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MysTech Newsletter, July 2021

Photo by Rainhard Wiesinger on Unsplash

Newsletter on the Mysteries of Technology

Dear Friends,

Recently I was prompted to think more deeply on the matter of polarities, when watching an old interview of Mike Wallace with Ayn Rand, who wrote the books Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Her reasoning behind her way of thinking, she said, stemmed from being a student of Aristotelian logic. Her answers to Wallace’s questions about what society would be like, if it turned to collectiveness instead of individual responsibility and self-determination, would sound prophetic for today if it hadn’t already happened in the past in places like Russia, China and Nazi Germany.

Ayn Rand’s reasoning, a logical objectiveness, as she put it, struck me as a curious contrast to the tendency toward emotional subjectiveness, which is prevalent today.  At the extreme ends of these two tendencies, the cold heartlessness of computers or AI, we might imagine as the extreme of this logical objectiveness. As for emotional subjectiveness we may see the group soul of the animal realm as its extreme.

With that said, and leaving the extremes aside, one may see a logical objective person as someone who considers all the possible variables to reach a conclusion, determining what may appear to be the best outcome for one’s own sovereign individuality; while the other may take action based on what is believed to be mutually beneficial for everyone, through a shared group identity.

For MysTech it is necessary to place ourselves at the center of these two contrasting tendencies we find in our fellow human beings. This we might do by starting from a point of inner quietness when listening to explanations that normally seem contrary, and then by exerting one’s will to find commonality. This doesn’t mean to outright agree but it does mean that when contrary things are considered in an unbiased way, it leaves open a space for something more to enter that may enhance one’s understanding. If this is practiced for a while and mastered in some way, one will often experience a revealing of new aspects of our surroundings, such as hidden intentions, which may have been laying this whole time in front of us, in plain sight.

It is important for us all to move forward now, Awake and Aware of the hidden messages before us. Not to be heartlessly logical or thoughtlessly emotional but to keep our being in constant check at the center between these two extremes.

For now, may the Tau be with you!
Frank Dauenhauer
Managing Director of CFAE

“A healthy social life is found only when, in the mirror of each soul, the whole community finds its reflection, and when, in the whole community, the virtue of each one is living”. -Rudolf Steiner

Space Modified Plant Seeds

Dr. Maria J van den Berg, MD

Recently, MysTech News asked Dr. Maria van den Berg to share with us her thoughts regarding something that came to her attention in December 2020.  Linked in a comment at Time Magazine, Dr. Maria found her way to a China Daily article entitled: Crops with roots in space produce heavenly results.  Upon further investigation, MysTech News discovered this related publication: Induced Plant Mutations in the Genomic Era, a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization on the 80th anniversary of this scientific approach to food production.

Exposure to the environment of outer space is just one of the high-tech methods described in this report to induce genetic mutations in plants by various invasive and forceful methods.  The first such efforts were undertaken in 1928, three years after the death of Rudolf Steiner.  We can only wonder how he might have reacted. Below you can read Dr. Maria’s thoughts on this subject.

The China Daily article: Crops with Roots in Space Produce Heavenly Results (Internet Search), describes how seeds, brought to outer space, produce unexpected yields, for example: “vines that can sprawl across 150 square meters of land and bear 10,000 tomatoes, or giant black-eyed pea sprouts measuring a meter long.” This has been achieved through what is called “space induced mutation breeding”, also called space mutagenesis.  The article tells us that, in China, hundreds of varieties of space crops have been planted nationwide.

Space induced mutation breeding is seen as spontaneous genetic mutation through exposure to strong cosmic forces, diminished gravity influence, low levels of geomagnetic interference, and other influences such as vacuum.  The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency consider these crops to be safe, as long as they pass through rigorous safety testing. [N.B. The methods and means for this testing are not discussed in the article. – Editor]

When I read this article, my thoughts turned to Biodynamic agriculture, which, since 1924, works in a very different way.  Biodynamics invites cosmic forces to involve themselves more intimately in the growing, differentiation, flowering and fruiting/seeding processes of the plants.  How does it do this? By caring for the soil.  This care involves such practices as using the Maria Thun Calendar, compost, preparations and the creating of a farm/garden ‘individuality’ (wholeness).  These methods work together to help the cosmic forces to engage with the ether and earthly forces.  For example, the water/substance-solution that becomes the biodynamic preparation, is opened to receive the cosmic forces through the process of stirring that creates a vortex followed by chaos.  The seasonal differences, together with the changes in zodiacal and planetary influences are enhanced through the use of the different herbs and animal organs in the preparations.  We also know that through biodynamic cultivation, the soil is able to ‘digest’ nuclear radiation far better than soil of conventional farms/gardens, as became clear after the radiation fall-out of the Chernobyl disaster (for more on this subject, see: Radiation and the Prosperity of Agriculture).

