When the CIA Studied Psychic Techniques to Alter Human Consciousness & Unlock Time Travel: Discover “The Gateway Process”

By now, it’s wide­ly known that the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency ran a decades-long pro­gram of exper­i­ments involv­ing LSD and oth­er psy­choac­tive drugs called MKUl­tra from the nine­teen-fifties to the sev­en­ties. As one might sus­pect, that was­n’t the only research project into the manip­u­la­tion of human con­scious­ness the CIA had going on in the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. Anoth­er, a study of some­thing called the Gate­way Process, has more recent­ly come to wide atten­tion through an unlike­ly chan­nel. The rel­e­vant doc­u­ments “had been declas­si­fied for decades — but a new, younger audi­ence was intro­duced to the Gate­way when Tik­Tok caught on in 2021.”

So writes Elle’s Han­nah Sum­mer­hill, a self-described “long­time seek­er” recep­tive to the Gate­way Process’ con­cept of har­ness­ing not drugs but sound to “the art of becom­ing more con­scious of one’s par­tic­u­lar inner resources, inner abil­i­ties, and, most of all, one’s inner guid­ance.” The doc­u­men­ta­tion breaks down the lev­els of focus thus the­o­ret­i­cal­ly achiev­able into a series of lev­els: Focus 10 is “a med­i­ta­tive state con­ducive to heal­ing, psy­chic abil­i­ties, and remote view­ing (the abil­i­ty to ‘see’ objects in real time from a dis­tance). In the deep­er Focus 12 state, par­tic­i­pants report meet­ing their high­er selves; in Focus 15, they can manip­u­late time and chan­nel a ‘strong and guid­ing’ God-like fig­ure.”

All this was orig­i­nal­ly con­ceived by for­mer radio exec­u­tive Robert Mon­roe, whose self-exper­i­men­ta­tion with the effect of sound on human con­scious­ness — the same phe­nom­e­na exploit­ed by study-and med­i­ta­tion-assist­ing “bin­au­r­al beats” — led to his found­ing the Mon­roe Insti­tute. “In the late stages of the Cold War, con­vinced that the Sovi­ets were research­ing psy­chic abil­i­ties for espi­onage, the CIA tapped the Mon­roe Insti­tute to explore these meth­ods for them­selves,” writes Sum­mer­hill. You can read Lieu­tenant Colonel Wayne McDon­nel­l’s declas­si­fied July 1983 report on Mon­roe’s tech­niques here, as well as Thobey Cam­pi­on’s break­down of its main points at VICE here.

“A project like Gate­way that mar­ries sci­ence with the human yearn­ing for mean­ing seemed awful­ly promis­ing,” writes Pop­u­lar Mechan­ics’ Susan Lahey. “But, as it turned out, the process was not a gate­way between mate­ri­al­is­tic sci­ence and expe­ri­en­tial con­scious­ness; it was more like an effort to write a tech­ni­cal man­u­al for the inef­fa­ble.” Even if it sounds plau­si­ble to you that a bin­au­r­al beat-like sound record­ing “syncs the hemi­spheres of the brain into a sin­gle, pow­er­ful stream of ener­gy, like a laser,” you may feel less con­fi­dent when the report posits “a giant cos­mic egg with a nucle­us in the mid­dle where the Absolute spews mat­ter from a white hole into one side of the ovoid-shaped uni­verse.” It seems that the CIA nev­er did fig­ure out a way to reli­ably engage in time trav­el, remote view­ing or com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the divine, but maybe the Tik­Tok­ers will fig­ure it out.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Inside MK-Ultra, the CIA’s Secret Pro­gram That Used LSD to Achieve Mind Con­trol (1953–1973)

How the CIA Secret­ly Used Jack­son Pol­lock & Oth­er Abstract Expres­sion­ists to Fight the Cold War

How the CIA Fund­ed & Sup­port­ed Lit­er­ary Mag­a­zines World­wide While Wag­ing Cul­tur­al War Against Com­mu­nism

Read the CIA’s Sim­ple Sab­o­tage Field Man­u­al: A Time­less Guide to Sub­vert­ing Any Orga­ni­za­tion with “Pur­pose­ful Stu­pid­i­ty” (1944)

12 Mil­lion Declas­si­fied CIA Doc­u­ments Now Free Online: Secret Tun­nels, UFOs, Psy­chic Exper­i­ments & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities and the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

This 392-Year-Old Bonsai Tree Survived the Hiroshima Atomic Blast & Still Flourishes Today: The Power of Resilience

Image by Sage Ross, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

The beau­ti­ful bon­sai tree pic­tured above–let’s call it the Yama­ki Pine Bonsai–began its jour­ney through the world back in 1625. That’s when the Yama­ki fam­i­ly first began to train the tree, work­ing patient­ly, gen­er­a­tion after gen­er­a­tion, to prune the tree into the majes­tic thing it is today.

