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Feb 10 2004
Kevin Kelly is the Executive Editor of Wired Magazine and former publisher and editor of Whole Earth Review. He has been instrumental in helping launch The Hacker’s Conference, Cyberthon and the WELL. His book is highly recommended to anyone interested in technology, economics, evolutionary theories and even spiritualist (especially techno-shamans). The New Biology of Machines begins with a comparison of the made’ vs. the born’ and from here goes into topics such as hive mind, coevolution, ecosystems, economics, god games, artificial evolution and much more. Kelly continually discusses new forms of technological discoveries, experiments and even fringe ideas related to them and what these may reveal. He then takes technology and compares it to biological systems which are similar so that one can easily see various parallels in both nature and scientific (computer, mechanical, etc.) experiment. This collection of thoughts and ideas helps one more readily put together the intricate pieces of technology and biology to make further sense of our ever-developing world and to awaken new thinking processes within. Kelly even touches on the concepts of Baudrillard’s Simulation & Simulacra especially in the chapter on God Games. In essence we are the simulacra of God by all logical reasoning. He discusses how simple systems can be modified by simply adding quantity, "more is different", and how this is obvious in both insect cultures and in computer simulation. There are many many concepts which are strictly revelations of science technology which reveals the mysteries of the biological and thus ourselves and could also easily be associated in spiritual concerns by anyone with an open mind to do so. I believe that one day the concepts in this book will become more common knowledge and will thus aid in the rethinking of our reality of existence. Reality is what is truly at question here and is proven to be not what we seem to have accepted it to be. Technology will prove that there is more to our existence than we believe and the unexplained in nature actually makes more sense. With this comes an opening of awareness and consciousness that will expand the horizons of man and machine kind. According to Kelly there is no real fear of a fiction like The Terminator becoming reality that biological and mechanical systems will find a symbiosis and that this is truly what we should seek. Another item of interest is that we have already developed means to artificially evolve even software to create better and more efficient software that is indecipherable to a human coder. This is only the beginning; imagine adding artificial intelligence into this system. You then have intelligent evolving machines. On the topic of evolution the goal seems to be to try out all possible variables to see what works. It is also displayed that parasites help an ecology evolve faster as does temporary chaos that ensues before the system’ again finds stability. Think about this when life-changing events throw things into an uproar. There are simply too many revolutionary discoveries, sciences, philosophies, and ideas in this one book to discuss them all here. However when you read them you will find that they readily relate to your personal life and society as well as fictions you may have been exposed to. The possibilities are endless and we have only touched the tip of the iceberg. To think that this was originally written in 1994 and science advances exponentially so it will be no wonder when we watch many science-fiction technologies become reality in the years to come. This book offers not just information on technology but new and enlightening ways of perceiving the world we live in based on the information provided and is highly recommended to anyone who wants to learn and or grow at least mentally if not in other ways. This is a book for technologist, alternative thinkers, and others on the fringe.
Feb 10 2004
Working in a book store affors several opportunities, one of which is advance copies, (this book is not due out until February 2003). In one remarkable combination of history and true crime, Larson combines the story of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 with the story behind H.H. Holmes, quite possibly America's first serial killer - a phrase which had not been 'invenetd' at that time. Intertwining the story of the task at hand of first winning the vote to host the fair in Chicago and the trail of Dr. Holmes - virtually one chapter after another, Larson kesy us into not only how vitally important the fair was considered to the burgeoning industrial age of America but the birth of something more sinister as well. Meticulous detail is enhanced by coherent and liveley storytelling of the men who would work and fight together to bring the fair to fruition. Even the slightest details turn out to be harbingers of the world that was yet top be awakened in the 20th Century and we see, through the aformenetioned details, how not only was the fair important to Chicago and the States but how it literally lead to many things that we would soon take for granted in the following century. In following Dr. Holmes and how his story injected itself into the fabric of the fair, we see - as mentioned earlier - that the onset of the 20th century - would not only bring forth some of the simplest everyday items and icons but how, in a world that would soon be thrust into two successive world wars would take with it the innocence of a bygone era in the unlikely guise of a 'mild mannered' and charming doctor. As the term psychopath and serial killer had not been used to date, Larson points up the connection - possibly - betwixt the country's advancing technology and the retreating humanity that was yet to come. This is an intelligent and compelling read for the history buff and true crime reader - Look for it early next year.