Trying to think of the differences of these two methods, I realized that the connection and transformation of the earthly forces and elements are fostered through biodynamic agriculture.  The hardened earth forces are integrated into a healing, enlivening, spiritualizing process.  The human being is fully engaged in this process, with its whole being.  The warmth of human interest, observation, growing understanding, gratitude and work are all called upon.

In the “space process” the earth itself is not engaged in the transformation.  It is, however, an essential task of humanity in our time to begin the process of redeeming the earthly forces.  It is not hard to see that this is not the case with the exposure of seeds to cosmic forces in outer space.  No matter how amazing the results may be, this approach misses the crucial point of creating a future through spiritualizing the earth in all its aspects and, through this, for the human being to develop self-knowledge.

I will end with two of Rudolf Steiner’s soul calendar verses that express this intimate and essential relationship between the world and the human being:  Verse 33 (17-23 November) and Verse 20 (18-24 August).

Verse 33 (17-23 November)

So fuhl ich erst die Welt
Die ausser meiner Seele Miterleben.
An sich nur frostig leeres Leben.
Und ohne Macht sich offenbarend.
In Seelen sich von Nehemiah schaffend,
In sich den Tod nur finden konnte.

Now first I feel the world
Which without my inner empathy
Is in itself but frosty empty life
and without power to reveal itself,
In souls creating itself anew,
Within itself would find but death.

Verse 20 (18-24 August)

So full icy erst mien Sein.
Das fern from Welten-Dasein,
In sich, such selbst erloschen
Und bauend nut aug eignem Grunde.
In sich, such selbst ertoten musste.

Now first I feel my being,
Which, far from world-existence
Would, left alone, extinguish self
And building just on its own ground,
Would in itself bring death upon itself.

Dr. Maria van den Berg was born and grew up in The Netherlands, where she studied and graduated in medicine. She met Anthroposophy in 1975 and extended her medical practice through this. In 1976 she joined Camphill Community Christophorus in Zeist, where she enjoyed living and working for 12 years as a doctor, home maker, teacher and member of the Management Council. In 1988 she moved to Ireland and, while living in Camphill Community Glencraig, was the peripatetic doctor for all Irish Camphill communities until 1998. From this time on she worked in 5 Camphill communities in Ireland. From 1976 she has been teaching in the Camphill Seminar for Curative Education and Social Therapy and worked in several Waldorf schools together with teachers and parents. She has extensive experience in teaching and lecturing and leading workshops in many different settings and trainings in The Netherlands, Ireland, United Kingdom, USA, Portugal, and more recently in China and Taiwan. Healing in all it’s different forms and processes, as well as the joy and love for sharing the beauty and wisdom, which we find hidden in nature, the arts and human beings, are at the heart of her life.

Defending Our Capacity for Attention and Empathy

How can we create flourishing human relationships?

Boyd R. Collins

Boyd R. Collins, a “philosopher of technology”, will speak at the MysTech Conference on August 12, 2021. 

After working 25 years in the tech world, Boyd transitioned to a career in writing about topics that bridge the intersection of technology and spirit.  Here we bring you a sample from the MysTech Journal,  Spring/Summer 2020 Volume IV, Issue 1

You can find Articles by Boyd Collins at these other sites:
Medium.com
Being Human: 2019
Being Human: 2020
New View Magazine 2020

