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Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: The Yggdrasill (
Date: July 20, 2004 05:33PM

Did anyone else get an invitation to go to Reno for three days, receive a bust of Shakespeare's Head with your name on it, and meet and parade around with a supposedly distinguished Asian poet? ( I don't remember the name). Apparently Leslie Neilson and a few other actors are to be there as well. Is this a scam, or is it an authentic event for poets? I know it said that a poem of mine was choose to be a finalist, or something of the sort, but I thought they just wanted you to buy the book - screw you out of money.

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: lg (
Date: July 20, 2004 05:45PM

Yddrasill, call the Reno Convention Center and ask if they're a part of this. They have a free phone number: 1-888-HIT-RENO

The largest Casinos in the area which might host such a meeting would be the Reno Hilton, Silver Legacy, Harrah's, Peppermill, Atlantis, or El Dorado. All of these have toll free numbers.

Sounds like a scam to me.


Post Edited (07-20-04 16:48)

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: Talia (
Date: July 21, 2004 10:28AM

A bust of Shakespear? That's what makes me think it is a scam....and did you submit a poem? Did they even mention which poem of yours they chose? Let us know.

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: July 21, 2004 11:45AM

a poem of mine was choose

I'd hafta see the pome to be sure, but likely they are micturating in your auditory canal.

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (
Date: July 21, 2004 02:03PM

If they offered a bust of Balzac, I'd be there in a flash !

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: joseph r. torelli (
Date: July 21, 2004 02:08PM

...or one of Jessica Simpson?

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: lg (
Date: July 21, 2004 02:10PM

What about Salvador Dali? It could melt into your suitcase.


Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (
Date: July 21, 2004 02:16PM


Joe, I'd prefer Marge Simpson over Jessica Simpson !

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: lg (
Date: July 21, 2004 02:17PM

Well, she may be dead, but I'll opt for Mae West? It's something about bananas.


Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: lg (
Date: July 21, 2004 02:20PM

Persistence of divergence.

That's like going the wrong way on a one way street and trying to convince the police officer who stops you, that you thought it was a bunch of maniacal teenagers heading your way playing "chicken".


Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: IanB (
Date: July 21, 2004 06:10PM

Mae West? Didn't she say (among other things) "You're never too old to grow younger"?

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: lg (
Date: July 21, 2004 11:09PM

She had some zingers all right. Here's a few more:

I wrote the story myself. It's about a girl who lost her reputation and never missed it.
--- Mae West

It is better to be looked over than overlooked.
--- Mae West

It's not the men in my life that count, it's the life in my men.
--- Mae West

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: Gwydion (
Date: July 22, 2004 12:17AM

Your totally freakin' me out Les...I was just today complaining to my girlfriend that I get all sorts of stares and leers and looks, and shout outs from guys but women have absolutely no interest in me. And she looked at my rather pouty face (that's she what she said) and replied: It is better to be looked over than overlooked. --- Mae West

And all I could say was: Mae was one smart lady!

But totally wierd that you, Les, would post this quote the same day my gf quoted it to me. Boogedy, boogedy!

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: lg (
Date: July 22, 2004 01:12AM

Gwydion, after reading several biographies on Tesla and the things he thought were possible, nothing that happens in the realm of mental telepathy surprises mewinking smiley


Post Edited (07-22-04 01:04)

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (
Date: July 22, 2004 09:57AM

Anyone who has seen the movie Repo Man will be familiar with the term "plate of shrimp", which means seeing or hearing something shortly after thinking or mentioning it.

I've seen this happen too many times for it to be pure coincidence.....Tesla knew there was so much more out there that we have just barely begun to comprehend.

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: Gwydion (209.53.139.---)
Date: July 22, 2004 11:03AM

Man! I haven't seen Repo Man in almost 2 years, time to rent it again.

I agree with you gf has no or very little interest in poetry/writing; therefore, had not read this thread as she knows naught of this board. So her quoting Mae West to me is eerie!

There is some sort of energy link that makes these events coincidences.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: July 22, 2004 11:38AM

Why doesn't some benevolent soul purchase this old back issue of Skeptical Inquirer and report back the findings on Tesla?

[] />

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: lg (
Date: July 22, 2004 01:25PM

Hugh, that first link you gave us yields nothing.


Post Edited (07-22-04 12:53)

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: July 23, 2004 12:27PM

Very strange. I got it from clicking on the link associated with:

[] />
Do a Find for Tesla, then click on the Buy this book link.

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: lg (
Date: July 23, 2004 12:41PM

I think the following article might give a dissenter's viewpoint without having to shell out the $6.25.

[] />


Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: July 23, 2004 12:49PM

Yahbut the SI debunks such claims, quite effectively too, from the few issues I have read. Maybe my local library keeps old ones? I will check.

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: lg (
Date: July 23, 2004 01:55PM

I think the following article might give a dissenter's viewpoint

SI, gives opposite views to the dissenters of Tesla?


Post Edited (07-23-04 12:55)

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: July 23, 2004 02:25PM

My bad. I declined to load & read the 63 page pdf file. Any chance for a synopsis?

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (
Date: July 23, 2004 02:50PM

Les, I did the same and had MAJOR crashes !

"Let me splain, no there is no time, let me sum up"
Inigo Montoya - The Princess Bride

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: lg (
Date: July 23, 2004 03:13PM

Don't have time to scan it now, but if you're not busy and don't mind tons of footnotes:

