Broadcast Power: Nikola Tesla
THE drama of Twentieth Century Science and its intriguing relationship with financiers and governments unfold together in the remarkable life of Nikola Tesla. His is a biography replete with all the elements of tragedy. Tesla, a great discoverer of unsurpassed force, became the focal point of old insidious forces intent on destroying the future for the selfish sake of the status quo. Tesla remains a focal point of wonderment, of dream, and of worlds which yet should be to those who are familiar with his biography. For them, Tesla stands astride the quaint past century and the gleaming future. He is a technological Colossus, pointing the way to a new dawn.
The biography of Nikola Tesla should be the very first chapter in every child’s science text. Yet, we find his name stricken from the record in every avenue of which he alone holds priority. This conspicuous absence prompts wonderment. What the world does with discoverers determines the world course. In the life of Nikola Tesla we see the portrayal of our own future, the fate of the world. The achievements of this researcher were lofty. The world has not yet implemented his greatest works. For a time, all the world’s dramatis persona focused on Tesla. He remains the legend, the theme, the archetype of all Twentieth Century scientists.
But who was Nikola Tesla, and where was he from? How did he reach such a mighty stature, and what did he actually invent? Tesla was born in 1856, the son of an illustrious Serbian family. His father, an Orthodox priest, his uncles noteworthy military heroes of highest rank. He was educated in Graz, and later moved to Budapest. Throughout his life he was blessed, or haunted, by vivid visions. In the terminology of Reichenbach he would be termed an extreme sensitive. It was through these remarkable visions that Nikola Tesla invented devices which the Victorian world had never seen. Indeed, his visionary experiences produced the modern world as we know it.
He attended various Universities in Eastern Europe during his early adulthood. While delving into his studies, he became aware by the new and insidious scientific trends which questioned the validity of human sense and reason. An impassioned soul, Tesla felt the pain of modern humanity in its intellectual search for a soul. Finding no solace in any of his classes, he sought refuge in a more romantic treatment of science and nature. None could be found. Professors dutifully promoted the “new view” by which it was, declared that the natural world was “inert …dead …a mere collection of forces”.
This quantitative regime was mounting force among academes, who were then attempting the total conversion of scientific method. Those who would not accept the new order were compelled to depart from academic pursuits. Tesla totally rejected these notions on the strongest of inner intuitions. Most of his instructors would have said that he was not University material. Tesla, sensitive to every such dogmatic wind, rejected their thesis and sought some better means for knowing nature. If he was to excel in engineering, there could only be cooperation with natural force, never violence. It was clear to him that the new scientific world-attack would ultimately lead to violent responses from nature itself.
His inner conflict expressed itself openly and candidly, bringing young Tesla into certain disrepute among rigid University authorities. Universities were more like military academies than places where original thinking was conducted in open forum. Tesla challenged too many persons of esteemed rank with probing questions for which he was given rebuke but no real answers.
A gifted researcher and voracious reader, he chanced upon some forgotten volumes of natural science written by Goethe. He had not been aware that Goethe, long before he chose poetry for the vehicle of his scientific themes, had written several magnificent tomes on the natural world. Tesla found to his wonder that Goethe had experienced the very same emotions. When the new scientific dogma was just in its infancy, Goethe caught wind of it and reacted violently, even as one who stands watch in the night.
Goethe was well aware of the new scientific trend and its implications. The reduction of nature to forces and mechanisms was utterly revolting to Goethe. Now, Tesla found a notable compatriot in his experience. He secured a thorough collection of Goethe’s scientific texts and read these to the exclusion of all other philosophies. It was through this window that we may comprehend all of Tesla’s scientific methods and later statements. For in Tesla we see the quest for communion with nature, one based on the faith that mind, sensation, consciousness, and ordained structure form the world foundations.
The sense-validating Qualitative Theme again appears in Nikola Tesla. Armed with this foundation, he was able to filter and qualify every other new study with which he was presented. In addition, he was irresistibly drawn into the study of electricity, the “new magick”. In the following months, he absorbed the electrical engineering courses so rapidly that he no longer attended classes. He had taken a technical position in Budapest. Several new intuitions had seized him. Tesla became fascinated, obsessed with alternating current electricity. The problem he faced was considered insurmountable. Tesla was sure that he could devise an engine which was turned, not by contact-currents, but by magnetic field actions alone.
The struggle toward designing such a device, begun as a puzzling amusement, was now completely consuming his strength. The answer, tantalizing and near, seemed elusive. Undergirding all these efforts was the strongest desire to achieve something original, and by this, to attain financial independence for the sake of pure research. His only dream was to have a laboratory facility of his own.
The excessive labors and mental exertions nearly drove him to the brink of madness. He was, for as time, seized with strange maladies and sensitivities which physicians could not address. Reichenbach accurately describes these symptoms, characteristic of extreme sensitives. There come times when the neurological sensitivity of these individuals literally transforms and processes through their being. The emergence of these rare sensitivities affects such persons for the remainder of their lives.
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