Jaron Lanier, one of the founders of virtual reality, asked the following question, “If the ‘hive mind’ is my audience, who am I?” [1] The hive mind is an order in which each mental node, whether human or machine, coordinates its operations within the system as a whole, whose knowledge becomes the master identity to which each separate node must be subordinate. But do the entities that make up the hive mind of the global electronic intelligence form an actual person? Some of our digital leaders seem to think so but they also seem to have lost touch with what the word “person” means. Only by searching our hearts can we rediscover the lost wisdom of personhood. As Lanier says, “Being a person is not a pat formula, but a quest, a mystery, a leap of faith.” [2] A “person” is one of those mysteries, like “consciousness”, that cannot be defined, but only experienced more and more deeply.   (Leslie, I like ending it with this first paragraph — but will leave it up to you whether we continue with additional copy before providing website link)

There is also a concept of personhood built into the major social media platforms. For Facebook, a person is a collection of profile attributes such as the user’s “Likes” and the groups that he or she belongs to. These and many other elements of “behavioral surplus” (user data that has been algorithmically collected and processed) determine how content relevancy is calculated for each user. The economic model which Facebook and related platforms have implemented uses behavioral engineering techniques to maximize user predictability and generate guaranteed outcomes for the advertisers which are the source of their revenue. According to Douglas Rushkoff this behavioral control, “… is based on thwarting social contact and exploiting the resulting disorientation and despair.” [3] As many peer-reviewed studies have shown [4], there is a direct correlation between the intensity of a user’s social media use and his or her loneliness, depression and similar states of the soul.

Jaron Lanier, one of the founders of virtual reality, asked the following question, “If the ‘hive mind’ is my audience, who am I?”[1] The hive mind is an order in which each mental node, whether human or machine, coordinates its operations within the system as a whole, whose knowledge becomes the master identity to which each separate node must be subordinate. But do the entities that make up the hive mind of the global electronic intelligence form an actual person? Some of our digital leaders seem to think so but they also seem to have lost touch with what the word “person” means. Only by searching our hearts can we rediscover the lost wisdom of personhood. As Lanier says, “Being a person is not a pat formula, but a quest, a mystery, a leap of faith.”[2] A “person” is one of those mysteries, like “consciousness”, that cannot be defined, but only experienced more and more deeply.

There is also a concept of personhood built into the major social media platforms. For Facebook, a person is a collection of profile attributes such as the user’s “Likes” and the groups that he or she belongs to. These and many other elements of “behavioral surplus” (user data that has been algorithmically collected and processed) determine how content relevancy is calculated for each user. The economic model which Facebook and related platforms have implemented uses behavioral engineering techniques to maximize user predictability and generate guaranteed outcomes for the advertisers which are the source of their revenue. According to Douglas Rushkoff this behavioral control, “… is based on thwarting social contact and exploiting the resulting disorientation and despair.”[3] As many peer-reviewed studies have shown,[4] there is a direct correlation between the intensity of a user’s social media use and his or her loneliness, depression and similar states of the soul.

Many pundits provide helpful tips to show us how to avoid digital addiction such as by enabling greyscale on our smartphones. These practices can help defend us from emotional manipulation, but unless we focus on building up the underlying personal values, we can’t install permanent fixes in the only location where they can be truly effective - our minds and hearts. The following recommendations for reclaiming the face-to-face conversations we need to flourish as persons constitute one resistance practice in a much larger process of rehumanization.

Rather than tapping heart icons on Instagram posts, truly fulfilling relationships must take place in meatspace. Instead of a futile and addictive chase after screen-based social satisfaction, we can use social media to support in-person encounters. If we can strengthen our capacity for close relationships, we can recover the precious resource of our attention in a way that will permanently enrich our inner lives, rather than letting them be packaged and sold to advertisers.

Lost in the Zone

The effectiveness of online conditioning diminishes in direct proportion to a user’s self-awareness. A user with sufficient cognitive resources can stand back from screen-based triggers and discern the attempt to grab his or her attention for what it is. Once detected, the hidden layer of behavioral prompts becomes apparent and they lose their power to compel. Self-control enables the capacity described by Shannon Vallor as “… an exemplary ability in technosocial contexts to choose, and ideally to desire for their own sakes, those goods and experiences that most contribute to our and others’ flourishing.”[5] This is the ability to regulate one’s attention rather than let it be channeled by apps designed to profit from predictions about our behavior.