Thomas Lee Kelley
A Thesis Presented in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Arts
August 1997
Page 2
As Western Civilization has progressed from the
Greeks, satisfaction of man's spiritual needs with his
physical needs has varied across the millenia. Recognizing
this, both James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg
demonstrate a cycle of centuries where sweeping economic and
technological change occur as a phenomenon biased by a hidden
order. This five-hundred year cycle is exhibited in their
theory of "megapolitics."
Additionally, many others, such as Neil Postman, Alvin
Toffler, and Jacques Vallee, have described socioeconomic
cycles within the twentieth century that are yielding societal
shifts in material, ethical, and transcendant satisfactions.
If they are correct, recent growth in information and media
technology have possibly accelerated the shifts during the
latter twentieth century.
In this analysis, recent cultural studies theories by
John Fiske, Douglas Kellner, and Raphael Sassower, are used to
examine the career, and legacy of the American inventor and
philosopher, Nikola Tesla. Features are revealed that tend to
substantiate the conclusions of Davidson, Vallee, Toffler, and
One principal feature of Tesla's legacy pivots on the
assertion that an inventor's world view is expressed in the
innovations that he or she creates, and the resulting
technology changes society. Another is that communications
technologies, as foreseen by Tesla and others, have energized
Page 3
marginalized discourses that have considerable potency in
changing the course of Western Civilization.
This researcher characterizes those alternative
discourses where Nikola Tesla found a chorus. It is a case
that corroborates the societal drift away from rationalism
during this century, toward what Davidson calls, "delusional
politics." Explicating four major examples, Tesla's effect on
these modern marginalized discourses is revealed. These
discourses are the Eastern religious, pseudo-sciences, UFO
phenomenon, and the so-called New Age occultist. Tesla's
influences are formally treated as sociological concerns of
Vallee, Postman, and Davidson.
Page 4
To Dr. Robert Calmes, who steered my life's course into
researching Tesla; Robert showed me that I really do prefer
people over things.
To my late mother, Patricia, who patiently waited for me to
figure out just what I wanted to do with my on again, off
again, interests in Tesla. I finally know.
To my brother, Brooks, who apprehends the larger picture of
my life's goals.
To my kids, may I be part of improving their world in a
significant way.
To Patrick Reany, who introduced me to the Metaphysics of
And to Charla, who will share this new adventure with me.
Finally, to Prof. Aaron Baker, who pointed me in the
direction of Sassower and Kellner.
Page 5
LIST OF FIGURES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
FOREWORD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
THE MARGINALIZED DISCOURSES . . . .. . . . . . . . . . 7
Seven Major Trajectories . . . . . . . . . . 7
Eastern Mystical Discourses . . . . . . . . 7
Theorizing from Fiske, Kellner, Sassower . . 8
BRIEF BIOGRAPHICAL BACKGROUND . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
A Confluence of Cultures . . . . . . . . . . 16
Historical Evaluations . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Tesla's Formative Philosophy of Science . . 19
A Positivist's Career. . . . . . . . . . . . 20
The Legacy of Tesla . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
THE NON-SCIENCE DISCOURSES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
First Example: Eastern Mysticism . . . . . . 26
Second Example: Pseudo Sciences. . . . . . . 32
Third Example: UFO Phenomenon. . . . . . . . 35
Fourth Example: Occultic . . . . . . . . . . 38
CONSOLIDATING THE CASE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45
Page 6
Page 7
T esla 1856-1943
. Char
t sho
ws the e
xtensions of
Tesla's Legac
as it influences modern belief systems and tec
Conceived b
y Thomas K
y 1993-95.
yout Re
v. 2000
erceived Militar
Industrial Comple
(Natural Anta
Page 8
Sahuaro High School, Tucson, Arizona. April, 1974:
Inside the auditorium, there are nearly 200 science
students seated in attendance, while a crew of five
assistants help me to present a series of technical
demonstrations of a 5KW class Tesla Coil system. At
this point in the presentation, the students are
murmuring to each other, talking, socializing, glad to
have a break from the regular class monotony. While
explaining the power that will be circulating in the
helix, my assistants have wired the energy storage bank
to the primaries, while I prepare to open the rotary
gap. After placing the microphone down, I step onto
the insulated platform, and take my position at the
static gap. The teenagers in the audience are only
marginally paying attention. I point to an assistant
off stage, who throws the primary power switches
closed. Some 40 amperes of 60HZ line current surge
into the high-voltage 18KVA transformer and then into
the energy storage bank. Everyone in the auditorium
can suddenly feel an incredible hum. The platform that
I stand on vibrates. With calculated sensitivity, I
proceed to open the static gap. As the gap opens, a
loud sparking noise and display of ultraviolet (flashes
akin to that of an arc welder's tool) blazes forth.
Page 9
At a certain point, as I turn the static gap open, the
power breaks and transfers to the rotary gap. A
deafening ear-splitting roar erupts, and a brilliant
cascade of light harshly illuminates the stage, even
casting strong shadows with people standing across the
auditorium hall. The loudness of the roar has been
described as the sound of a gun being fired each time a
pair of rotary points break—which happens some 28,800
times per minute. The intense dynamic of light playing
at the rotary gaps is too painful to look at directly.
I let it run for about 30 seconds, then close the
static gap. My assistant pulls the primary power
switches. Despite the ringing in my ears, I can hear
total silence in the auditorium as the echo dies away.
For remainder of the lecture, I am going to have the
audience's undivided attention . . . .
Page 10
Truth must wear its proper clothing, or it will not be recognized.
—Neil Postman,
Sociological and Historical Issues
I assert that an indispensable issue in any quality
analysis of sociological concern is an understanding of the
role technology plays in the historical dynamics of society.
Neil Postman writes, "the history of technology, which is as
much as science and art provides part of the story of
humanity's confrontation with nature and indeed with our own
limitations." It seems that much sociological, historical,
and religious study tends to overlook the usually subtle
effects that technology plays in shaping the events and
philosophical discourses under scrutiny by the researcher.
After years of study, I perceive that technology interacts
with culture in an often tightly coupled relationship.
Postman continues, "we need students who will understand the
relationships between our technics and our social and
psychic worlds, so that they may begin informed
conversations about where technology is taking us and
how"(Technopoly 197-198).
Toward a realization of the principle above, I now
qualify the term "marginalized discourse," as it will be
used in the context of this analysis. It is a cluster of
media texts representing the belief systems of one or more
subcultural groups that are, for the most part, decoupled
from the perceived dominant Western culture (in terms of
what will be defined from Kellner's notion of mass-media
culture, at least.)
Jacques Vallee, in assessing one of the significant
marginalized discourses to be described in the following
analysis, wonders in Dimensions, "Are we slipping, as Aime
Michel has warned, toward a new age of the irrational?"(24).
Many socioeconomics historians have recognized such a trend.
James Dale Davidson writes, "As the year 2000 approaches,
you should be alert to the strange fact that the end of each
century divisible by five has witnessed a major transition
in Western civilization." Relating this cycle to
technological innovation as its cause, Davidson continues:
Precisely five centuries ago, in this decade at
the end of the fifteenth century, the Gunpowder
Revolution exploded in Europe and Columbus sailed
for America. . . . Five centuries earlier, at the
turn of the tenth century, the Middle Ages began,
as the European economy recovered from the long
coma known as the Dark Ages.
. . . Nonetheless, there is a reason to suspect
that the patterns of history are more complex and
bizarre than educated opinion has commonly
thought. Growing evidence suggests that many
phenomena that appear random are actually biased
by some hidden order" (Great Reckoning 29).
Page 11
Developing a belief system entirely compatible with the
earlier beliefs of the subject of this analysis, Nikola
Tesla, Davidson finds a correlation between society,
technology, and man's need for spiritual fulfillment in a
significant way. Paul Tillich has also addressed this issue
of society and spiritual fulfillment evolving through
Western Civilization. For example, Davidson and Rees-Mogg
further sets up the modern situation, (in which Tillich
finds a definable tension.) Davidson says:
In Western democracies, social change is in most
respects channeled through the political process.
It has become second nature to assume that
elections and debates are what matter most in the
everyday ordering of life. They are not. Behind
politics, as important as it is, are the
megapolitical factors that ultimately determine
how societies function (Great Reckoning 33).
Davidson writes in his followup work, The Sovereign
The concept of megapolitics is a powerful one. It
helps illuminate some of the major mysteries of
history: how governments rise and fall and what
types of institutions they become; the timing and
outcome of wars; patterns of economic prosperity
and decline. By raising or lowering the costs and
rewards of projecting power, megapolitics governs
the ability of people to impose their will on
others. This has been true from the earliest
human societies onward. It still is. . . . The
key to unlocking the implications of megapolitical
change is understanding the factors that
precipitate revolutions in the the use of
violence. These variables can be somewhat
arbitrarily grouped into four categories:
topography, climate, microbes, and technology. . .
. (52)
Davidson pivots his thesis on the nature of technology
as a principle factor of culture. He continues, "Technology
