Eulogy for Frank Michael
Remarks of Albert Bates, The Farm, Sept 30, 2017
Frank often said to me in our quiet moments that coming to The Farm was the best thing in his life. He was devoted to Stephen’s philosophy and the whole concept of a moneyless society where people cared for each other and the only law was love. He was a true hippy. Tie dye ran in his veins.
“Having nothing to do, I learned to tie fishing flies using feathers coming off my feather pillow onto fishing hooks. I also read the Bible from cover to cover, which didn’t really make me into an atheist, but I became skeptical about the truth or literalness of many parts of the Bible. There were not treasures in there for me. My interest shifted to a large bundle of Popular Mechanics magazines that my stepfather Angus McDonell had collected for me last time he went to the States.”
I was going to solve the sun for NASA, but couldn’t even calculate exactly the magnetic field of a constant circular current! That’s like saying it’s theoretically impossible to add any numbers bigger than three digits. It was unbelievable. You have to resort to an infinite expansion of some truly ugly functions to approximate the magnetic field of a lousy constant circular current! Then I learned about Godel’s Theorem, the criteria for noncomputability, chaos theory, complexity and catastrophe theory, quantum indeterminacy, the unsolvable three body problem… it was like childhood illusions being popped. The Easter Rabbit. Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy.
In my 35th year, I found myself dragging my wife and two kids to a commune in middle Tennessee to be voluntary peasants, and live under a vow of poverty.
Why? My life was failing. I was losing my juice at all levels, and here was a vibrant, super-alive bunch of people who smiled constantly almost as a reflex, and seemed sometimes to be trying not to smile, as you gesticulated and justificated yourself to them. And well it should be so, because these folks were the “puritans of the hippies” as Ina May put it.
These folks were light-years in consciousness ahead of me, and I am so thankful they haven’t kicked me out yet. I was a burned-out sometime physicist with a failing marriage, a loss of faith in politics and psychology as vehicles for building a sane society, and an accelerating loss of faith in reason and rationality. I had to find out what this spirit stuff was all about, and why these people were smiling all the time, and why they looked at you straight in the eye and told you the bare truth, like your family and friends never did before.
On that day, a very impressive one-legged Muskogee Indian with long jet-black thick hair (Mark Madrid) was in charge of the Gate. He told me that The Farm is a spiritual community. I said, “Cool, what religion do you-all belong to?”
Mark said, “We don’t call it anything.”
I said “Cool, what’s your concept of God?”
He said, “We believe that God is everything.”
BLAM! That struck me like lightning. I couldn’t think of anything greater than everything! I wanted to stick around and find out the implications, doing the scientist bit, and Mark just sat there looking at me like the ancestral representative mask of all the Native Americans who ever lived, a faint smile on his face, while I sputtered and tried to get my mind back together.
Embarrassing as hell, me struck mute, or blathering, but they let me in provisionally, and have put up with me for 34 years, still provisionally I think. Meanwhile my children grew up, two wives have come and gone, yet the magical land is still here, the creek with its 200-million-year-old bed still flows, and the trees haven’t yet migrated north from global warming. Long may they live!
In my spare time I tried to understand other viewpoints, and wondered: Is there a separate universe of physics and atoms and stuff, and another world of spirits, souls, God, angels, crystals, tarot cards, and what have you, or is there somehow only one connected universe? And what is this spirit stuff in scientific terms? An epiphenomenon of consciousness? An illusion? Pre-scientific hypothesizing and anthropomorphizing? Well, on The Farm I felt that assuming that God is everything, whatever that meant, was the beginning of an answer. It took over twenty years of chewing on it like a dog with a dinosaur bone, to find the bridge. Yes that sounds like, this guy needs a real job. Well, meanwhile I took on some of the humbler jobs on the Farm, like carrying water, building outhouses, printing, plumbing, propane and appliance repair, in order to avoid responsibility so I could “be conceptual” and think about solar energy and spirit stuff.
Maybe the answer to this world’s conundrum is to help folks look at things differently, just as that interaction at the Gate did for me. Politicians use religious differences as a cover-up for hidden material reasons to send people out to war. I know that all religions can fit harmoniously into the wondrous reality we share in common. We have all the technologies too, beyond mere survival, to recreate a paradise on earth. All the inequities between nations can be sorted out truthfully and nonviolently. That is my prayer.
That there is a universe is a miracle
That there is an Earth is a miracle
That there is life is a miracle
That there is consciousness is a miracle
That there is knowledge is a miracle
That there is intelligence is a miracle
That we begin to understand this huge, beautiful universe is a miracle
That we have been born into this universe is a miracle
That there is compassion, love, happiness, and the sharing of minds is a miracle.
These gifts exceed any complaints you may have by a million orders of magnitude.
04/22/10 — fm
|Frank and daughter Bethany|
“When she stopped writing me, I went and found out she had dumped all her possessions including priceless old family photos and checked herself into a hospital’s terminal ward. Basil Campbell and his ambulance crew went to Rolla, Missouri and ‘rescued’ her, and brought her to The Farm under the care of Carl and Angela Carruba at the Farm infirmary. She was so grateful! Said if she’d known how nice we were, she would have come and picked potatoes with us.”
Following her written directive, the nurse pulled the plug with me and the Carrubas present, I saw a golden light suffusing the room, and an impression of buildings and whole worlds crumbling, and my long-suffering, loving mother died at age ~ 72, in Miami Florida.
At the Farm Changeover I bought an old Valiant for $50 from Jeffrey, and got a job installing satellite dishes. Got fired from being too honest with customers. Began painting houses, and over the years went to plumbing, then electrical installations, then appliance repair.