Instead of allowing our desires to be algorithmically shaped, self-regulating users take command of their intentions so that they are free to pursue genuine happiness. Unfortunately, many have succumbed to online manipulation so often that thoughtless acquiescence has become the default response to social media triggers. They are in a condition similar to machine gambling addicts, who can be quite lucid about their predicament, “Is it about money? No. Is it about enjoyment? No. Is it about being trapped? Yes - it is about having lost the plot as to why you are there in the first place. You are involved in a series of entrapments that you can’t fully appreciate from inside them.”[6] This region is often described by addicts as the “machine zone”, a place where one is absorbed in a machine-generated experience so engrossing that everything beyond the screen is forgotten while the user “plays to extinction”, meaning until his or her funds are exhausted.

The design principles used in machine gambling correlate directly with those used in social media: “… one-time Facebook president Sean Parker frankly admitted that Facebook was designed to consume the maximum possible amount of users’ time and consciousness … The goal was to keep users glued to the hive, chasing those [dopamine] hits while leaving a stream of raw materials in their wake.”[7] Responding to online emotional triggers is often the entry point into the “flow” state, a mode of being in which we become so absorbed in an activity that our normal sense of time disappears.

Machine gamblers also experience a “flow”, but it is a closed-loop, a flight from creative action which encases its victims in cocoons of pure subjectivity. They become trapped in programmed unrealities designed to undermine their autonomy and allow their emotions to be expertly played upon by the machine’s designers. Social media users experience a similar dynamic, a machine-driven proxy life that often becomes compulsive. The ability to break the addiction to the flow requires the development of many inner strengths, but at the foundation of each is the conscious control of our attention.

Social media cultivates many popular illusions, but one of the most egregious is that we can have fulfilling relationships that are “frictionless”, that don’t require serious commitment from each partner. In the offline world, we have to learn to tolerate a certain degree of boredom, cloaked egotism, awkwardness, misunderstanding, self-deception, and many other common human ingredients if we seek true friendship. Eliminating such frictions from our relationships may also eliminate the possibility of true intimacy. Unfortunately, friendship without the sweat and muck of ordinary humanity has become the ideal in the world of social media. Yet it turns out it’s hard to trust someone unless you can hear the gravel in their voice, the warmth of their hand, and the radiation of their presence. Perhaps evolution has designed us in this way for a reason. If there are no barriers to overcome, our relationships tend to become no more than masks we slip on at appropriate intervals.

Without realizing quite how it happened, we have learned to tune out whatever falls below our interactive quality standards. If our dinner companion bores us, we can phub him or her with a guiltless smile illuminated by the serene glow of the smartphone screen. Many people seem to have lost the secret of creatively coping with moments of emptiness. Levels of boredom that would have been considered ordinary a few years ago have now become intolerable. With instant relief from uncomfortable moments always available, the temptation to escape as quickly as possible is often overwhelming. Unfortunately, by excluding ourselves from tedious situations, we also preclude several types of personal growth essential to the person we may wish to become.

For instance, consider the famous 2013 ad in which a teenager screens out an older relative talking about her cat by using the Facebook Home app. While the ad treated the teenager’s boorish behavior as a smart move, Shannon Vallor highlights some of the opportunities for emotional growth the teenager might have missed:

  1. Attention Control: The ability to listen to someone long enough to understand the meaning and context of what they are saying.
  2. Relational Understanding: We need to seriously ask the question, “What respect does this speaker deserve?” without immediately defaulting to “none.”
  3. Reflective Self-Examination: What role am I playing in this situation? Is it the best I’m capable of?
  4. Discerning and Prudent Judgment: What practical wisdom does my respect for the other person call for in me? Redirecting attention to the screen simply removes a disagreeable experience from the field of attention. It teaches us nothing about how to improve a social situation through creative intervention. The teenager tossed away an opportunity to develop a key social skill.
  5. Moral Extension: The ability to think beyond one’s immediate comfort and satisfaction.[8]

Ultimately, we can only reclaim our humanity by exercising the qualities that distinguish it from the “smart” selfishness modeled by the ad.

