Just Above Sunset
January 16, 2005 - Morphogenic Resonance and Reviving the Draft

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World’s Laziest Journalist

Sunday, January 16, 2005

By Bob Patterson


There’s an old expression about “an idea whose time has come.”  Sometimes, it seems, everyone comes up with the same idea simultaneously in a manner that might be compared to spontaneous combustion.  I mentioned the phenomenon some time ago and was surprised when a psychologist with four books to his credit, Dr. Richard B. Patterson (AKA my brother), said there was a specific term for that particular type of occurrence; it’s called morphogenic resonance.


Rupert Sheldrake is the author of the concept of morphogenic resonance.  According to his research, somehow monkeys in Australia become aware of something new that is taught to monkeys in Great Britain.  Is it mental telepathy on a group level?  Wasn’t there a similar theory that was used to explain the San Francisco sound in music in 1967?  The “Thousand Monkeys” idea (not to be confused with the “One Hundred Monkeys Typing” theory in mathematics and the study of probability) holds that lessons taught in one place seem to be learned by animals separate from the local control group.  (We suggest Googling “Rupert Sheldrake,”  “morphogenic resonance,” and “thousand monkeys” and reading some of the suggested pages.)


Folks like to think that some of their ideas are “unique,” but most college students have a shared experience where they take the concept of a the physical configuration of a single atom and compare it to the solar system and suddenly get the thought that maybe the universe is just a part of some ubergigantic being’s fingernail.  At a bull session in the student union, the “unique” aspect to your amazing and perceptive bit of speculation soon disintegrates.  Something that common will get tossed into the mental waste basket labeled “Been There; Done That.”


Last week, one of the talk show hosts played a song by Bobby Darin and said that, on his talk show, he had been playing songs by Bobby Darin for some time and perhaps that had spawned the movie project that is being shown in theaters now with the title: “Beyond The Sea.”


That particular talk show host has a considerable effect on his audience and can produce some impressive responses from his broadcasts, but the facts might not substantiate the speculation about the movie being the result of his air play of the music that has been popular for fifty years.


When this columnist attended a screening of “The Big Kahuna” at UCLA, when it was just being released in 2000, a woman, purportedly Kevin Spacey’s agent, mentioned that Kevin Spacey was working on a biographical film of Bobby Darin’s life.  It seems like that nugget of inside Hollywood information was dispensed before that particular host’s talk show was available in the Los Angeles market.


Last week’s WLJ column asked what, if any, effect the recent tsunami in Asia had on Antarctica.  The column was polished and sent off to the Just Above Sunset world headquarters (located, ironically enough, just above Sunset Boulevard in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles) on early Friday morning to be prepared for inclusion in the publication that would appear on the internet sometime on Sunday, January 9, 2005.  On Saturday, January 8, 2005, on page A-5, the Los Angeles Times had a graphic tracing the tsunami’s world wide impact via four world maps connected by a time-line.  It noted that the result for Antarctica was waves that were 1.5 feet higher than usual.  The column and the Times illustration could not possibly be connected.  If it had appeared sometime after Monday the 10th, then the columnist might have speculated about any causality link.  It was just a coincidence.


Folks for the week of January 2 to 8, in the L. A. area (augmented by an editorial jibe from the New York Times) have been talking about a possible name change for the Angeles baseball team.  The name may officially become “The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.”  Some pundits thought that was hysterical.  Excuse me, isn’t there a back East football team that is the New York Giants of Hackensack, New Jersey?  As of the time this column was in the rough draft status, that irony had not (to the best of my knowledge) been pointed out.  It wouldn’t be a surprise to find that maybe someone had sent the Gotham City Times a letter pointing out the relevance of the silly west coast team name for the Hackensack Giants fans.


