THE COMPLEXITY OF HISTORY, KNOWLEDGE & POWER, A SELECTIVE MEMORY TO REMEMBER HISTORY, THE WAY HOLLYWOOD MAKES MYTHS, A FEW EXAMPLES.
Tear down pyramids, wipe out cities!
How dare you and the rest of your
barbarians set fire to my library?
Play conqueror all you want,
Rape, murder, pillage thousands,
millions of human beings.
But neither you nor
any other barbarian…
…has the right to destroy
one human thought!
When young at school in early age I learnt about the Alexandria library, something that as a young reader excited my imagination , and saw the burning of the library of Alexandria as such a tragedy. It was one of the greatest libraries in human history, holding a vast archive of manuscripts and books from all over the ancient world, and what our ancients would have themselves considered ancient. It was built after the famous Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and acquired knowledge from all parts of the globe. From East to West, the teachings of multiple civilizations throughout human history up to that time could be found in the great library.
The books contained in this library touched upon every subject that concerns humanity, from health, science, and astronomy to geology, philosophy, mysticism, magic, knowledge of the spiritual world, and much more.
Libraries as such were well known to multiple ancient civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Syria, and Greece, who were very impressed by Oriental knowledge. There is literary evidence of Greek individuals visiting Egypt specifically to acquire knowledge:e.g., Herodotus, Plato (particularly in Phaedrus and Timaeus), Theophrastus, and Eudoxus of Cnidus (as detailed by Diogenes Laërtius in the 3rd century CE).
The Royal Library of Alexandria or Ancient Library of Alexandria
Alexandria, Egypt, was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. It was dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the 3rd century BC until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC, with collections of works, lecture halls, meeting rooms, and gardens. Alexandria was considered the capital of knowledge and learning, in part because of the Great Library. The library was part of a larger research institution called the Musaeum of Alexandria, where many of the most famous thinkers of the ancient world studied.
The library was created by Ptolemy I Soter, who was a Macedonian general and the successor of Alexander the Great. Most of the books were kept as papyrus scrolls. It is unknown precisely how many such scrolls were housed at any given time, but estimates range from 40,000 to 400,000 at its height.
Arguably, this library is most famous for having been burned down resulting in the loss of many scrolls and books; its destruction has become a symbol for the loss of cultural knowledge. Sources differ on who was responsible for its destruction and when it occurred. The library may in truth have suffered several fires over many years. In addition to fires, at least one earthquake damaged the city and the library during this time. Possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria include a fire set by the army of Julius Caesar in 48 BC and an attack by Aurelian in the 270s AD.
Well, as a child I cried the loss of the library, as much as Shakespeare did, and I am sure, as much, as every other bibliophile in history, since so many years ago.
The New Library
The idea of reviving the old library dates back to 1974, when a committee set up by Alexandria University selected a plot of land for its new library, between the campus and the seafront, close to where the ancient library once stood. The notion of recreating the ancient library was adopted by other individuals and agencies. One leading supporter of the project was former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak; UNESCO was also quick to embrace the concept of endowing the Mediterranean region with a center of cultural and scientific excellence. An architectural design competition was organized by UNESCO in 1988 to choose a design worthy of the site and its heritage. The competition was won by Snøhetta, a Norwegian architectural office, from among more than 1,400 entries. The first pledges were made for funding the project at a conference held in 1990 in Aswan: USD $65 million, mostly from the Arab states. Construction work began in 1995 and, after some USD $220 million had been spent, the complex was officially inaugurated on 16 October 2002.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is trilingual, containing books in Arabic, English, and French. In 2010, the library received a donation of 500,000 books from the National Library of France, Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). The gift makes the Bibliotheca Alexandrina the sixth-largest Francophone library in the world. The BA also is now the largest depository of French books in the Arab world, surpassing those of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, in addition to being the main French library in Africa.
Building and library features
The dimensions of the project are vast: the library has shelf space for eight million books, with the main reading room covering 20,000 square meters (220,000 sq ft) on eleven cascading levels. The complex also houses a conference center; specialized libraries for maps, multimedia, the blind and visually impaired, young people, and for children; four museums; four art galleries for temporary exhibitions; 15 permanent exhibitions; a planetarium; and a manuscript restoration laboratory. The library’s architecture is equally striking. The main reading room stands beneath a 32-meter-high glass-paneled roof, tilted out toward the sea like a sundial, and measuring some 160 m in diameter. The walls are of gray Aswan granite, carved with characters from 120 different human scripts.
The collections at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina were donated from all over the world. The Spanish donated documents that detailed their period of Moorish rule. The French also donated, giving the library documents dealing with the building of the Suez Canal.
Why don’t you ask it, to your Magic Mirror?
