Kybernos spoilers

 

DO NOT READ UNTIL YOU HAVE FINISHED THE BOOK

 

Lublin Is Also Happy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nS25n-b8zMo

The children are dancing in Krakowskie Przedmiescie, and towards the end the students are dancing in the ruins of St Michael’s Church.

 

Further Reading

Those interested in the abilities described in this book are recommended to read An Experiment With Time by F W Dunne. This is a seminal work which will intrigue anyone curious about time’s interaction with human consciousness. I first read it aged 22 in a monastery and the book’s ideas have remained with me throughout my life. They have undoubtedly contributed to the writing of Kybernos.

First published in 1927, unfortunately by modern standards the writing is turgid.  But, even so, it is worth persevering.

Dunne conducted his experiment in the first decades of the twentieth century. The volume of anecdotal evidence he provides in the book is persuasive, even if the experiment itself was not conducted under formal laboratory conditions. Most striking is the incident of the volcanic eruption on Martinique, from which he was able to deduce that his precognition was not some spiritual connection with other souls but simply forward-dreaming provoked by emotion. That is to say, just as a shock may provoke a nightmare days or weeks later, so too can it provoke parts of a dream days or weeks earlier.

The fact that the final section of the book, where Dunne attempts to explain precognition with mathematics and graphs, is rubbish should not put you off the valuable empirical earlier part. Although Dunne was a pioneering aeronautical engineer, he was not well versed in mathematics and physics.  He was clearly very much out of his comfort zone while trying to find an explanation for his results. But that doesn’t make those results any less thought-provoking.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Experiment_with_Time and http://www.amazon.co.uk/Experiment-Time-Studies-Consciousness/dp/1571742344/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416844912&sr=8-1&keywords=An+Experiment+with+Time .

While Dunne’s experiment was limited to actual dreams, he suggested that logically there was no reason for such forward-dreams to occur only while asleep.  It is simply that while awake forward-dreams are very much harder to notice, let alone identify.  That is, until we call them Intuition.

This also casts an interesting light on that most magical event: love-at-first-sight.  It undoubtedly exists, yet makes no sense to the rational mind … until you consider that perhaps love-at-first-sight is just a form of Intuition, that is to say forward-dreaming of the increasing probability of great happiness.

 

The Road Not Taken

“Through the yellow wood along a path not yet black” (Page 125)

The other major influence on the Kybernos concept was Robert Frost’s thought-provoking poem The Road Not Taken.  He writes of an experience common in many people’s lives: a decision that at the time seems minor but years later comes to be recognised as a significant turning-point, for better or worse.  It is only a short leap from there to ask: “What if a person had the ability to sample both roads and then choose the one preferred?”  http://www.bartleby.com/119/1.html .

 

Annika’s Song

Annika’s Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QT5eGHCJdE#aid=P-gKaj5ixNU

“And if you’re in love, then you are the lucky one,
‘Cause most of us are bitter over someone.
Setting fire to our insides for fun,
To distract our hearts from ever missing them.
(But I’m forever missing him.)”
Elena Tonro

A major issue in society today is the terrifying prevalence of self-harm amongst the young.  When I was a child this was unknown.  Because of the way social media dominates all our lives today, the young are constantly being fed ludicrously exaggerated expectations and aspirations, whether about beauty, popularity, wealth or any other type of desirable achievement.  As a result, often the purpose of self-harm is to inflict punishment for a perceived failure to match up to society’s (alleged) expectations.

But at other times, as in Annika’s case, the purpose of self-harm is rather more basic: to generate physical pain which the victim hopes will distract her from the real pain, the inner torment, the incessant emotional pain of unrequited love; that is to say, to provide relief.  For while physical pain may be extremely unpleasant, it is not devastating, crippling, the way emotional pain is.

 

The Science Behind the Story

“Perhaps if he explained the latest theories of retrocausality using an example of everyday life …” (page 82).

Retrocausality is the situation where the effect occurs before the cause, the implication being that the result of the event has echoed back through time. (It is rather more complex than that of course, for in fundamental Physics, strange to tell, it is not possible to distinguish between cause and effect).  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retrocausality

In 2007, Professor John Cramer at the University of Washington proposed an interesting experiment to try to create retrocausality. At the time of writing, he has unfortunately encountered noise problems and has also run out of money, so the project has stalled. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_G._Cramer and http://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/time-twisting-test-stuck-limbo-f1C6309249 .

