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A few years ago I experienced the consequences of some medical malpractice. A research psychopharmocologist at a local university had prescribed for me (while he was at a previous position at a local psychiatric hospital) a benzodiazepine called klonopin, a member of the same family as valium and librium, as a sleep aid. By that time it was known that these drugs should be limiited to 30 days for they replaced the anti-anxiety functions in your brain. With the nomal duration of 30 days a 30 day withdrawl was sufficient. Before long without the medication your brain has no capability to quiet itself and I began to experience greater and greater anxiety and then periodic panic attacks where I felt I might cause harm. After a sabattical this doctor would not accept me back as a patient and I was farmed out to a sequence of residents and nurse practioners. Ultimately the departent realized I should be removed from the klonopin and prescribed the usual thirty day taper but there was no one to supervise this period so I was given a handful of prescriptions and told to follow a certain taper regimen. There was no warning of consequences should I not follow precisely the recomendations, nor caution should I have any kind of negative reactions.

It turned out that no one at the hospital had any experiece with long term use of klonopin. I finished my taper and found myself gradually deterioating. At first my hands shook so I could no longer type at my computer. After a month or so I began experiencing boughts of something close to terror and fears that I might do something harmful. These periods eventually became so intense and frequent that I asked my wife, Susan, to drive me to the ER. I was given a prescription for an anti-hystimine and sent home. An hour after taking the anti-hystimine we called 911. A police car came first and I begged to be locked inside the cruiser. The police were not pleased with me. In a few minutes the ambulance arrived and I was taken to the nearest ER.

I was left for several hours while a cat scan was done to rule out tumers. Other than this brief outing I lay in bed experiecing recurring dillusions. I imagined I was floating in empty black space with stars on a distant horizon. A tall thin somewhat transulant man with blue light on him stood watch. I was experiencing pure terror unlike anything I had imagined could be possible. Worse, I expected that my consciousness with the terror could drift though this emptiness for eternity. This not seeming like a good prospect I asked myself whether this was a “kind universe.” The jury is still out.

Ah! Sweet Mystery Of Life!



The Trump Effect

Donald Trump suggests to me something like the question about the kind universe. Out of the woodwork of a lifetime of thinking appear some worms along with some butterflies. They do not add up nor can they cancel each other.

After a fair amount of reading in cosmology (the Philip Davies book The Goldilocks Enigma; Jim Holt’s book sub-titled “Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing”) I concluded that this must be an anthopomorphic universe, else why us especially since everything must be “just right” for us to exist. (Just right, if one does a handful of calculations suggests that chance, as championed by some cosmologists, could not begin to create life with the expected age of the universe.) Further, for the universe to exist there must be sentient, conscious, intelligent beings else its existence is moot. There is nothing or no one to say it exists or not. Hence us, you ad me. Further, there must be some rather miraculous things about us and these I connect to the title of my photographic work, The Hidden World of the Nearby. Slowly I began to believe that nearby, hidden worlds applied to more than photographgs and the nearest and most hidden thing I could think of was our own experience of life known more technically as sentience. The vibration of two small circles of tissue at the end of our ear canels and the two small upside down images on our retinas were all we needed to experience sentience. This takes a bit of pondering to realize that nerve pulses in our brains translant to the experience of images and sound. Experience here is a subtle word for it is so common yet is the name of something I consider miraculous and no science can bridge the gap. Moreover sentience brings us the peaks of our existence: beauty and joy in all their forms. Yet nowhere in all our debates about politics or life or big bangs or cosmology are these mentioned. A country with health care and without racism or any other cruelities must be sufficient because rarely does anyone go any further. There is something infinitly wrong.

Religion is comforting and inspiring but fundaaentally a business: we are damned unless we buy into the premise of the religion. In other words it is also a good business.

Science should have taken up the slack beginning with Copericus (a Pole, naturally) but scientists suffer from another kind of pitfall: they cannot bear to be wrong so pere review rules out that last 1% at either end of distributions or any kind of speculation for fear by the reviewers that they might be wrong. So as technology has run rampant making money for a few and destroying the planet the best scientists can do is be “concerned,” which is patently unfair but that is what it amounts to. A war on the virus should have ignited a scientific war on Trump. A war on the planet by fossel fuels should have ignited a war on creators of CO2. A war on funding of schools should have also ignited wars by artists, teachers, scientists ad parrets. A war on people of color should have ignited a war by Christians (at least) on culprits of all kinds. Instead it ignitedd wars of Christians of one kind on Christians of another kind or of simply any good target, including those hostile to Donald Trump.

Something is badly screwed up. Hence joy, beauty live in worlds hidden and as nearby as anything can be, for they are we, if we want them.

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