Feb 10 2004
In a much touted special back in February on ABC, it was poinyed out how much money was spent by Ms. Cromwell in her Jack the Ripper case. She had drawn a 'complete' conclusion as to the identity of Jack the Ripper. In her book, Ms. Cromwell goes forth to show just how that money was spent (and assuredly how she will recoup it). However, the book is a fascinating read. She never waivers from her conclusion as to the identity of the killer and does not allow you to wander either. With her scientific background and inimitable writing skills she takes us on the journey with her to see - just as assuredly she did - that her conclusion is one of almost verifiable fact. What we learn about her claim is just quite possibly how 'right' she could possibly be. Many conclusions and comparisons are drawn but not in a willy-nilly fashion. Each item that she brings up is backed up and qualified. Each turn that she makes she explains to us why she is leading us down this path. Some Ripperologists may still claim that she is wrong but Ms. Cromwell certainly does not allow you to think that with this writing. I would definately recommend this book to anyone interested in adding this to the plethora of suppositions that wre already lining the shelves. It simply is a great read. Review by John Guerra
Feb 10 2004
What I liked about Gail's books was the way she discussed the Dark Goddess' many aspects using the zodiac symbology and how she connected them in stages and elements. She took a set of each element in a 'minor' stage and then the second group in the 'mid' stage and the third grouping in the 'full' stage and associated these also with Maiden, Mother, and Crone. I also enjoyed her meditations and the statements of ritual purpose as well as the associations of a different God and Goddess archetype for each. I even liked her unique use of Arachne as a tie-in and a summation of sorts of the sequence. I think she should have made a stronger clarification that Arachne is used only symbolically as a 'spirit' sign as I think the mere mention of the reference to Arachne as a 13th sign or Vogh's book only makes her work look uninformed as Vogh's book was not to be taken seriously as he has self-proclaimed. However, I do think Arachne is the appropriate archetypal tie-in for the completion of this work as the Weaver. What I did not like about this book is redundancy regarding the rituals. Personally I'd prefer someone say here's the basic structure and just substitute this or that in whichever placement for each aspect rather than write repeatedly the evokation of the elements etc.. However, I will admit I can see her point for doing so in that there are subtle differences in each and it is nice to have the entire ritual in one place when you actually want to use the book as a quick reference. The other thing I did not like about this book is that while I'm all for women's empowerment and I like much of Starhawk's writings myself I find it arrogant and assuming to write everything as if only women would be interested in these works. There is nothing wrong with men exploring the Dark Goddess as well as women and the author does mention a time or two items such as 'if you are a man performing this' but there are times where she seems to forget that she may actually have a male audience and one that is not afraid of their feminine side at that. However, while parts of the book may 'seem' to be written for women alone, the entire work is usable by both genders. Overall I think it's a decent work that could have been elaborated on much more but works as a rather simple basis with a good and insightful start as people are only recently becoming more aware of and accepting of the darker aspects of paganism and of their own psyche's.
Feb 10 2004
Dark Moon Mysteries is a guide for tapping into the subconscious energies that lurk in the dark recesses of the mind's eye. Timothy Roderick combines ideas and concepts of Wicca with those proposed by mythologist Joseph Campbell and psychologist Carl Jung (at least these are obvious influences for his work) to guide us on a mystic quest inward of our own. He has designed tools using meditation, ritual practice, magick, and crafting which can easily aide an individual to become more aware of thier own 'issues' which may require resolution and methods of obtaining inner peace with them. He makes it obvious that was this book deals mostly with are things that we may not even know are 'issues' for us as they are psychological, metaphysical, and sometimes physical tension built up from times when maybe we were not able to express our deep emotions and feelings when something happened to or around us. If not released they can built areas of tension that will eventually cause problems for the individual in which they reside. Thus a method of discovering and releasing them is required. Timothy utilizes myth and fairy tales to explain various aspects of the archetypes and energies which work in these 'dark' areas. Being a psychologist and pagan himself his ideas and thoughts are clearly laid out in easy to understand language. Since this is also a Llewellyn publication you will also find a collection of rituals, spells, crafts, and other things that you can do physically to utilize the knowledge within. He specifically uses the imagery of the mask to help us identify and name our shadows so that we can work with them more effectively. May favorite part of the book is Part II in which he clearly defines the Widdershins (counter-clockwise) Spiral and how it differs from that of a Deosil (clockwise) one in reference to use and effectiveness. I think this aspect clearly defines the difference between 'Dark' (by this I mean that referenced in Dark or Gothic Paganism) magic and standard magic. The widdershins spiral is more for use in inward journeys and changes within the self while the deosil spiral spirals outward for gaining desired results in the physical realm to put them in the most simplest of terms. You will also find a bit of information on scrying and making a scrying mirror as well as other tools like a black divination bowl. With any source book the individual spells and rituals are not always the best suited for everybody and should be modified freely to better fit your own ideas. I am not sure but this book also seems to be the main predecessor to any other books on Dark Paganism such as those written by Konstantinos. However, Roderick makes his views clear that he believes in balance and that working only with Dark powers can be just as limiting as working only with Light ones. I tend to agree though I do lean much more toward the Dark aspects. I think that anyone interested in Dark Paganism or Magick should use this as a sort of basic psychological profile guide for their work and there would be much less crazies out there doing what they are calling dark magick but is only their own evil intent. This book has many positive aspects, tools, and perspectives that are meant to be used as a guide to self-healing and renewal and a worthy addition to any pagan, witchcraft, magick, or Wiccan library.