Intraterrestrial Intelligence: ET came home long, long ago..
by echan deravy
Like most things that singe your cortical wrinkles it had all started off rather innocently. An old guy walks into the room. He shuffles over to an armchair and lights up a Marlborough then gets settled in to read another trashy novel. He asks for a glass of milk. His grey hair is unkempt and his answers are short. You might think ..early Alzheimer’s. He dresses like a tramp on vacation and has no socks on. He must be seventy five if he is a day. His name is John Cunningham Lilly.
It is a chilly morning in Kyoto circa 1992 as I escort him now down to the local kissaten, the coffee shop where morning service is..well and truly served for the meagre amount of 400 yen i.e. less than three US dollars. That means toast and coffee with a boiled egg on the side. No refills though. The long set of stone stairs from the top of Yoshidayama requires careful navigating. This man’s mind is important. I cannot possibly be held responsible should he trip and crack that genius skull. But to get into it required some, well real questions..
” John do you currently believe that the intelligence you encountered in the tank was really extraterrestrial? ”
Asking a man who had written an entire book about belief systems and how nothing should ever be believed basically was a risky ploy but shit, I had to start somewhere. I only had a week with this shady alchemist, a man the straight scientists had said ruined his mind in the tank. My sense was that most people bored him to death. Fair enough, he had met and partied with some of the best minds of the twentieth century, had two films made of his research (Day of the dolphin and Altered States), published several mind buggering books on consciousness and cetaceans and was now the darling of the fledgling dolphin-love movement in Japan. Which is why we were in Kyoto of course..
He lights up another and I see a wee twinkle in his eye, like this just might qualify as a question. It had only been six months since watching his interview with Jeff Mishlove on Thinking Allowed. There it’s a guy with a Davy Crocket hat on and black leather gloves. He has a poker face and a razor sharp intellect and he is talking about what interests me most. Consciousness. You know that thing that absolutely nobody in the scientific community really wants to touch with a fucking bargepole. Not of course unless they have some handy new theory to bamboozle the gullible public with. Like my existential sense of being a complete twit next to Dr. John C. Lilly is created in a theoretical microtubule deep inside the wet darkness of two pounds of cerebral flesh. Mmm, yeah right sensei, microtubules doing er, quantum processing to create a sense of my vastly inferior inferiority complex. Since it cannot possibly be true that anything but the brain creates consciousness it is a free for all for every whacky theory on the planet to bombard us with. The emperor is dressed wonderfully you fools! Just look! The brain! It is all in the brain. John had dissected enough brains to know different..
John switched on, like he had been one of those androids in Blade Runner when the power is off. Suddenly there was no old man anymore.
” You have to swim with wild dolphins. ” Then he asked for a glass of milk..
The next moment I was coming up from the white sands off the sea floor in Bimini. I had figured out that dolphins far prefer to play with you under water rather than have you gawk at them from the surface like geeks in a zoo peering through cage bars. Sure enough out of the blue zipped several large mammals spiralling around my air deprived body. But this time they were not the typical spotted dolphins. These guys were meaty. Some were easily eight feet long. These were bottle nosed offshore dolphins and this was my last day to play. I could not help but muse that the cetacean samurai had cruised in after we had been softened up by the spotted geisha girls..
” No touching you guys. All good right? ”
In the decades since meeting John I have swum with many a cetacean in the Bahamas, have spent countless hours in the sensory deprivation tank he invented and still have not found one scientific theory that even comes close to explaining human consciousness and thus delphinic consciousness. Both of us have brains. Dolphins have bigger, more complex ones. They also have bigger willies which they can erect at will. Just think about that. They never sleep since their breathing is completely voluntary. Try doing that for two days before you collapse into unconsciousness and die. Sperm whales, also contacted by Lilly floating in the zero gravity of the tank he designed in emulation of cetaceans’ environment, had a group consciousness he insisted. It made the very sophisticated consciousness of the dolphins look lame in comparison. Sperm whales ‘sleep’ vertically in the water but like dolphins they have merely switched off one hemisphere of their gigantic brains to give it a rest while the other keeps them afloat and breathing in a kind of suspended animation. Oh and the cetaceans have had such brains for over fifty million years. Which is why John was so interested in them. Why would you need such a brain if all you did was swim, sing and fuck all day?
Fuck me, I thought. This guy could be on to something..