each casket they had to swear and sign an affidavit in the presence of the local bishop and a lawyer that they would not ruin or destroy the sacred body.

Even so, the process was sometimes remarkably casual. At times, team members stored relics in their own homes. One doctor assigned to treat the body of St. Fernando III King of Spain who died in 1252, transported his sacred vestments to Rome and brought them to the local dry cleaner.

That said, an embalmer who worked on the project says it truly was God’s work. She says sometimes the deceased helped them in their work, sending them messages.

Her most memorable job was embalming St. Don Luigi Orione, an Italian priest known for his work with the poor and orphans. She tried to change his shoes as she prepared his body for burial — but every time she left the body alone, the new shoes mysteriously had been removed and replaced with his old poor man’s shoes.

Preserving a Pope

The team’s most important task was Pope John XXIII. The pope, popular for his jovial nature, was considered pivotal because of his convening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962, which modernized the mass, bringing in contemporary music and local languages instead of Latin.

After his death, he was credited for curing an Italian nun, who prayed to him when she developed a stomach tumor. Her healing, with no medical explanation, was his first miracle.

In 2000, Pope John Paul II had him exhumed to be declared “blessed,” part of the progression to sainthood. The airtight coffin had left him virtually undisturbed, and the embalming team wanted to keep it that way.

After the pope’s internal organs were removed and analyzed, the body was placed in a stainless-steel tub for several weeks in a solution of formalin and alcohol, then neutralized for several weeks.

His body then undertook a series of baths in assorted solutions for months at a time, including various mixtures of ethanol, methanol, phenol, camphor, nitrobenzene, turpentine and benzoic acid.

Finally the body was bandaged in linen cloths saturated with a solution of mercury bichloride and ethanol. Then a second team ensconced him with wax on his face and hands. The entire process took about a year.

The Church decided not to rebury Pope John XXIII, instead putting him on display for pilgrims. More than 25,000 people visit St. Peter’s Basilica every day, and many faithful still believe the incorrupt state of his body is a miracle.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints, a legal body inside the Vatican that analyzes witness accounts and oversees the legal measures required for sainthood, failed to recognize the pope’s bodily condition as a miracle — perhaps because the airtight container does not count as an act of God.

But Pope Francis waived the second miracle requirement, believing that John’s good works were reason enough.

Tragic ends

The embalming team risked their own lives to treat the dead.

Shockingly, there is only one survivor from the original team, the others having died of various tumors and cancers, likely side effects of the toxic chemicals expended during their work. Nobody is currently willing to assume their task due to the peril.

The team’s last job was performed in 2008, preparing the body of Pier Giorgio Frassati, an Italian senator and benefactor for various charities. There are a number of boys’ homes named after him in Australia, so Pope Benedict XVI wanted the body transported to Sydney during his visit there for World Youth Day.

But no other pope besides Pope John XXIII has been mummified. Before his death in 2005, Pope John Paul II made the decision not to have his body chemically treated and was buried as popes have been since the 1960s — left with all his organs and placed inside a vacuumed casket and rubbed with formalin.

While the state of Pope John Paul II’s body will remain a mystery, posthumously he has performed two miracles concerning medical cures of two separate women the Church says, making him technically eligible for sainthood.

The contrast in the conditions of the physical bodies of these two divergent popes, one appearing like a pristine wax statue and the other privately concealed in his natural decay, can be no better an example of their differing policies — the liberal Pope John XXIII, and the traditional John Paul II.

Both will be placed side by side in a ceremony the Sunday after Easter, and are expected to draw 5 million people to Rome — a union of science and faith.
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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby peartreed » Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:07 am

The idea of discarnate entities cross-communicating common content telepathically to attuned automatists recording commonalities unbeknownst to one another is a phenomenal psychic stretch. Yet, unless there’s an independent analysis of a literal library of the automatic writing archives, we don’t have a ghost of a chance to determine the authenticity of such sensational spirit communication, especially as evidence of survival of death.

At least séance scripts and columns of channeled chatter are usually more coherent than table raps, wall knocks and Ouija planchette patter that materialize at a monotonous medium pace, at most a modest letter at a time.

What we need to pray for and manifest is for modern science to magically summon a dynamically dramatic new data device to digitize direct and interactive dialogue with the Dear Departed in real computer time. Consider a keyboard capability to cross The River Styx and be in touch type communion and contact with our relatively cyber savvy, recently lost relatives and former friends in post-funeral fun.

Imagine activating a supernatural screen display with pictures and pixels from Paradise and Purgatory. We could interact with angels or follow our demons endlessly until crossing over became just another minor, self-correcting program glitch of interrupted passage.

Such an interactive computer connection capability would have to bypass the mediums, mystics and messengers making a commission on interpreting our eternal ether exchanges as intermediaries. That might also make a few religions and clerics somewhat surplus to requirement and redundant. Our appeals would bypass their roles and rituals – not to mention restraints.

With such heavenly hardware we could then form a paranormal forum with such inspired intuition and revelatory rigor that there’d be nothing and no-one to spook us back into cynical skepticism about our survival. We’d all be connected forever!

And all the banned members could eventually return to haunt us!
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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby jakell » Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:01 pm

I often compare cyberspace to a 'spirit world', and it certainly has a lot of the hallmarks, and unless we have physically met someone, and can meet them again (to ascertain they are actually still alive), or are aware of recent effects of their corporeality, they might as well be phantoms.

I have noticed that cyberspace inhabitants vary considerably in the amount of substance they project, and some even seem to relish their lack of this. What does strike me though is how many posters cannot (or choose not to) discern a difference.
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Re: John Gray on humanity's quest for immortality

Postby JackRiddler » Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:37 am

WOW.
THREE great emotions bowled over him; understanding; a vast philanthropy; and finally as if the result of the others, an irrepressible, exquisite delight; [as if! i wish! thanks Virginia!]

Top Secret Wall St. Iraq? flamewar & more
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