has played by far the largest role in determining the costs
and rewards of projecting power during the modern centuries.
The argument of this book presumes it will continue to do
so. Technology has several crucial dimensions." (Sovereign
It is most striking that Davidson constructs a theory
that not only is compatible with Tesla's beliefs in the
natural destiny of humanity with respect to technology, but
a careful reading of Tesla reveals features that are best
understood from knowing Davidson's theory. For example,
considering what Davidson describes as a cyclical
characterization of Western history, an understanding
Tesla's culture-bearing hypothesis asserted in his 1919
work, "The Problem of Increasing Human Energy," becomes
trivial. Davidson writes:
Page 12
Understanding the way the world works means
developing a realistic intuition of the way that
human society obeys the mathematics of natural
processes. Reality is nonlinear. But most
people's expectations are not. To understand the
dynamics of change, you have to recognize that
human society, like other complex systems in
nature, is characterized by cycles and
discontinuities. That means certain features of
history have a tendency to repeat themselves, and
the most important changes, when they occur, may
be abrupt rather than gradual.
Among the cycles that permeate human life, a
mysterious five-hundred year cycle appears to mark
major turning points in the history of Western
civilization. As the year 2000 approaches, we are
haunted by the strange fact that the final decade
in each century divisible by five has marked a
profound transition in Western civilization, a
pattern of death and rebirth that marks new phases
in social organization in much the way that death
and birth delineate the cycle of human
generations. (Sovereign 36-37)
Perceiving that man needs a spiritual fulfillment
within the context of his society, Tillich speaks of
"estrangement" in the Hegelian sense, where the "absolute
Spirit goes into nature, becoming estranged from itself."
Tillich reflects that Karl Marx spoke of "alienation" of the
society. Tillich states that Marx concerned himself with
the "dehumanization of man becoming a commodity, devoid of
spiritual value, as a natural result of industrial
technology." By estrangement, Tillich says "the essential
character of man is lost" (Tillich and Braaten 184-185)
This is not only axiomatic to the technologies and
speculations that Tesla developed throughout his career, it
greatly enriched his legacy.
Davidson characterizes the rationalism of the
Enlightenment, coursing through the Industrial Revolution,
into the Information Age, as also containing a spiritual
fulfillment. Yet, the technological innovations of the most
recent times also suggest something of a societal shift in
spiritual fulfillment. "[T]he microchip devolves societal
institutions," writes Davidson. Will the resulting society
be largely redefined, in what Davidson terms "delusional
politics?" Davidson writes, "The noisiest opponents of
Western culture are not content just to attack American
institutions, they also attack the sciences, intellectual
rigor, and logic itself as tools of oppression"(Great
Reckoning 111).
Davidson has theorized a socioeconomic swing in history
that cycles between the opposite extremes of humanistic
ethics and materialist ethics. Postman, Vallee, Naisbitt,
Page 13
among others, find similar cyclical socioeconomic
dynamics located within the twentieth century. Based on
their researches, the 1990s represent the transition toward
a strong materialist ethics based upon both information
technology and on moral changes in society. If that is so,
then there should be localized evidence to suggest that
Davidson, and his colleagues, are correct in their
assertions. It is hypothesized that the following
examination provides evidence toward a satisfactory
demonstration of this sociological cycle.
It is the objective of this treatise, therefore, to
characterize an emerging scientific paradigm of the
sociological structure of present-day Western culture, one
that requires an interdisciplinary approach to the history
of technology. It is an analysis of heretofore marginalized
discourses simmering throughout the twentieth century. In
addressing the necessity to recover these discourses, Thomas
Kuhn writes the mission statement of the historian of
technology: "he must describe and explain the congeries of
error, myth, and superstition that have inhibited the more
rapid accumulation of the constituents of the modern science
text"(2). And as it will be shown, these marginalized
discourses are perceived by the dominant scientific
community to be greatly flawed.
The origins of these marginalized discourses are at
first seemingly inconsequential to their current state of
evolution. However, it is a traceable and definable
historical problem. Additionally, the need to examine
these discourses sociologically is well stated by Jacques
Vallee in Dimensions:
This coincidence between scientific arrogance and
a new social trend illustrates an important fact
in our society: while science consistently refuses
to consider phenomena that lie outside the safe
regions of its current understanding, the public
is eagerly reaching for explanations that fit its
experience. While our scientists remain unaware
of important data that could stimulate new
theories of the universe, the rest of us miss an
opportunity to make serious progress in what
should be an important spiritual quest"(xiv).
How these discourses relate both to the long-term
cyclical model by Davidson and to the spiritual estrangement
described by Tillich may be answered by studying the nature
of technical innovation as influenced by the worldviews of
inventors. A variety of innovators working in America
during the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries have been shown to be seriously influenced by
beliefs in spiritism, theosophy, and superstition.
John Naisbitt is author of the pop-culture work
and Alvin
Toffler is author of
Future Shock,
The Third Wave.
Page 14
For example, Henry Ford dabbled in spiritism and
practiced séances. Thomas Alva Edison believed in
spiritism, in concert with Ford. Lord Kelvin was similarly
influenced by the relative popularity of spiritistic
beliefs. Other notables include the author Sir Arthur Conan
Historically, of course, one can show that many
innovators, inventors, early physicists, and the like were
often governed in their theoretical constructions by
otherwise religious or even superstitious beliefs. A most
notorious historical case is that of Isaac Newton. While
presenting a public face of no-nonsense and matter-of-fact
reality, in private, says Jacob Bronowski, "He practiced
alchemy. He wrote immense tomes about the Book of
One finds Newton's spiritualistic beliefs
intimately part of his theories of gravity and also of
In a practical sense, it usually appears that however
an inventor came to realize his innovation, the resulting
application of the idea, device, or technique is wholly
decoupled from the creative process that developed it. Yet,
it can be shown that an inventor's worldview does indeed set
constraints that shape the results of his endeavors. More
subtlety, sociohistorical and economic issues are raised
from the interaction of technology with society. James
Burke writes, "Each [technological] change brings with it
new attitudes and institutions created by new knowledge.
These novel systems then either oust or coexist with the
structures and attitudes held prior to that change"(11)
For purposes of an examination of these perspectives, an
obvious sociotechnical case is revealed here in the life of
the enigmatic American inventor, Nikola Tesla.
Jeff Johnson assesses this inventor: "In the past
decade or so, Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) has become a name to
conjure with—at least within the subculture of that American
phenomenon: the Inventor. Few people recognize his name,
although in the history of electrical technology it is as
important as Thomas Edison's. Even Tesla's admirers don't
seem to to know exactly what to make of him"(368).
NOTE: One major problem should be addressed here, concerning the
texts used to describe the controversy over Tesla. Most such texts in
this analysis are, especially where examples are suitably produced by
academic or professional authors, more often found in the popular
literature that I survey. For their merit in this cultural studies
project, these references should easily stand up to academic rigor,
albeit not typically produced for the context of peer-reviewed
criticism. For example, Jeff Johnson, while he may have superior
credentials himself, submitted his opinions on this cultural production
concerning Tesla only to a semiscientific journal. Despite this
limitation, this cultural studies analysis still brings Tesla into the
academic realm, both to complement current cultural studies theories and
to offer new perspectives on Tesla's legacy.
Page 15
The example of the life, career, and legacy of Nikola
Tesla not only consolidates these sociohistorical interests
in the one man, but it goes further to show how Tesla
himself intensified the actualization of his worldview
within his technical innovations. Because Tesla
orchestrated his worldview into his technological
accomplishments and writings, we have a historical situation
where it is easy to directly chart the effect of his work.
We can, through the career and legacy of Tesla, examine how
technology incorporates a worldview, and then extends it
into a societal structure.
A classification scheme realized by this researcher
will serve to delineate the effects of Tesla's old-world,
religious, and superstitious beliefs
along several
sociotechnical trajectories of his legacy. Using Tesla's
case as a framework, other inventor's worldviews can be
examined against their own legacies, further clarifying
their own sociohistorical effects. Additionally, the
classification scheme that I set forth is intended to assist
the sociologist and the historian of technology of the
latter twentieth century to establish a basis of the
operative belief systems crisscrossing several marginalized
Therefore, this analysis is a merging of recent
cultural studies theories and an application of the history
of ideas toward an efficient presentation of a heretofore
academically unnoticed yet significant marginalized culture.
Tesla's personal superstitious habits are legendary. Descriptions
of his superstitious behaviors are given prominence by every one of his
biographers. See, for example, Cheney.
Page 16
Nihil In Sacculo Quod Non Fuerite in Capite
[There is nothing in the pocket that is not first in the head]