Real Presence

One of the ways we can use our attention more productively is to give it to human beings instead of screens. The awakening selves we may harbor within us often wait in vain for a spark of genuine attention. When we are present to the person in front of us instead of the infinite scroll, a much richer set of possibilities becomes available. Cal Newport described the missing pieces as follows, “… these offline interactions are incredibly rich because they require our brains to process large amounts of information about subtle analog cues such as body language, facial expressions, and voice tone. The low-bandwidth chatter supported by many digital communication tools might offer a simulacrum of this connection, but it leaves most of our high-performance social processing networks underused - reducing these tools’ ability to satisfy our intense sociality.”[9] The possible selves of our conversation partners may be anxiously waiting backstage for the chance to step out and find a previously unsuspected role to play. But this can only happen if we let them see our real face.

Personal risk is minimized online because we need only display what we choose to, rather than what is unavoidably exposed when we are physically present. On the screen, we can only guess how much each is withholding. In person, the other’s face is a mirror in which we see features of our face that are invisible to us until they are reflected back from the other. While security is a necessity when dealing with strangers, it inhibits our ability to become intimate with friends.

Once upon a time, “… people became friends by being in each other’s presence, understanding all the many subtle signals, verbal and bodily, whereby another testifies to his character, emotions, and intentions, and building affection and trust in tandem.”[10] When we look into the face of the other, what we sometimes discover is ourselves, but with a fresh pair of eyes that can see parts of our personality that we never noticed before, perhaps because they didn’t become real until our friend shined the light of care on them. While versions of this can happen online, these tend to be more focused on finding affinities with a particular group identity, which is much different than a friend breaking open an unsuspected and unique personal quality in us.

As a well-known philosopher observed, “… by placing a screen between yourself and the friend, while retaining ultimate control over what appears to your friend, you also hide from the real encounter - denying the other the power and the freedom to challenge you in your deeper nature and to call on you here and now to take responsibility for yourself and for him.”[11] In other words, the relationships we create behind the screen allow us to avoid the type of affection that can only blossom when we allow ourselves to be challenged. Moreover, when one is so easily distracted by believable facsimiles, it’s also easy to bypass real friendships. Unfortunately, facsimile friendships don’t develop the personal qualities needed to build and maintain lasting relationships. Lacking these qualities, online relationships may soon become the only type that we are capable of.

Rebalancing Our Connections

Instead of rejecting social media, we can expose its embedded biases and learn how to use it to facilitate a rich, in-person social life. Digital addiction results from trying to achieve emotional validation through a machine-driven experience that can’t actually affirm us as persons. We need to see the pupils of our partners’ eyes and feel the tension in their fingers to know what they are actually feeling. When we watch people sitting together at a table where everyone’s eyes are glued to screens we are looking at a group trying to squeeze social gratification through a pinhole. What some might try instead is to glance up and find a partner who is weary of the sterile glow.

One recommended practice that can help text messaging serve our better selves is to strictly control how and when it is used. When the smartphone is within reach throughout the day and notifications are turned on, we are always open to new messages. Not only does this tend to lead to constant distraction and reduced productivity, but it reinforces the futile cycle of trying to get our social needs met through text messages. To address this, we can turn off notifications except for emergency contacts from a select few. Then we can schedule specific and limited times during the day to respond to messages. But we should also change the nature of the messages. Instead of open-ended conversations about random topics, we should only respond to short logistical notifications such as meeting proposals. Then we can use the time we’ve saved for in-person meetings with the most important people in our lives. What we may find is that a few close relationships can deliver far more social satisfaction than dozens of shallow connections.

By taking control of our messaging behavior, we cease to feed the cycle of distraction. Instead, we reserve quality attention for those few with whom we can cultivate mutual enrichment. As Shannon Vallor said, “For the ultimate engineering task is the fragile, endless, and sublime human project of using the culture we produce to make ourselves into the beings we wish to become.”[12]

