A Conscious E-Zine

Computer art by:M.C. McCraken

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Magister Ludi-the Glass Bead Game, was a novel written in 1943 by the German writer Hermann Hesse who was born in 1877 in Claw, Germany, and died in 1962 in Montagnola, Switzerland. In 1946 Hesse received the Nobel Prize in literature for Magister Ludi. In the archives of the Glass Bead Game it is written that Joseph Knecht was the Magister Ludi of the Glass Bead Game in a place called Castalia. Who among you remember Castilia?

"Castalia is a symbolic realm where all spiritual values are kept alive and present, specifically through the practices of the Glass Bead Game. It depicts a future society in which the realm of culture is set apart to pursue its goals in splendid isolation..."May 1969 - Theodore Ziolkowski

50 years later the parallels between the Glass Bead Game and the Internet are very similar. Capturing a complete description of the Glass Bead Game is not easy. Here is a sample taken from a letter written by Hesse's character Joseph Knecht:
"I suddenly realized that in the language, or at any rate in the spirit of the Glass Bead Game, everything actually was all-meaningful, that every symbol and combination of symbol led not hither and yon, not to single examples, experiments, and proofs, but into the center, the mystery and innermost heart of the world, into primal knowledge. Every transition from major to minor in a sonata, every transformation of a myth or a religious cult, every classical or artistic formulation was, I realized in that flashing moment, if seen with truly a meditative mind, nothing but a direct route into the interior of the cosmic mystery, where in the alternation between inhaling and exhaling, between heaven and earth, between Yin and Yang holiness is forever being created.

Castalia was a protected institution set in the future, and devoted to intellectual pursuits. Castalia was run by the master of the Glass Bead Game. Sitting in a large room, Castalia members would explore magnificent associations of ideas and concepts. To what end? To keep alive knowledge in a world that had fallen apart spiritually, socially, and politically. Enter the internet, and the potential to continue what Hermann Hesse had begun with Master Ludi over 50 years ago. The internet allows each webmaster to play the Glass Bead Game. In a world filled with more information than is humanly possible to read, review, or to understand, the question arises as to how it is possible to develop an overview of human development into the 21st century? The Glass Bead Game thus takes on a new meaning, and a renewed capacity to understand the direction we are going.

Castalian Provence

E-mail Alert

From: Willard Van De Bogart (willard@earthportals.com)
Subject: Global Pathology

"Speed of processing information is becoming more important in the late 20th century than thinking or introspection". Willard Van De Bogart-July 1996

Webmagister Ludi

and the

Glass Bead Game

When people finally realized they could self publish their ideas for a world audience on the internet is when the internet began to grow exponentially in size. By the year 2000, any retrospection on the beginnings of the internet will be like ancient history. Especially ancient will be the years when the internet became mainstream which was between 1994 and 1995. Perhaps now, in mid 1996, it would be appropriate to discuss the phenomenon of web social behavior patterns, and the virtual community which is growing in cyberspace before so much takes place that any historical perspective will be lost.

With the spirit of Castalia, and the Glass Bead Game in mind, let us enter the world of the internet. As a member of the Glass Bead Game here are a few questions to be addressed when accessing information on the internet.

  1. How do we as humans in the late 20th century harness our collective intelligence to stabilize the depletion of Earth's resources?
  2. How can we impress on the global collective of humanity that all life forms need to be understood and respected as integral members of the biosphere?
  3. How is spirituality helping the well being of Earth, and its inhabitants?
  4. Is our Earth in a run-away economic system, incapable of being balanced, which will cause the eco-structure to fail?
  5. If ideas are only exchanged in the virtual world of the internet how do they create any type of consciousness that is useful to our sense perceptions in the 3-D world?
  6. Do our actions and behavior in any way reflect our awareness gained from the virtual world?
  7. Can we in full consciousness know how our thinking affects our world?
  8. When we go on the internet do we have a responsibility to the global mind that exists there?
  9. Does the perception of the world, as a result of long exposure to the internet, cause an internalization of that experience and thus act as a substitute for the way we internalize the real world of three dimensions?

My own history with the internet goes back to 1981 when I was a consultant for NASA's Industrial Application Division at the University of Pittsburgh. At the time I was using the NASA's Recon data base which was a Department of Defense computer network composed of over 200 defense laboratories. It was at NASA that I learned how to search the defense date bases for information applicable to government contractors. At the time the only data which would scroll by on the computer screen in the early 80's would be the titles of technical documents in many different languages. Also at the University of Pittsburgh was Dr. Anthony Debons, head of the Information Science Counseling Department. Debons was instrumental in developing the ARPA1 network, and was a specialist in the diagnostics of human information seeking behavior. It was here that I learned the techniques of data base retrieval systems and knowledge networks. The 80's were definitely the beginning of the information age, and the internet was being used for only high level research. The 90's on the other hand became the decade when the internet became the most popular new technology since the telephone, and as a result became very user friendly.

