Cat. 2, Philosophy 9 – BL-33 – Bloody Superstition & Bold New Cosmology

Cat. 2, Philosophy 9 – BL-33 – Bloody Superstition & Bold New Cosmology

Ch. 33 –  Bloody Superstition and Bold New Cosmology

When I picked up my duffel bag from the carousel on the arrival level of the Vancouver International Airport in late spring, 1977, it contained about a thousand pages of hand-written notes. By late 1979, they had grown to almost three thousand pages.

Let me time-travel to 1997, when, in a feature article titled [Bloody Superstition] in the Vancouver publication the Georgia Straight, Shawn Blore summarized my life up to 1987 as follows:

… Born in February 1944, in southern China, Anthony Seeu-Sung Marr fled to Hong Kong along with the rest of his family shortly after the Communist revolution. Family legend has Marr’s father burning the deeds of the family’s extensive land-holdings for a moment’s warmth during the first refugee winter…

In 1965, Marr came to Canada to study science at the University of Manitoba…

At the same time, his relationship with a Hong Kong girl fell to bits when she dropped him on orders from her parents. Marr has never forgiven Chinese culture for the snub. “As a result of that incident, I have never dated a Chinese girl again,” Marr said. It’s a decision that isolated him somewhat from the Chinese community, but, according to Marr, it also allowed him to integrate more fully into Canadian society than other Chinese immigrants of his generation.

In 1966, Marr switched over to the physics department of the University of British Columbia. His summers he spent in the bush in northern Manitoba and British Columbia, working as a geologist’s assistant. It was work that can only be romanticized by someone who has never done it. Marr said, “The student is the geologist’s personal servant – more like slave, considering the pay, which was only $280 per month. I made and carried his lunch, and at every outcrop the geologist would pick up a rock sample about twice the size of my fist and drop it into my knapsack. I had to carry that ever-heavier thing all day, up and downhill, wading into swamps that would sometimes come up to my chest or higher. Your shirt would be black with flies and mosquitoes. There could be a bear behind every tree. It was brutal, but also absolutely beautiful. And this was how I bonded with nature.”

After he graduated with a B.Sc. in 1970, Marr took a job as a live-in house-father for emotionally disturbed kids, then a career in real estate. He said he had a heavy student loan to pay off. One senses he also had a need to gain acceptance among the Vancouver business community. “I made rookie of the year, then Gold Club, Diamond Club, all that,” Marr said. “I bought a couple of horses – hunters-jumpers – and got involved with the high social elite you see down in Southlands.” Snap shots from the time show a short-haired Marr in boots and riding breeches, sitting atop a bay Thoroughbred gelding.

The real estate phase continued for several years. Marr bought a small acreage in the suburbs. He dated but never married. “The work first became routine, then boring, then irksome, then unbearable. I was still good at it, but the initial challenge was gone,” he said.

About this time, things took a strange turn. Whether from boredom, a need to be alone, or perhaps simply a desire to see the sights, he left his job, gave away his belongings, and set off on a solo journey in East Africa, primarily in the Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge region of Tanzania. At some point during that three month sojourn, something happened that changed the whole focus of Marr’s life.

“If you want to be dramatic, you could Hollywoodize it and say it came to me all at once in a blinding flash while I was camping on the savannah, but really, it developed very gradually.”

What Marr was catching sight of was a completely new philosophical system, a new model of the Universe, one that in Marr’s view is comprehensive enough to explain the organization and development of life, society and the Cosmos itself.

The full tenet of this system came to him in dribs and drabs over a period of many months during and after his return. Marr collected each of these apparently unrelated thoughts on a file card – more than 1,000 of them by the end – and worked at ordering, arranging, and reordering them, trying to assemble them into a coherent whole. The process took months. Marr’s live-in girlfriend walked out. “I really shouldn’t be living with someone at that point,” Marr said. “I had to have my own room. I had to have a ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign on the door, and if anybody as much as knocked, my tenuous mental construct would fall down like a house of cards. Even the prospect that someone might knock was disturbing.” The net result of his shuffling and reshuffling, typing and retyping, was a manuscript more than 800 pages in length, describing a new and comprehensive philosophical and phenomenological system. Marr christened it [OMNISCIENTIFIC COSMOLOGY], OMNI-SCIENCE for short.