No doubt, over the cen­turies, the ancient bon­sai wit­nessed many good and bad days in Japan–some highs and some lows. But noth­ing as low as what hap­pened on August 6, 1945, when the Unit­ed States dropped an atom­ic bomb on Hiroshi­ma, dev­as­tat­ing the city and leav­ing 140,000 civil­ians dead. The bomb explod­ed less than two miles from the Yamak­i’s home. But defy­ing the odds, the Yama­ki Pine sur­vived the blast. (It was pro­tect­ed by a wall sur­round­ing the Yamak­i’s bon­sai nurs­ery.) The fam­i­ly sur­vived the blast too, suf­fer­ing only minor cuts from fly­ing glass.

Three decades lat­er, in a rather remark­able act of for­give­ness, the Yama­ki fam­i­ly gift­ed the pine (along with 52 oth­er cher­ished trees) to the Unit­ed States, dur­ing the bicen­ten­ni­al cel­e­bra­tion of 1976. Nev­er did they say any­thing, how­ev­er, about the trau­mas the tree sur­vived. Only in 2001, when a younger gen­er­a­tion of Yamakis vis­it­ed Wash­ing­ton, did the care­tak­ers at the Unit­ed States Nation­al Arbore­tum learn the full sto­ry about the tree’s resilience. The tree sur­vived the worst mankind could throw at it. And kept its beau­ty intact. Sure­ly you can do the same when life sends less­er chal­lenges your way.

You can get a clos­er look at the Yama­ki pine in the video below.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The “Shad­ow” of a Hiroshi­ma Vic­tim, Etched into Stone, Is All That Remains After 1945 Atom­ic Blast

Watch Chill­ing Footage of the Hiroshi­ma & Nagasa­ki Bomb­ings in Restored Col­or

The Art of Cre­at­ing a Bon­sai: One Year Con­densed Con­densed Into 22 Mes­mer­iz­ing Min­utes

The Art & Phi­los­o­phy of Bon­sai

 

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Ancient Greek Armor Gets Tested in an 11-Hour Battle Simulation Inspired by the Iliad


By Greek law, every male cit­i­zen over the age of eigh­teen must spend from nine months to a year in the Hel­lenic Armed Forces. As in every coun­try with such a pol­i­cy of manda­to­ry con­scrip­tion, this is sure­ly not a prospect rel­ished by most con­scripts-to-be. But then, it can’t be all bad, at least for those enthu­si­asts of Mediter­ranean mil­i­tary his­to­ry who hap­pened to be serv­ing when researchers from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Thes­saly came by offer­ing the chance to don a suit of armor from the fif­teenth cen­tu­ry BC and have a very — and faith­ful­ly — old-fash­ioned bat­tle.

The repli­ca was mod­eled on an exam­ple from the late-Bronze-age Myce­naean civ­i­liza­tion “dis­cov­ered in the south­ern Greek vil­lage of Den­dra in 1960,” writes Smithsonian.com’s Son­ja Ander­son, describ­ing it as “one of the old­est com­plete suits of Euro­pean armor in exis­tence.”

Com­posed of fif­teen “cop­per-alloy sheets held togeth­er with leather, which cov­ered the wear­er from neck to knees,” the suit is “com­plete with arm and leg guards and a hel­met dec­o­rat­ed with pieces of boar tusk.” Clunky though it may look, it stands as evi­dence that, as the researchers put it in their paper, the “Myce­naeans had such a pow­er­ful impact in East­ern Mediter­ranean at least part­ly as a result of their armor tech­nol­o­gy.”

But first, they had to put the armor itself to the test. “They gath­ered vol­un­teers from the 32nd Marines Brigade of the Hel­lenic Army,” Ander­son writes, “fed them the pre-bat­tle meal of a Myce­naean sol­dier: bread, beef, goat cheese, green olives, onions and red wine. The marines were out­fit­ted in repli­cas of the Myce­naean suit, giv­en repli­cas of Myce­naean cru­ci­form swords, and placed in a tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled room set to a geo­graph­i­cal­ly accu­rate 64 to 68 degrees Fahren­heit.” There com­menced eleven hours of sim­u­lat­ed bat­tle, all “chore­o­graphed based on descrip­tions of the Tro­jan War from Homer’s Ili­ad, which was fought a few cen­turies after the Den­dra armor was made.”

“We now under­stand, despite its cum­ber­some appear­ance at first sight, that it is not only flex­i­ble enough to per­mit almost every move­ment of a war­rior on foot but also resilient enough to pro­tect the wear­er from most blows,” the researchers write in their con­clu­sion. And though their research sub­jects “showed a high lev­el of fatigue, sore upper body due to the weight of the armor, and foot pain due to walk­ing, run­ning, rid­ing a char­i­ot, and fight­ing bare­foot,” it must have been a more stim­u­lat­ing expe­ri­ence than the aver­age day in the Hel­lenic Armed Forces — espe­cial­ly if there was any post-bat­tle goat cheese and wine avail­able.

via Smith­son­ian Mag­a­zine

Relat­ed con­tent:

