July 25th, 2009


Some amazing stuff ...

While reading this, I was repeatedly quite enthused about the material it was presenting, even to the point where I was considering scanning a particular chapter to send off to certain friends. However, now that I've finished it, I'm sort of drawing a blank about what to say about it here ... odd.

I'm not sure what specifically spurred me to order Lynn McTaggart's The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World, although I'm guessing that I saw it referenced in something else (but I don't have a clue what that would be at this point). That would explain why I'd have picked up this rather than her previous book (on which a good deal of this is based), The Field, which has languished on my Amazon wishlist for quite a while ... oh, well.

The first thing that most people seem to notice about The Intention Experiment, once they've finished it, is that it's not very much about any specific program of experimentation, despite the cover announcing that one can "Take Part in the World's Largest Mind-over-Matter Experiment". Only the last 15% of the book is about the "experiment" (which is on-going at the author's site), with the preceding 85% of the book being a review of previous experiments in the area of consciousness' effects on various systems. Now, this is not a complaint ... the most fascinating parts of this book are her in-depth research into all the pre-existing (and, generally speaking, very minimally reported otherwise) work that's been done in this area, it's just that the book would leave the reader "more satisfied", perhaps, had it been titled Towards A Program Of Intention Experimentation!

Maybe one of the reasons I'm having such a hard time getting a hand on reviewing this, is that there is so much stuff in here. It's structured into four sections of four chapters each, with "The Science of Intention" (my favorite part of the book), "Powering Up" (dealing with setting, timing, location, etc.), "The Power of Your Thoughts" (including some amazing things about positive vs. negative prayer, and temporal issues), and the final bit about the author's on-going project. I was, frankly, somewhat amazed at just how much "good" work has been done in this area ... tests where dozens of variables are being accounted for, solidly devised double-blind trials, etc., and key scales for measuring effectiveness (which are often an order of magnitude greater than what passes for "effective" in drugs).

Now, I've been kicking around in "metaphysical" circles for well over 30 years, and I've seen and heard a lot of stuff in that time, and I was constantly being reminded of various things from my past while reading this, such as a Shamanic teacher insisting that one use some sort of a focused motion when working with energy, which has its parallel in a particular study reported in here, and a further expression in an examination of certain martial arts. Needless to say, these sorts of things kept grabbing my attention. Again, there is so much material covered here that it's very difficult to even mention particulars without spinning into a greater length than this needs to be.

One area that I found quite interesting (no doubt because I hadn't encountered it previously) was the work in "biophoton emissions", where all living systems give off light (albeit a few photons here and there, picked up by a CCD camera system), which serves as a theoretical basis on how assorted "organizing systems" can coordinate within and between living things. This then plays into the whole "quantum weirdness" realm, with waves, entanglement, and unexpected temporal functions.

Oh, yes ... that's one of the stranger sets of experiments here. Sending intention backwards in time to seek to effect experiments previously done. In these, some system (there were various examples) has elements of it recorded where frequency, or symmetry, or some other quantifiable factor is measured (say, for example, something happening on the left of a recorder or on the right). The record of this was then "shelved" for a period of time, and later an experiment was run where people would try to "send intention" about a non-average result happening (say, more clicks on the left than on the right, when the experiment should be right around even). The tapes are then examined, and voilà, there's an effect ... bringing you right around into "Schrodinger's Cat" territory pointing towards consciousness and observation creating reality.

And, isn't that what all this "Intention" stuff is about, after all? That one can create one's reality? As I suggested, this book takes a strange path to get where it's going, but the ride's interesting, and at the end, it's pretty open ... as one can run off to the web site and immerse oneself in additional projects and materials.

From my perspective, the weakest part of this was in the part intended to get folks ready to work on this, "The Intention Exercises", which seemed alternately newagey-preachy and simultaneously overly basic and a bit scattered. However, I'm guessing that there was a committee involved in that and they were trying to be all things to all readers/associates.

Needless to say, I'd highly recommend The Intention Experiment to all and sundry ... and if you have any interest in the science of consciousness, this is quite a great resource (if just for the 20+ page bibliography). It's in print, so you could find it at your local brick-and-mortar book vendor (at a very reasonable cover price), but Amazon has it at just over ten bucks (which is better, if you get the order up to "free shipping", than what the new/used guys have it for with their flat rate shipping). Again, the only negatives here are the oddly minimal inclusion of the title subject, and a slight "newagey" spin to things once the author starts talking about her stuff, but these are minor blemishes on what is otherwise a fascinating book!

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Well ...

Daughter #2 and I went over to the park with the intent of feeding the squirrels with some peanuts we'd gotten. I had forgotten, however, that today was Newberry Library's "Bughouse Square Debates" and the park was full of people, with no sqirrels to be found (plenty of "squirrely people", but that's part of the charm, I guess). So, we ate some of the peanuts, tossed around a frisbee for a while, and eventually meandered over to see what was happening. The "formal debates" weren't on when we were there, but they had three "soapbox" areas that were drawing crowds. This particular park is a unique space in Chicago, as it is the only place where you can have a rally without permits ... the only requirement is that your speaker has to be on an elevated platform (hence the term "up on his soapbox") of some sort. This in a historical nod to the long use of this small 1-square-block park as a "speakers' corner" over the years. Needless to say, the City tries to keep this particular zoning curiosity as hush-hush as possible.

Unfortunately, none of my snaps of the event looked like much (you weren't dying to see the backs of a lot of people out amongst some trees, were you?), so I don't have real good illustrations! I did get a pic of this sign, however, which was from some group that was both against "Christian Fascists" and the Left (they had t-shirts that said something like "So, It's OK when OBOMBA does it?" with a picture of a bomb on them) ... didn't catch their name. There were various groups out taking advantage of the crowds to flog their particular neuroses (one was vehemently against using shredded tires as padding in playgrounds, for instance)

After listening to a couple of folks (they had 12-minute slots on the outer soapboxes), we wandered over to see what was happening on Walton in front of the library. Aside from a food stand (that had very tempting "gourmet root beer"), it was pretty much info tables for assorted organizations (although an Argo Tea place was selling stuff too).

Many of the vendors were representing organizations with an interest in books, such as the Chicago Literacy group, and the American Library Association, which was doing their "Banned Books" deal primarily, with handouts, pamphlets, newsletters, and buttons!

We ran into some of Daughter #1's friends, and they wanted to know if we'd been in for the Book Fair (which runs all weekend), but we said we were waiting for Sunday, when everything is 1/2 off. This is the 25th year of the Book Fair, so they're supposedly doing some special stuff for it ... don't know if that will extend into tomorrow, though. Last year I got some great deals on Sunday, but I also got hit with those pulmonary embolisms on the way home, I'm hoping for cheap reads without a trip to the ER this time!

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Since I was downloading from my camera ...

Last weekend, coming back from seeing Harry Potter, we saw this big honking dragonfly perched on some chainlink fencing. It didn't move at all, so might have been a deceased big honking dragonfly, but I got one good shot, and figured I'd share ... whats' coolest about this guy is the clear wings with black spots!

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