Saturday, October 24, 2009

Jumping Jesus

A direct link to the above video is at

Image from wikipedia:Belgian surrealist René Magritte's famous painting, subtitled "This is not a pipe"

In The Map and the Territory, we looked at this thought-provoking painting, and we talked about Alfred Korzybski, who gave us this simple but profound quote: "the map is not the territory". He is responsible for a science he called General Semantics, which wikipedia sums up as follows:
Korzybski's work held a view that human beings are limited in what they know by (1) the structure of their nervous systems, and (2) the structure of their languages. Human beings cannot experience the world directly, but only through their "abstractions" (nonverbal impressions or "gleanings" derived from the nervous system, and verbal indicators expressed and derived from language). Sometimes our perceptions and our languages actually mislead us as to the "facts" with which we must deal. Our understanding of what is going on sometimes lacks similarity of structure with what is actually going on. He stressed training in awareness of abstracting, using techniques that he had derived from his study of mathematics and science. He called this awareness, this goal of his system, "consciousness of abstracting". His system included modifying the way we approach the world, e.g., with an attitude of "I don't know; let's see," to better discover or reflect its realities as shown by modern science. One of these techniques involved becoming inwardly and outwardly quiet, an experience that he called, "silence on the objective levels".
Korzybski's work has influenced a number of deep thinkers, including Robert Anton Wilson, who we'll get to shortly. It was Wilson who coined the term "the Jumping Jesus Phenomenon".

In Computers and Consciousness, we talked about the conundrums we are bound to encounter as computers become more and more powerful - if a computer is able to map and seamlessly re-create all of the mental processes of a human being, is that computer conscious? Here's the video for Computers and Consciousness:

A direct link to the above video is at

As you're watching this video, you're seeing scenes from a movie which in YouTube has been called The Singularity is Near. But after further research I see that the scenes are actually from a 2006 three-part documentary series on the notion of transhumanism by Belgian visual artist and filmmaker Frank Theys, called TechnoCalyps. Here's what it says on his website:
The accelerating advances in genetics, brain research, artificial intelligence, bionics and nanotechnology seem to converge to one goal: to overcome human limits and create higher forms of intelligent life and to create transhuman life.

Frank Theys conducts his enquiry into the scientific, ethical and metaphysical dimensions of these technological developments. The film includes interviews by top scientists and thinkers on the subject worldwide, including Marvin Minsky, Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, Terence McKenna, Bruce Sterling, Robert Anton Wilson, Margaret Wertheim, Rael, the Dalai Lama and many more.
This looks like it would be a great DVD set to own, but it appears the program is not available in a format that will play on North American players - too bad! Still the entire series is available on Google Video, so here's all 3 parts. Each of these clips is over 50 minutes long, so make sure you're comfortable!

Here's a direct link to the above video - Part One.

Here's a direct link to the above video - Part Two.

Here's a direct link to the above video - Part Three.

We've talked about the transhuman movement a few times now, in Suffering in the Multiverse and in Computers and Consciousness. And we've talked about the idea that our reality is accelerating in ways that seem entwined with our awareness in numerous entries, including Tens, Google and the Expanding Universe, Google and the Group Mind, The Stream, Evolution's Fast Lane and Boredom and Consciousness. The images I showed behind me in my video for Computers and Consciousness come from Part Two of Technocalyps, which after some shots of scientists working in clean room suits, shows a visualization of our history as a moving landscape - from fire, to agriculture, the wheel, and so on, we start with the innovations very far apart, but as we move through the landscape they become closer and closer together. Futurist/novelist Robert Anton Wilson appears and talks about this concept:
"The Jumping Jesus Phenomenon is my name for the acceleration of information throughout history. I first heard of that through Alfred Korzybski, a Polish mathematician who invented a scientific discipline called General Semantics. Korzybski noted that information was doubling faster and faster, every generation. And he said we've got to be prepared for this, we've got to train ourselves to be less dogmatic and more flexible so that we can deal with change. He took the year 1 A.D. as his basic unit to calculate how long it took for the information available to human beings to double, and it took 1500 years... which brought us up to the Renaissance. Leonardo Da Vinci was in his forties, and the Renaissance was at its height.