—Nikola Tesla's favorite proverb
The Seven Major Trajectories of an
Unsettled Legacy
Tesla created a base of technological endeavor that
intimately reflected his worldview. It will be shown that
this affected his choices of technology, and that naturally
projected several powerful elements into his resulting
legacy. It is sufficient to introduce the seven major
trajectories of Tesla's legacy here, with four of these
projections to be more fully developed later in this paper.
As shown more fully in Figure 1, these aspects of Tesla's
legacy are, by my own definitions
As an aspect of post-WWI
All of the practical inventions
Both alternative and speculative
UFO Phenomena:
Both Tesla-derived propulsion and
Tesla as "secular shaman" and
Inclusion of aspects of Eastern
Duka Tesla as goddess (Nikola
Tesla's mother).
Confluence of Eastern Mystical Discourses
Scientific knowledge, like language, is intrinsically the common
property of a group or else nothing at all. To understand it we shall
need to know the special characteristics of the groups that
create and use it.
— Thomas Kuhn,
Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Another major feature of this analysis will reveal
Nikola Tesla to be seminal in the modern confluence of
technology and physics theories with Eastern religious
discourses. This will be explained in the first of the four
extended examples. I will characterize the essential
Page 17
chronological phases of his life and develop a schema that
establishes detailed examples in four of what I assert to be
the five principle lines of his legacy. These are Pseudo-
Science, UFO, Occult, and Eastern Mysticism. Pagan Feminism
is the fifth principle discourse, but it will not be
examined in this treatise—(the bibliographic references
about Pagan Feminism in the selected bibliography should
suggest a definitive research project on this one topic).
The remaining two trajectories of his legacy are much less
dynamic at the close of this century (despite the recent
fragmentation of Yugoslavia,) and an examination of these
other aspects is not necessary for this analysis.
I will show that a number of several modern thinkers
have relied heavily upon Tesla's synthesis of religion and
technology. Tesla resolved to his own satisfaction, the
spiritual estrangement of man in technological society.
Many others have found Tesla's synthesis as a source
authority for their own works.
An analysis of the literature relating to Tesla reveals
a large body of what I term technocultural writing. This is
marginalized technical literature that a significant
percentage of which appeals to three subcultural groups that
fall under various labels. The first subcultural group is
defined as the New Age and/or Pagan. The second
subcultural group is the Alternative, Extraordinary, or
Speculative Sciences. The third groups definition contains
the Futurist, Patriot, and UFO. However one defines these
subcultures, Tesla's writings and utterances are given a
preeminent place, usually offering authoritative
justification for an author's agenda. Again, Figure 1
provides a survey of the seven major vectors of Tesla's
legacy. I will examine Tesla's life and legacy within the
context of his powerful effect on these subcultures.
Structured as a historical analysis, this study is helped by
recent cultural studies works of John Fiske, Douglas
Kellner, Raphael Sassower, and Kuhn's theory of scientific
paradigms. Additionally, as Kuhn suggests, the
understanding of scientific knowledge as a language and
cultural production forces a framing of such as a dynamic
Theorizing From Fiske, Kellner, and Sassower:
Applied to Tesla's Legacy
In looking at which theories best constitute an
analysis of these marginalized discourses, I believe that
media cultural studies contribute greatly to understanding
the dynamics of Tesla’s legacy. According to Kellner,
“media culture” “has the advantage of signifying both the
nature and form of the artifacts of the culture industries .
. . and their mode of production and distribution. . . .”
He continues, “it avoids ideological terms like ‘mass
culture’ and ‘popular culture’ . . . the term breaks down
artificial barriers between the fields of cultural, media,
Page 18
and communications studies. . . .” Additionally, Kellner
writes, media culture “calls attention to the
interconnection of culture and communications media in the
constitution of media culture,” which removes the
distinction between “’culture’ and ‘communication’”(Media
Culture 35). These ideas are applied to the discourses
described later, with more emphasis on the alternative media
prevailing among these voices.
For application to this analysis, Kellner keys on the
sociopolitical dynamic of these subcultures. As Kellner
writes, “Media culture is also the site where battles are
fought for the control of society.” The percolations of
Tesla’s legacy will be shown to similarly energize the
struggles of several subcultures against the dominant
scientific paradigm. Kellner cites several other
contestants in the field of cultural power: “Feminists and
antifeminists, liberals and conservatives, radicals and
defenders of the status quo, struggle for cultural power. .
. .” He finds that, “The media are intimately connected
with power and open the study of culture to the vicissitudes
of politics and the slaughterhouse of history.” The media
“help shape our view of the world, public opinion, values
and behavior, and are thus an important forum of social
power and struggle”(Media Culture 35).
Whether in the
mainstream entertainment industry, or especially with the
alternative publishers, periodicals, independent video
producers, and the Internet, the media becomes a conduit for
these discourses to find communal voices tagged with Tesla’s
Media cultural studies initially started in the 1960s,
from the early British cultural studies that looked at “how
media culture was producing identities and ways of seeing
and acting that integrated individuals into the mainstream
culture.” This initial focus included how marginalized
elements of society suffered under class inequality and
systematic oppression. Studies of these “subcultures in
Britain sought to search for new agents of social
change”(Media Culture 35) Emerging from the basis of
earlier studies, Kellner’s media culture theory represents a
potent way of exacting Tesla’s legacy. Kellner balances
aspects of dominant and oppositional readings of the
subcultural productions.
Another theorist, John Fiske, locates within his
concept of popular culture, a cluster of theoretical tools
that can be used to further characterize the dynamics of
subcultures operating under the dominant technomedia
industrial paradigm.
Particularly significant as a theoretical tool, Fiske’s
use of “Relevance” will help to shape the marginal
discourses to be shortly examined. Used as a means of
selection, relevance is popular culture “made at the
interface between the cultural resources provided by
capitalism and everyday life”(Understanding Popular Culture
129). Fiske, even more than possibly Kellner, finds a
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theoretical basis by which one or more of the subcultures
influenced by Tesla can take the culture industries by
surprise. Specifically, several of these discourses find
ready exploitation in the mainstream entertainment industry
through movies such as Independence Day, The Arrival, and
Phenomenon and through television programs such as The X-
Files, Dark Skies, V, Sightings, and Paranormal Borderline.
Fiske refines relevance in his cultural theory by
distinguishing it from aesthetic criteria. Rather, he
locates relevance in “the social situation of the reader” as
a quality of proximal reality. That is to say, relevance is
dynamically dependent upon the time, place, and
circumstances of the individual operating in a social
sphere. I will demonstrate that those individuals involved
in these marginal discourses find considerable relevance in
their social constructions where Tesla provides (however
inappropriately from the view of the mainstream sciences,)
relevance in these subcultural texts. Fiske writes, “The
evaluative work of popular criticism becomes social or
political, not textual: the critic attempts to explore and
evaluate the sociopolitical effectivities of the relevances
made out of the text”(Understanding 151). In other words,
the media production coming out of the subcultural
discourses is to be evaluated for what it does, how it
energizes, or whether it is polemical for the participants.
Evaluating for relevance, this media production, in toto, is
not considered for aesthetic suitability framed against the
hegemonic hierarchy of the dominant media culture.
Therefore, the four discourses that are used as examples in
this treatise are structured from Fiske's theoretical
The artifacts of media culture are thus not
innocent entertainment, but are thoroughly
ideological artifacts bound up with political
rhetoric, struggles, agendas, and policies. Given
their political significance and effects, it is
important to learn to read media culture
politically in order to decode its ideological
messages and effects”(Understanding 93).
In paralleling Fiske, Kellner borrows from Giroux’s
concept of “insurgent multiculturalism” to explicate the
directions his “insurgent” media studies is capable of
taking. He writes, “An insurgent cultural studies enters
into dialogue with members of oppressed groups in struggle
and expands cultural studies to include voices usually
excluded in more academic forms of cultural studies, thus
striving for a more inclusive and political project”(Media
Culture 96). On this basis, I am able to apply Kellner’s
theoretical tool of insurgent cultural studies to this
project. Especially with the examples described shortly,
Kellner's position that “a critical multiculturalism does
not entail affirming that there are nothing but
differences"; Kellner continues, "rather it points out
that there are common forces of oppression, common
Page 20
strategies of exclusion, stereotyping, and stigmatizing of
oppressed groups, and thus common enemies and targets of
attacks”(Media Culture 97). And as will be shown with the
legacy of Tesla, the several discourses to be examined
beautifully fit Kellner’s theoretical position, above.
Referring to the biographical history of Tesla, and the
historical course of his legacy as a method of examining
Tesla's effects on these cultural productions, Kellner
affirms: “A multiperspectival method must necessarily be
historical and should read its texts in terms of its socio-
historical context and may also choose to read history in
the light of the text”(Media Culture 99).