Endnotes

[1] Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, (New York: Vintage Books, 2011. Kindle Edition) loc. 175.
[2] Ibid., loc. 182.
[3] Douglas Rushkoff, Team Human, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2019. Kindle Edition), p. 5.
[4]  A good place to begin locating some of the most relevant academic, peer-reviewed studies about the emotional impact of social media is in the “Notes” section of Shoshana Zuboff’s book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. Full reference information for the book is contained in note 7 below.
[5] Shannon Vallor, Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting, (Oxford University Press, 2016. Kindle Edition) p. 165.
[6] Natasha Dow Schull, Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas, (Princeton University Press, 2012. Scribd Edition) p. 49.
[7] Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, (New York: Hatchette Book Group, 2019. Kindle Edition), p. 451.
[8] op. cit. note 5, p. 162. In this section, I comment on each of the moral values which Vallor highlights in her commentary on the ad. The moral concepts are hers, but the comments are mine.
[9] Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, (New York: Penguin Publishing Group, 2019. Kindle Edition) p. 142.
[10] Roger Scruton, “Hiding Behind the Screen,” The New Atlantis, Number 28, Summer 2010. https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/hiding-behind-the-screen.
[11] Ibid.
[12] op. cit. note 5, p. 159.

Book Review

An Electronic Silent Spring

Facing the Dangers and Creating Safe Limits

by Katie Singer
Portal Books, 2014

Katie Singer, the keynote speaker at this years MysTech Conference 2021, will soon have a new  book out:  Our Web of Inconvenient Truths:  The Internet, Energy Use, Toxic Waste and Climate Change.

We thought it would be a good time to look back at her previous book:  An Electronic Silent Spring – Facing the Dangers and Creating Safe Limits.

Some among us may wonder about the title and ask: what dangers?  If there were any, surely the U.S. government would have already identified them and set safe limits.  Right?  Are we not protected by the most expert of scientific experts?

At the beginning of her book, Singer includes a quote from a 1970’s era report by The White House Office of Telecommunications Policy:

“The consequences of undervaluing or misjudging the biological effects of long-term, low-level exposure (to electromagnetic radiation emanating from radar, television, communications systems, microwave ovens, industrial heat treatment systems, and many other sources) could become a crucial problem for the public health, especially if genetic effects are involved.”

We can see that fifty years ago, the highest levels of our government were aware of the issue, but from that time forward it seems to have become a question of how to avoid addressing the potential risks of electro-magnetic radiation – at least in terms of the health of humans and other living creatures.  Despite many studies showing effects of radio-frequency signals on trees, insects, frogs, and birds (chapter 3 in the book.), the Environmental Protection Agency categorically denies responsibility for studying or regulating electromagnetic (non-ionizing) radiation (see: EPA-Radiation Resources-Cellphones).  As early as 1992 (see: EPA-Questions and Answers about EMFs), the EPA was telling citizens to direct any concerns to local government, which, at that time, still had some authority that might have been used to address community health and EMFs.

Apparently, recognizing this weakness, a few years later the U.S. Federal Communications Commission rectified the problem with the 1996 Telecommunications Act which “actually prohibits municipalities from protecting their community’s health or ecosystem.”  Section 704 of the Act (signed into law by President Bill Clinton) provides the specific language: “No state or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, or modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions.”  Here, Singer advises us, “environmental effects” includes any biological or health effects.  The FCC Telecom Act has even been held to legally pre-empt the International Migratory Bird Treaty, Americans with Disabilities Act, local zoning laws, etc.

The circular nature of governmental denials of responsibility is especially telling.  Singer’s book informs us that the closest thing to a safety standard for EMFs is the current FCC ‘guideline’ which was adopted in 1996 based on a letter provided by the EPA addressing only the question of “thermal effects”.  And even those minimal protections were undermined in 2013 when the FCC redefined the earlobe to be considered “an extremity”, thus allowing it to be exposed to more radiation per square centimeter from a cell phone than is allowable adjacent to a microwave oven.

In 1996, when the FCC guideline was written, wi-fi did not yet exist and wireless phones were rare.  In the last century, and even at the beginning of this one, the average person was not swimming in a sea of electromagnetic frequencies that are exponentially higher than anything human beings had ever experienced previously, under normal every-day conditions.  Singer’s book provides the reader with the necessary vocabulary and context to understand the current situation in which we find ourselves: twenty-five years later, despite the exponential growth of EMF producing transmitters and receivers, there is still no agency, no regulation nor any guidelines that protect humans or wildlife from any “non-thermal” effects of devices emitting radio frequencies.

