Friday, 17 April 2009

The Songlines of Wildness

Where is wildness and wilderness these days?

A Harakmbut elder in his nineties talks about his memory of the first missionaries arriving to his part of the Peruvian jungle, "No one wanted to go to school, and anyway after the missionaries came, our children died. We learned things, though: we learned money and Spanish and work. We learned that we had to work for money for needs we didn't have before, matches, salt and sugar. Why were we civilized? For what were we civilized? To be taught that we needed sugar and oil and money and clothes and food from the markets, more and more."

The quote comes from acclaimed writer Jay Griffiths' book "Wild", which she will be talking about this month, April 28th, at the October Gallery.

October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AL (Tel: 44 (0)20 7831 1618). Please RSVP as space is very limited, email: rentals AT Entry £7 /£5 Concessions, Arrive 6pm for a 6:30pm Start - Wine available

The Songlines of Wildness

Jay Griffiths will talk about her book, “Wild: An Elemental Journey” which describes her journeys to wildernesses of earth and ice, water, fire and air. This book is the result of a seven-year odyssey among Native people, listening to their philosophies; meeting cannibals; anchoring a boat to an iceberg where polar bears slept; joining Inuit hunters on a whale hunt; drinking shamanic medicine with Amazonian healers; visiting sea gypsies and journeying to the freedom fighters of West Papua.

She will discuss the songlines of the earth, the paths in the Papuan highlands remembered in song, and the ethereal music of shamans, as well as the songlines of Aboriginal Australia. The talk will explore the words and meanings which shape ideas of wildness and it will illustrate the anarchic nature of wildness, as well as the kindness of what is wild, both in nature and the human mind. The talk will also explore some of the political resonances of wilderness and the corporate invasions of indigenous lands, arguing for the essential freedoms, and the necessary wildness of the human spirit, everywhere.

Jay Griffiths is the author of two works of non-fiction “Wild: An Elemental Journey” and “Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time”. She has also written a long short story, “Anarchipelago” based on the road protest movement of the 1990s. She is the winner of many awards, including the Orion prize and the Barnes and Noble award for the best first-time author. She lives in Wales.

Photo. Unknown man, unkown photographer - Papua New Guinea

Friday, 10 April 2009

Neuroscience and psi

It’s relatively well known that in 1924 the German psychophysiologist Prof. Hans Berger named the electroencephalograph (EEG) and was the first person to use it on humans, thereby identifying some of the different brain waves (e.g., alpha rhythms). What is not so well known is that Berger had switched from studying astronomy to studying psychology in the early 1890’s after he had a near fatal accident during which his sister apparently telepathically knew that he was in danger, and she forced her father to send Berger a telegram to check he was alright. Consequently, Berger developed the EEG to study the electromagnetic signals emitted from the brain that he believed carried the telepathic transmissions between minds.

Continuing with this tradition, the oldest continuous running organisation established to scientifically study the mind (predating any psychology bodies still in existence), the Society for Psychical Research, a body dedicated to paranormal research, is this month holding a lecture day on psi and the brain. Lectures, among several, include one on near-death psi experiences in the absence of any brain activity by Dr. Peter Fenwick, and another on the speculated psychedelic neurochemistry of psi by Dr. David Luke (yes me again). Should be a good day out.

10am – 5pm Saturday, April 25th


Chair: Prof. Bernard Carr

Speakers: Dr. Peter Fenwick, Adrian Ryan, Dr. David Luke, Dr. Ian Baker and Robert Charman

What are the implications of psi for the relationship between mind and brain? Can some psychic interactions be explained by or associated with particular brain processes? If so, what physical or chemical effects on the brain are likely to trigger or accompany such interactions and what is the relationship between the brains of the people interacting? What sort of psi experiences would seem to transcend a brain-based explanation altogether?

In this Study Day, five leading experts will address these questions, placing particular emphasis on geomagnetic and neurochemical effects, EEG correlations during psychic healing and ESP experiments, and the apparent independence of the brain of near-death experiences. The meeting will end with a general discussion with audience participation.

St Philip's Church, Earls Court Rd, London W8, 10am-5pm.
Cost: Members £30 / Non-Members £35. / Students, Over 60s or Unwaged: £2 discount.
Tea, coffee and biscuits will be served, but bring your own lunch.
Advance booking is recommended, as space is limited
(Tel/Fax: 0207 9378984)