Yielding a different tack on approaching the
cohesiveness of Tesla's legacy, I use Fiske's notion that
“Discourse is now mediated and its struggles must therefore
engage with the technology of mediation. But communication
and information technology does not merely circulate
discourse and make it available for analysis, it also
produces knowledge and applies power”(Fiske, Media Matters
217). The salient feature to analyzing these discourses is
a grasp of how subcultures find expression, appeal, and
power through alternative media structures. From the simple
multicopied handout through to the exercise of Internet
facilities, marginalized subcultures, such as these soon-to-
be explicated examples, find considerable ability to cross-
connect their endeavors through modern technologies.
The Four Extended Examples Introduced
Awaiting further investigation is how the dominant
media culture at once protects itself from intrusions by
these discourses, yet also exploits these marginalized
discourses toward its own promotions. For example, as will
be further developed, both the Tesla and the UFO communities
find common discourse in their mutual fear of government
surveillance. Fiske explains the sociological dynamics of
the fear of surveillance through such effects on media
culture while some researchers, such as Vallee, explicate
detailed examples of this sort of fear on the greater UFO-
interest community. My examples of such fear in the Tesla
community, which are also contextually shared with the UFO
community, will reveal tight correlation’s with Fiske’s
theory of media fear. Fiske continues, “Information
technology is highly political, but its politics are not
directed by its technological features alone”(Media Matters
219). Consider several examples from the Tesla community,
as it interacts with like-minded communities on several
points of governmental surveillance. Again, these
discourses are more detailed later.
The first such example is that of technological “mind-
control,” as fostered by the fear of the H.A.A.R.P. project,
Page 21
or from fear of the “Montauk Project.”
The second example
considers a whole subcultural production relating to the
suppression of marvelously life-saving or life-improving
technologies as developed by largely ignored, altruistic, or
persecuted inventors. King of this media discourse is
Tesla’s so-called “Free Energy” system. The third such
example is that of the techno-occultic. It will be shown
that apocryphal tales, such as that of the so-called
“Philadelphia Experiment,” and the tales of “Area 51,” by
such people as Al Bielek, Preston Nichols, John Lear, and
Robert Lazar, rely heavily upon fears of the government’s
oppression and ever increasing database and surveillance on
its citizenry to promote their own techno-occultic belief
systems. The final example of the occultic develops from
these themes too, but then yields its own discursive voices.
Again, a further extension of these theoretical ideas
include “The power to produce and apply norms,” writes
Fiske, “as Foucault tells us, is a crucial social
power”(Media Matters 220).
Especially as a recent media
force, these subcultural dynamics are readily exploited by
the Hollywood entertainment industry, which in turn creates
a discursive energy within these subcultures. As such,
these alternate voices are finding something of mainstream
acceptance, which in turn, buffets, adjusts, or otherwise
steers the direction of the dominant media culture in
response or capitulation to the social power of these
subcultures. Typically of these alternative voices, the
mainstream dominant culture finds ways of socializing them,
draining them, and packaging them for mass consumerism.
This only serves to energize the fringe belief systems, and
the exploitation of the marginalized circles around again.
Sassower then clarifies certain other issues with his
cultural studies technique. The examination of Tesla will
bear out these dynamics.
Sassower writes, “Postmodern technoscience is neither
an assemblage of the various critiques of science and
technology that have emerged in the late twentieth century,
nor an attempt to provide a chronological break between
modernism and a successor age. . . ." In other words, he
validates some features of these subcultures, especially the
pseudo-science discourses, as actively resistant to the
dominant science paradigm. And he gives some merit to their
concerns. He continues, "As such, then, postmodern
technoscientific activities are open to public scrutiny and
debate in ways that may have been inconceivable only a few
decades ago”(Sassower 2). This challenging of the old-guard
science and industrial establishments has certainly created
H.A.A.R.P. is the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Project,
currently under development in Gokona, Alaska. It is a joint Navy and
Air Force project. The former Air Force Base at Montauk, Long Island,
is alleged to be a secret base of highly suspect activities.
Page 22
a response ranging from disgust to hatred among an aging
cohort of scientists and engineers to perceptions of mass-
ignorance affecting public policy. It is from this context,
that recent cultural studies are now very open to an
analysis of Tesla.
For example, one of the more energetic responses in the
science community has been in the realm of representation of
the electronics-industrial culture through such organs as
the I.E.E.E.,
versus the ever-more flourishing Tesla-
legacy subculture. Found on the one hand are well-
considered scientific critiques, and and on the other hand,
histrionic polemics from both technocultures. As Sassower
continues, “This leads me directly to public perceptions,
political policy-making processes, and the eventual
confrontation between the discourses and communities of
science and politics”(2). The example of the pseudoscience
discourse detailed shortly is a very good example of these
subcultural productions.
Sassower observes, “I do not wish to portray a rosy
picture of the intellectual world, for it is rife with
competition and jealousy, rivalry and and prestige, back-
biting and outright fraud”(18). This internal conflict
within the scientific and industrial communities allows for
considerable attack from the resistant readings by the
pseudoscience discourses. More prosaic to the Tesla legacy,
these discourses find a plethora of justifications from both
Tesla’s engineering attempts, and from his speculations on
the nature of science, ancient wisdom, and man’s harmony
with the environment.
For example, Tesla’s “Free Energy” system is very often
used to provide insurgent discourses into the internal
conflicts of the science and industrial communities, often
clouding the meaningful issues described by the participants
of those communities. The several examples shown below are
taken from the abundance of small publishing houses, (and
especially in the latter nineties,) small video production
houses, alternative periodicals, and in particular, forums
and topically related networks on the Internet. Particularly
relevant are the effects by these beliefs in Tesla’s scheme
on the politics of science and technology. Tesla’s energy
system becomes, in effect, the rallying flag around which a
significant subcultural production is energized.
Although a direct critique of these discourses is not
within the scope of this project, a few of the examples are
annotated. Rather, the effort here is to characterize this
cluster of discourses in terms of their sociological effects
upon the course of technological progress. I recognize that
I.E.E.E. is the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers,
an international society of professionals and scientists in the
electrical and electronics industries founded over one hundred years
ago. The I.E.E.E. has chapters on most university campuses, engineering
colleges, and technical research facilities.
Page 23
many of the belief systems presented in this analysis are
clearly constructed of misperceptions, errant thinking, and
incomplete or misapplied concepts. For example, shortly,
this analysis surveys some applications of Hindu beliefs
within the context of these discourses. The fact that much
of what passes as Hinduistic beliefs in these cases (and
clearly will not pass muster with Hindu scholars) does not
in any way impinge on the validity of examining how certain
perceptions of Hindu beliefs transform and energize these
Tesla-related subcultural productions.
Especially prosaic in this analysis is that much of
what drives these Tesla-related discourses is profoundly
unscientific (albeit, the participants themselves believe
that they are more “open-minded” than mainstream
scholarship.) That is to say, misunderstood technology and
science have far-reaching effects on the sociopolitical
environment of the present. A comparison to the
sociological concerns of Davidson, Vallee, Postman, and
others creates open-ended questions about the role these
subcultural discourses play in their theoretical schemas.
This is a driving imperative of this analysis. Therefore,
the applications undertaken in this analysis fall upon the
recent theoretical frameworks of Kellner, Fiske, and
Sassower. In their cultural studies theories, they have
opened the way for this examination to pursue certain
marginalized, lay-scientific, and pop-culture texts in a
rigorous academic way. These texts, as features of these
subcultural productions, are the means of dissident,
polemic, and apologetic discourses between the several
subcultural communities. At the outset, I recognize that
these discourses are at great departure from the mainstream
scientific community.
Looking at the controversial nature of the belief
systems that are to be examined, it is instructive to relate
the prevailing perceptions of these discourses as held by
the mainstream science community. Acknowledging the potency
of a discourse that is decoupled from empiricism, Wilhelm
Reich writes, ". . . an ideologist can go on giving free
rein to his fantasy, without ever performing one piece of
solid work"(Reich 359). Much of what is said of Tesla is
anecdotal, replaying the life of a secular saint. In the
effort to characterize Tesla through these different
subcultural groups, I often find the adherents of the Tesla
legacy adopting otherwise contradictory ideas about Tesla or
of his own views.
Here, Tesla is characterized from a normal-science
apologist looking at the cluster of subcultural beliefs
emerging from Tesla's legacy. "It's easy to see why Tesla
should have become the focus of an effusive subculture"
writes Jeff Johnson. "He was absolutely convinced of his
own genius; he promoted his own personality cult of the