Singer makes a clear case that more and more people are suffering harmful effects that are made worse by emissions in their vicinity.  Among numerous examples, she points out that people with medical implants may actually be endangered by entering a metal-walled elevator with a person using a cell phone and that childhood leukemia has long been associated with exposure to higher levels of EMFs.  Just as second-hand smoke came to be understood as an unacceptable health hazard, the effects of a person’s cell phone or the inescapable presence of wi-fi in public places may one day become equally unacceptable.  In order for that to happen, we need to educate ourselves so we can lead by example and help to educate others around us.  This easy-to-read book will provide the necessary information to do just that.

An Electronic Silent Spring
Portal Books, 2014
$18.00 at Rudolf Steiner Bookstore

KATIE SINGER presented her concerns about the Internet’s footprint at the United Nations’ 2018 Forums on Science, Technology & Innovation and Sustainable Development. An international speaker, her books include An Electronic Silent Spring (available in Korean), Honoring Our Cycles, The Garden of Fertility and The Wholeness of a Broken Heart A consultant with the EMR Policy Institute, she speaks internationally.

Events

MysTech Conference 2021

The Story Behind the Theme

Andrew Linnell

This year’s theme, Transmuting Technology: What Mankind Speaks to the Stars, came about when the four members of the Planning Committee struggled to find a phrase that encompassed all of the many topics (and speakers) of the 2021 conference. The theme for 2020 had been Science and Technology at the Threshold. Are we now crossing the threshold? Where is MysTech as an organization in what it can bring to spiritual science and human evolution?

One of the popular verses used in the study groups is:

The Stars once spoke to Man.
It is World-destiny
That they are silent now.
To be aware of the silence
Can become pain for earthly-Man.
But in the deepening silence
There grows and ripens
What Mankind speaks to the Stars.
To be aware of the speaking
Can become strength for Spirit-Man.

Here in this verse, we found we what we were looking for, What Mankind speaks to the Stars. We are entering the age where we, like a child, are learning how to speak, to speak of what we do to spiritualize the earth.

But, with that broad theme of what we speak to the stars, could we apply it to Technology? Do we speak to the stars of what can only be learned on earth? Would the stars even be interested in Technology? Does our work upon Technology interest the stars? Can Technology be Christianized? We felt it would not be accurate to say, “transforming technology” but more correct to say, “transmuting technology”. Transmute means, to change from one nature or condition into another. This is the work of MysTech. Additionally, the “mute” in “transmuting” has to do with speaking, or the lack of speaking. As Michael is a guiding spirit for our work, and Michael is taciturn, all of this seemed to fit remarkably well together!

For more information and to register:  https://mystech.org/conference-2021/

Artist Circle

TIAOAIT

An Apollonian form Rudolf Steiner gave to the eurythmists.

This eurythmy form for six people was originally given for children and young people to counteract untidy thinking. However, we adults can often use a little bit of house cleaning with our own thinking. 

Etheric Challenge: Try drawing the form, then visualize the movements of the form, then create an imagination of six people moving the form at once.  Bonus points for visualizing the six people doing the eurythmy sounds.

Instructions:

The positions in space correspond to the forming of the sounds:

T = six persons in one row, standing;

I = first out-winding spiral;

I = second out-winding spiral;

A = the two front pairs move apart so that an angle appears in space; the back pair remain standing

O = the two front pairs go, forming the spun O along a semicircle into the backspace, while the back pair remain standing, so that the angle now opens to the back.  The exact mirror picture of the front form is now carried out, until everybody arrives again in a straight line on the beginning places with T. 

See the TIAOAT performed to music by Sound Center Eurythmy Essemble

MysTech Study Courses

Consider Joining A Course Group This Fall

A century ago, Rudolf Steiner had illuminating and prescient things to say about technology. However, it is not easy to find a group of people with whom to study those thoughts.  Perhaps it is because there has not been a collection of lectures specifically focused on this subject, or because many people have a tendency to keep the spiritual implications of technology at arm’s length.  In any case, MysTech’s on-line study groups are a good way to overcome obstacles such as these, or others. 

In the MysTech, Mystery of Technology Study Guides, Andrew Linnell has brought together relevant passages and lectures that provide a helpful framework to approach this complex topic.  The study group’s weekly format motivates participants to do the reading and leads to interesting questions and comments. 

Broaden your circle – meet people in different places and time zones. 

Sign up for Fall 2021 Study Group Course here: https://mystech.org/mystech-study-courses

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