Ironically in the course of my life, since the days I felt sadness as many before me, for such loss, now day things have changed to the point, where libraries are not even fashionable, and some may question their value, as a public service, since we live in the digital age, with computers, and the Internet, libraries are mainly museums to the past, despite being one, of the now rapidly diminishing amount of people, who prefer to hold a paper book in my hands, rather than a tablet, or read it on my computer screen.
Which take me to another issue, the many times, I have to remind people who carry the library of my childhood dreams, at the tip of their fingertips, and still ask me all sort of questions, and I remind them often with these words:
Why don’t you ask it, to your Magic Mirror?
You got no idea, the many puzzlement faces I got to see, until, suddenly they catch my meaning, and reach for their phone!
Like Magic, doesn’t it?
The magic Wonder, of wonders, who, could have told me then?
The wondrous Magic mirror, of the evil Queen, Merlin’s amazing crystal, gazing ball, right there, at the fingertips, of every Tom, Dick and Harry, all these, numberless, absent minded people, who use it for trivial things, like chatting, texting, exchanging jokes, and some no better, than the evil Queen, as a mere vanity tool, instead of a new depository of wisdom like the ancient Alexandria library of yore.
To each his own…I guess.
AMERICA THE LAND OF WEIRD POLITICS, EXCEPTIONALISM, AND OF COURSE, THE REST OF US, AND THOSE WHO WHO SUFFER IT
Everything that everyone is afraid of has already happened: The fragility of capitalism, which we don’t want to admit; the loss of the empire of the United States; and American exceptionalism. In fact, American exceptionalism is that we are exceptionally backward in about fifteen different categories, from education to infrastructure.
American exceptionalism? Exceptional at what? Waging wars against innocent people for fake reasons? Exceptional at what? Being addicted to pharmaceutical drugs that have people’s minds wasted? Exceptional at what? Eating more junk food and becoming the most obese nation on Earth?
American exceptionalism is the recurring character in the nation’s narrative.
It is not that I am not a fan of American exceptionalism. That is like saying I am not a fan of the moon being made out of green cheese-it does not exist. Powerful states have quite typically considered themselves to be exceptionally magnificent, and the United States is no exception to that. The basis for it is not very substantial to put it politely.
The conservative version of American exceptionalism has become a password of sorts for candidates who want to prove their credentials to a right-wing America.
[American exceptionalism] is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.
The idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional.
There are also fundamental issues related to what the current leader, President [Barack] Obama, said. I am referring to his idea about American exceptionalism. I am skeptical about this idea.
Christian nation mythologists pump themselves up with narratives of American exceptionalism and Christian domination. But sooner or later even their most devoted followers should begin to see that also depicting it as vulnerable to non-existent threats undermines the myth itself.
I think where [Donald Trump] loses most hawkish republicans is when he talking about how much he likes [Vladimir] Putin. That should make any person who believe in the American exceptionalism, incredibly uncomfortable.
People get tired of talking about American exceptionalism, but I think this is an extraordinary thing about the United States, that we are a nation of immigrants, first of all, that is built upon a pluralistic society of native people that were here to begin with. The issue of diversity is really with us from the beginning.
Diana L. Eck
We have had a long held myth of American exceptionalism.
American patriotism is now jingoism. American Greatness is made fun of. The concept of “Make America Great Again” or American exceptionalism is lampooned. It is impugned. It is attacked. The effort to globalize our society and make us feel, as many of us as possible, that there’s nothing special about being an American, that we ought to think of ourselves as citizens of the world, and in that context America is a problem because we have too much, we’ve done too much, we owe too much, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
It’s a deft trick to turn American exceptionalism into an exceptional political tactic.
We are going to lead once again by being the best. We’re gonna lead economically. We’re gonna lead technologically. We’re gonna go back to the Moon, we’re gonna do whatever we’re gonna do. We are going to lead by engaging in American exceptionalism and this is going to inspire others to come along with us. We’re not shrinking away from anybody. We are reengaging. That’s what Trump is, and that’s what Democrats don’t see.
“Well, I learned a lot….I went down to (Latin America) to find out from them and (learn) their views. You’d be surprised. They’re all individual countries.” President Ronald Reagan
America a great Nation
Now there’s no doubt in my mind, America it’s a great Nation, build on new ideas, new principles, like all men are equal, freedom, the constitution, our Founding Fathers, men of great vision, with a great past, and great accomplishments to be proud of.
However we can’t go on living from past glories, just the way we cannot live from the money we inherited from our grandfathers, when we spend it already.
Each generation has the moral duty to be great, we can’t go on living in what we were, but in who we are now, and what we got, already we have spent our capital, things have changed, and it’s time to begin again.