'great inventor' sort; he enjoyed financial success in early
life, and later in life was able to indulge in a panoply of
bizarre and grandiose ideas; and he achieved considerable
Page 24
scientific notoriety, despite a flawed understanding of
physics and other sciences"(367)
Johnson finds an explanation for some of the energy
driving this dynamic: "Martin Gardner once observed that
pseudo-scientists tend to fall into two groups: those
motivated to defend some religious dogma and those motivated
by a belief in their own greatness, unrecognized by the
world, which in some cases can grow into paranoia"(366-367).
The historical framework for this discourse is derived
from the communications theories of Neil Postman. The
sociological framework for this analysis will be derived
from Jacques Vallee's several works on the subject, from
his 1979 book, Messengers of Deception, through his 1991
book, Revelations. The theoretical structure comes from
Kellner. Using these tools, an understanding develops of
the tension between the normal science discourses and the
cluster of Tesla-related discourses. This tension creates a
measurably definable boundary between them. Additionally,
there are extended sociological effects stemming from the
aforementioned dynamic tensions.
Page 25
A Confluence of Cultures
An understanding of the life and legacy of Nikola Tesla
must include a survey his formative years in that region now
known as Yugoslavia. This satisfies Kellner's imperative
that historical elements be contextually resolved in order
to understand the projections of the resulting subcultural
dynamics. This biographical sketch addresses Kellner's
theoretical concerns by highlighting what I believe to be
the most important aspects of Tesla's life. These are the
things which bore fruit in his legacy as examined in this
analysis. In other words, examining Tesla's background does
two things for the cultural studies analysis: (1) it
provides a framework by which the cultural studies analyst
can understand a greatly misunderstood individual, (2) it
provides a biographical sketch that concentrates on those
details that seem to have the greatest effect on his legacy
and subsequent cultural production.
Born in 1856, in Smiljan, in the Lika province of
Croatia, to the family of a Serbian Orthodox Christian
minister, Tesla was raised in a family rich in traditional
and scholarly discourse. Tesla's mother, Duka, was
illiterate; yet, she had an ear for poetry and folklore and
could recite tales perfectly, even after only one hearing.
Tesla inherited this gift. Nikola's father followed the
Tesla-family tradition and became a minister. This brought
the young Nikola into a realm of considerable intellectual
stimulation and diversity. Initially, he followed his
father's plans for his own career to enter the clergy; this
brought to Tesla access to literature well beyond the reach
of most other Croatian boys. Nikola always had an obsessive
interest in reading. For example, if he read one work by a
particular author, he read all obtainable works of that
author. Additionally, the great confluence of languages and
cultures in Croatia taught the young Nikola at least eight
languages that he could speak, read and write on a scholarly
level (Kelley 4).
Following his epiphanal vision of his life's work at
the age of sixteen, Tesla almost exclusively wrote in
English. (This vision was his idea that he could harness
the power of Niagara Falls for hydroelectric power
generation.) An accomplished poet himself, Tesla translated
the works of other Slavic poets into English, especially the
great Serbian poet, Zmaj-Jovan Jovanovich. The resulting
trajectory of his legacy in this area is labeled in Figure 1
as "Poetic." As summarized above, Tesla was well educated
not only in the strong sociocultural-mythic-intellectualism
of his Serbo-Croatian heritage, but also in the highest
theories of physics of the day. He strove throughout his
career to meld the two systems of thought into something
beneficial for all mankind. The basis of this passion is
explained in sociological terms by Margaret Cheney in her
work, Tesla: Man Out of Time: "Ethnic traditions are often
Page 26
most tenaciously observed by transplanted minorities and the
Teslas were no exception." (6) In other words, Tesla never
fully allowed his Serbo-Croatian heritage (which includes
spiritual and superstitious beliefs) to be replaced with
materialistic-positivistic philosophies.
Historical Evaluations
Consider several coarse assertions about Tesla (as
extracted from Johnson's and Cheney's writings): Tesla has
often been hailed as the greatest inventor the world has
ever known. He was a studious poet of his formative
culture. To his own satisfaction, Tesla successfully melded
Eastern mysticisms with modern applied high technologies
(e.g., energy resonance theories vis-a-vis spiritualism,
etc.). Tesla conversed on a scholarly level with religious
leaders (Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Theosophist, Spiritist,
etc.). He became for all competing factions, the icon for
Yugoslavian unification. Tesla's views on women made him
the champion of pagan feminists and
Page 27
the nemesis of modern gender feminists.
Tesla and Thomas
Alva Edison supported a lifelong loathing of each other.
Additionally, Tesla is (variously) credited with inventing
the modern electric power grid, wireless power transmission,
radio, television, X-radiation, modern rare-gas lighting,
anti-gravity engines, Star-Wars death rays, atom smashers,
and virtually everything else technological, except the
digital computer. Johnson says, "Tesla fans credit him with
a long list of inventions and discoveries. . . .
Ironically, these people seem least enthusiastic toward the
one area in which historians of science and technology give
Tesla unqualified credit: AC power technology"(372).
As a working definition, that which Tesla believed is correct
feminism, is what I call the Pagan Feminists. The term is used to
discriminate between two broad groups of feminists for my analysis of
Tesla. The one group, which in this analysis is designated as the
gender (also called modern or militant) feminists, reflects philosophy
and action in academia and politics. Margaret Sanger would be a member
of this group. In a broad sense, this group of feminists is what most
people think of when the topic is discussed.
The pagan feminists are a majority that believe that they're more
potent and powerful as women, not to be in competition with men, as
such. Most importantly, they find that to be feminine requires
spiritual, sexual, physical, and earth awareness. At an extreme, these
women tend to be healers, witches, pagans, druids, psychics, midwives,
and sensitives. They get their power by using their connectedness to
nature, in a unique feminine strength.
Where Tesla enters the picture, is that his mother was a
powerfully liberated pagan woman--she was intelligent, independant, and
used her wiles effectively to work within her environment, culture, and
relationships. She directed and controlled her cultural production.
She was a highly creative innovator, herself. She was a sensitive, and
a folk healer. For Tesla, his mother was the ultimate pagan feminist
Tesla routinely argued with feminists of the '20's, '30's about
what it is to be a feminist. Particularly with Sanger, Tesla argued
with her in several magazine editorials during the '20's, in a point-
counterpoint format. Sanger complained that Tesla knew the power of the
feminine better than the feminists. She would not accept his vision of
the future of feminism.
Tesla became the defacto champion for pagan feminists, and as
such, his legacy reflects that support. Tesla is perceived as a shaman;
his mother is regarded as a goddess in some circles. Yet, Tesla is
virtually ignored by many modern feminists, as an archaic construct of
old cultural values asserting in their own emerging paradigms. Tesla
counters Sanger by feeling the undercurrent of the human need for a
particular structure of feminism, one that contributes to increasing
civilization--toward a technological civilization made humane through a
cultural production manifested through the pagan feminists. Tesla
believed the current feminist cross-cultural discourses are a necessary
but ultimately misguided response to technology.
See also, Cheney, 2ff
Page 28
Tesla's Formative Philosophy of Science
and Consequence
Tesla was at a great departure from the modern physics
paradigm. Kuhn defines this paradigm in its historical
basis: "Thermodynamics was born from the collision of two
existing nineteenth-century physical theories, and quantum
mechanics from a variety of difficulties surrounding black-
body radiation, specific heats, and the photoelectric
effect"(67). That is to say, Kuhn succinctly identifies
the root of the modern physics paradigm. However, modern
quantum physics is a paradigm that Tesla chose not to
participate in. Kuhn validates one reason why Tesla may
have rejected this new physics:
Out-of-date theories are not in principle
unscientific because they have been discarded. . .
. Rather than seeking the permanent contributions
of an older science to our present vantage, they
attempt to display the historical integrity of
that science in its own time. They ask, for
example, not about the relation between his views
and those of his group, i.e., his teachers,
contemporaries, and immediate successors in the
Throughout his career, Tesla held fast to the
scientific positivism of his early training. His adherence
to a strong personal positive philosophy of science brought
along the conceptual baggage of such ideas as luminiferous
ether. This is a belief he held until his dying day—despite
the abandonment of the ether concept in favor of
relativistic theories starting at the turn of this century.
In the first extended example to be explicated, in what I
call in part, "Tesla's Vedic Science," it will be shown why
Tesla chose not to adopt the new theories. Even more
damaging to his career, his stalwart rejection of transverse
electromagnetic radiation theory and his promotion of scalar
electromagnetic theory was seen by the new quantum
physicists to be obsolete, if not unquestionably ludicrous.
An examination of Tesla's philosophical orientations about
science yields significant illumination about the two
principal trajectories in the scientific legacy of Tesla:
the positivists, that founded the American engineering
community, and the fringe pseudosciences of the occult, a
source of the new alternative sciences.
In terms of a literary tradition, there is a vast
quantity of written material from within the context of
Tesla's legacy. Tesla not only contributed considerable
