Sudden Acute Respiratory Distress has reached Houston. Presumably it will be in San Antonio soon. Because of scarring to my lungs when I was young, I am apt to be very seriously threatened by this illness, so it is a matter of great concern for me. We have stopped going to parties, movies, anything that involves a gathering. I won?t say that we?re scared, but we are being very cautious. I think that anybody who comes down with a sudden high fever should certainly seek medical attention immediately. I know that I will.
So far, few people have died of SARS, but as Linda Howe?s report on this week?s Dreamland attests, this is a ferocious disease and not to be taken lightly. Worse, it turns out that it is extremely contagious, contrary to what was at first thought.
But this journal entry isn?t called Strange Days just because of SARS. This is a very strange time for a lot more reasons than that.
First, of course, there?s the war. When I last wrote about it, I thought, like everybody else, that as soon as the Iraqi people realized that they were being liberated, Saddam Hussein?s regime would disintegrate, starting with the Shiite areas in the south. Apparently I was not alone in this. The Pentagon and the Administration thought the same. Perhaps George Jr. should have taken warning from his father?s book, A World Transformed. George Sr. said in that book, "We should not march into Baghdad. To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us and make a broken tyrant into a latter-day Arab hero...assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an unwinnable urban guerilla war. It could only plunge that part of the world into even greater instability."
I hope that our young soldiers, of such good spirit and good hope, prove him wrong. But I do have the sense that we are at a turning point of history.
But this journal entry isn?t called Strange Days just because of SARS and the war in Iraq. This is a very strange time for even more reasons than those.
Our world is like a spring being slowly wound tighter and tighter and my sense is that it is moving toward a release of that energy.
The sun is not getting quieter, contrary to what we expect to see from the 11 year solar cycle. In fact, the sun is about as active now as it was in 1999, just before the cycle was supposed to have peaked. This means that our weather is uneasy, and probably accounts for the amazing extremes in temperature we are experiencing. As I write this, there is a 111F reading in the Arabian Desert and a ?76F reading in the Antarctic. Such extremes are most unusual for the month of March, and the Antarctic winter has begun all across that continent with unusual intensity.
In addition to the unusual state of the sun, the earth?s ocean currents are slowing down. This probably accounts for the sudden and early Antarctic winter: the flow that pumps warm water into polar seas may be weakening. It means that the poles will get colder and the center of the planet hotter, setting the stage for some very violent weather.
In addition, the earth?s magnetic field is not functioning in the way it used to. It is beginning to show extensive signs of change. In fact, it may go into a period of flux and then the planet?s polarity will change. This last happened hundreds of thousands of years ago, so we have little knowledge of what it is like. Despite what you may read on scare pages on the internet, however, scientists have not been able to co-relate mass extinctions to these magnetic polar shifts. I do not think we?re riding a magnetic whirlwind to extinction, but I sense that it may mean very profound changes in the way nature works, and perhaps also in the way the human mind works. Our minds appeared and evolved in the magnetic field as it now is. Nobody, not the ancients, not even the civilization that existed prior to Egypt, if they did exist, experienced this. There is no lore. There are no legends. We?re alone with this one.
Economically, the world is in a funk. Month after month, our economies just seem to knock along. There is, emotionally, a sense of a lack of the new. The material world we have created around us, all the glitter and the fascination, seems to be wearing out. Last Christmas was a retail dud. But why wouldn?t it be? Consumerism just isn?t fun anymore. How many DVDs can you want, how many cruises and new clothes and cars can you dream on? I keep looking around me and thinking, ?this is it??
Politically, things are surpassingly weird. We live in the world of the Patriot Act, with Patriot Act II, which ends freedom as we know it in America, waiting to be sprung on us by the Justice Department. Right now, it would be defeated overwhelmingly in Congress. They know this. So what do they also know?or expect?that would make Congress change its mind. Scary stuff to think about.
A close friend of mine reported the other day that two people had visited him claiming to be ?CIA Agents? and threatened him if he did not tell them everything he knew about me. He told this to me as a sort of joke, but I am not so sure that he was joking. The reason is that this happened back in the late eighties. I went so far as to write the Director of the CIA a letter of complaint. At the time, I had powerful friends in the government, and they researched the matter for me. I had agents being visited and intimidated, all sorts of things like that being done. I was told that, if it was being done by government agents, they were working on their own. But it hurt me, hurt my career. It is the reason that Communion did not get sold to Hollywood, and instead became a small independent production that ultimately failed because there was no money for special effects.
So it seems to me that these folks are back. Why they think they need to go around causing me harm I cannot imagine.
Or can I?
Which gets me to the next strange thing. Today is March 31. In just four more months, Mars will be in the process of making its closest pass to Earth in seventy thousand years. In the past, as I have discussed in these pages before, Mars close approaches have been associated with higher levels of UFO activity. Does that mean that something big will happen this summer? If so, I wonder what it will mean? Perhaps it will be so big that we will cross a historical threshold, and come generally to accept the reality of the UFO enigma. Or maybe not. I?m certainly not predicting anything. I?ve been around this phenomenon too long to do that.
Fortunately, in these strange days, not everything being identified as dire is true. While it is true that volcanism is increasing across the whole planet, it is not true that Comet NEAT is going to kill us all. Actually, it?s on its way out of the solar system and won?t be back for 34,000 years. But it is true that it caused two solar coronal mass ejections as it passed the sun?something that science has always thought was impossible. It was the second comet ever seen with a tail of electromagnetic plasma, and the first one ever observed to affect the sun in this way.
Recently, I published a journal called ?A World In Evening Light? where I discussed my growing sense that all the small changes we are seeing around us add up to great change, profound change. That sense is getting stronger. I talked on the phone to Art Bell the other day, and he commented on it, too. (He?s doing fine, by the way, enjoying his retirement.) In fact, practically everybody I know has this same feeling that we are standing on a sand dune, and the wind is rising, and the sand is beginning to blow.
Speaking of which, I read to day that sand from those storms that struck the middle east recently has ended up in Japan. Now, that's a sandstorm. Since when do sandstorms cross half the earth? Apparently the storm was so intense that sand rose into the stratosphere and was carried that far by the jet stream. And what about that huge storm that tracked from mid Pacific to the UK last winter. That was one long- lived storm. It dumped rain on southern California, caused floods in Texas, blizzarded across the eastern US, went out to sea and finally broke up over Great Britain.
Scientists are afraid, in general, to comment on anything unusual these days, so they kept their mouths shut. But I followed that storm. I watched it. I know very well just exactly how incredible it was.
Why, I wonder, with all that seems to be going wrong, I do not feel more distress? A highly contagious disease that could do me in is in the air, and that?s just for starters. Creeps are out there messing with my life again. And all these other things are, to say the least, troubling, although less personally so.
There has been in me for a long time now a joy that is not affected by fear, by danger, by suffering, that seems as deep as my soul goes, and abides. It just abides.
NOTE: This Journal entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.