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John C. Lilly
John Cunningham Lilly (January 6, 1915 – September 30, 2001) was an American physician, psychoanalyst and writer.
He was a pioneer researcher into the nature of consciousness using as his principal tools the isolation tank, dolphin communication and psychedelic drugs, sometimes in combination. He was a prominent member of the Californian counterculture of scientists, mystics and thinkers that arose in the late 1960s and early 70s. Albert Hofmann, Gregory Bateson, Ram Dass, Timothy Leary, Werner Erhard, and Richard Feynman were all frequent visitors to his home.
Additional recommended knowledge
Lilly was a qualified physician and psychoanalyst. He made contributions in the fields of biophysics, neurophysiology, electronics, computer science, and neuroanatomy. He invented and promoted the use of the isolation tank as a means of sensory deprivation. He was also a pioneer in attempting interspecies communication between humans and dolphins.
His eclectic career began as a conventional scientist doing research for universities and government. But as he followed his own inquiries, Lilly delved into what mainstream science considers fringe areas. An able publicist, he published many books and had two Hollywood movies based loosely on his work. His reputation enabled him to attract private funding for his more unconventional later work.
He progressed ethically during his career from conventional and often invasive research (in which the mind under study was seen as a complex object), into increasingly consensual peer to peer interactions with other beings, especially dolphins.
John Lilly was born on Jan. 6, 1915, in Saint Paul, Minnesota and showed an early interest in scientific experiment.
He studied physics and biology at the California Institute of Technology, graduating in 1938. He studied medicine at Dartmouth Medical School and received a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1942.
During World War II, he researched the physiology of high-altitude flying and invented instruments for measuring gas pressure.
After the war he trained in psychoanalysis and at the University of Pennsylvania where he began researching the physical structures of the brain and of its consciousness. In 1951 he published a paper showing how he could display patterns of brain electrical activity on a cathode ray display screen using electrodes he specially devised for insertion into a living brain.
Development of the sensory deprivation tank
In 1953, he took a post studying neurophysiology with the US Public Health Service Commissioned Officers Corps. In 1954, following the desire to strip away outside stimuli from the mind/brain, he devised the first isolation tank, a dark soundproof tank of warm salt water in which subjects could float for long periods in sensory isolation. Dr. Lilly himself and a research colleague were the first to act as subjects in this research.
His quest next took him to ask questions about the minds of other large-brained mammals and in the late 1950s he established a centre devoted to fostering human-dolphin communication; the Communication Research Institute on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. In the early 1960s, Dr. Lilly and co-workers published several papers reporting that dolphins could mimic human speech patterns. Subsequent investigations of dolphin cognition have generally, however, found it difficult to replicate his results.
Exploration of human consciousness
In the early sixties he was introduced to psychedelics like LSD and ketamine and began a series of experiments in which he took the psychedelic in an isolation tank and/or in the company of dolphins. These events are described in his books Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer: Theory and Experiments and The Centre of the Cyclone, both published in 1972.
His career then took the turn of becoming something of a mix between scientist, mystic and writer, publishing 19 books in all, including notably The Centre of the Cyclone which describes his own LSD experiences and Man and Dolphin and The Mind of the Dolphin which describe his work with dolphins.
In the mid and late 1970s he was an adviser to the then up and coming film maker George Lucas.
In the 1980s he led a project which attempted to teach dolphins a computer-synthesised language. Dr. Lilly laid out the design for a future "communications laboratory" that would be a floating living room where humans and dolphins could chat as equals and where they would find a common language.
He envisioned a time when all killing of whales and dolphins would cease, "not from a law being passed, but from each human understanding innately that these are ancient, sentient earth residents, with tremendous intelligence and enormous life force. Not someone to kill, but someone to learn from."  In the 1990s Lilly moved to the island of Maui in Hawaii, where he lived most of the remainder of his life. His website johnclilly.com was designed during this time by the New York based graphic artist, BigTwin.
His literary rights and scientific discoveries were housed within Human Software, Inc., while his philanthropic endeavors were channelled through the Human Dolphin Foundation. His legacy continues through the John C. Lilly Research Institute, Inc.
Solid State Intelligence
Solid State Intelligence is a malevolent entity described by John C. Lilly.
Lilly's work, particularly his development of the sensory deprivation tank, is referenced explicitly or implicitly in numerous film, music and television productions.
Books by John C Lilly
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "John_C._Lilly". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|