From Dr. Beachcoming:
‘Magonia’ is a word that sends thrills down many spines. It is, of course, the name of a magical medieval land hidden from mortal man. It has been jumped on by modern UFO researchers as an example of early contact: skyboats were said to fly out of Magonia. Jacques Vallée wrote Passport to Magonia (1969 – it was first published in English), perhaps the single most influential work on UFO lore ever composed: certainly one of dazzling originality. Magonia is also the name of a (brilliant) online forum for collectors of Forteana, particularly Forteana seen in the skies or dropping from the same. But what actually is all the fuss about? Well, Beach thought that he would write a series of posts on Magonia over the next weeks – as he did recently with the Amazons – because this extraordinary place has not really received the attention it deserves and because there is something to be said for looking at the question in a larger framework. The matter is – apologies – just too big for one post.
The first thing to say about Magonia is that it exists in one measly medieval if fascinating source and that the word only appears once there: a texual emendation could get rid of Magonia for ever. Our author is Agobard of Lyons (obit c. 840), Archbishop and Carolingian intellectual. We’ll come back to Agobard and his agenda in later posts, but for now here is an extract from his Against the absurd opinions of the people concerning hail and thunder (Contra insulsam uulgi opinionem de grandine et tonitruis). Please don’t feel short-changed the subject of ‘so much foolishness’ and ‘so much stupidity’ will covered in the near future.
But we saw and heard many overwhelmed with so much foolishness and demented with so much stupidity that they believe there is a region which is called Magonia. From this region ships come in the clouds. The crops that were ruined because of hail and lost in storms are carried back into that region [i.e. Magonia]. These sky sailors, clearly, make a payment to the tempestarii [storm-makers (European witch doctors?, another post another day)], taking wheat and other crops.
Plerosque autem uidimus et audiuimus tanta dementia obrutos, tanta stultitia alienatos, ut credant et dicant, quandam esse regionem quae dicatur Magonia, ex qua naues ueniant in nubibus, in quibus fruges quae grandinibus decidunt et tempestatibus pereunt, uehantur in eandem regionem, ipsis uidelicet nautis aereis dantibus pretia tempestarii, et accipientibus frumenta uel ceteras fruges.
We have clearly run here into a bit of European folklore. Most of early medieval sources for folklore come to us in precisely this way. An ecclesiastical writer – and there were not many other types at this date – is complaining about what the plebs out in the field actually believe, as opposed to his precious Christian credo. (In passing, Beach also wants to note, against many other writers on this topic, that Magonia is NOT said to be in the heavens, we learn only that sky ships sail out of it, not quite the same thing). However, what has really caught UFO-ers and, indeed, scholars attention is the next passage, which is bloody weird. It is worth underlining that Agobard was a presiding eye-witness here: this is not hearsay.
Hmm..UFOers you say Doc?
Read on at Beacoming’s Bizarre History!
When it comes to a technological Singularity, folks like Vernor Vinge, Ray Kurzweil, Ben Goertzel, Eric Drexler and others feel this is how the future will inevitablely pan out. They note the rapid advancement of computer software technology mainly, but nanotech is right up there too as a cause celebre for the event to happen.
But what if nanotechnology isn’t a gift that is worth having?
What if it’s part of “The Great Filter?”
And what if mankind needs to throw a “Hail Mary” pass to in order to survive a “grey-goo” event?
EGR, standing for Embryo/Gestation/Rearing, is the name of a mission presented by John Hunt on Tibor Pacher’s PI Club site, where Tibor encourages the development of what he calls ‘crazy ideas.’ Crazy, that is, in terms of brainstorming, getting concepts out there for comment and growth. Hunt’s is likely to be controversial on several levels, although its goal — an insurance policy for the species — is one this site can endorse.
Why an insurance policy? As we’ve discussed recently, the number of existential threats facing our species makes the Fermi question pointed. Self-destruction would be an ignominious end for any culture, but one not inconsistent with factors as diverse as incoming asteroids, nuclear war or biological weaponry run amok. Hunt prefers to focus on a specific threat…
That singularity, of course, could produce runaway scenarios in which self-replication destroys life-forms or environments in ways that cannot be foreseen. Thus an interstellar probe, in Hunt’s view, should not be about science, but survival. Getting humans to another star, given the short-term framework forced upon us by this oncoming singularity, would involve sending frozen embryos that would be raised by android ‘parents’ aided by virtual reality once the destination has been reached. Hunt believes that many of the technologies for doing this are being developed today.
Hunt also feels that the android parents needed to raise the first generation of colonists need not be of the self-aware AI type, super-Asimo style nannies would be sufficient.
Of course, they would be very, very, very strange children.
All of this doesn’t take the UFO hypothesis into account. The current tact taken by MUFON is the ET spacecraft theory and so far there is no real hard evidence of this claim, but there has been over the decades copious amounts of trace evidence, to which debunkers claim as false.
Others such as Jacques Vallee believes UFOs as ‘etherial’ in nature and that they inhabit multiple dimensions at once. Not only that, but he theorizes that the intelligence behind them are meme-manipulating mankind (psychotronic technology) And there I think, lies the missing clues.
Mainstream science is making a huge mistake by totally blowing off the phenomenon as mass hysteria/delusions. They are missing a big component of the Fermi Paradox and The Great Filter in my view.
And John Hunt has a good point about a grey-goo incident and that we need to take out an insurance policy. The scenario could very well happen.
But my instincts tell me that all of these events; UFOs, the Singularity, government/mainstream scientific dissembling and wars are all tied together and that is the answer to both Fermi Paradox and The Great Filter.