The search engines were being developed to navigate the vast depths of the computer memory banks, and they began to catalog the entries in traditional categories. However, all web sites were not exactly falling into traditional categories because content was unique in every respect. Dozens of search engines emerged to address this unique situation. The term "surfing" became the descriptor to wade through the plethora of web sites, and by last count there were approximately 50 million web sites, and 5,000 new web sites being added each day to the internet. Definitive books on how to design for the internet appeared such as John December's "The World Wide Web Unleashed"2. People everywhere were trying to get a handle on what was developing. The best minds began to throw their own talented perspectives at the web, and before long there was a glut of books explaining the web to the point that there even appeared a book titled "The Internet for Dummies".3

However, the question still loomed as to what exactly the internet was. It was easy to say it was a new telecommunications device, or the next step from a telephone, but here was a tool that clearly enabled people all over the world to voice their opinions about anything. Not only could you voice opinions you could also publish your opinions along with pictures, movies, and sounds. There were also people that were extolling the global mind theory developing as a result of the internet. Cybernetica Principia4 from Belgium became the web site to read about other points of view regarding the internet experience. Some authors were even saying the internet was breeding a new life form. Debates began to also take place as to whether the internet was in actuality creating a real community. Some would say that without real people talking face to face the internet could never become a real community let alone a new life form. These issues and many more were being voiced on many web sites throughout the world. After reading many of these viewpoints, and spending hundreds of hours going from one web site to another I could sense that many people all over the world do share a common purpose, and want to create a real global community. Examples; Robert Shapiro from Illinois created the New Age Net Global5 whereby consciousness oriented web sites could belong to a network and display a unique logo on their homepage. This logo would indicate to other "surfers" the commonality of belief systems which were supported by displaying NA NET GLOBAL. Flemming Fuchs has created The New Civilization Network6 indicating that World Transformation7 was developing AS WE SPEAK. The New Civilization Network is a website that promotes whole systems thinking for a planet needing new paradigms to correct much of the genocide, and imbalances being directed at other humans as well as the wildlife and biosphere. The legacy of genius is at the finger tips of all entrants to the internet. Foremost in the genius category was Buckminister Fuller8and a web site devoted to his work with the World Game Institute9. And when it came to the concept of the internet breeding a new life form here is a sample from Dr. Peter Pflaump's Global Village SchoolHouse (pflaump@worldnet.att.net)

The Internet is a Complex Crystal

"Where there is life, there can be sudden change, there is growing order out of chaos, there are more complex inter-relationships and effective use of the environment for energy, reproduction and the biological systems that can run uphill.

Matter is only a temporary form of information. Energy and matter are forces in some organized shape or form before they becomes disorganized and random again. From a random nothing there was a "big bang" and the system has been using this energy to organize itself, expand and run, until it runs down again. Life forms take shape on the back of this free energy - from bacteria, plants and on up the food chain. The problem is that we exist at the top of the chain and have a hard time with perspective - seeing the forest for the trees.

James Lovelock in The Ages of Gaia, uses the laws of thermodynamic to set the scene. Molecular biology is an information processing system. Evolutionary biology is the nature of creatures and their connections with information, and the physics which explains everything. The first law of thermodynamics is the conservation of matter and energy. Nothing comes from nothing and nothing goes nowhere. The second law is dis-symmetry, hot objects cool but cold object never spontaneously become hot, water does not run up hill. Life is a process of collecting energy for the temporary reason of survival, having fun and reproduction. Edwin Schrodinger little book on " What is Life" looks at "aperiodic crystals" that move upstream against the flow of time. Life is improbable low entropy. Claude Shannon information theory is that there is a loss of data, but interference and noise never becomes meaning. Life is dependent on the use of external energy that can be described in John Von Neumann's mathematical model of entropy.

So, the Internet is a life form and a form of intelligent information. A complex crystal. Maybe it can help us understand the general theory of everything - physics, it's daughter chemistry, it's complex cousin biology, and evolution of the universe and our place in it. A general field theory must be made by more than one mind, machine, or time and place. It takes synergy."