 

“It’s been suggested that a positron is just an electron that is moving back in time” (page 84).

When an electron collides with a positron, they annihilate each other. It was the late Richard Feynman, probably one of the most important physicists of the twentieth century, who suggested that perhaps what was actually happening was not an annihilation but the electron reversing its time-direction and so appearing to us subsequently (or more accurately, ‘earlier’) as a positron: a positron which seems to us to be moving towards annihilation with the electron rather than, in reality, moving away from its creation but backwards in time into our past. This led to the extraordinary possibility that perhaps in the entire universe there is just one single electron constantly oscillating back and forth through time.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feynman_diagram.

Yoichiro Nambu expanded the idea to include all particle production/annihilation events, stating “the eventual creation and annihilation of pairs that may occur now and then is no creation or annihilation, but only a change of direction of moving particles, from past to future or from future to past.”

It is reasonable to conjecture that a stream of subatomic particles heading into our past could be used to transmit a message in binary form (using a presence/absence vocabulary).

 

“Without desire so desperate that it overwhelms the supplicant nothing in the past can be changed.” (Page 223).

The psychologist Professor Daryl Bem at Cornell University conducted an intriguing experiment into precognition. What was particularly interesting was that the results appeared to show that those who longed (“a person’s want-level”) did better than others at beating the law of averages. However, other scientists have criticised his methodology and consider the results not statistically significant. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daryl_Bem .

 

“So let’s accept that theoretical subatomic particles like tachyons, if they exist at all, could perfectly feasibly travel backwards in time.” (Page 84).

These days, it is generally accepted that tachyons do not exist. They were postulated to be always travelling faster than light which means that, according to relativity, to observers in certain frames of reference they would be seen to be travelling backwards in time. But, in addition, this also implied that tachyons would not be able to interact with us. Nonetheless, superluminary particles remain the source of interesting thought-experiments.

As for the well-known grandfather paradox, Professor Hawking has suggested a mechanism which he calls the Chronology Protection Conjecture. This is an uncomfortable deus ex machina proposal that somehow the laws of Physics will always intervene to prevent the creation of a time-machine (e.g. the noise suffered by Professor Cramer).

The conjecture is supposed to disarm the concern of what exactly happens if a particle or wave goes back in time via linked wormholes and repeats the journey again and again an infinite number of times always entering the wormhole at exactly the same moment. Theory suggests that in that situation the build-up of infinite energy inside the wormhole would destroy it … making the build-up of infinite energy an event that never happened, and so the wormhole was never destroyed!  See  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_protection_conjecture .

As Bertram points out, no fudge-factor like the Chronology Protection Conjecture is necessary once you accept that it is never possible to return to exactly the same reality-stream from which a particle departed (because all reality-streams are infinitely thin and therefore cannot be exactly hit, any more than an asymptote can ever be reached). That is to say, by definition each reality-stream experiences only one departure and one arrival and so there is no build-up of energy. Rather than a circular closed time-line, it is therefore better to think of that forever-circling particle as travelling in a spiral through each and every reality-stream. Since there is an infinite number of reality-streams, the spiral may be better thought of as a cylinder.

The idea of the multiverse disarming the grandfather paradox is discussed here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NS1-SZ2L81k&feature=related .

Precisely how to build a time-machine is explained here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Build-Time-Machine-Paul-Davies-ebook/dp/B002RI9L62/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1416784789&sr=8-2&keywords=how+to+build+a+time+machine . Unfortunately, it would require a staggering amount of energy.

 

“Your mother is cooking a meal, but it’s a new dish, a joint of meat, and she has no idea how long it should cook for.” (page 84).

The analogy Bertram uses is a straight-forward concept for anybody who has studied cybernetics, where the creation of a closed-loop system (defined as a system that uses feedback to tune control) to produce the result you want more accurately and more rapidly than on open-loop is standard fare.

One of the best everyday examples of a closed-loop system is our ability to stand on two feet. As we begin to topple, we sense this and send an instruction to our toes to counteract the movement, and so we remain erect. We are doing this all the time without noticing it. (And the disruption of this closed-loop system of feedback is what causes us to fall over when we are drunk!)