I was headed to the Austin Farm to be closer to my kids in Florida. But at a party I met Shelley Freeman, who had chronic severe back pain and no way to stay on the Farm after the changeover, because the large collective households were breaking up and she couldn’t work. She asked to exchange back massages with me. With fear and misgivings (she was 23, I was 46, and the name of her father was also Frank) we exchanged fully-dressed back rubs. She was so beautiful and enlightened, and her hands were magical & healing to me! We fell in love.
By then I had changed my plans to go to Austin. I bought the Cook’s old trailer, built furniture for it, and we moved into separate bedrooms to court. That didn’t last long! I began to cook elaborate meals, and we both began to gain weight.
I kept helping remodel houses with old buddy Roger Kanies and another contractor in Nashville, commuting twice a week and staying at Roger’s warehouse with a crazy Farm truck driver.
We posit that a reversal of the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is feasible using a socially responsible, economically productive and ecologically restorative agroforestry system we call “Climate Ecoforestry.” This system, if carried to the scale of 200 Mha/yr, could sequester carbon from the atmosphere at the average rate of 3 PgC/yr over the first 3 years of a new rotation, and would reach 14.6 PgC/yr by year 24. If we take into account the oceans’ CO2 outgassing feedback, it would achieve the cumulative storage of 667 PgC required to bring atmospheric CO2 from 457 ppm down to 300 ppm by year 72 from startup. Were nations to collectively reduce fossil fuel emissions, the reduction to 300 ppm CO2 would be achieved in years 45 to 48. Increasing the land area to 300 Mha/yr would bring reduction to atmospheric CO2 concentrations of 300 ppm in years 35 to 37. In all cases, carbon would be stored in the world’s soils and living biomass, and could provide many additional benefits beyond sequestration.
Jean Giorno’s fictional character, Elzéard Bouffier, picked up acorns, sorted them and planted oaks. Francis Michael imagined a garden planet.
- The fundamental constituent of reality is an information matrix. Its simplest configurations include being identical to matter, energy, the fundamental physical fields, and spacetime.
- The physicist’s quest for a “theory of everything” is an attempt to discover the nature of this matrix, which would seamlessly unify the two pillars of physics: quantum mechanics and general relativity. In addition, it would predict the mysteriously arbitrary-seeming values of the physical constants: the speed of light, Planck’s constant, the charge of the electron and the quarks, the mass of the fundamental particles, etc. These are likely linked to Mach’s Principle, and so would be different in other universes.
- The properties of the fundamental matrix are identical to what is commonly known as spirit: omnipresence, omni-creativity, omni-intelligence, eternity.
- We are therefore justified as saying that the fundamental matrix of information/spirit (IS) is all of reality. Using a simpler language, we say that everything is made of spirit, or “everything is spirit.” Saying that “everything has spirit” would be incorrect, though, because it implies that there is a part of anything that is not spirit.
- Mental processes are most effective the larger the amount of data they include. However, the informational perceptual and processing speed of living beings is limited. There is a maximum beyond which an increase in input and processing data decreases the mind’s speed and effectiveness. So we speak of sets of “relevant” data or information. There is also a physical effect in quantum mechanics: a “system” can be internally coherent, have a complicated wave function, but also include a boundary outside of which there is decoherence with its internal wave function. The nature of decoherence is still being worked out. I suggest there is a limit to coherence resulting from the uncertainty principle applied to the localization of the smallest quantum wavelengths in the systems wave function of a large enough system that its momentum limits are small.
- So we are justified in operationally taking finite subsets of the universal IS as being real, relevant, perceivable, and thinkable entities.
- An important class of these subsets of information are those that are to a large degree internally consistent and persistent in spacetime. These could justifiably be called “spirits”.
- If, in addition, those entities that are largely consensually reproducible are given a special status as forming consensual reality, the subjects of commonsense and in a more refined form, of science.
|Biochar workshop, July 2017|
“When I was being a Mexican kid and saw the vibes of the few gringos I met, I saw hysterical blindness. Later on, I thought it must be some kind of inherited guilt for stealing this land, killing the natives, and enslaving blacks. Later still, I’m learning about epigenetics, which may or may not be a mechanism for inherited guilt complex. But some folks’ ways of not copping is to shrink from awareness, and if it gets too hot, attack!
“Reading Bruce Lipton’s The Biology of Belief blew my mind. He’s a cell biologist who occasionally goes off the rails, but he pointed out that
1 . the genes are just protein factories
2. the cell surfaces are the actual brain of the cell that responds to stimuli both internal and external, and pass commands to the nucleus for the genes to make this or that protein.
3. the stimuli can be external, ie.: high temperatures, or your body’s reactions to that new shredded straw cereal, or internal, down to the level of your reactions to Trump’s election, or your recent conversion to Zoroastrianism.
“Lipton claims that even your beliefs alter your epigenetic states, and thence your gene expression. Down to changing the likelihood of reduced or increased risk for heart disease, cancer etc etc. 4) Epigenetic states are inheritable. I speculate that after a few aeons, they could become genetic states, which would be a neat answer to people who like the idea of intelligent design as somehow explaining evolution.”
Anyway, today I walked to the store and back!! Painlessly, because I was wearing the leg brace.
I need/want/must/will make this a regular practice, otherwise I know I will die from muscular atrophy, bad circulation, and/or heart disease. I can’t indulge in dying. I gotta see this CE [climate ecoforestry] thing through for the sake of the planet, not necessarily for the people (fuck ‘em), but for the plants, the trees and the critters — for Life. And because I think I have finally designed the perfect biochar stove, the bb10, and want to make it.
I need to get 8 hr/night sleep, meditate, and try to reconcile with the human race.