Early in 1994 there were ideas being expressed that the web was creating a new global consciousness. By that it was meant that as a result of being exposed to the web you could get a global experience just by sending a letter to Italy. Sending letters around the world in an instant was as easy as calling your neighbor next door. Something in the basic infrastructure of the internet was producing a philosophy of cyberspace; a new global consciousness. This attitude came about long before advertising banners were even thought to being placed on web pages like so many obtrusive billboards similar to our countries highways. These were the early days when the mere experience to communicate anywhere on the globe, from your own home, began the internet evolution and a sense of a new type of consciousness on the planet.

The web was offering the world new ways of thinking, and viewpoints to model consciousness as well as to experience a new sense of spirituality. Sara Reeder, journalist, has written a fascinating article titled: "In The House of The Digital Gods: Meditations On The New Rituals of Cyberspace" which will appear in the book titled: Digital Illusions. It is in this chapter that Reeder follows the development of traditional rituals and ancient ceremonies to the same kinds of rituals that are now appearing in cyberspace. She comments...

"After all, once we accept that the Earth and its processes are sacred, it's not so hard to wrap our minds around the notion that the infosphere - an evolving, living creation of the human imagination - is by nature a sacred entity as well. Willard Van De Bogart, creator of the widely-acclaimed Earth Portals web site, describes netsurfing as a religious act in and of itself. "The Web is alive, all over the world, 24 hours a day," he observes. "It allows us to participate in other people's worlds, which I find is a very religious experience for me. And it contextualizes things in a way that other media can't, which forces you to look at the interconnectedness of everything in a whole new way. " For Van De Bogart, the simple act of going online is "plugging into the group mind," connecting with a global consciousness that he experiences as God."

Human townships which exist in remote areas of the world are now capable of witnessing the degree to which late 20th century thinking has developed. Important issues about the population explosion from the Cairo Conference, and the eco-systems from the Rio Conference could be analyzed. Understanding our own physical anatomy10 has never been so graphic. These topics and subjects and so many more are creating a new form of consciousness that can be generated just from exploring the vast repository of knowledge on the internet. However, one could posit the notion that human consciousness in and of itself is actually blind to its own evolutionary imperative. What in fact could the internet contribute to the understanding of consciousness if anything?

The modern day Glass Bead Game became possible with the invention of hypertext markup language more commonly known as html. With millions of connections now available to thousands of computer data bases with html, how can the new Glass Bead Game player make any meaningful associations? How for example can pictures from outer space, taken by the new Hubble telescope,11 be used as a resource to identify the patterns of bees swarming around bee hives?12 Wherein lies the ability to see patterns in nature which provide us with the basic operating principles of the universe?

Unfortunately, our modern day Glass Bead Game has no Magister Ludi; the honor bestowed on Joseph Knecht. Therefore, we must become the new Magister Ludi's. What we can find on the internet is related links of like minded sites.13 This like mindedness I prefer to call the contextualization of ideas which is in keeping with the spirit of Castalia. Dr. Brian Swimme, Director of the Universe Story Department, at the California Integral Studies Institute in San Francisco, and author of "The Universe is a Green Dragon", says that in order to understand who we are as a race of people necessitates that we act out the built in intention of the universe itself. At this point in the discussion of the Glass Bead Game, and the internet, we can even introduce new theoretical models to assist us such as quantum physics and the new physics of reality which states that the universe is in the minds eye. What we see is what we get or what we think is what we live. This is also stated as the holographic principle of existence. Likewise, the internet actually reflects back our consciousness. What ever it is we think, will be reflected back to us on the computer screen via the internet.

We can now say the web is an exploration into our own psyches. The association of images and sounds is unique, and how we integrate our new behavior patterns is going to be reflected in how we create our own realities on the internet, even if those realities have not formalized themselves yet in our 3-D world of earth-fire-water-air. For what is the internet, but a continual hypertextualiztion of ideas made immediately manifest by a search engine or an available link. Web logic is not the same logic we use in a cause and effect relationship. Many times we are not aware of what information is going to be revealed to us through a search engine. Ideas are organized anew and not like the Dewy decimal card catalog system librarians are so accustomed to. We now access information by our moods or by our impressions or by audio stimulus. We have created a synaesthetic information environment where the association of ideas is not dependent on the syntax of the language, but on the mood obtained from a variety of media inputs. The age old adage of "a picture is worth a thousand words" takes on a new significance because any one of those thousand words can be searched to reveal a thousand more pictures. Frankly there is no one way to utilize the internet. There are no rules for information access, data organization, or logical understanding. There are over 5,000 web sites being added daily, and there are over 50 million web sites on servers all over the world, and the world wide web is growing exponentially.

