From its earliest days, America served as an arena for the revolutions in alternative spirituality that eventually swept the globe. Esoteric philosophies and personas—from Freemasonry to Spiritualism, from Madame H. P. Blavatsky to Edgar Cayce—dramatically altered the nation’s culture, politics, and religion. Yet the mystical roots of our identity are often ignored or overlooked. Mitch Horowitz joins us to talk Occult America, his study of the esoteric undercurrents of our history and their profound impact across modern life.
You've seen them. Hanging on telephone poles and posted on supermarket bulletin boards.
But have you ever wondered about the stories behind them?
When her orange tabby, Zak, disappeared, Nancy Davidson did what countless people before her had done. She made a lost cat poster. And after days of frantic searching, she found him. Nancy was ecstatic. Zak seemed happy, too—although being a cat, it was hard to tell.
First off, let me apologize to all the people I have spoken to in the last couple of years who have asked me how I am. My response has invariably been, "Busy." Which, I've decided, is a crap answer. In my defense, I really meant it. I sincerely believed that the word that summed up how I am was "Busy."
But what does that even mean? I used to think it meant I have so many different jobs and work responsibilities that I'm unable to do a whole bunch of other things, although I'm not even sure what those things are.
Today, in order to watch a Lenny Bruce monologue on YouTube, I had to sit through a Starbucks commercial. This feels like proof that some kind of fundamental battle has been lost, right? The Internet is free, but not really.
“There are a few circumstances in life in which most people respond the same way, such as starvation. The emotional and psychological stance, as we'll as mental calculations, one takes to prevent starvation would all basically be the same.
“If your child dies, it's an assault on your life, and because of that there is a universal response — [and there are] some basic common elements to that response.” — Bruce Clements
Today, Bruce joins us for a live call-in show on coping with the death of a child.
The University of Connecticut has come out with a new study on violent video games. It looked specifically at whether video games that pit players against human looking characters provokes more violent thoughts in the player than fighting non-human creatures.
When players fight human looking characters, "they're later more verbally aggressive and they have more aggressive thoughts," said Kirstie Farrar, who is an associate professor of communication and lead researcher of the study.
Once upon a time in a second term, a president used his power to go after journalists in Hartford. I could be talking about President Obama's justice department seizing AP phone records, including some from AP's Hartford office. But I could also be talking Thomas Jefferson in 1806.
I'm one of those odd people who still gets physical newspapers thrown into his driveway.
On Monday, I was paging trough the New York Times and came upon Angelina Jolie's now-famous essay about her decision to have her breasts removed preventively, after learning of her high genetic risk factor for beast cancer. I had the odd sensation of looking at my laptop on a nearby table and knowing that, inside it, a massive cyber-conversation was unfolding.
Listen to this quote: "I have just ... paid a depressing visit to an electronic computer which can write sonnets if fed with the right material... I have a feeling that by Christmas it will have written its first novel, and possibly by next Christmas novel sets will be on sale at Woolworths and you will all be able to buy them, and write your own." That was the writer Lawrence Durrell issuing a gloomy forecast, 50 years ago.
Let's define our term. Millennials are the generation currently between the ages of 18 and 30. They are often mocked for being soft, cosseted, narcissistic smart phone addicts. And worse. And part of the issue is that it's just fun to talk about them that way.
"My large scar on my left wrist reminds me that it is not good to combine platform high heels, blueberry vodka and a wet dance floor. Also, the good karma of attending a charity event will not cover you for bad choices of shoe wear."
See, that's a pretty typical scar story, if there is such a thing. Something happened. You got hurt. It was probably pretty horrible at the time. Now it's a little bit funny -- one of the stories that life wrote on your body.