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Friday, October 23, 2020

Nikola Tesla Was A Genius And A Madman–In This Censorious Age, Can We Accept The Best And Worst Of Both?

The image of the mad scientist is a common one and the subject of fiction, Hollywood, and popular myth.  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is perhaps the most familiar story of the brilliant scientist whose madness turns him into an evil genius.  H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau is the tale of a weird recluse who combined animal and human genes to create ghoulish, terrorizing creatures.

Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove featured a Nazi scientist whose demented visions could destroy the world.  Wells’ character in The Invisible Man who becomes crazed with delusions of power plans to begin a "Reign of Terror" by using his invisibility to terrorize the nation.

Image result for Images Marlon Brando The Island of Dr Moreau

In the movie The Red Dragon, Hannibal Lecter, a cannibalistic scientist, asks the FBI agent who captured him how he did it.  “It was easy”, the agent says, “You are insane”.

History is filled with real mad scientists.  Isaac Newton was autistic and suffered from schizophrenia so bad that near the end of his life began to write delusional letters.  Mathematician Kurt Gödel suffered from delusional paranoia and his later writings were crazed and demented. 

Artists are no different. Ballet dancer Nijinsky went progressively mad and would retreat into complete muteness.  Edvard Munch had delusional visions, one of a sky dripping with blood and a horrible, universal scream of Nature.   John Nash, brilliant mathematician and Nobel Prize winner, was completely schizophrenic, and madness drove him to unhinged visions of evil enemies, imaginary friends and children.  The number of world political leaders, like Lincoln and Churchill, who admitted to depression and worse is significant.

Image result for images Edvard Munch The Scream

Nikola Tesla, the scientist who revolutionized the new physics of electricity, discovering the now universally-accepted Alternating Current (AC) among other innovations, became progressively mad over his lifetime. 

Alpha waves of the human brain are between 6-8Hz.  The wave frequency of the human cavity resonates between 6-8Hz.  All biological systems operate in the same frequency range.  The electronic resonance in each is 6-8Hz.  Thus, our entire biological system – the brain and the earth itself – works on the same frequency.  If we can control that resonate system of electricity, we can directly control the entire mental system of humankind.

Tesla’s belief in the power of science led him to be a champion of eugenics, the theory of racial purity.  Once the genes of the deformed, the disabled, the retarded, the mad, and the weak could be eliminated from the genetic pool,, the human race would thrive.

The year 2100 will see eugenics universally established. In past ages, the law governing the survival of the fittest roughly weeded out the less desirable strains. Then man's new sense of pity began to interfere with the ruthless workings of nature. As a result, we continue to keep alive and to breed the unfit. The only method compatible with our notions of civilization and the race is to prevent the breeding of the unfit by sterilization and the deliberate guidance of the mating instinct, Several European countries and a number of states of the American Union sterilize the criminal and the insane. This is not sufficient. The trend of opinion among eugenists is that we must make marriage more difficult. Certainly no one who is not a desirable parent should be permitted to produce progeny. A century from now it will no more occur to a normal person to mate with a person eugenically unfit than to marry a habitual criminal.

Image result for images nikola tesla

To some, the link between genius and madness has a scientific basis. Christine Hsu, a scientific journalist, collected extensive research findings on the relationship between creativity and mental illness

Kay Redfield Jamison, a clinical psychologist and professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that findings of some 20 or 30 scientific studies confirms the idea of the "tortured genius" or "mad scientist". Jamison said that creativity appears to be significantly linked to mood disorders, especially bipolar disorder.  A 2010 study that tested the intelligence of 700,000 Swedish 16-year-olds found that highly intelligent adolescents were more likely to develop bipolar disorder in a decade-long follow-up.

Researcher James Fallon, a neurobiologist at the University of California-Irvine confirmed the same creative-bipolar link, saying that people who suffer bipolar disorder tend to be more creative, especially when they are coming out of depression. 

