The Great, Invisible Brain Wave In the Sky


Something very strange happened last week. I filed my blog about “Scars Keep A Record of Our Lives” on Tuesday March 13. The very next day, on the New Yorker magazine website there appeared promotion for an article that would appear in the March 19 issue of the New Yorker (my favorite magazine). The promotion was for an article by David Owen, entitled “Scars” which has the same theme as my blog. Inevitably I will be accused of copying, I suppose, but actually, I got the idea from my granddaughter who recently wrote a very touching piece for her high school magazine about an old man, losing his memory, who keeps his identity intact by studying the scars on his hands.  My “Scars”, Rebecca’s and David Owen’s are an example of independent origin, pure and undefiled, and not all that uncommon except for the timing of publication.  The coincidence in the time is just totally weird.

This sort of thing happens to me a lot, and I try to joke that it is all about the “great invisible brain wave in the sky.”  I am convinced that the seething cauldron of human thought boils up in the ethereal atmosphere of ideas, a process made more substantive now by electronic communication gone wild, and that more seemingly creative people have taller antennae jutting out from behind their ears to pick up on the latest notions and theories floating around in the great brain hovering over us. For example, two years ago I wrote a novel about a church closing, a common event these days, where the parishioners rebelled and turn their closed church into a sort of food pantry, producing and dispensing local food much in the same spirit that religious institutions traditionally use communal meals in various communion services as the center focus of their liturgy. I thought I was writing humor, only to learn recently that abandoned and closed churches were being turned into exactly what I had inadvertently predicted, by people who do not know my novel existed.

Right now my antenna (and a whole lot of other peoples’ aerials) is ding, ding, dinging away, louder every day, telling me that there really is a new cultural shift taking place in society’s attitude toward food. The dinging insists that the interest in homegrown and local, well-prepared food is not a fad that will fade away as soon as the economy gets pumped up again. Examples are just everywhere. New economic models of food production and distribution, like the growing number of urban food hubs, are being developed on a philosophy that says farming is for health and independence first, not money, and in fact much of the food production system is shifting to more personal and local responsibility. There is a battle cry arising from everywhere urging society to take back control of its food from international agribusiness suppliers whose methods not only result in soil depletion but increasingly results in cases of tainted food. Food is not a factory product, says the new cultural shift, but a handicraft business and must figure out an economic model where profit is measured in ways other than worthless paper money. It makes me wonder if at least half of us will someday produce most of our food in the same spirit that we take care of our other bodily needs or make our own furniture. We brush our teeth and shower as part of our daily chores. So shall we garden.

Seems like every college now has a farm as part of the curriculum. And there is increasing talk of making agricultural instruction mandatory in school. In the printed and electronic worlds, signs of a new food economy proliferate. Among the more provocative are books like Norman Wirzba’s recent “Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating.”  Whoa. A theology of eating? Dr. Wirzba, who is a professor of  theology,  ecology and rural life (how’s that for a strange combination) at Duke University and also a friend of mine, points out in one chapter almost the same ideas about food being at the center of religious services as I did in my novel, but he clothes his arguments in a biblical framework. Countering this approach, another revolutionary book will be out in a month or so by Masanobu  Fukuoka, the author of the famed “One Straw Revolution,” titled “Sowing Seeds In The Desert.” Fukuoka exhorts society that only completely natural farming can save us and that the success of natural farming requires a renunciation all religions, all notions of God, all of traditional economics and much of science. Yet his bottom line about how society must conduct itself in the future is similar to that of Wirzba’s!

I tell you we are moving into a truly new day where even the godless and the god-fearing join hands so that we can keep on eating well. The great invisible brain wave in the sky thus speaketh. I hear it plain as day.  Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.


