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"The universe is forever falling apart- No need to – push the button It collapses at a finger's touch: Why, it barely hangs on the tail of a Sparrow’s eye." —Shinkichi Takahashi

SEVEN YEAR-OLD NINA pressed her face to the car window as her mother drove past the floodlit Capitol Dome and said, "I wonder what it will be like when it falls?"

The Dome looked fairly solid to her mother, who asked, "What makes you think it will fall?"

"Oh, everything falls," is what Nina casually informed her mother. Of course, Nina will not always be so casual about everything falling as she was in the car that night. All reports say that by the end of her next seven years (1985), she'll have to deal with what drugs she will and will not use, and she'll probably have to deal with the loss of her very energetic virginity. Even now she has problems she doesn't know about. Already she reads at a fluid fourth-grade level, higher than most high-school graduates in most black ghettos. So, already there is an immense gap between Nina and huge blocks of people with whom she must share her civilization. She is white and well-off and American, which by definition separates her from most, of the world- worst of all, it deprives her of the possibility of knowing that she's separated. Discovering this will he painful, if she discovers it at all, and she'll have no help from her school or from any of the media she delights in. Poor kid, she's independent and very bright, and that will likely separate her from most of her own kind as well.

Which is to say, there's a lot that won't have changed by 2002. The distortions of that year are already alive and well in Nina.

The anticipated changes aren’t very pleasant. Government-funded studies say that statistically Nina is part of a generation more likely than any before to go insane, be directly exposed to violence and contract cancer.

The message between the lines is: There is no way to protect her.

God, there's no way even to answer her. One report cites what is referred to with frightening understatement as an "alarming increase" in suicide among children Nina's age. As though some of them understand. They seem not to have developed our grown-up resistance to the incredible.

The Incredibility Gap

CALL IT OUR INCREDIBILITY GAP: the ability to know what's going on while we try to live as though it's not happening. When you think about it at all, what's going on is incre dible. We know we're driven literally mad by noise, overcrowding, sensurround media, meaningless work and pervasive, crippling impurities in our air, food and water. And it is incredible that radioactive wastes with half-lives of tens of thousands of years are stored undersea as follows:

* The United States uses stainless steel containers which there is no reason to expect will last for tens of thousands of years, though they may be good for perhaps a thousand.

*The British use fiberglass containers, much less durable than our stainless-steel.

*The Russians, the mad Russians, use reinforced concrete containers that could. split with a good jolt and are famous for their erosion. American scientists don't expect them to last for 50 years.

The late Justice William 0. Douglas was fond of citing these facts in his last lectures. "The awful has already happened," he'd tell his troubled audiences, pointing out that even one nuclear waste container, might be enough to kill the sea, which would destroy the world.

It's also incredible that the X-rays we take for granted cause cancer that the pollutants in the air could raise/lower (take your pick of the theories) the Earth's temperature, causing floods/ice-ages ... that no one has had time to test the long-range effects of most chemicals in our foods ...

But why go on? Most of us know all this already. We just pretend that it's not important. The incredibility gap is our ability to act as though none of this really has anything to do with us.

If this were the attitude of one individual toward his personal problems, it would be considered a form of mental illness. When merely to get through their daily lives all the individuals of a civilization are forced to indulge in this form of mental illness-and are compelled to encourage it in others-then the basic energy of daily life it self has become insane.

That statement is immense. Still, there's nothing to do but acknowledge it and then enact it; in other words, nothing to do but go on living as if it were not dangerous to ignore that life has become flat out crazy.

The circle is vicious and perfectly round.

When things have, gone this far, there is no longer a question of hope or pessimism. We live on, best we can, and share a sense of waiting. It's inconceivable that it won’t all come to a head, somehow; but there are so many variables, it's impossible to anticipate the way. Somewhere on the other side of whatever culminations are in store, we sense the possibility of a real Iife-a life in which, whatever its, hazards, one's best acts, feelings and thoughts would not be made ridiculous by the mere presence of massive irrationality.

Technological Nirvana

IT’S JUST LIKE US, WHEN asked "What will life be like in 2002?" to reel off all the technological toys we can think of. Even many of the most intelligent Americans have what amounts to a religious faith in technology-"religious," this time, meaning "proudly irrational." Each succeeding generation has more than wildly fulfilled the technological dreams of the previous generation; and each succeeding generation lives in a more difficult, more expensive and more frightening world. Still, plenty of us believe in a kind of technological Nirvana, the history of our century notwithstanding.