At first glance, OMNI-SCIENCE bears some resemblance to the ideas of the Jesuit philosopher-scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Both suggest that the development of humanity must logically proceed in a converging upward spiral, which Marr calls Integrative Transcendence, towards ever-higher levels of organization and unity. Marr, however, is quick to point out how his system differs from those of other western philosophers. “No philosophical or religious system I’ve encountered is cosmic enough,” said Marr. “They’re too anthropocentric, too narrowly focused.” Marr’s system purportedly incorporates everything – inorganic and organic – throughout the Universe, from the Big Bang to whatever end, all participating in the multi-levelled Integrative Transcendence spiral towards universal life and consciousness.

Hogwash? Possibly. Even Marr himself had doubts, principally about the total validity and social acceptability of his system, especial in the eyes of the scientific community. In the late 80s, he tossed both manuscript and portable type-writer into his little green Toyota Celica and set off down the West Coast to test his system with the best academic minds he could find. One of the stops was the University of California at Berkeley; another was Stanford.

“I would have aimed for Cornell, Harvard, Princeton and Yale as well, but they were a little too far to drive for my budget. In any case, this was when my sales experience paid off. I had no problem ‘cold-calling’ anyone. When I got to town, the first thing I’d do was to find the course catalog of the university I had in mind and look up the professors who were teaching the courses I liked. Back in my motel room, I’d crank out a dozen or so letters. ‘Dear Prof. so and so, I have a matter of philosophical interest that I’d like to discuss with you. The time required would be about two hours…’ Then I’d go back to campus and put the letters into the professors’ cubbyholes. The next day, I’d call and ask for an appointment. Of the thirty or so contacts I made in total, there was only one decliner. We’d talk for two hours, and at the end, I’d ask for a letter of critique.”

The good professors’ reactions to this approach can be discerned from the letter written by Dr. William Kimbel, president of the Institute of Human Origins at Berkeley: “Owing to the large number of half-baked theories on cosmology currently in circulation, I admit that I faced the prospect of my meeting with Mr. Marr with some trepidation. From the outset, however, it was clear that Mr. Marr is no amateur populariser. On the contrary, he is a dedicated scholar whose theories, I believe, make a profound contribution to the fundamental definition of humankind in relation to the broader universe… implications of great depth and breadth for the future course of human actions… too important to ignore.”

Marr received similarly effusive letters from other professors at Berkeley, Stanford, the University of Oregon, the University of Washington and the University of British Columbia…

Heady stuff. Yet, more than a decade later, the manuscript remains unpublished. Professor Braxton Alfred of Anthropology, UBC, said he even offered to help find a publisher, but Marr said his manuscript was not yet ready for publication. He did leave a copy of the then manuscript behind after his presentation, but due to professional pressures, Alfred didn’t get around to looking at it until recently. Reading it now, Alfred said, only increases his respect for Marr. It also sheds light on what it was that set him on his current crusade.

“The presentation he gave me was hard science, very thoroughly presented. He was right on the numbers with everything in the presentation. I presumed likewise in these documents,” Alfred said, referring to the OMNI-SCIENCE manuscript, “but these are quite a different thing. That man had a revelation in Africa. There’s no other way to characterize it. It’s clear that he was experiencing some sort of emotional trauma, and something touched him, and what these documents record are the revealed truth of that contact.”

According to the manuscript, Alfred said, Marr had reached a crisis and was sitting in the snows of Kilimanjaro, pointing a gun at his head.

Then, as stated in Marr’s text: “The sun went down, the moon came up, and more than my hand had begun trembling. It was then that this mysterious source of wisdom address me for the first time: ‘I am seeking a miracle worker, to work a miracle upon this Earth, on my behalf. Since you seem to have no further use of this body of yours, which seems to be in prime condition, will you surrender it to me?’”

“That’s when the entity, or whatever it is, first made contact with him,” Alfred said, “but, apparently, the contact continues. It seems that there is no end to it. I would not be surprised if he has conversations with this entity still.”

Having read the manuscript, Alfred said he is no longer puzzled by Marr’s decision to turn away from the task of perfecting his book to work on behalf of endangered species. “It was in Africa that this naturism force first came to the fore…” The manuscript also gives some indication of the source of Marr’s willingness to take on seemingly hopeless causes. “He clearly came to a crisis point in his life,” Alfred said, “and the heavens opened up and truth was revealed, and he’s been going strong eversince.”

Wherever his confidence came stems from, when the “‘19th-century scholar’ decided to prove himself as an environmental saviour, he displayed a thoroughly 19th century sense of ambition…

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Thank you, Shawn Blore!

