Thursday, July 3, 2008

The tragic/weird life of Wilhelm Reich

it's been a month and I feel like posting again. apparently disabling comments did little to deter matt and les from e-mailing me their thoughts (soo funny guys, now i know what a lemon party is), so i give up. let 'er rip.

reich was a rejected student of freud. he fathered primal scream therapy and had some very astute observations on the origins of fascism. but then he went nuts and thought he had discovered the energy that all life was derived from.

and it's a shame because he had highly progressive ideas on sex education, abortion,contraception, feminism, etc. but this is overshadowed by his work that he pursued in the US after fleeing nazi germany because of persecution for the ideas that should have been his legacy (not that this would be the first time nazis ruined a good idea for everyone else).

so, Wilhelm Reich (it's an odd name, like being named Napoleon France) fled Germany, rejected by his mentors and his government, and set up shop in Oslo. It's a story too convoluted for a single blog post to explain how he went from being a commie sex therapist to a whacko theorist of space monads but it has something to do with him studying the galvanometric resistance of a vagina during orgasm and the belief that he saw a box of sand glow in the dark during an unrelated experiment about cancer cells..

so fast forward to the 1950s. wilhelm reich has been living in the US on a piece of land he named 'Organon,' in honor of the Orgone Energy, the force of life he had come to believe in. what is orgone exactly? have you ever rubbed your eyes and looked at a sunny sky and seen little lights or points moving? that's Orgone. it's not that crazy of an idea in many cultures. indians call it prana, the chinese call it chi. the soviets had a scientific hypothesis of life energy called 'bioplasma'.
laugh if you want, but even the US took it seriously for a time, though they denied it.

do i personally believe in orgone? no. i think there are far more plausible models of zero point energy to be investigated and pursued. but that said, i believe that his intentions were noble and that at certain times he may have been observing real effects even if he didnt know how to explain them. eventually, he wound up in a jail cell, his books burned by the FDA and his mind so gone (the US govt burned his books, can you blame him?) that he died believing his weather research was being sanctioned by aliens, and that everytime a plane passed over his cell, it was a message of goodwill from his secret ally president eisenhower.

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