How to Foresee the Future in Your Sleep according to Ibn Khaldun

If we were forced to suppose that there have been a few secret time-travelers in history, suspicion would naturally fall on people like Leonardo da Vinci, Jules Verne, maybe Marcel Duchamp.

How were these guys so far ahead of their time?  Maybe they were ahead of their time, literally. Maybe they weren’t great geniuses so much as plagiarists of the future—they took good notes and then came back and tried to take credit.

My candidate for secret time-traveler is Ibn Khaldun (1332 – 1406). Several hundred years before the West reinvented anthropology and sociology, Ibn Khaldun invented, by himself, an incredibly modern “science of culture.”

Intellectual achievements normally attributed to Europeans of the modern era (i.e., after c. 1492) can be found throughout Ibn Khaldun’s Introduction to History, written in North Africa in 1377:  the economic law of supply and demand; the labor theory of value in economics; the “Laffer Curve” theory of taxation and revenue; the impossibility of alchemy; the spuriousness of astrology; the necessity of a sociological understanding of history; etc.

Strangely, Ibn Khaldun made all these discoveries against the historical background of the intellectual decline and fall of Islam in the 14th Century.

Because of this, Ibn Khaldun left no intellectual legacy in the Muslim world and was not rediscovered by the West until the 19th Century, too late to have any real impact.

And that really reeks of time-travel!

Think about it—it’s as if Ibn Khaldun tried to cheat Time by producing, in advance of its eventual occurrence, a fully modern science of culture, but Time went on ahead just as if Ibn Khaldun had never made his discoveries at all!

It’s like the solution to the “kill your grandfather” paradox!

Anyway, in his Introduction to History, Ibn Khaldun also describes a method for seeing the future in your sleep. He also attests to its efficacy.

This is from pages 83-84 of Franz Rosenthal’s horrible translation of The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History:

                “In the Ghayah [ascribed to the famous 10th Century Spanish scientist Maslamah ibn Ahmad al-Majriti] and other books by practitioners of magic, reference is made to words that should be mentioned on falling asleep so as to cause the dream vision to be about the things one desires. These are called ‘dream words.’  [One of these is] the following non-Arabic words:

tamaghis ba’dan yaswadda waghdas nawfana ghadis.”

These words seem to be Aramaic according to Rosenthal.

Feel free to try it and report back to this blog. In the future.

Space sucks but have a nice Baktun anyway

All in all, the 13th baktun (AD 1618 – 2012) was a mixed bag. If you ignore the heavy casualties (and we all do) it was a pretty good baktun.

But still, I’m glad it’s done. So let’s address the important issues of the new baktun, like space:

Unfortunately, Mars is shot.

It’s over, over there… So over.

And forget about the Moon. Pay it no mind.

What you want is the Lost Dutchman’s Asteroid–a 200-ton nugget of pure palladium. It’s out there and I got the secret maps from a salty old drunk guy.

Beyond that, one of the biggest obstacles to more distant space travel is the mysterious problem of Deep Space Paranoia. DSP causes two overwhelming ideas to fixate in the astronaut’s mind:

1.  What the fuck am I doing out in this horrible shitty Void?!

2.  Everyone back on Earth is laughing at me for being the stupid schnook who agreed to get stuck out in this horrible shitty Void. They only pretend we’re heroes!

That’s why it’s important for mission control centers not to be overly jovial around the microphones, or to talk about the astronauts’ spouses too much.

To completely avoid DSP among astronauts, space agencies sometimes hire sociopaths–people who genuinely don’t care about their fellow Earthlings and the stupid shit they think. Or people used to being laughed at anyway.

But the use of “trekkies” and “trekkers” has proved disappointing. They really freak out.

An Artist-Writer Dilemma

If you could write the world’s greatest literature (or create the world’s greatest art) on the condition that no one would ever know about it, OR you could write/create the world’s 50th greatest art-lit and everyone would know about it, which would you choose?

My hunch is that most art-litters would take the 50th best spot.

Meaning we’re all just a bunch of publicity whores and no one’s a true artist.

God the truth is so painful!

But here’s where Anthropology [trumpets] can save you yet again:

Anthro-Geek:    “All this proves is the communicative nature of culture, not any deficiency of character on the part of artists and writers, or of humanity in general.”

God the truth is so boring!

Damn you Anthro-Geek, I had a good blanket condemnation going on!  Do you realize what people will give for a good blanket condemnation of other people? Now all I have is this mushy-but-obviously-correct sense of tolerance and understanding.

And that’s got no fucking edge at all! None!

Anthro-Geek:    “As progress is made in the social sciences and filtered out into general society it is natural that new aesthetic standards will arise which require less reliance on the stereotypes, pejoratives, and biases that have been previously debunked by the social sciences.”

All I know is that we’re bleeding readers every time you speak.

Sasquatch Slang Encounters

Overheard at the poker tables recently:
“Dude, this flop is squatchy!

Overheard at the bar:
“Oh God, this place is getting too squatchy, let’s leave…”

Overheard on the commuter train:
“Once you get beyond three layers of shell companies, it gets a little squatchy.”

So I guess in poker, “squatchy” refers to situations that look hairy and full of potential monsters. Makes sense.

As for the ladies at the bar, “squatchy” seems to indicate too many old, hairy, marginal characters hoping for a paranormal encounter with regular night-lifers. And that too makes sense given that I was standing right next to them.

In business, “squatchy” seems to mean murky, quasi-mythical, and potentially troubling. Sort of like “Byzantine” but with an added dimension of monstrousness and hairiness. Again, very apt.

Funny that such a useful adjective could be derived from a noun that might not exist.  Language is just so squatchy.

So squatchy, in fact, that we can easily envision other potential usages:

“She totally squatched the conversation.”

“He squatched around the northwest for a while before making his fortune in New York.”

“Put it in the squatch file.”

“Stop squatching, start living!”

Right now, none of these expressions means anything, but it just sounds so good, one day it’s got to mean something.

© The Squatch

Knowledge Gone Negative

Misanthrope-ology:   the study of the diverse ways in which people around the world are such scum

Pscum-ochology:  the study of the inner workings of the scumbag mind and its scummy behavior.  First year students are required to complete a thesis entitled “Why Am I Such A Scumbag?”

Phil-lost-ophy:   what’s the meaning of all this scuminess?

Relivision:  spiritual answer to above question without so much questioning involved

Socio-scumology:  just what it says, the study of scumbags in groups, like you and your friends

Scum-onomics:  how can we make more money off all these scumbags?  Pay us money and we’ll show you

Shitstory:  the study of the distant past when people were just shitty but not yet fully scummy, like you and your friends

Criminology:  used to be an independent field of study at the university level, now part of elementary education. For their own good.