What It’s Like to Actu­al­ly Fight in Medieval Armor

How to Make and Wear Medieval Armor: An In-Depth Primer

How Well Can You Move in Medieval Armor?: Medieval­ist Daniel Jaquet Gives It a Try in Real Life

Bronze Age Britons Turned Bones of Dead Rel­a­tives into Musi­cal Instru­ments & Orna­ments

Why Civ­i­liza­tion Col­lapsed in 1177 BC: Watch Clas­si­cist Eric Cline’s Lec­ture That Has Already Gar­nered 5.5 Mil­lion Views

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities and the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Philip K. Dick Theorizes The Matrix in 1977, Declares That We Live in “A Computer-Programmed Reality”

In 1963, Philip K. Dick won the cov­et­ed Hugo Award for his nov­el The Man in the High Cas­tle, beat­ing out such sci-fi lumi­nar­ies as Mar­i­on Zim­mer Bradley and Arthur C. Clarke. Of the nov­el, The Guardian writes, “Noth­ing in the book is as it seems. Most char­ac­ters are not what they say they are, most objects are fake.” The plot—an alter­nate his­to­ry in which the Axis Pow­ers have won World War II—turns on a pop­u­lar but con­tra­band nov­el called The Grasshop­per Lies Heavy. Writ­ten by the tit­u­lar char­ac­ter, the book describes the world of an Allied vic­to­ry, and—in the vein of his worlds-with­in-worlds thematic—Dick’s nov­el sug­gests that this book-with­in-a-book may in fact describe the “real” world of the nov­el, or one glimpsed through the novel’s real­i­ty as at least high­ly pos­si­ble.

The Man in the High Cas­tle may be Dick’s most straight­for­ward­ly com­pelling illus­tra­tion of the expe­ri­ence of alter­nate real­i­ties, but it is only one among very many. In an inter­view Dick gave while at the high pro­file Metz sci­ence fic­tion con­fer­ence in France in 1977, he said that like David Hume’s descrip­tion of the “intu­itive type of per­son,” he lived “in terms of pos­si­bil­i­ties rather than in terms of actu­al­i­ties.” Dick also tells a para­ble of an ancient, com­pli­cat­ed, and tem­pera­men­tal auto­mat­ed record play­er called the “Capard,” which revert­ed to vary­ing states of destruc­tive chaos. “This Capard,” Dick says, “epit­o­mized an inscrutable ultra-sophis­ti­cat­ed uni­verse which was in the habit of doing unex­pect­ed things.”

In the inter­view, Dick roams over so many of his per­son­al the­o­ries about what these “unex­pect­ed things” sig­ni­fy that it’s dif­fi­cult to keep track. How­ev­er, at that same con­fer­ence, he deliv­ered a talk titled “If You Find This World Bad, You Should See Some of the Oth­ers” (in edit­ed form above), that set­tles on one par­tic­u­lar theory—that the uni­verse is a high­ly-advanced com­put­er sim­u­la­tion. (The talk has cir­cu­lat­ed on the inter­net as “Did Philip K. Dick dis­close the real Matrix in 1977?”).

The sub­ject of this speech is a top­ic which has been dis­cov­ered recent­ly, and which may not exist all. I may be talk­ing about some­thing that does not exist. There­fore I’m free to say every­thing and noth­ing. I in my sto­ries and nov­els some­times write about coun­ter­feit worlds. Semi-real worlds as well as deranged pri­vate worlds, inhab­it­ed often by just one per­son…. At no time did I have a the­o­ret­i­cal or con­scious expla­na­tion for my pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with these plu­ri­form pseu­do-worlds, but now I think I under­stand. What I was sens­ing was the man­i­fold of par­tial­ly actu­al­ized real­i­ties lying tan­gent to what evi­dent­ly is the most actu­al­ized one—the one that the major­i­ty of us, by con­sen­sus gen­tium, agree on.

Dick goes on to describe the vision­ary, mys­ti­cal expe­ri­ences he had in 1974 after den­tal surgery, which he chron­i­cled in his exten­sive jour­nal entries (pub­lished in abridged form as The Exe­ge­sis of Philip K. Dick) and in works like VALIS and The Divine Inva­sion. As a result of his visions, Dick came to believe that “some of my fic­tion­al works were in a lit­er­al sense true,” cit­ing in par­tic­u­lar The Man in the High Cas­tle and Flow My Tears, The Police­man Said, a 1974 nov­el about the U.S. as a police state—both nov­els writ­ten, he says, “based on frag­men­tary, resid­ual mem­o­ries of such a hor­rid slave state world.” He claims to remem­ber not past lives but a “dif­fer­ent, very dif­fer­ent, present life.”

Final­ly, Dick makes his Matrix point, and makes it very clear­ly: “we are liv­ing in a com­put­er-pro­grammed real­i­ty, and the only clue we have to it is when some vari­able is changed, and some alter­ation in our real­i­ty occurs.” These alter­ations feel just like déjà vu, says Dick, a sen­sa­tion that proves that “a vari­able has been changed” (by whom—note the pas­sive voice—he does not say) and “an alter­na­tive world branched off.”