I decided to call this unit a "Jesus": so, in 1 A.D. we had "one Jesus", in 1500 we had "two Jesus". The next doubling only took 250 years, so already you can see the acceleration factor, and by 1750 we had "four Jesus". The next doubling took a hundred and fifty years and by 1900 we had "eight Jesus". The next doubling only took fifty years and by 1950 we had "sixteen Jesus". In 1960 in only ten years we had "thirty-two Jesus", by 1967 we had "sixty-four Jesus", and by 1973 we had "128 Jesus", and the latest estimate I've seen is by Dr. Jacques Vallee, a computer scientist who says that knowledge is doubling every year. But I heard that estimate, oh, five or six years ago. I saw something on the net recently, somebody estimated it's doubling about twice a year now."
How can we possibly deal with such an overwhelming deluge of new information? I've talked about the need for quieting our "narrator voice" in a number of previous blogs, including Logic vs. Intuition, Daily Parrying, Are Animals and Kids More Fifth-Dimensional, in my book, and in my song "Automatic". Korzybski's work seems to have an interesting connection to the idea that we do better when we can achieve "silence on the objective levels", and it seems clear that the goals of meditation and mindfulness training, as ways of dealing with the dizzying amount of change we are now experiencing, can be tied together into Korzybski's theories of General Semantics.

Quiet your mind, stop the needless loops, and enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: O is for Omniverse - New Book!

A direct link to the above video is at


Tim said...

I hope that more respect is given to the beliefs of others as we become more conscious. I do not think that using the name of Jesus Christ in a pejorative or flippant way is not helpful in moving our consciousness forward with regard to tolerance and respect for other people's beliefs. I still appreciate the work you do.

Take care

Rob Bryanton said...

Hi Tim,

I'm sure when Robert Anton Wilson coined the phrase Jumping Jesus Phenomenon he knew it would raise a few eyebrows, but that's the way Robert is, he likes to be outrageous. Defining the amount of information in the world at the time of Jesus and then asking how long it took for the amount of information to double, and double again, isn't being pejorative towards Christianity, so I presume it's the name Robert used for that concept that you have a problem with here.

Would calling it the Bouncing Buddha Phenomenon have been upsetting to Buddhists?

Thanks for writing,

Apocalypso Facto said...

I can't see how the "Jumping Jesus" concept could be pejorative or even flippant...

As usual, excellent post! It reminds me of a Duran Duran song called "Too Much Information" ...which was released some 16 years ago!

Tim said...

Hi Rob,
You are right, I found the concept/explanation itself quite lucid and valuable. An intriguing concept for sure.

It was indeed the name used for the concept that piqued my consciousness.

Take into account that as an American (Westerner) I come from a society where there is a meme that exist with regards to disrespecting this name in mainstream media (tv, movies, music) sometimes uses our cruder words like (f@#%) as a middle name of sorts even when referring to Jesus. I sorta got a consciousness whiff of this meme when I saw the blog entry title naming it. Though I was glad to see the explanation, I think the naming of it further numbs us to the meme in question because it is flippant.

With regards to the use of other spiritual figures' names I think just as much respect is due to them.

I hope to not come across as angry or condemnatory, but I think it is worth pointing it out when I see or hear it, to keep people more aware of how that may affect others.

Thanks for writing back and best wishes. I remember reading Abbot's Flatlanders and being blown away. It was many years after that when I saw your video and was able to expand my concept of higher dimensions. It was then a few years after that when I found ur blog and a few choice entries that reconnected me after a foray into quantumn physics. Thank you.

FRED said...

Hi Rob,
I heard once that it took from the beginning of time till 1830 to make 1 billion people on earth. The next billion took 100 years (1930). Then next 1960. The next 1975. I lost track of the increase after that, but it's seemed to taper off just a tad, or we'd be halfway to the moon with bodies by now. I heard this on a TV show, so it must be reliable information.