Bertram postulates that intuition is how we feel the effect of a feedback loop which happens to arch back in time.

This concept is in keeping with the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle, by which feedback generates a stable solution that avoids a paradox (in cybernetic terms, ‘convergence’). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novikov_self-consistency_principle. However, Novikov did not consider the implications of infinitely thin reality-streams.

 

“It was the Phobos-Grunt 2 mission” (page 111)

The sorry saga of Phobos-Grunt which, after years of preparation, failed to even get out of Earth-orbit (let alone reach Mars) in November 2011, and which eventually fell back into the Pacific, can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0cUvK0Dgy8 .

Reports of a second attempt are here: http://rt.com/news/phobos-mission-russia-2022-229 and here: http://www.russianspaceweb.com/phobos_grunt2.html .

Details of the bacteria which were to be given a ride to Mars and back are here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_Interplanetary_Flight_Experiment .

Opposition to the return of samples from Mars is documented here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Committee_Against_Mars_Sample_Return . As long ago as the seventies, Carl Sagan warned of the dangers of an extra-terrestrial plague.

 

To the Brink

“And then of course there was the nuclear war of 1983” (Page 248)

Many believe that the closest we have come to World War III was the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.  This is untrue.  Whatever Kennedy’s rhetoric, it is not believable that a single Soviet 15 kiloton tactical nuclear torpedo launched by submarine B-59 against USS Beale on 27 October, or a similar sized launch by a nuclear-armed FROG based in Cuba against approaching landing-craft, would have provoked a strategic exchange.  Rather, it would have provoked a proportional tactical nuclear response against Soviet naval assets.

Critical to an understanding of exactly what happened in October 1962 is the fact that when the United States raised its alert status to DefCon 2 on 26 October, the only time this has ever occurred, the Soviets did not respond with increased readiness themselves.  Their forces world-wide remained stood-down, leading a senior air force general to remark later: “We were never further from nuclear war than at the time of Cuba, never further.”

That is in marked contrast to the situation in November 1983, the closest the world has come to Armageddon.  That month the ageing paranoid Soviet leadership, obsessed by memories of June 1941, convinced itself that the massive NATO military exercise Able Archer 83, starting on 7 November and simulating the move from conventional to nuclear war, was in fact a disguise for real nuclear war preparations.  Believing the only way the Soviet Union could survive a nuclear strike was to pre-empt it, on 8 or 9 November the USSR readied its nuclear arsenal (in stark contrast to the Soviet calmness in 1962).  For the next few days there was a real danger of a full-scale strategic nuclear attack by the Soviet Union acting on the mistaken belief that it was itself about to be the victim of a surprise attack.  Tensions remained high until the exercise ended on 11 November.

The blame for this near-disaster rests with President Ronald Reagan who, in authorising this extremely realistic exercise involving politicians as well as the military, failed to take into account how it might be interpreted by the Soviets.  As he wrote in his memoirs, he was surprised to learn later that “many people at the top of the Soviet hierarchy were genuinely afraid of America and Americans”.  His mistake was to assume the Russians understood, as Americans understood, that NATO would never launch a first-strike.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Able_Archer_83

The other extremely close call occurred on 25 January 1995 when the launch of a small scientific rocket from northern Norway towards Spitzbergen (Svalbard) was mistaken by the Russians for a hostile Trident missile launch.  This is classed as the most severe incident there has ever been because it is the only occasion the president of a nuclear power has activated his suitcase control system (in this case President Boris Yeltsin).  But the rocket was in flight for only 24 minutes, and the misidentification probably lasted less than 15 minutes.  In my opinion, the build-up in tension over many weeks before and during Able Archer 83 posed, realistically, a far greater threat.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norwegian_rocket_incident

 

Benedict’s Lament

“The E-Type Jaguar is an unforgiving car.” (Page 182).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2O62N8LOfs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KNnS2saBjU

 

The Compelling Need to Love

“It is as though the love is more important than the loved.” (Page 117)