Well, far be it from me to criticize anyone's religion. It's just that I fail to see' much difference between a grimy, mad little jungle Jonestown, and a mass-produced, glossily entertained, drug-high, cancer-ridden, nuclear-threatened, computer-regulated - Jonestown. All the difference I can see is in scale, and in the classiness of the public relations.

But I'm, not as bleak as I seem. We were asked for predictions. What follows is, admittedly off the wall, but there's enough information now to indicate that these. predictions are possible. I hope that little Nina and her generation will find them worth living for, because included between my lines is the thought that these predictions, should even a portion of them come true, will transcend the thing that truly governs our lives now: not corporations, not governments, not even technology, but a pervasive, shared irrationality.

Prediction One: Psychic Powers Accepted and Cultivated

PSYCHIC HEALING'S VERY nearly accepted now, at most levels of our culture as the plain fact it is. This is a vast change in a short time. Only 18 years ago, had John F. Kennedy’s sister been a faith healer, he wouldn't have had a prayer of being elected President. Now psychics are proving accurate in predicting earthquakes, and police departments employ them to help catch fugitives. They are becoming our mental technicians- "technicians of the sacred" is what poet, Jerome Rothenberg called the ancients, and who knows that our psychics won't be the same?

As more is learned about psychics, their most common assertion will be taken more seriously. It is, simply, that everyone is psychic.

With in the next ten years I there will be a burst of psychic activity. It will be like jogging-one year nobody did it, the next year thousands are doing it. Thousands will start cultivating their psychic powers with the discipline and energy they now use for running. The techniques needed to develop psychic powers, which have been around for thousands of years, are being popularized in modem terms by various books and by groups - such as Lawrence LeShan's workshops. The changes artificially induced by the drugs of the '60s will be multiplied a hundredfold and God alone knows what happens then-for no doubt the darkness in our natures will have its say along with the light.

What will a race with heightened psychic powers mean to government, entertainment and industry? For humankind will be substantially not as we know it. All forms of governmental, and corporate secrecy will become obsolete. The. medical profession will be out of a job. Every form of media now known or imagined will be hopelessly antiquated.

Even the way we grow our foods would change: it's well-documented that in the community of Findhorn, in Scotland, huge healthy vegetables are made to grow in sand and in snow through, the psychic power of what the Findhom people call prayer. If this talent spreads across the world, it would mean the end of Third World dependence on American and Russian support. In short, the spread of psychic powers would be the end of "power" as we know it now.

Though it may seem impossible now, our last hundred years of history have proved that the word "impossible" isn't. applicable to any future.

Prediction Two: The Life After Life

WERNIER VON BRAUN PUT IT succinctly, and Einstein agreed completely: "Nature does not know extinction; all it - knows is transformation. Everything science has taught me, and continues to teach me, strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death."

What would it do to our collective consciousness if some kind of life after death were scientifically confirmed? The researches of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross on people who have been pronounced dead and then revived and such phenomenon as

Kirilian photography indicate that within our lifetime some sort of afterlife will be widely accepted as scientific possibility.

Given that Von Braun and Einstein were right and that the soul continues after death, it must have some kind of plane or place in which to continue-then theoretically, at least, that place is discoverable, and proof is possible.

Aud if such proof were presented to this world? Reverberations would be fantastic. Our entire economy is based on getting as much as you can before you die. And on nothing more. Who knows what the prospect of eternity might do to it,? On the dark side, our military strategists would have the opportunity to value life even less than they do now. On the side of light-who knows? If there is a next life, perhaps there have been past lives, and perhaps they influence our present as much or more as the accidents of our infancy-a concept that by itself would scuttle most psychological theories.

Life would spread out on all sides of us, in more forrns than we ever thought possible; we would be like sea creatures discovering land and air.

Prediction Three: UFOs

AT THE TIME OF THIS WRITING the New Zealand Air Force believes in UFOs. Officially.

They've got a squadron of. Skyhawks on standby to track Unidentified Flying Objects, after a spectacular sighting. filmed by a television crew, confirmed by experienced pilots, and tracked on radar.

When the film was shown on New Year's Day on the CBS Evening News, it prompted the most whimsical sign-off of Walter Cronkite’s career: "And that's the way it- is or is it?"

A Wellington, New Zealand, air traffic controller said, "We now have recorded sightings by six pilots on three aircraft over 10 days and a host of radar sightings." Similarly impressive sightings have been recorded in the last three months in Australia, Italy and Kuwait. It's hard to believe that there won't be contact in the near, if not immediate, future.

