Underlinings (#68)

Mind scolds:

… imagine an entire city where the majority of people are voice-hearers and there is an elaborate cultural mythology for interpreting the voices as “personal gods”, where hearing divine or special voices talk to you is perfectly normal in every way. Can you imagine it? Jaynes could. But it stretches the imagination. But that’s no reason to think it wasn’t the case. Just because modern people with modern minds not hearing voices find that situation “psychotic” or “crazy” doesn’t mean that bicamerality has always been limited to 1-2% of the population. It was likely spread throughout the population in much greater proportion than it is today. It is in fact part of the human gene pool, which is why schizophrenia today has such a large genetic component. Complicated cognitive mechanisms such as voice hearing don’t just stay in the gene pool for no reason. It suggests that it was adaptive in the not too distant past. And for some people in some cultures, as Luhrmann indicates, it still serves an adaptive function.

Underlinings (#62)

Illuminated Reaganism:

Ronald Reagan often spoke of America’s divine purpose and of a mysterious plan behind the nation’s founding. “You can call it mysticism if you want to,” he told the Conservative Political Action Conference in 1974, “but I have always believed that there was some divine plan that placed this great continent between two oceans to be sought out by those who were possessed of an abiding love of freedom and a special kind of courage.” These were remarks to which Reagan often returned. He repeated them almost verbatim as president before a television audience of millions for the Statue of Liberty centenary on July 4, 1986. […] When touching on such themes, Reagan echoed the work, and sometimes the phrasing, of occult scholar Manly P. Hall. […] From the dawn of Hall’s career in the early 1920s until his death in 1990, the Los Angeles teacher wrote about America’s “secret destiny.” The United States, in Hall’s view, was a society that had been planned and founded by secret esoteric orders to spread enlightenment and liberty to the world. …


Migraine Maps

From 1870:


Frederick Lepore, an ophthalmological neurologist at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey … showed Airy’s drawing to 100 of his migraine patients who experience a visual aura (only a minority do). Forty-eight of them recognized it instantly, he wrote in a historical note in the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology in 2014. He still shows the drawing to his patients today. “People are astonished,” he says. “They say, ‘Where did you get that?’”

Underlinings (#56)

The peculiar John Murray Spear:

… In 1852, Spear broke all ties with the Universalist church, and instead turned to Spiritualism. He claimed that he was in contact with “The Association of Electrizers”, a group of spirits including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, and Benjamin Rush, as well as Spear’s namesake John Murray. Evidence indicates he occasionally faked signatures as a way to gain authority from a “guide from the past”; however, these signatures were dated beyond the lifetimes of the deceased. Spear believed that the purpose of this group was to bring new technology to mankind, so that greater levels of personal and spiritual freedom could be achieved. The following year, Spear and a handful of followers retreated to a wooden shed at the top of High Rock hill in Lynn, Massachusetts, where they set to work creating the “New Motive Power”, a mechanical Messiah which was intended to herald a new era of Utopia. The New Motive Power was constructed of copper, zinc and magnets, all carefully machined, as well as a dining room table. At the end of nine months, Spear and the “New Mary”, an unnamed woman, ritualistically birthed the contraption in an attempt to give it life. Unfortunately for Spear, this failed to have the desired effect, and the machine was later dismantled. …