This strange but surprisingly common compulsion, one that regularly brings totally incompatible people together, was explored most effectively in the final film made by the late great Luis Bunuel.  In That Obscure Object of Desire, he showed us the tortured life of a wealthy middle-aged man who cannot quell his obsessive desire for a young coquette, in spite of the fact that she repeatedly leads him on only to reject and humiliate him.  In an interview, Bunuel’s co-writer, Jean-Claude Carriere, in explaining why that particular title was chosen, added:

“Because when we desire, we don’t know what we really want, what the object is. Oftentimes, the object remains obscure. We don’t see it. … It is hard to clearly distinguish the object. And sometimes, as we all know, we become desirous of desire itself. That is, it’s desire that we love and not the fulfilment of desire. We love being in a state of desire, which is a state that lifts us above the banality of life.”

 

The Fourth Tempter

“Eliot’s unexpected Fourth Tempter…”  (Page 127)

Although T S Eliot was born an American citizen, he renounced that citizenship in 1927 aged 39 and took British citizenship instead.  While his poetry was strongly influenced by his American roots, he is none-the-less considered an English poet.

His poetry is erudite and therefore often quite difficult to understand.  His most accessible work is the verse-play Murder in the Cathedral taught to most schoolchildren in Britain, a play about the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.

Before the murder, Becket is visited by three tempters who he is expecting.  Their temptations mirror the temptations of Christ: physical safety, temporal power or alliance with the barons.  But then, unexpectedly, comes a fourth very persuasive tempter.  He offers Becket a glorious martyrdom which appeals to Becket’s vanity.  But eventually Becket rejects him too, observing:

“Now is my way clear, now is the meaning plain:
Temptation shall not come in this kind again.
The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

 

The Rage of the Elderly

“A poet once urged his elderly father to rage against the dying of the light” {Page 125)

This is a reference to Dylan Thomas’s very famous villanelle Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.  See http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/do-not-go-gentle-good-night

 

The Rape of Charles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_W67hc6HgQ&list=RDb_W67hc6HgQ

“She wandered through the garden fence
and said, ‘I’ve bought at great expense
a potion guaranteed to bring
relief from all your suffering.’
And though I said, ‘You don’t exist,’
she grasped me firmly by the wrist,
threw me down upon my back,
strapped me to her torture rack.
And without further argument
I found my mind was also bent
upon a course so devious
it only made my torment worse.”

(Procol Harum)

Male-on-male rape, especially within the prison population, is well understood if commonly unreported.  But female-on-male rape is extremely rare.  The most notorious case was the Mormon-chaining of 1977 which influenced the writing of this section (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_sex_in_chains_case ).  At that time, female-on-male rape wasn’t even defined as a crime.  And many men still do not believe it to be technically possible.  But when a man is incapitated by drink or drugs, or threatened with a weapon, then non-consensual sex becomes a very real possibility.  And it was, effectively, a weapon which Annika deployed against Charles.

 

Little Joe

“Nobody knew how Little Joe got his name”  (Page 105)

Joe Dallesandro, one of the very few survivors of the Factory.  At university, I was much influenced by the films of Andy Warhol.  “Little Joe never once gave it away.  Everybody had to pay and pay.”  The ‘Little’ is of course ironic.

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAHRAKQMfzA

Since that video was made, Lou Reed has of course died.  One of music’s greats.

 

The Cover

On the front cover, behind the title ‘Kybernos’ is the skyline of Lublin.  The letter ‘O’ is filled with the Trinitarian Tower, and to its left you can just make out the white Cathedral with its twin towers.

The back cover shows St Michael’s Wall with the castle in the background.

 

The Beauty of the Tatra Mountains

“To sleep with my head in the clouds” (Page 89).

This video features the eastern lakes which lie just beyond the section the lads walked, on from the pagoda.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-OtLQnyja4 .

The next video follows more closely the route taken by the lads:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5GvkA9Q89A .

But it is this video which is the most stunning of them all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swdvM6etcL4 .  Between 2:18 and 2:33 the pilot flies over the chair-lift, right past the restaurant, and then back over the cable-car cables at 4:58.

 

And Finally…

“But a beer … Now a beer never lied.” (Page 60)

Yes, please!  Make mine a Zywiec!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RD9fUu95hks&index=2&list=PL816CA89D826A8F11

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