Dick, who had the capac­i­ty for a very oblique kind of humor, assures his audi­ence sev­er­al times that he is dead­ly seri­ous. (The looks on many of their faces betray increduli­ty at the very least.) And yet, maybe Dick’s crazy hypoth­e­sis has been val­i­dat­ed after all, and not sim­ply by the suc­cess of the PKD-esque The Matrix and the ubiq­ui­ty of Matrix analo­gies. For sev­er­al years now, the­o­ret­i­cal physi­cists and philoso­phers have enter­tained the the­o­ry that we do in fact live in a com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed sim­u­la­tion and, what’s more, that “we may even be able to detect it.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Are We Liv­ing Inside a Com­put­er Sim­u­la­tion?: An Intro­duc­tion to the Mind-Bog­gling “Sim­u­la­tion Argu­ment”

Robert Crumb Illus­trates Philip K. Dick’s Infa­mous, Hal­lu­ci­na­to­ry Meet­ing with God (1974)

The Sim­u­la­tion The­o­ry Explained In Three Ani­mat­ed Videos

An Intro­duc­tion to Jean Bau­drillard, Who Pre­dict­ed the Sim­u­la­tion-Like Real­i­ty in Which We Live

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Watch Philosophy Lectures That Became a Hit During COVID by Professor Michael Sugrue (RIP): From Plato and Marcus Aurelius to Critical Theory

If we ask which phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sor has made the great­est impact in this decade, there’s a sol­id case to be made for the late Michael Sug­rue. Yet in the near­ly four-decade-long career that fol­lowed his stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go under Allan Bloom (author of The Clos­ing of the Amer­i­can Mind, lat­er immor­tal­ized in Saul Bel­low’s Rav­el­stein), he nev­er pub­lished a book, nor took a tenured posi­tion. His last place of employ­ment as a lec­tur­er was Ave Maria Uni­ver­si­ty, a small Catholic insti­tu­tion found­ed by the man behind Domi­no’s Piz­za. After his death ear­li­er this year, his work might have lived on only in the mem­o­ries of the stu­dents with whom he shared class­rooms.

That would have been the case, at least, if Sug­rue’s daugh­ter had­n’t uploaded his lec­tures to Youtube dur­ing the COVID pan­dem­ic, when view­ers the world over were more than ready for a dose of philo­soph­i­cal wis­dom. “The lec­tures were record­ed as part of the Great Minds of the West­ern Intel­lec­tu­al Tra­di­tion series,” writes John Hirschauer in a 2021 Amer­i­can Con­ser­v­a­tive pro­file, “a col­lec­tion of talks on the West’s great­est authors and thinkers” pub­lished by The Teach­ing Com­pa­ny in 1992. “Sugrue’s first lec­ture in the series is on Pla­to, the last on crit­i­cal the­o­ry. His remark­able ora­to­ry skill is on dis­play through­out.” What’s more, “he does not car­ry a note card or read from a prompter. There is hard­ly a stut­ter in 37 hours of footage.”

Sug­rue was diag­nosed with can­cer in the ear­ly twen­ty-tens, and “doc­tors at the time gave him five years to live. He said the thought of Mar­cus Aure­lius had tak­en on new mean­ing since his diag­no­sis.” Indeed, Sug­rue’s lec­ture on the Roman emper­or and Sto­ic icon is the most pop­u­lar of his videos, with over one and a half mil­lion views at the time of this writ­ing. Over the years, we’ve fea­tured dif­fer­ent intro­duc­tions to Sto­icism here on Open Cul­ture, as well as the work of oth­er Sto­ics like the states­man-drama­tist Seneca the Younger. But Sug­rue’s 42-minute exe­ge­sis on Mar­cus Aure­lius — not just “the most inter­est­ing of the Sto­ics,” but also “the one exam­ple of an absolute ruler who behaves him­self in such a way as not to dis­grace him­self” — has res­onat­ed unusu­al­ly far and wide.

Then, as now, Mar­cus Aure­lius serves as “a stand­ing reproach to our self-indul­gence, a stand­ing reproach to the idea that we are unable to deal with the cir­cum­stances of human life.” He ful­ly inter­nal­ized the cen­tral Sto­ic insight that there are “only two kinds of things: there are the things you can con­trol and the things you can’t.” Every­thing falls into the lat­ter group except “your inten­tions, your behav­ior, your actions.” And indeed, just as Sug­rue kept look­ing to the exam­ple of Mar­cus Aure­lius — return­ing to his text Med­i­ta­tions as recent­ly as a webi­nar he gave two years ago — stu­dents of phi­los­o­phy yet unborn will no doubt find their way to the philo­soph­i­cal guid­ance that he him­self has left behind.

