Facebook is a narcissism factory which causes moral panics, ridiculous rumor propagation, argument between friends, social fragmentation, alienation and even masssuicide. It’s also so obviously rotting the social fabric of the internet and society at large, even the debauched whores in the media are noticing. Facebook’s walled garden is wrecking the economics of the content providers and entertainers that make the internets interesting and worthwhile. It’s run by opportunistic mountebanks and sinister robots who … well, assuming they aren’t actual comic book villains, they sure do a reasonable impersonation. The PR these yoyos get is at best Stalinistic nonsense; at worst, people just sucking up to money and power. Speaking of Stalinism, Facebook employs literal former Stasi agents to censor and snitch on people for … saying things. Think about that. They expect me to work for a company that employs East German Secret Police; in precisely the same capacity as they were used in the former East German Workers paradise. I wonder what their dental plan is like? Maybe the one described in Marathon Man?
It’s a question that some authors have tried to answer, including Michael Wolff. More will no doubt try again.
But few would even have thought to venture the same place as did author Gary Lachman: The Occult.
The author was a founding member of the rock band Blondie. Since then, he’s been busy writing a slew of books, the latest of which is titled “Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump,” set to be published late May.
It’s a book that business leaders should read because it revolves around the methods people use to achieve their goals using little more than brain power. That is the essence of so-called “New Thought,” the occult practice of self-improvement.
What we learn is that some leaders focus unrelentingly on their goals and by doing so achieve what they desire. Consider the following line in the book:
“If we can imagine an outcome clearly enough, persistently enough, with enough confidence and commitment, it will materialize.”
There’s a lot in that sentence. Still, the idea that anything is possible is what we take away. Of course, we may forget that the words also remind us that nothing is achieved without dedication and persistence. That willingness to keep going in the face of constant negative feedback — and keep a clear mind — is often what distinguishes the winners from the also-rans. In short, the positive thinking mantra is about mental toughness. That’s worth learning for any budding business leader.
Some had a veiled interest in psi. One is the painter Hilma af Klint, who in addition to her main activity of painting portraits and plants conducted a decades-long program of other painterly activities, based on either direct automatic writing and painting, or on an elaboration of messages that she believed she received from higher spiritual sources.
In the realm of politics at least two prime ministers, Britain’s Arthur Balfour and Canada’s William Lyon Mackenzie King, privately consulted with mediums without this impacting on their professional work.
In the category of explicit acceptance can be cited a casual mention by the Russian dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his book The Gulag Archipelago of psi abilities possessed by one of his former cellmates: ‘There is no doubt that he had the gift of precognition,’ Solzhenitsyn wrote. ‘More than once he went around in the cell in the morning and pointed: Today they are going to come for you and you. I saw it in my dream. And they came and got them.’ The pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing referred to the ‘overwhelming’ statistical evidence for telepathy in a landmark paper on artificial intelligence. A different sort of example is Otto Stern, who was so fearful of the damaging psychokinetic effects that fellow physicist Wolfgang Pauli seemed to leave in his wake that he barred Pauli from entering his laboratory.
Finally there are those who can be characterized as true skeptics, being open to the possibility of psi phenomena without having arrived at a definite conclusion. In this category we find Albert Einstein, who in a sympathetic preface to Sinclair’s Mental Radio confessed that his original disbelief had softened as he became more familiar with psi. Similarly, Max Planck expressed support of research by fellow physicist Oliver Lodge’s investigations of psi phenomena, considering them plausible.
It’s reasonable to say that Tom Wolfe succeeded in cutting a figure in American life comparable to another white-suited, big-spending writer, Mark Twain.
Indeed, I’d argue that Wolfe was near his peak for longer than Twain and on a wider variety of subjects (Twain was the master of writing about being a youth on the Mississippi — a great topic and one he made central to America’s self-image of itself — while Wolfe wrote about an extraordinary range of topics.
For example, in the 1960s Wolfe was a master satirist of upscale New York society (e.g., Radical Chic) and was quite good at writing about young society women. But then he went off to cover fighter-bomber pilots on an aircraft carrier off North Vietnam and detoured in a long obsession with masculine physical courage, culminating in 1979 with The Right Stuff. Then he reversed field back to elite society again, as in Bonfire of the Vanities. But the biggest flaw in Bonfire was that, during his 1970s sojourns among brave men, he’d lost his knack for writing about women. Eventually, however, he slowly worked his way back and by I Am Charlotte Simmons, as a 70s-something man he could now write a large, painfully insightful novel about what it’s like being a young woman.
Tribalism isn’t a toy and academics who think they can regulate it up and down like a set of dials to determine who’s in which group and who can say what about whom are playing with fire. Theoretically, emphasising group identities and allowing marginalised groups to make derogatory remarks about other groups while strictly prohibiting the reverse might be an effective levelling technique that leads to more equality. In practice, though, there’s a real risk of it boiling over into serious conflict.