Subconscious realms, such as portrayed in the web site 'The Dark Side of the Web',14 can be revealed to the curious surfer. The grotesque can be seen as the full expression for what it is. With no standards imposed on the internet, and with all information being freely exchanged, humans can now fully explore any and all mental fabrications to see if the innate natural forces governing that human can re-translate our collective knowledge into something the entire human race can benefit from.

The new responsibility for understanding this new knowledge arrangement, and comprehending the power of information gives the entire human race access to its own source of energy which is none other than pure processing of notions, ideas, curiosities, and all those human attributes that are such a mystery to us.

We live in a time in which we have such magnificent capacities to explore our autonomy through the internet. Our ideas will be read and interpreted into world affairs, and each one of us becomes a states person for the governance and direction of humanity. The mandate thus arises for the Glass Bead Game player to take this newfound power of understanding from the internet, and apply it to the pressing problems which effect the entire human race. We can not allow ourselves to poison our atmosphere, we can not allow ourselves to poison our water, we can not allow ourselves to ruin the Earth's top soil, we can not allow ourselves to kill wildlife for sport as was exhibited by the Make A Wish Foundation in which a small boy who was about to die made a wish that he wanted to kill a bear.

We must communicate our ideas so that they are effective in the real world. It would be a tragedy if we only wanted to watch our ideas, or to think about our ideas rather than trying to collectively do something in relationship to our ideas. With the internet we have the capability to mirror our web sites amongst one another to communicate the essential ideas needed to be acted upon in our time. Dane Rudhyar, the famous astrologer, suggests we act as "seeds"15 to bring about global change. We must witness the positive effects of our ideas on a planet that has grossly over looked the ecological and environmental disasters which Rachael Carson witnessed in the 50,s, and brought to the world's attention with her book "Silent Springs". There are hundreds of ecological and environmental16 groups with web sites educating us on the necessity to address the problems facing our planet. Are we able to use this information effectively, or will the data sit idly on some server in the world?

When we go to the internet do we have a responsibility to the global mind?

Long exposure to data manipulation on the internet could eliminate sensitivities to crucial planetary issues impacting the social structure of humanity and the infra-structure of the eco-system. Unless there is a way to directly funnel those ideas into planetary work groups our effectiveness in using this new tool will be lost. Here is a blatant example of man's insensitivities to life forms on the planet.

Partisan Vote on House Floor Guts U.S. Dolphin Protection Laws.
(Washington, DC) Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted for legislation(H.R.2823) that would, if approved by the Senate, reverse U.S. dolphinprotection laws and allow the slaughter of thousands of dolphins. Commentedthe author Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD): "5,000 (dead) dolphins a year isbiologically insignificant."

For updated information on the Dolphin issue contact:

Mark J. Palmer, Director, Wildlife Alive
Program Associate, International Marine Mammal Project
Earth Island Institute
300 Broadway #28
San Francisco, CA 94133
USA 415-788-3666 X 139


As long as the telecommunications systems are working, the successful transference of data about global conditions may be more important than the actuality of those conditions. Livelihoods are being amassed by reporting on the failure of the political systems to control and successfully prevent the direction statesmanship is going. A new collaborative Earth based coalition, even greater than any grass roots organization, may be needed if the present global conditions persist. Currently there is an Invisible College17 and 18trying to address these changes based out of Tucson, Arizona. Listed below are web sites that all Webmagister Ludi's should become acquainted with for the Glass Bead Game that was just played with the reading of this article.

Also related are:

For direct action go to:
Global Action for Internet Advocates

Web site bibliography for Webmagister Ludi's

  1. Great Story Beads - Beads as a symbolic representation of the 13 billion year old epic of the cosmos.
  2. The Glass Bead Game - Neural Network of the Cosmic Mind
  3. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency: Information
  4. John December - The World Wide Web Unleashed
  5. Internet for Dummies Central
  6. Principia Cybernetica - Here it is. A site that asks those age old philosophical questions with the help of the most recent cybernetic theories and technologies. Check out the Glass Bead Game of Francis Heylighen.
  8. New Civilization Network - People around the Earth trying to create a better world.
  9. World Transformation
  10. Buckminister Fuller
  11. World Game Institute - Turning Data into Knowledge.
  12. Human cross section
  13. NewHeavenNewEarth - Like-Minded Web Sites
  14. Hubble Space Telescope - The telescope is fixed, the telescope is fixed.
  15. International Bee Research Association - Home Page
  16. The Dark Side of the Web
  17. Dane Rudhyar's Seed Consciousness
  18. Environmental and Ecological Organizations
  19. Invisible College - Recent writings on the Planet Art Network.
  20. Archives of the Invisible College

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