I got to confess before coming to America my experience in politics was one of abstention, and skepticism when it come to politicians, and knew nothing of American politics.
Well, that had changed a little bit, still need to learn a lot, but my skepticism about politicians and the value of their word, remain unchanged.
As an anecdote when looking for quotes about exceptionalism, not surprising Rush Limbaugh had many, a character with a lot of followers in America, but plagued by a lousy reputation for veracity, and accuracy, basically an ideologist of the far right.
“I Used To Think It Was Funny: Before the Right Wing Media Supplanted Moderate-Conservativism, Created an Ideological Monopoly, and Became a De-facto Propaganda Arm for the Extreme Right’s Agenda.”
When I first got here, I was baffled about the difference between Republicans, and Democrats, to me, they didn’t seem that different, today even less! And what I gather, it’s that the Democrats with the years, in the effort of pleasing the jingoistic masses, and Capital, had lost their old values and become closer to the right way of thinking, as opposed to their traditional left views of being there for the little guy, in a country where the word Left, no longer means what it used to be, but become a vilified word by the media, who of course paid by big money works tirelessly to make it so. And why not say it, Democrats leaders had abandoned those ideals, courting the almighty dollar, and become too fond of realpolitiks as defined by the dictionary:
‘A system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations.’
It is often simply referred to as pragmatism in politics, e.g. “pursuing pragmatic policies”. The term Realpolitik is sometimes used pejoratively to imply politics that are perceived as coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian.
On the other side
Most people who follow politics are aware that something unusual is going on in the Republican party — unusual relative to major conservative parties in other developed democracies and unusual relative to American history. GOP leaders no longer appear in control of their own agenda. Instead, they are being dragged from crisis to failure to embarrassment and back to crisis by the most extreme elements of their coalition. The far right has captured the party.
Here are some opinions of what’s going on in a forum:
‘They are becoming too intrusive and extreme like the far right did in Germany.
They are doing what Nazis did and taking control of peoples private rights (women’s reproductive rights). They are forcing their religious values by making laws based on them. They are intolerant of anyone that is NOT white. They spread lies and propaganda just like the Nazis. They are trying to destroy government and take over with privatization and a feudal system of economics. They pledge oaths to unelected politicians (Grover Norquist/a Muslim sympathizer, married to one). They are isolationist. They are taking dictator-type control over cities in states like MI and their rights to elect who they want. Election Rigging and they are very scary. They want to destroy education and want to rid the country of the elderly and poor and non-white people.’
‘Yes the Republican Party are acting more and more like fascists
They don’t listen to what anyone has to say. It is their way or the highway. They believe it is fine to disrespect the President and office of the Presidency. They feel that the old way is the glory way. They long to go back to a time where women were subservient and stayed home and had babies. They act as though they are the only game in town. They are bigoted, hypocrites that want you to do as they say not as they do. They would love to turn the world back to the 1950’s where the women wore pearls and only said perky things. And Father only knew best. They have done nothing positive for anyone but themselves since they have been in power. We can only hope they go the way of the dinosaur.’
‘The extreme right of the Republican are not conservatives, they are Fascists.
Fascism of any shade has certain common core characteristics:
2. Sexism and Misogyny
3. Strong mixture of state and religion
5. Protection of the cooperate class
6. Disregard of Human rights when deemed necessary
7. Fraudulent elections through use of powerful monied interests, gerrymandering, and voting suppression and intimidation.’
Comparisons are Hateful, but Necessary, the fact America it’s no longer Number one.
I kind of smile at the duplicity of our media, every so often, there’s an article on the newspapers where Norway it’s listed as: Norway ranked as the best place to live in the United Nation’s annual Human Development Report. It ranked the highest out of nearly 200 countries, forgetting to mention to the many readers, what was our actual rank, most people write comments indignant believing we are naturally the second behind Norway, by omission (not mentioning our rank) they lie of course, maintaining the illusion we are right behind when in fact in 2017 ranked in the eleventh place!
The Human poverty Index we are rated even lower; seventeen.
Quality of life Index: Sixteen
For many decades throughout the 20th century, the United States was recognized as having the highest standard of living in the world. Per capita income is high but also less evenly distributed than in most other developed countries; as a result, the United States fares particularly well in measures of average material well being that do not place weight on equality aspects.
In other words, if based on an individual count, rather than on an average of the highest, with the lowest, we will rate even far lower, which means a lot of people actually live way far below of sixteen, sad but true, it’s a fact our cities had deteriorated, their infrastructure, as well as our jobs, and living standards, we still live pretty well if compared to so named third World countries, but we no longer can claim top honors.