writings that promote this literary consequence, but stood
by mute while a large number of occultists, Eastern mystics,
spiritists and opportunists laid claim to Tesla and used him
liberally to justify their own agendas.
For his part, Tesla believed that humans are
essentially automatons, subject to the most analytical and
predictive behavioral sciences. Tesla writes, "While I have
Page 29
failed to obtain any evidence in support of the contentions
of psychologists and spiritualists, I have proved to my
complete satisfaction the automatism of life, not only
through continuous observations of individual actions, but
even more conclusively through certain generalizations"(My
Inventions 105).
As with Newton, and as with many other
inventors and innovators, Tesla in his turn subscribed to
both a spiritualism and a naturalism. Yet, it is only with
Tesla, that the bifurcation in his personal beliefs greatly
energized the resulting discourses.
A Positivist's Career
Tesla's belief in technology, materialism, and social
behavior should have aligned him perfectly with the
scientific and engineering communities in this country
during the 1890s. At one time, he was even titular head of
that American community. Tesla's golden hour was his
overwhelming victory in what is historically described as
the "War of the Currents," the opposition of the engineers
who supported alternating current (AC) versus the engineers
who supported direct current (DC) for the transmission of
electrical power. It was Westinghouse versus General
Electric. Tesla versus Edison. Westinghouse versus J. P.
Morgan. It was a war over who would succeed in harnessing
the Niagara Falls to produce electric power for Buffalo, New
York. This showcase example defined the power paradigm.
Using Tesla's AC patents, Westinghouse won the Niagara Falls
contracts; by 1893, AC was clearly the champion over DC.
Tesla became an international celebrity achieving
"superstar" status. The American Institute of Electrical
Engineers (AIEE) invited Tesla to speak before them in 1893,
where he gave them a presentation of AC technology that
attracted a legion of engineers entranced at his every
utterance. As the figurehead of the AIEE, it seemed that
Tesla would define the positivist agenda in America. Yet,
it was not to be (Cheney 38ff).
For Tesla was a victim of the self-same robber-baron
Social-Darwinism philosophy that was prevalent in America—a
philosophy that he used so well to win the War of the
Currents. (In other words, he effectively appealed to the
engineering community of the day. He also appealed to the
media, propagandizing and pandering to a willing public.)
For even as Edison was forced to buy licensing rights from
Tesla to produce AC, Tesla's star was fading. Even though
he won one philosophically technological war, in the larger
picture, the big players such as J. P. Morgan were still
dominant. Tesla was in such a socially connected sphere and
enjoyed such familiarity with the media that he failed to
recognize the fact that he was cast adrift from behind the
scenes by the financial power brokers and engineering
communities that publicly supported him. A major feature of
this separation between Tesla and the American industrial
community, despite Tesla's genuine belief that he was
Page 30
entirely in accord with that power agenda, was a perception
by those industrial power-brokers that Tesla was occultic,
superstitious, and even a pseudoscientist. In this respect,
Tesla through his speculations was his own worst enemy.
What is significant about the foregoing perception is that
it is the basis of several of the major trajectories in the
legacy of Tesla (Cheney 281ff).
The Legacy of Tesla
It will be exhibited in a subsequent section that
Tesla's superstitious habits were largely derived from his
relationship with his mother. Of interest here are Tesla's
religious views and superstitions relative to his
technological beliefs. Tesla was quite familiar with a wide
variety of religious structures. As reviewed above, Tesla
was a member of a clerical-scholarly family. He grew up in
a region crossed with Christian Orthodoxy, Roman
Catholicism, Protestantism, Christian tradition, Islam,
Islamic tradition, and from the East, Hinduism, Buddhism,
and various Eastern mysticisms. It is largely from this
structural base that Tesla sought to combine such knowledge
with high technology throughout his career. Unfortunately
for Tesla, the pragmatic American industrial engine was not
prepared to be fueled by Tesla's theoretical conclusions.
For example, "He believed his own mechanistic concept of
life to be 'one with the teachings of Buddha and the Sermon
on the Mount'"(Cheney 244). In other words, one may cite
literally hundreds of quoted statements of Tesla's that
describe in strongly Eastern religious terms, some future
utopian society. Scholars should readily recognize a
monism in Tesla's framework. For example, one of the chief
mitigating factors against Tesla's achieving a successful
financial capital resource base is that these public
pronouncements would stall those seeking a return on their
investments with Tesla vis-a-vis Tesla's claims for
universally free and unlimited power. Why invest in Tesla's
technologies if the result is not profitable? Yet, Tesla
sometimes seemed to be almost pouting over the fact that
investors usually turned away from him as he promoted his
techno-religious ideals.
This free energy aspect of Tesla's legacy has greatly
energized the marginalized discourses, especially where
humanitarian parallels and alternative-energy researches are
emphasized. The humanitarian discourses include those that
exhibit Tesla as saintly, long-suffering, a modern martyr
for his cause. A survey of related literature also shows
this theme operating among other twentieth-century
scientists as unsung Tesla-type heroes. For example, Helga
Morrow writes of her father, (who she states as having known
Tesla,) "Like most brilliant scientists, he forfeited power,
glory and monetary compensation to do his work"(Morrow 2).
Numerous authors and researchers have paralleled Tesla's
free-energy efforts. Consistently, they describe themselves
Page 31
as sacrificing careers, families, prestige, and money to
follow Tesla's ideals. Stan Deyo writes, "As I sat and
pondered the weight of the years of discovery and
understanding that had led me to that moment there in the
study, I suddenly felt very tired. . . very old for my age
of thirty-three"(Deyo and Deyo 8). As exhibited with the two
examples of Morrow and Deyo above, I have observed that many
adherents to Tesla's ideals have also experienced something
of a martyr complex.
In any case, Tesla, especially after the turn of the
century, had trouble getting financial support for his
technical innovations because he was no longer perceived as
a practical scientist and engineer. Rather, he became
perceived more and more by the public as an obsessive
visionary, which in turn had disasterous consequences with
his potential backers.
Page 32
The Formation of Tesla's World View
Since much of the subsequent legacy of Tesla depends on
his personal behaviors, some examination and explanation of
his behaviors and superstitions at this juncture is quite
appropriate. Many professionals across many disciplines
have tried to analyze Tesla's behaviors and beliefs. Tesla
is a source of fascination for psychologists in particular.
They often find within the pathology of Tesla, a cluster of
neuroses and obsessive behaviors. These aspects of Tesla's
personality are a rich source for energizing the subsequent
discourses. One of the more interesting attempts to
psychoanalyze Tesla is cited by Margaret Cheney in her Tesla
biography. The following is extracted from that work. Dr.
Jule Eisenbud analyzed Tesla in Freudian and Jungian terms.
In an article in the Journal of the American Society for
Psychical Research, Eisenbud examined Tesla's neuroses
relative to his maternal relationship. Eisenbud finds in
Tesla's life "many signs of an emotionally and physically
deprived infantile nursing period. . . . seen frequently in
persons who are known clinically as obsessional neurotics .
. . marked all his relationships to and attitudes toward
mother symbols and mother substitutes"(Cheney 230).
Eisenbud's explanation of Tesla's obsessive behavior is
offered to help understand why Tesla lived a life rife with
superstitious habits. Eisenbud blames Tesla's mother as
evidence through psychological explanations.
For purposes of understanding the subsequent cultural
production, I am not interested in a psychoanalysis of
Tesla. I believe that allowing Tesla to act as his own
apologist from his own writings provides a much more
enriching understanding of the basis of the several
trajectories of his legacy. More concertly, Duka Tesla (his
mother) was superstitious herself; and Nikola learned these
behaviors through long-term proximal exposure to his
mother's behavior, not necessarily through a Freudian or
Jungian analysis of the mother-son pathology (Tesla,
Inventions 30-35). In other words, I appeal to a more
pragmatic view of Tesla, one that Tesla himself used.
Consider the following as Tesla's affirmation as to why he
was so superstitious, phobic about germs, etc.
Tesla himself offers additional background concerning
his phobic behaviors (for example, his fear of germs, his
intensive numerological beliefs); he states that they
yielded an acquired disciplinary skill greatly aiding his
inventive ability relative to civilized ideals extant within
the nineteenth century. What follows, in Tesla's own
words, is a description of his life as a sufferer of
synesthesia (Cheney 21-22). He writes:
In my boyhood I suffered from a peculiar
affliction due to the appearance of images, often
accompanied by strong flashes of light, which
Page 33
marred the sight of real objects and interfered
with my thought and action. They were pictures of
things and scenes which I had really seen, never
of those I imagined. When a word was spoken to me
the image of the object it designated would
present itself vividly to my vision and sometimes
I was quite unable to distinguish whether what I
saw was tangible or not. This caused me great
discomfort and anxiety (Inventions 31).
To free myself of these tormenting appearances, I
tried to concentrate my mind on something else I
had seen, and in this way I would of then obtain
temporary relief; but in order to get it I had to
conjure continuously new images. . . . This I did
constantly until I was about seventeen when my
thoughts turned seriously to invention. Then I
observed to my delight that I could visualize with
the greatest facility. I needed no models,
drawings or

Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: lg (
Date: July 23, 2004 03:15PM

I see this cut off the last 12 pages, so if anyone wants the other part I can paste it here.


Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: lg (
Date: July 23, 2004 03:30PM

Hugh, this is the part that inspired my poem on the USP and some of MY observations here:

What follows, in Tesla's own
words, is a description of his life as a sufferer of
synesthesia (Cheney 21-22). He writes:
In my boyhood I suffered from a peculiar
affliction due to the appearance of images, often
accompanied by strong flashes of light, which

marred the sight of real objects and interfered
with my thought and action. They were pictures of
things and scenes which I had really seen, never
of those I imagined. When a word was spoken to me
the image of the object it designated would
present itself vividly to my vision and sometimes
I was quite unable to distinguish whether what I
saw was tangible or not. This caused me great
discomfort and anxiety (Inventions 31).

To free myself of these tormenting appearances, I
tried to concentrate my mind on something else I
had seen, and in this way I would of then obtain
temporary relief; but in order to get it I had to
conjure continuously new images. . . . This I did
constantly until I was about seventeen when my
thoughts turned seriously to invention. Then I
observed to my delight that I could visualize with
the greatest facility. I needed no models,
drawings or


Re: Poetry Convention - Reno 911?
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (
Date: July 24, 2004 12:15AM

Les, one book I have has a lecture in which Tesla discusses the wonder of the eye as a sensory organ...i will post pertinent passages if i can locate it

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