FRED said...

PS. I took a General Semantics class in High School in 1973. It angered me a lot, but I have to admit it was one of my favorite classes. It did get people thinking.
For our "final" teacher Verlin Houghten put us in a single file line. He simply said. "OK, now I want each of you to hand me exactly what I hand you". Sounded easy enough. He took a big piece of yellow chalk from the blackboard and handed it to the first student. The student handed it right back to him. The teacher said "F". He proceeded to do that to every student down the line. When he was done he told us that there was no way possible to hand back to him what he had handed us because every atom and molecule in the chalk had changed. He threw a little wise ass at us sometimes. But always gave us "A's" anyway.
One of his favorite sayings was "Not things changing, but change thinging". Probably the least dull teacher at HS, and even had the first geodesic home in town.

Anonymous said...

Rob is always nice 2 people, always humbly answering and providing feedbacks for us, wherever in the web,fr his blog to his videos..He also provides us 'connection' between his model 'tenthdimension' 2 our common reality we 'live'-difrent fr other physicist and the more popular science people..Anyway this topic reminded me of Christ's static presence throughout History(in a theist and Biblio perspective,pardon me)Rev.13:8 says Christ 'the lamb'was crucified since the world was staged..Rev.11:8 wer also Christ was crucified at sodom apart egypt difrnt fr the mor famous mountain physical crucifixion,multiple realities?(eccle.3:15),metaphysical?Heb.6:6..i even know a passage that Christ enters and exits through passages of time, the Bible is a done History..How bout moses' should hav been 11 days vs 40 yrs exodus?is this time warping..?I could hav said more..Thanks kuya Rob!=>

Renaissance Mom said...

Could Robert Anton Wilson have taken this idea from John Galsworthy's "The Forsyte Saga"? In Book II, "In Chancery", written in 1920, he uses this "jumping jesus" phrase twice. In Part II, Chapter I, "The Third Generation", Galsworthy wrote "For Jolly was forming himself unconsciously on a set whose motto was: 'We defy you to bore us. Life isn't half long enough, and we're going to talk faster and more crisply, do more and know more, and dwell less on any subject than you can possibly imagine. We are "the best"--made of wire and whipcord.' And Val was unconsciously forming himself on a set whose motto was: 'We defy you to interest or excite us. We have had every sensation, or if we haven't, we pretend we have. We are so exhausted with living that no hours are too small for us. We will lose our shirts with equanimity. We have flown fast and are past everything. All is cigarette smoke. Bismillah!' Competitive spirit, bone-deep in the English, was obliging those two young Forsytes to have ideals; and at the close of a century ideals are mixed. The aristocracy had already in the main adopted the 'jumping-Jesus' principle; though here and there one like Crum--who was an 'honourable'--stood starkly languid for that gambler's Nirvana which had been the summum bonum of the old 'dandies' and of 'the mashers' in the eighties. And round Crum were still gathered a forlorn hope of blue-bloods with a plutocratic following.”

And in Part II, Chapter V, “Jolly Sits in Judgement”, he wrote “At Oxford, however, rather different sentiments prevailed. The inherent effervescence of conglomerate youth had, during the two months of the term before Black Week, been gradually crystallising out into vivid oppositions. Normal adolescence, ever in England of a conservative tendency though not taking things too seriously, was vehement for a fight to a finish and a good licking for the Boers. Of this larger faction Val Dartie was naturally a member. Radical youth, on the other hand, a small but perhaps more vocal body, was for stopping the war and giving the Boers autonomy. Until Black Week, however, the groups were amorphous, without sharp edges, and argument remained but academic. Jolly was one of those who knew not where he stood. A streak of his grandfather old Jolyon's love of justice prevented, him from seeing one side only. Moreover, in his set of 'the best' there was a 'jumping-Jesus' of extremely advanced opinions and some personal magnetism.”

I’ve been searching online for this phrase and Robert Anton Wilson seems to be the only other reference for it.

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