Below, you can watch a playlist of Sug­rue’s lec­ture series, Great Minds of the West­ern Intel­lec­tu­al Tra­di­tion.

via NYTimes

Relat­ed con­tent:

What Is Sto­icism? A Short Intro­duc­tion to the Ancient Phi­los­o­phy That Can Help You Cope with Our Hard Mod­ern Times

How to Be a Sto­ic in Your Every­day Life: Phi­los­o­phy Pro­fes­sor Mas­si­mo Pigli­uc­ci Explains

Three Huge Vol­umes of Sto­ic Writ­ings by Seneca Now Free Online, Thanks to Tim Fer­riss

The Sto­ic Wis­dom of Roman Emper­or Mar­cus Aure­lius: An Intro­duc­tion in Six Short Videos

Oxford’s Free Intro­duc­tion to Phi­los­o­phy: Stream 41 Lec­tures

A His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy in 81 Video Lec­tures: A Free Course That Explores Phi­los­o­phy from Ancient Greece to Mod­ern Times

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities and the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Hunter S. Thompson’s Harrowing, Chemical-Filled Daily Routine

E. Jean Car­rol­l’s 1993 mem­oir of Hunter S. Thomp­son opens like this:

I have heard the biog­ra­phers of Har­ry S. Tru­man, Cather­ine the Great, etc., etc., say they would give any­thing if their sub­jects were alive so they could ask them some ques­tions. I, on the oth­er hand, would give any­thing if my sub­ject were dead.

He should be. Oh, yes. Look at his dai­ly rou­tine:

3:00 p.m. rise

3:05 Chivas Regal with the morn­ing papers, Dun­hills

3:45 cocaine

3:50 anoth­er glass of Chivas, Dun­hill

4:05 first cup of cof­fee, Dun­hill

4:15 cocaine

4:16 orange juice, Dun­hill

4:30 cocaine

4:54 cocaine

5:05 cocaine

5:11 cof­fee, Dun­hills

5:30 more ice in the Chivas

5:45 cocaine, etc., etc.

6:00 grass to take the edge off the day

7:05 Woody Creek Tav­ern for lunch-Heineken, two mar­gar­i­tas, coleslaw, a taco sal­ad, a dou­ble order of fried onion rings, car­rot cake, ice cream, a bean frit­ter, Dun­hills, anoth­er Heineken, cocaine, and for the ride home, a snow cone (a glass of shred­ded ice over which is poured three or four jig­gers of Chivas.)

9:00 starts snort­ing cocaine seri­ous­ly

10:00 drops acid

11:00 Char­treuse, cocaine, grass

11:30 cocaine, etc, etc.

12:00 mid­night, Hunter S. Thomp­son is ready to write

12:05–6:00 a.m. Char­treuse, cocaine, grass, Chivas, cof­fee, Heineken, clove cig­a­rettes, grape­fruit, Dun­hills, orange juice, gin, con­tin­u­ous porno­graph­ic movies.

6:00 the hot tub-cham­pagne, Dove Bars, fet­tuc­cine Alfre­do

8:00 Hal­cy­on

8:20 sleep

Ms. Car­roll, you have my atten­tion, I do declare. But when I get a grip on myself, I won­der: How did she get ahold of this list? Did Thomp­son map it all out for her? Did he note it in a diary, or jot it all down on a nap­kin? Or did Car­roll observe him fol­low­ing this rou­tine while vis­it­ing his 7,000-acre estate in Woody Creek, Col­orado? And, if the lat­ter, you have to won­der whether Thomp­son always lived this hard? Or was this a bit of schtick, the nur­tur­ing of a Gonzo per­sona now decades in the mak­ing? It’s hard to know what’s true, or what’s not.

Mean­while, if you want to delve more deeply into Thomp­son’s dai­ly rou­tine, you can explore HST’s ide­al break­fast. It con­sists of “four Bloody Marys, two grape­fruits, a pot of cof­fee, Ran­goon crêpes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned-beef hash with diced chilies, a Span­ish omelette or eggs Bene­dict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for ran­dom sea­son­ing, and some­thing like a slice of key lime pie, two mar­gar­i­tas and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert.” All eat­en naked and alone. Nat­u­ral­ly.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hunter S. Thompson’s Deca­dent Dai­ly Break­fast: The “Psy­chic Anchor” of His Fre­net­ic Cre­ative Life

Hunter S. Thomp­son Chill­ing­ly Pre­dicts the Future, Telling Studs Terkel About the Com­ing Revenge of the Eco­nom­i­cal­ly & Tech­no­log­i­cal­ly “Obso­lete” (1967)

Hunter Thomp­son Explains What Gonzo Jour­nal­ism Is, and How He Writes It (1975)

Free: Read the Orig­i­nal 23,000-Word Essay That Became Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

A 6‑Step Guide to Zen Buddhism, Presented by Psychiatrist-Zen Master Robert Waldinger

Robert Waldinger works as a part-time pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try at Har­vard Med­ical School, but he also describes him­self as a “Zen mas­ter.” This may strike some lis­ten­ers as a pre­sump­tu­ous claim, but he has indeed been offi­cial­ly accept­ed as a rōshi in two dif­fer­ent Zen lin­eages in the West. With one foot in psy­chi­a­try and the oth­er in Bud­dhism, Waldinger (pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture for his work on hap­pi­ness and lone­li­ness) is well-placed to explain the lat­ter in terms amenable to the for­mer. In the Big Think video above, he breaks the ancient reli­gion — or mind­set, or way of being, or what­ev­er one prefers to call it — into six dis­tinct con­cepts: imper­ma­nence, noble truths, mind­ful­ness, attach­ment, lov­ing kind­ness, and begin­ner’s mind.