Elyn Saks, a mental health law professor at the University of Southern California who also developed schizophrenia as a young adult, said that people with psychosis do not filter stimuli as well as others without the disorder, meaning that they're able to ponder contradictory ideas simultaneously and gain insight into loose associations that the general unconscious brain wouldn't even consider worthy of sending to consciousness. Saks said that while the invasion of nonsense into conscious thought can be overwhelming and disruptive, "it can be quite creative, too."

Past studies have suggested that much of the link between genius and madness is produced by one particular gene called the DARPP-32, and that three out of four people inherit a version of the DARPP-32 gene, which enhances the brain's ability to think by improving information processing in the prefrontal cortex of the brain (Medical Daily).

In today’s censorious and intolerant society, Nikola Tesla’s scientific genius is overlooked by those who brand him a racist at best and a delusional, dangerous mind at worst.   A man today is defined by his faults, peccadilloes, and weaknesses and not his genius.  Regardless of Tesla’s intellectual brilliance, there are many who prefer to ignore him.

This censoriousness extends way beyond those whose creativity and genius may have been the source of their delusions of grandeur and impossible fantasies.  Regardless of the literary genius of Ezra Pound and H.L. Mencken, since both were rabid anti-Semites, their notable work should be dismissed. 

Immanuel Kant said, “'The Jews still cannot claim any true genius, any truly great man. All their talents and skills revolve around stratagems and low cunning ... They are a nation of swindlers”, and so too should he be consigned to a literary dungeon. Yet Kant,  whose comprehensive and systematic work in epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics greatly influenced all subsequent philosophy. Kant was one of the foremost thinkers of the Enlightenment and arguably one of the greatest philosophers of all time. He elaborated, advanced, and refined the rationalism of Descartes and the empiricism  of Francis Bacon. He thus inaugurated a new era in the development of philosophical thought.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Stop being Jews and start being human beings”. Theodore Dreiser said, “New York is a 'kike's dream of a ghetto,' and Jews are not 'pure Americans' and 'lack integrity”. Are we to burn their books? Consign them to the trash heaps of literary history?

Writing in the New York Times (12.17.13) Jennifer Finney Boylan, a transgender woman, wonders whether the Salvation Army should be universally condemned for its conservative views on gender and LGBTQ.  Or, should this one ‘fault’ be overlooked in light of the decades of selfless service to the poor? The Boy Scouts and other organizations which have served their members, society, and the nation for decades are under attack for what are now considered retrograde racist and homophobic policies.  Yet both Christian organizations have claimed certain rights of religious commitment.  The damage done to both by the unilateral censure of the progressive movement is irreparable.  They will be thought of first as ignorant and only secondly as charitable and caring.

If cancel culture warriors have their way, then Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and many other leaders and founders of the Republic should be erased from public view, statues torn down, streets, schools, and public buildings renamed.  Revisionist history at its very worst.

The proponents of the cancel culture  contend that the ordinary man is incapable of sorting out fact from fiction, rationality from madness, and there needs to be a government arbiter of ‘truth’, an agency to review everything written and spoken to determine if the contents adhere to the current woke philosophy of race-gender-ethnicity. 

It is a dangerous, corrosive policy not only because it is an unconstitutional arrogation of power, but because it is patronizing, patriarchal, and authoritarian.  To assume that Main Street cannot sort out Tesla’s scientific genius from his rabid philosophies is to assume an irreversible ignorance of the masses.  Let Tesla, Kant, Mencken, Munch revel in their delusions; but respect them for their life’s work.  Let Newton, Nash, and Gödel be as crazy as loons, but never forget gravity, number theory, and mathematical complexity.

It is human complexity which baffles the Left, a movement so convinced that Utopia is attainable that it will do anything to accelerate progress towards it.  Individualism – that queer combination of genius and madness in Tesla and that inevitable mix of contradictions in us all – is counter-revolutionary cancel culture advocates claim.  Only the collectivity matters, the assemblage of individuals neutered to conform to the prevailing received wisdom. 

There is no sign of this disruptive, anti-democratic movement waning; and if the Democrats win this 2020 Presidential election, it will only accelerate.

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