I have also thanked my lucky star, many times, and still do, for sending me to Professor Braxton Alfred of the Department of Physical Anthropology of the University of British Columbia, or for sending him into my life, as a first contact to whom I made my first ever presentation of my brand new, oven fresh, un-peer-reviewed, untried and untested [Omniscientific Cosmology]. Here is an excerpt of his letter:

“… Mr. Marr’s effort is in the tradition of 19th Century scholarship, but is based solidly on 20th Century science. There is simply no modern parallel for his accomplishment.

“His system is extraordinarily ambitious… it purports, and is successful in my opinion, to explain the multi-level structure in the phenomenal world… It is truly a grand scheme…

“He speaks with the power and confidence of one who totally commands the material. The presentation was scheduled for two hours. After four hours, mutually fatigued, we adjourned – and I was very reluctant to quit.

“It is a compelling indictment of the structure of contemporary academic departments that, undoubtedly, no graduate would be allowed to pursue such a project with any expectation of being awarded a degree. This is in spite of the fact that Mr. Marr’s product is in every way superior to any of the Ph.D. degree this department has awarded in the twenty years of my appointment.

“It is characterized by careful, thoughtful attention and rigorous development. I recommend it, and him, without qualification.”

This letter, dated 1984, constituted a solid foundation for my self-confidence.

Other than the obvious, the professor to whom I made my second presentation was a philosophy professor, a Dr. Finnigan, who took serious exception to my radical departure from his long held and historic philosophical formula, and tore my Omniscientific Cosmology to shreds, and at that in front of other philosophy professors present (about a half dozen), and no one spoke up in my defense. Were this philosophy professor my first contact, instead of Professor Alfred, I doubt that I would have made any second presentation to any second contact. So thank you, again, Professor Braxton Alfred!

In fact, due to his encouragement, despite my misgivings and dread resulting from my second presentation, I proceeded to give my third and fourth and fifth… presentations on the Omniscientific Cosmology to other professors of diverse department of the UBC, in that same year. Following are excerpts from their critiques:


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Biology, Professor Ian McTaggart-Cowan:

“This will introduce Mr. Anthony Marr… We met for a full afternoon during which he presented his objectives, his background preparation and led me through the development of his novel theory. We had an extended discussion in which I probed deeply in my area of expertise.

“I emerged highly impressed with his seriousness of purpose, his intellectual capacity, his ability to grasp and use unusually detailed information drawn from a broad range of scientific disciplines. He met my challenges forthrightly, thoughtfully and in detail.

“Subsequently, I read his book manuscript. In this he develops a philosophy that rests securely on basic scientific understanding. I followed with fascination the evolution of his theoretical concept of the progress of life on earth from inception to society…

“I am convinced that what he is striving to achieve is important.

“Mr. Marr is an unusually talented and discipline individual. He is one of the many millions of people who are deeply distressed by many of the directions and consequences he sees in the world today, but unlike so many, he has dedicated himself to struggling intellectually to develop and promote new attitudes.

“Mr. Marr is a serious scholar who both writes and speaks with ease and confidence. I urge you to give his book the serious attention it deserves.”

Geology and Oceanography, Professor R.L. Chase:

“… The work is a brave attempt to give us a new, science-based philosophy, with the aim of giving humankind a common purpose to unite the planet and seek societies beyond it. As a geologist I found his synthesis stimulating and refreshing. I have tried to work out for myself a philosophy based on paleontology and the physical sciences, but Mr. Marr has gone further to produce a more comprehensive worldview.”

Evolutionary Biology, Professor G.G.E. Scudder:

“… I spent about three hours with Anthony Marr… I found his approach to be logical and thorough. He has a good grasp of the basic principles and ideas in the natural sciences and is aware of the limitations of our current knowledge… I believe that his contribution is original and well founded. Mr. Marr is clearly dedicated and talented…”

Astronomy and Geophysics, Professor T.K. Menon:

“… I was highly impressed by his breadth of knowledge… There is no question in my mind about the seriousness of his pursuit and the need to have his ideas widely discussed. He deserves to have a wide audience to expose his ideas for scholarly appraisal, and I urge that such an opportunity be made available to him.”

Biology, Profession Lee Gass:

“I am writing on behalf of Anthony Marr. My purpose is to document his seriousness of purpose, the strength of his commitment to understanding, his intellectual solidity and honesty, and his willingness and ability to consider an extremely broad range of issues in a way that can potentially clarify them for large numbers of people…

“He has responded to my most rigorous challenges extremely well, demonstrating a degree of intellectual discipline that is rare even among professional scholars…

“I have no doubt that he has dedicated his life to this project…”

Thank you, professors of the UBC! Onward and outward!


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