Certain ideas carry with them much more importance as far as establishing who thought of it first.  When the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers flight was beginning to get news coverage, some other places mentioned that there had been local attempts at making the first flight.  At this late date, it’s mostly just a matter of civic pride and nothing else, for doing the history based feature stories.  The Wright Brothers gained worldwide fame for being first.  Now, historians are debating the accuracy of that claim.  Could there have been some morphogenic resonance going on in the nascent aviation attempts?


Back in the late Fifties (as recalled by this columnist) Popular Photography magazine had a story or two about early obscure experiments with photography around the world.  The article made reference to some very substantial progress in that field in South America about 1840 or so.  Louis-Jacques Maude Daguerre became world famous for inventing photography and it took hold and grew at an extremely fast pace.  Was the Frenchman the first or did several people do it simultaneously and Daguerre just happened to have the best PR agent?  Eventually historians may be able to determine an accurate answer to that question.  Perhaps not?


Congressman Charles B Rangel has submitted a bill to Congress calling for the draft to be reinstated.  President George W. Bush has promised that he wanted bipartisan support during his second term.  Perhaps he could make the first move and urge his Republican colleagues in Congress to help Rangel pass his bill. 


Such a move makes sense and it is probably only a matter of time before one of the influential bloggers calls for such a magnanimous move on the president’s part.  It could be a slow but gradual process, or it could be one of those rare moments when one of the bloggers mentions it and the next day 18 of his (or her) brothers in blogging include a link to the original item and put it on the top of the blogdex index for contagious information on the web.


Getting your concept on the top of the blogdex listing is an enviable feat similar to a musician getting a song to the number 1 position on Billboard’s Pop Single Chart.


Recently conservative pundit, Armstrong Williams, was allegedly paid $240,000 to advocate the “No Child Left Behind” program.  The White House is said to have paid him to promote an idea he said he already thought was valid.  Heck, if we were going to get an item that would climb to the top of the blogdex chart, we’d be glad to write a column promoting the return of the draft for half that amount of money. 


We’ve always kinda hoped that the Bush team would become interested in our project to make and sell T-shirts advocating a constitutional amendment change - to end limiting a president to only two terms in office.  If that were done, it would assure the country that voters could choose a smooth continuation of George W. Bush’s War on Terrorism after the end of his second term.  It would need a clever slogan T-shirt slogan, such as “3rd for 43” or something similar.  Maybe they could help with a little seed money for some trial balloon T-shirts that could, when they started selling, be pointed to as an example of an individual’s capitalistic enterprise spirit. 


We could sell a few dozen shirts and then be invited to a White House dinner and the media could dutifully promote it as a shining example of the entrepreneurial philosophy, which in turn would then result in massive additional sales, and thus become an enviable bit of profitability, and thus qualify as a genuine inspirational success story.  By the time it all faded into history, this columnist would probably be a deliriously enthusiastic Bush supporter.


Heck, reviving the draft is almost an inevitability, just check out any installment of an evening news broadcast and it will be obvious that is an idea whose time has come.  By 2007, ending George W’s term in office is going to look like a “pass” is being given to Al Qaeda.  Once can easily imagine just how much a resounding mandate for a third Bush term would upset Osama’s digestion in November of 2008.


All we have to do now is wait for the bloggers to come up with that idea, even if we have to pay them to do it. 


When folks talk about the movie Casablanca, they often say:  “Play it again, Sam.”  That was the title of a Woody Allen play about the movie, but that particular line is not in the movie. 


There is a legend at Indiana University about a student who was walking at dusk and was inspired to write a song about it.  He ran into a bookstore near the campus, which just happened to have a piano, and played out the melody and transcribed it.  There are several hundred different versions of the one song.  Somebody must have liked it.  So if the disk jockey will select one of those recordings, you’ll hear “Deep Purple.”  For now, we will, like the barrack soldiers in the ballad, just fade away for this week.  Next week, we think the column will be about chess and the philosophy of “end game,” so check and see.  Until then have a groupthink week.




Copyright 2005 – Robert Patterson



Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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