Miss Cindy; composting in situ in the raised beds has been alive and well in a small corner in Illinois for several years now; and although I don’t believe that I got the idea from John Jeavons; I do have to admit that a copy of “How To Grow More Vegetables” purchased in the late 70’s/early 80’s is lurking in the gardening bookcase (cheek to jowl with a nearly complete collection of Gene’s tomes); and that I also attended a seminar by Mr. Jeavons at a Small Farm Today magazine trade show in Missouri some years back.

A composting in the beds story:

About 5 years ago, someone tossed a slightly squishy store-bought sweet potato in the compost bed in the fall. As the seasons progressed, it ended up being covered about 3 1/2′ deep with compost materials. Come spring, the pile had settled, and I determined to begin a new compost pile by turning the unfinished materials in the older bed in to the adjoining one so that I could take advantage of the fresh compost. As I moved frames and forked the unfiinshed compost over, I got 2 frames from the regular level of the bed, where I discovered the slightly squishy sweet potato – with numerous sprouts forming. I dug down a bit in the bed, covered the potato with compost, and added a generous topping of OPBL (other people’s bagged leaves) to give it a bit of protection against the spring chill. It grew. And grew. And grew! I spent a good portion of my garden time whacking back those vines over the summer, and when fall came, I was rewarded with 4 – 5 gallon buckets of very nice, very tasty sweet potatoes from that 4×4 raised bed. Having been unable to produce sweet potatoes in our heavy clay soil in the past, I was elated!! Two compost beds of sweet potatoes the next year provided me with a wheelbarrow full of sweeties, and now I routinely plant my sweet potatoes in last year’s compost piles.

    Polly, I loved your compost/sweet potato story. It sounds like you have good things going on in your garden. We have to keep telling these stories to enourage others to give it at try.

Just curious Gene, where did the design illustration for this essay come from? It reminded me of the honeycomb, which is the matrix of the hive. I’ve just recently learn that the human matrix might be the fascia, which protects and holds together the connective tissues of the body. Little is known about the importance of the fascia and how it holds memory of what events have gone on with a particular human body; just as the honeycomb in the bee hive holds memory for all that hive has been exposed to. The “grid” of the human body is possibly the most sensitive to these energies we speak of….the communication from the non-manifest.

Hey, Gene, nice essay! There’s plenty of room for both.

    Yes, David, plenty of room. The theme must be a good one. I stand in awe of anyone who can write for The New Yorker. I would die for Adam Gopnik. Gene

what I especially love about this brain wave in the sky is that it usually proves that you don’t have to be a professional in order to have great ideas. Somewhere in time was lost the importance of the competent amateur but we know better! It’s available to anyone who takes the time to wonder. Thanks for your blog Gene – I really enjoy reading it and the comments.

I suspect the I-Net is an important component of this changing food culture. 40 years ago the activists were relatively isolated from each other. Not totally, of course, but the mutual support and exchange of ideas was much less frequent and more difficult and time consuming.

But now the exchange of ideas and mutual support is so fast as to be breathtaking, at least for folks like myself who grew up in the 50s and 60s. New ideas about food and its role in society can flash quickly across the country now and be widely discussed by folks from all over, as on this blog.

Heck, I just got a couple of ideas about composting from Cindy above and from Walt Jeffries over at his Sugar Mountain blog. The I-Net is helping facilitate the revolution from below!

This is so heartening to me, that others are expressing this rather normal human access to information. We always have had it…we’re just becomeing more receptive, whether it is due to eating clean food, evolving….or just becoming more sensitive. That word sensitive has always been my way of describing my abilities to receive these energy vibrations. We do it in other ways as well, but what you describe is a very physical way of seeing something that moves on a different level of thought.
Once humans make the connection with this thought process, the process can go deeper and who knows what the next level will be. It’s called evolution.

I am such a believer! This has happened to me so SO many times. I’m not sure if it bugs me more when I failed to write something that pressed me and I read it ten places shortly afterward, or if I read the ten others before I got mine on paper and was overwhelmed with the futility of adding my 2 cents.