If you’ve felt any curios­i­ty about Zen Bud­dhism and pur­sued it online in recent years, the term mind­ful­ness will be famil­iar to the point of cliché. Waldinger per­son­al­ly defines it as “pay­ing atten­tion in the present moment with­out judg­ment.” You can work on your mind­ful­ness right now, he explains, “by sim­ply pay­ing atten­tion to what­ev­er stim­uli are reach­ing you. It might be your heart­beat, it might be your breath, it might be the sound of the fan in the room — any­thing — and sim­ply let­ting your­self be open and receive what­ev­er is here right now.” This can help us put into per­spec­tive the next con­cept, attach­ment, or our feel­ing “that the world be a cer­tain way,” which caus­es no amount of our dis­sat­is­fac­tion and even suf­fer­ing.

All of these ideas are much expand­ed on in pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary Bud­dhist texts, which any enthu­si­ast can spend a life­time read­ing. My own inter­est was first piqued by a pop­u­lar 1970 vol­ume called Zen Mind, Begin­ner’s Mind, a com­pi­la­tion of talks by a famous rōshi called Shun­ryū Suzu­ki Waldinger ref­er­ences Suzuk­i’s work in the final sec­tion of this video, and specif­i­cal­ly his obser­va­tion that “in the begin­ner’s mind, there are many pos­si­bil­i­ties. In the expert’s mind, there are few.” In Waldinger’s own expe­ri­ence, “the old­er I get, and the more peo­ple call me an expert, the more aware I am of how lit­tle I know.” True mas­tery lies in the aware­ness not of the knowl­edge we have, but the knowl­edge we don’t.

Relat­ed:

Bud­dhism 101: A Short Intro­duc­to­ry Lec­ture by Jorge Luis Borges

How Lone­li­ness Is Killing Us: A Primer from Har­vard Psy­chi­a­trist & Zen Priest Robert Waldinger

What Is a Zen Koan? An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to East­ern Philo­soph­i­cal Thought Exper­i­ments

The Wis­dom of Alan Watts in Four Thought-Pro­vok­ing Ani­ma­tions

What Are the Keys to Hap­pi­ness? Lessons from a 75-Year-Long Har­vard Study

The Zen of Bill Mur­ray: I Want to Be “Real­ly Here, Real­ly in It, Real­ly Alive in the Moment”

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities and the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Hear the Song Written on a Sinner’s Buttock in Hieronymus Bosch’s Painting The Garden of Earthly Delights

There’s some­thing unusu­al­ly excit­ing about find­ing a hid­den or dis­creet­ly placed ele­ment in a well-known paint­ing. I can only imag­ine the thrill of the physi­cian who first noticed the curi­ous pres­ence of a human brain in Michelangelo’s The Cre­ation of Adam: God, his ret­inue of angels, and their cloak map neat­ly onto some of the main neur­al struc­tures, includ­ing the major sul­ci in the cere­bel­lum, the pitu­itary gland, the frontal lobe, and the optic chi­asm. It’s hard to gauge Michelangelo’s moti­va­tion for doing so, but con­sid­er­ing his doc­u­ment­ed inter­est in dis­sec­tion and phys­i­ol­o­gy, the find is not par­tic­u­lar­ly sur­pris­ing.

adam

And then there’s anoth­er find. Sev­er­al years ago, the Inter­net became excit­ed when an enter­pris­ing blog­ger named Amelia tran­scribed, record­ed, and uploaded a musi­cal score straight out of Hierony­mus Bosch’s The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights, paint­ed between 1490 and 1510. The kick­er? Amelia found the score writ­ten on a suf­fer­ing sinner’s butt.

The poor, musi­cal­ly-brand­ed soul can be seen in the bot­tom left-hand cor­ner of the painting’s third and final pan­el (below), where­in Bosch depicts the var­i­ous tor­ture meth­ods of hell. The unfor­tu­nate hell-dweller lies pros­trate atop an open music book, crushed by a gigan­tic lute, while a toad-like demon stretch­es his tongue towards his tune­ful but­tocks. Anoth­er inhab­i­tant is strung up on a harp above the scene.

bosch-1

The piece, which Amelia tran­scribed and record­ed, can be heard in the video above. It is… unusu­al. Although we can’t ascer­tain why Bosch decid­ed to write out this par­tic­u­lar melody, since scant bio­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion about the painter sur­vives, it’s pos­si­ble that he decid­ed to include music in his depic­tion of the infer­no because it was viewed as a sign of sin­ful plea­sure. For those who haven’t yet had a chance to hear it, lis­ten to Medieval-era butt music here.

Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman or at Google, or read more of his writ­ing at the Huff­in­g­ton Post.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of Hierony­mus Bosch’s Bewil­der­ing Mas­ter­piece The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights

The Mean­ing of Hierony­mus Bosch’s The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights Explained

Watch the Spec­tac­u­lar Hierony­mus Bosch Parade, Which Floats Through The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights Painter’s Home­town Every Year

Hierony­mus Bosch’s Medieval Paint­ing, “The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights,” Comes to Life in a Gigan­tic, Mod­ern Ani­ma­tion

 

 

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Fritz Lang First Depicted Artificial Intelligence on Film in Metropolis (1927), and It Frightened People Even Then

Arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence seems to have become, as Michael Lewis labeled a pre­vi­ous chap­ter in the recent his­to­ry of tech­nol­o­gy, the new new thing. But human anx­i­eties about it are, if not an old old thing, then at least part of a tra­di­tion longer than we may expect. For vivid evi­dence, look no fur­ther than Fritz Lang’s Metrop­o­lis, which brought the very first cin­e­mat­ic depic­tion of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence to the­aters in 1927. It “imag­ines a future cleaved in two, where the afflu­ent from lofty sky­scrap­ers rule over a sub­ter­ranean caste of labor­ers,” writes Synapse Ana­lyt­ics’ Omar Abo Mos­al­lam. “The class ten­sion is so pal­pa­ble that the inven­tion of a Maschi­nen­men­sch (a robot capa­ble of work) upends the social order.”

The sheer tire­less­ness of the Maschi­nen­men­sch “sows hav­oc in the city”; lat­er, after it takes on the form of a young woman called Maria — a trans­for­ma­tion you can watch in the clip above — it “incites work­ers to rise up and destroy the machines that keep the city func­tion­ing. Here, there is a sug­ges­tion to asso­ciate this new inven­tion with an unrav­el­ing of the social order.” This robot, which Guardian film crit­ic Peter Brad­shaw describes as “a bril­liant eroti­ciza­tion and fetishiza­tion of mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy,” has long been Metrop­o­lis’ sig­na­ture fig­ure, more icon­ic than HAL, Data, and WALL‑E put togeth­er.

Still, those char­ac­ters all rate men­tions of their own in the arti­cles review­ing the his­to­ry of AI in the movies recent­ly pub­lished by the BFI, RTÉ, Pic­to­ry, and oth­er out­lets besides. The Day the Earth Stood Still, Alien, Blade Run­ner (and even more so its sequel Blade Run­ner 2049), Ghost in the Shell, The Matrix, and Ex Machi­na. Not all of these pic­tures present their arti­fi­cial­ly intel­li­gent char­ac­ters pri­mar­i­ly as exis­ten­tial threats to the exist­ing order; the BFI’s Georgina Guthrie high­lights video essay­ist-turned-auteur Kog­o­na­da’s After Yang as an exam­ple that treats the role of AI could assume in soci­ety as a much more com­plex — indeed, much more human — mat­ter.

From Metrop­o­lis to After Yang, as RTÉ’s Alan Smeaton points out, “AI is usu­al­ly por­trayed in movies in a robot­ic or humanoid-like fash­ion, pre­sum­ably because we can eas­i­ly relate to humanoid and robot­ic forms.” But as the pub­lic has come to under­stand over the past few years, we can per­ceive a tech­nol­o­gy as poten­tial­ly or actu­al­ly intel­li­gent even it does­n’t resem­ble a human being. Per­haps the age of the fear­some mechan­i­cal Art Deco gynoid will nev­er come to pass, but we now feel more keen­ly than ever both the seduc­tive­ness and the threat of Metrop­o­lis’ Maschi­nen­men­sch — or, as it was named in the orig­i­nal on which the film was based, Futu­ra.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Metrop­o­lis: Watch Fritz Lang’s 1927 Mas­ter­piece

Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence, Art & the Future of Cre­ativ­i­ty: Watch the Final Chap­ter of the “Every­thing is a Remix” Series

Hunter S. Thomp­son Chill­ing­ly Pre­dicts the Future, Telling Studs Terkel About the Com­ing Revenge of the Eco­nom­i­cal­ly & Tech­no­log­i­cal­ly “Obso­lete” (1967)

Ama­zon Offers Free AI Cours­es, Aim­ing to Help 2 Mil­lion Peo­ple Build AI Skills by 2025

Isaac Asi­mov Pre­dicts the Future in 1982: Com­put­ers Will Be “at the Cen­ter of Every­thing;” Robots Will Take Human Jobs

Google Launch­es a New Course Called “AI Essen­tials”: Learn How to Use Gen­er­a­tive AI Tools to Increase Your Pro­duc­tiv­i­ty

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

9‑Year-Old Edward Hopper Draws a Picture on the Back of His 3rd Grade Report Card

In a 2017 press release, the Edward Hop­per House announced that it would receive over 1,000 arti­facts and mem­o­ra­bil­ia doc­u­ment­ing Edward Hop­per’s fam­i­ly life and ear­ly years. The col­lec­tion “con­sists of juve­nil­ia and oth­er mate­ri­als from the for­ma­tive years of Hop­per’s life and includes orig­i­nal let­ters, draw­ings from his school years … pho­tographs, orig­i­nal news­pa­per arti­cles, and oth­er items that allow vis­i­tors to expe­ri­ence first­hand how Hop­per’s child­hood and home envi­ron­ment shaped his art.”

