July 21, Manzanita – during and after Neahkahnee hike – and Arthur Koestler
Peter, Lucien, and I were in Manzanita for the annual family gathering. The weather was perfect – sunny, low 70’s, very light wind. This place and time is not conducive to thinking about global warming and planetary perils!
While in Portland I experienced one of the better cannabis medicinal shops – Farma on Hawthorne. I bought an oil salve for my bruised toe – the victim of a dropped wine bottle a week earlier.
Peter and Lucien did their vap experiments. I did, too – and this time did feel a bit giddy.
“What’s that large black book you’ve been reading?” Peter asked.
“One I should have read and used a long time ago. I should have referred to it in State Change,” I said. “It’s Janus – A Summing Up, a sort of final autobiography by Arthur Koestler, from 1978.”
“So,” Lucien asked. “Who’s he?”
“Very interesting thinker – in the Aldous Huxley mold. He became a sort of neuro-biologist and was very interested in the evolution of the brain – in why we have a phenomenal neocortex that’s often over-ruled by our primitive reptilian emotional impulses.”
“And then what?”
“He actually suggested treating people to help suppress their reptilian inadequacy.”
“Not exactly. The neurochemistry of neurotransmitters and neurodrugs wasn’t really available to him then – best to ‘hear’ him for yourself. Here’s some quotes from Janus:
…the most important date in the history and prehistory of the human race … 6 August 1945. …mankind … [now has] to live with the prospect of its extinction as a species.
…The most striking indication of the pathology of our species is the contrast between its unique technological achievements and its equally unique incompetence in the conduct of its social affairs. … Russian roulette is a game which cannot be played for long.
… homo sapiens is not a reasonable being. … an aberrant biological species.
… the trouble with our species is not an excess of aggression, but an excess capacity for fanatical devotion. … Man’s deadliest weapon is language…susceptible to being hypnotized by slogans… Without words there would be no poetry – and no war.
…we are concerned with a cure for the paranoid streak in what we call ‘normal people’ … to reinforce man’s critical faculties, counteract misplaced devotion and that militant enthusiasm, both murderous and suicidal, which is reflected … daily.
…society … must be immunized against the hypnotic effects of propaganda and thought-control….It can only be done by ‘tampering’ with human nature itself to correct its endemic schizophysiological disposition. History tells us that nothing less will do.
…we are a mentally sick race, and as such deaf to persuasion. … Nature has let us down. God seems to have left the receiver off the hook, and time is running out. [We need] to concoct elixir vitae, … the transformation of homo maniacus into homo sapiens.
“Homo maniacus – I like that,” Peter smiled. “Sounds like Trump and Cruz to me.”
“I like ‘must be immunized against’ and ‘elixir vitae’,” Lucien added. “Sounds like Ananda’s Chocolate to me!”
“Can I borrow Janus? I can look at it over the weekend and return it to you in Portland.” Peter said.
“Sure. I’ll do more homework on Koestler. For now look at his Wikipedia entry. I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of his work and writings much earlier.”
“He really belongs in State Change – maybe your next book?” Lucien asked.
“For sure,” I said.