I love best that your granddaughter’s essay was your inspiration – maybe it needs to be posted here too…

    Auburn Meadow Farm, I’ll see what granddaughter thinks. Jan, tell Andy he has solved a problem for me. I never could figure out what metaphysics was all about– nearly flunked a test in it once. Now I know….I guess. Laura Weldon: I’m sure you are aware that the Vatican reversed the bishop’s decision to close 13 of those Cleveland churches. Now that is dynamite news. If you hear any inside skinny on this, I’d love to know more. I don’t know if it is appropriate to write about it here, but I am writing about it other places. I get to Cleveland quite often these days, and watch with interest the development of urban food hubs there. Gene Logsdon

Great post, Gene, and so true. I’ve always thought Jung had it wrong when he talked about the collective unconscious. Instead of archetypes, it’s really all the energetic connections between people, plants, animals and the world. I once had a friend in Arizona, back in the days when people wrote letters (email did not yet exist). For one reason or another, we wrote at widely varying intervals. I “knew” to start looking for a letter up to a week before it actually arrived. In a few cases, I got that feeling but it was weeks before the letter showed up. When I checked, it seems the times I got the feeling were when she was actually composing the letter. Brain waves indeed…

    I love it when that happens Beth! It’s happened to me my whole life. So now, when someone I haven’t heard from for a long time suddenly pops into my mind, I know we’re about to intersect somehow. Sometimes I call them and just like you say, they were getting ready for me in some way. There’s so much more there out there….

“I am convinced that the seething cauldron of human thought boils up in the ethereal atmosphere of ideas, …”

Andy says he thought you didn’t have much use for metaphysical though … guess he was wrong!

Another wonderful post! I so appreciate your work. ❤

Gene, thanks for the great post. I totally agree with everything you said. There is a wonderful universe out there for us to plug into that we’re only beginning to learn about–if we are ready for the messages. About the food system–first the groundwork had to be laid with ideas and examples, and you began doing that so many years ago. People like me took your message to heart and worked with it, spreading ideas and examples to others. We are all like the underground internet that is now beginning to surface. I too have experienced synchronicity. One example is that I make a lot of compost, John Jeavons, GROW BIOINTENSIVE style. My compost beds had been lined up on the outside border of my garden. I decided to start putting them on a garden bed and rotating them each year, just as I do my vegetables. That way I could save all the goodness that would otherwise leach out, and capture it in the next crop. Steve Moore, who was living in Pennsylvania at the time (I’m in VA) and also a biointensive practioner, began doing the same thing. We hadn’t discussed it and and we rarely saw each other. When I did hear him talk about it in a presentation and later asked him about it, he said he came up with the idea after doing a flow chart of his work in the garden and realized having the compost piles on the beds would save many steps. We began speaking about it at the same time and people would have probably thought that we got the idea from John Jeavons, whose compost was still in stationary bins. We are living in exciting times!

As a writer and book editor, I see this all the time Gene. I swear that inspiration is floating around in the ether, knocking at creative spirits everywhere to be let in. It happens in science and the arts on a regular basis. Well, often that inspiration comes through the arts first, then filters into what we call the “real world.”

I certainly saw that with your book “Pope Mary and the Church of Almighty Good Food.” I read it when it first came out (loved it, especially the passage comparing Big Ag to Big Religion, brilliant) and have thought of it many times since as the Cleveland diocese has been closing vibrant churches just as the Cleveland area has gotten nationally known for collaborative local food solutions.

Thank you for being a responsive transmission rod from great invisible brain wave in the sky!

I was just about to leave a post using the same word as Ed, that being synchronicity.

I’ve experienced synchronicity frequently, but not all the time. But when I have, it’s tended to be nearly scary. . . and not something that I’d attribute to the interactions of human brains at all, but rather the devine.

Perhaps an illustration of Jung’s neologism: synchronicity–meaningful coincidences.

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