Above you can find Exhib­it A from the col­lec­tion. A pic­ture that young Hop­per, only 9 years old, drew on the back of his 3rd grade report card in 1891. A sure ear­ly sign of his tal­ents.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What Makes Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks a Great Paint­ing?: A Video Essay

How Edward Hop­per “Sto­ry­board­ed” His Icon­ic Paint­ing Nighthawks

Edward Hopper’s Icon­ic Paint­ing Nighthawks Explained in a 7‑Minute Video Intro­duc­tion

How Cin­e­ma Inspired Edward Hopper’s Great Paint­ings, and How Edward Hop­per Inspired Great Film­mak­ers

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The First Professional Footage of Pink Floyd Gets Captured in a 1967 Documentary (and the Band Also Provides the Soundtrack)

British film­mak­er and nov­el­ist Peter White­head has been cred­it­ed with invent­ing the music video with his pro­mo films for the Rolling Stones in the mid-60s. Accord­ing to Ali Cat­ter­all and Simon Wells, authors of Your Face Here, a study of “British Cult Film since the Six­ties,” White­head was “a trust­ed con­fi­dant of the Rolling Stones… and a mem­ber of the inner cir­cle.” In addi­tion to the Stones, White­head had access to a sur­pris­ing num­ber of impor­tant fig­ures in the coun­ter­cul­tur­al scene of 60s Lon­don, includ­ing actors Michael Caine and Julie Christie, artist David Hock­ney, and a just-emerg­ing (and then unknown) psy­che­del­ic band called Pink Floyd. All of these char­ac­ters show up in Whitehead’s 1968 doc­u­men­tary Tonite Let’s All Make Love in Lon­don. Cat­ter­all and Wells describe the film thus:

If any one film tru­ly reveals “Swing­ing Lon­don,” it is Peter White­head­’s lit­tle-seen doc­u­men­tary Tonite Let’s All Make Love In Lon­don (1968). Beau­ti­ful­ly shot, with a Syd Bar­rett-led Pink Floyd sup­ply­ing the sound­track, it is per­haps the only true mas­ter­piece of the peri­od, offer­ing a visu­al­ly cap­ti­vat­ing win­dow on the ‘in’ crowd. Reveal­ing, often very per­son­al inter­views with the era’s prime movers — Michael Caine, Julie Christie, David Hock­ney and Mick Jag­ger — are inter­spersed by daz­zling images of the ‘ded­i­cat­ed fol­low­ers of fash­ion’, patro­n­is­ing the clubs and dis­cothe­ques of the day.

Depart­ing from typ­i­cal doc­u­men­tary styles, Tonite eschews neat nar­ra­tive pack­ag­ing and voice-over, and opts instead for a some­times jar­ring mon­tage of scenes from the Lon­don clubs and streets, rare footage of per­for­mances by the Stones, the Floyd (in one of their first-ever gigs at the UFO club), and oth­ers, and polit­i­cal ral­lies (with Vanes­sa Red­grave singing “Guantanamera”)–all inter­cut with the above­men­tioned inter­views. One of the best of the lat­ter is with a very young and charm­ing David Hock­ney (below), who com­pares Lon­don to Cal­i­for­nia and New York, and debunks ideas about the “swing­ing Lon­don” nightlife (“you need too much mon­ey”).

Over­all, Tonite Let’s All Make Love in Lon­don is a unique por­trait of the era and its ris­ing stars, and White­head­’s visu­al style repli­cates an insider’s per­spec­tive of watch­ing (but not par­tic­i­pat­ing) as a new cul­tur­al moment unfolds. White­head, who “nev­er missed a 60s hap­pen­ing,” has a knack for record­ing such moments. His 1965 Whol­ly Com­mu­nion (see here) cap­tures the spir­it­ed Albert Hall Poet­ry Fes­ti­val in 65 (presided over by doyen Allen Gins­berg), and 1969’s The Fall doc­u­ments some of the most incen­di­ary polit­i­cal action of late-60s New York.

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Pink Floyd’s Debut on Amer­i­can TV, Restored in Col­or (1967)

Pink Floyd Plays in Venice on a Mas­sive Float­ing Stage in 1989; Forces the May­or & City Coun­cil to Resign

Short Film “Syd Barrett’s First Trip” Reveals the Pink Floyd Founder’s Psy­che­del­ic Exper­i­men­ta­tion (1967)

Pink Floyd’s First Mas­ter­piece: An Audio/Video Explo­ration of the 23-Minute Track, “Echoes” (1971)

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