There is no way to gauge the effect this would have, for better or worse -probably for both. One thing is certain: undeniable contact with UFOs and widespread exchanges of any sort will go a long way toward teaching us our place in the universe. Presumably, we are as vulnerable to their influx as the American Indian was to the European. The best we can hope for is that through the shock the immensity of the universe would be brought home to us, and our arrogance as a race would be goaded into the beginnings of wisdom.

The fulfillment of any one of these predictions would shatter the human self-image as fully as Copernicus, Galileo Columbus and Gutenberg shattered the medieval mind. We use the word "medieval" to cover the hundreds of years between the decline of Rome and Coperni-cus; there will be another word, to, lump the time between Copernicus and, say, 2002. What comes after us will be as different,in essence as we are different from,the people of, say, 1066. And it will be recognized that the huge burst of energy in the last 100 years which expressed itself on the surface as technology, was actually a deep thrust toward a new age.

If, that is, my final Prediction doesn't come true as well.

Prediction Four: Cataclysm

WALK TO OR READ THE psychics, and you will hear much about "earth changes." This refers to changes in our planet itself that are even more sweeping than the changes I've predicted in our consciousness. There is a consensus among many of the most respected psychics, and their vision is frightening.

We Are the Earthquake Generation by Jeffrey Goodman, is a compendium of the predictions of several psychics who have well-documented track records for accuracy-not total accuracy, of course, but an accuracy comparable to a trained meteorologist predicting the weather.

This is a selection from Goodman's list of coming attractions: 1980-1985: regularly occurring large-scale earthquakes, land sinkings and coastal inundations for California, Oregon, Washington, western Canada and Alaska; Palm Springs under water; San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco destroyed; California coastline pushed back to Bakersfield, Fresno and Sacramento; a seaway opened up through Central Oregon (from west to east) reaching the Idaho border. A major earthquake destroys a large part of New York City. Land rises off the southeast coast of the United States near Bimini in the Bahamas.

1985-1990: a major eruption of Vesuvius in Italy initiated by a violent earthquake that causes damage as far off as France and Scandinavia; western U.S. is severely, stricken by a flurry of earthquakes; New York City is completely broken up; a series of earthquakes strikes the Middle East, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Israel; Earth's axis of rotation dips a few degrees.

1990-2000: major sections of the Western United States fall into the sea as the coastline moves eastward in a series of violent surges-the final coastline will be established in Nebraska and Kansas; the west coast of South America inundated; land rises off what used to be San Diego; most of Japan gone under the ocean; Africa is torn apart; ancient cities and ancient records found on land rising from the ocean, leading to new concepts of earth's. pre-history and of human rights; the pole shifts-Earth’s axis of rotation changes location in a sudden tumbling of the planet, during which rotation ceases for several days and the Sun and other heavenly bodies appear to be fixed in their movement during this time-when the planet begins to rotate again the day-night cycle is re-established, the North and South poles drastically shifted to new positions; New Zealand becomes the new land of hope and opportunity; veils lift from mens' minds, men learn their true nature and capabilities; space people visit planet to observe.

"Ominously," Goodman reports, "on January 2, 1976, a related and highly specific prediction made by (Edgar) Cayce in 1932 came to pass when Mount Etna erupted and the New Hebrides Islands in the South Pacific-located directly on the other side of the planet from Mount Etna-were struck by a strong quake (6.8 on the Richter scale). This rare, simultaneous occurrence can be seen as, starting the countdown for fulfillment of Cayce's literally earthshaking prophecies.

On April 9, 1932, Cayce (in a trance) was asked when changes in the earth's activity would be apparent. Cayce answered, 'When there is the first breaking up of some conditions in the South Sea (that's South Pacific, to be sure) and those as apparent in the sinking or rising of that that's almost opposite same, or in the Mediterranean, or Etna area, then we may know it has begun."

Prediction Five: The New World

THE PSYCHICS DON'T END IT there. Goodman's compilation of predictions go as far as 2030, when "millenium-like conditions start to prevail; agriculture uses prayer to control rainfall and crop growths; psychics used to guide all scientific research."

Certainly, if any of this is real, the mood of life in 2078 can hardly be imagined now-no more than the mood of 1978 would have been imaginable to a farmer in Hollywood in 1878.

There are wonders ahead of us. They are, awesome-and awe is a quality made as much of fear as of delight.

"Oh, everything falls," said little Nina, looking at, the Capitol Dome. The poet Rilke put it a bit more specifically: "We play with obscure forces, which we cannot lay hold of, by the names we give them, as children play with fire, and it seems for a moment as if all the energy had lain unused in things until we come to apply it to our transitory life and its needs. But repeatedly ... these forces shake off their names and rise . . .against their little lords, no, not even against... they simply rise, and civilizations fall from the shoulders of the earth."