Faces of the New Renaissance: Clif High

Okay, so he's not really a face – I couldn't find a picture of the guy – but Clif High, if anyone, is a true renaissance man. He doesn't paint, but together with his associates (notably George Ure) he has almost single-handedly invented a whole new science: predictive linguistics. (Though it's a safe bet that some government agencies have probably developed their own versions of it for their own uses, wink wink.) Before anyone dismisses him as a quack, I'd like to point out that he's not proposing anything more radical or against the grain than the simple hypothesis that probable future events with high emotional impact can send ripples backward in time that subtly affect the word choices people subconsciously make in their everyday communications on the Internet. OK, that is pretty radical. But he's under no delusions of being able to actually predict the future, and he makes that very clear. What predictive linguistics can do is spot trends in language that, processed and interpreted, often appear to correlate strongly with events that happen later, right down to the specific timing and archetypal significance of the events.

(To demonstrate the principle that we're all a little bit psychic, just do some searching for references to the events of September 11, 2001 from before that date. You'll turn up the most uncanny references in the most unlikely places. It's hard to believe any common person had foreknowledge of the attacks, so a more plausible explanation is that these were psychic echoes reaching back in time, conceivably transmitted, propagated, and received through some kind of shared subconscious.)

Clif himself does a much better job of describing the technical process, but essentially you have a bunch of “spyders” or web bots constantly reading new material on the Internet, programmed to look for certain words and phrases and record the words and phrases that surround them. This generates a huge amount of raw data that becomes the input for “modelspace,” a computer-generated model of how language is being used. From there it's a matter of filtering out the noise, picking out the trends in word associations that might mean something, and trying to puzzle together just what the heck they mean. That process is messy, delicate, extremely complicated, heavily biased, and subject to a metric crapload of error.

Clif periodically publishes the results of this mad science in the Asymmetric Language Trend Analysis (ALTA) reports, which he makes available, complete with dire warning labels and a page's worth of fine-print disclaimers, for a very modest per-issue subscription fee. I ordered Volume 0, Issue 1 back in August, and I have to say he's not kidding with those warnings. If you do buy one yourself (you poor sap), don't distribute copies and don't post the text of it online. That messes up the modelspace with self-referential knots that Clif then has to lose sleep untying, and could threaten the whole project. Other than that, have fun scaring the bejeebers out of yourself! Yup, it's probably a good idea not to take any of it too seriously.

As an antidote to the intense negativity in his ALTA reports and to the crummy side of life in general, Clif recommends pie. In fact, he's earned himself the nickname of “pie guru.” This and many, many other highly worthwhile tidbits come out in his frequent radio interviews. I never cease to be amazed at the scope of the man's knowledge. He must have read thousands of books on all kinds of interesting topics.

Anyway, the reports aren't all doom and gloom. – Oops, I just caught myself about to copy-paste from the August 2009 report. Hmm, gotta put this in my own words. Well, there's a catch-all entity in modelspace for all the weird, unknown, unexplained, and officially denied stuff. For some reason, it's apparently less inaccurate than the other entities, and going by the report, we should be headed for some highly interesting times in that area. In fact, those times have already begun, with NASA obligingly having gone ahead with its absurd plan to “bomb” the moon. A funny choice of words for a funny little operation. “Looking for water?” Puh-leeze.

Also according to Volume 0, Issue 1, we should now (November 4-8, 2009) be in the minimum of a “low” period of “building” emotional tension, as opposed to a high, where the uptight energy gets released. Which could explain why I'm feeling almost euphoric about how things in general are going. Thinking back one year, to my twenty-fourth birthday and the election of Barack Obama, my emotions were very similar, although much stronger, at that time as well. Perhaps it's one of those echoes, going forward in time?

As a final note on Clif High's work thus far and as the segue to my next entry, the report contains references to a mysterious figure known as the “dog poet,” who is supposed to become a key personage in the coming “war” between the powers-that-be and the common folk. The report is quite circumspect as to the identity of this person, with Clif undoubtedly looking to provide just enough clues so that the aware can deduce who it is, without placing this individual at risk. Fortunately, though, the Dog Poet himself has since come forward, and has, I assume, not overly endangered himself by doing so. Who is he? Stay tuned and find out.