The number of homeless people grew in the 1980s, as housing and social service cuts increased. After many years of advocacy and numerous revisions, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act in 1987; this remains the only piece of federal legislation that allocates funding to the direct service of homeless people. Over the past decades, the availability and quality of data on homelessness has improved considerably. About 1.56 million people, or about 0.5% of the U.S. population, used an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009. Homelessness in the United States increased after the Great Recession.
I guess depends much where you live, to be a witness, and feel the effect of it, at least visually, and worst, if you are one of the ones suffering it, but in the big cities it’s just another fact of life.
Now, I am not talking out of my liberal heart, as some may think, just to criticize how bad the homeless problem is, I did ride three of the mos busiest bus lines, and the metro Red line in the city of Los Angeles, and I can tell you horror stories a mile long about the problems of sharing a ride with many of the homeless, that by the way, have free unrestricted access to the services, and rightly so, many times they use it as a home, or shelter, and some misbehave greatly, creating mayhem, and inconveniencing many other riders, few even dangerous, a daily reminder of what is wrong in America.
Some personal friends of mine, at work would patiently listen to my ‘Baba’s’ stories, as named by them, (like in India graciously name mendicants ) about my daily rides, and laugh about my adventures, it was fun for them to listen, but I assure you, most of the time, it wasn’t fun for me, or the many riders who just wanted a peaceful, and uneventful ride to work, or back home after a day of toll at work. The idea of writing a chapter on a book dedicated to the encounters, and many incidents I witness over those twenty two years, had crossed my mind, a close friend even got the idea of making a coffee table book with the pictures, and the many stories, with a title like: Meetings with Remarkable Babas!
And to the surprise of the many European tourist, and the many following conversations, I had with them about the disparity between the wealth of the surroundings, and the sad scenes witnessed by them on the rides, and in the streets, of some of our wealthiest communities, their expression usually was: ‘Such a shame.’
And I will not touch on this post mass shootings, and gun control issues, a great tragedy, but also a fact of life in America.
Yes, I agree, a real shame.
The late George Carlin
May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008
A good tune, and nice Rhymes, do not make a song True.
Most astrologers claim that Jesus commenced the Pisces age and most people believe the Age of Aquarius commenced in the 1960s and 70s. However how can both these facts be true if ages are at least 2150 years in length? Most projections of what we can expect in the Age of Aquarius is a paradisaical age free from all the problems that have encumbered the world in recent millennia. Are your Aquarian friends perfect? Do they stand out as superior to the other 12 signs of the zodiac? Why should the Age of Aquarius be more positive than any other age?
The Age of Aquarius has become an urban legend ever since the theatrical production of Hair proclaimed “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius ….” Most newspapers and comments on blogs clearly relate the dawning of the Age of Aquarius to the 1960’s and 70’s when Hair first appeared. Many people are so disappointed with the direction the world has taken since those inspiring times (for some) of the 60’s and 70’s to the point where the sentiment has become `where is the goddamned Age of Aquarius anyway?’ Some journalists even state that the Age of Aquarius was a 20 year phenomenon applying only the 1960s and 70s and has now died an ignoble death.
“The Age of Aquarius” or “Let the Sunshine In“
Astrologer Neil Spencer denounced the lyrics as “astrological gibberish”, noting that Jupiter aligns with Mars several times a year (which doesn’t make sense either, since Mars’ orbital year is 687 days) and the moon is in the 7th House for two hours every day. These lines are considered by many to be merely poetic license, though some people take them literally.
In truth there seems little to be positive in our future, All we got to do is to listen, or watch the news, to put us in a somber mood.
Good news stories don’t sell so this list is almost guaranteed to get next to no views. But, despite the deluge of bad news stories that hit us every day there is plenty to be positive about and we think it’s worth putting something out there that challenges the medias bad new bias.
The world is very different in this Aquarian age to date compared to the known historical events of any other age. No other age has seen the human population anywhere near current levels. In no other age could humans light up the world at night (with Aquarius electricity) so that it is observable from space. In no other age could some people fly, watch TV and have all the labor savings devices available in this modern Age of Aquarius. In no other age has any human walked on the Moon.
What is noticeable to date from the Aquarian age is that the benefits seem much greater compared to previous ages and the problems see much greater compared to earlier ages. This in itself satisfies the Aquarian archetype that it must be somehow fundamentally different to other ages.
The Age of Aquarius is not going to save the world. The Age of Aquarius it may rise your consciousness, it may not. The future of the world depends upon the sum of all the people in the world. It is what all the people in the world do that will make things happen. Judging by its track record to date, the problems and benefits in the Age of Aquarius will be much greater than previous. However, there is every reason to believe from the evidence provided by astrology that in this age of uncertainty, there is a much higher chance than normal that the world is heading for a mini-golden age associated with the Libra age-decan of the Age of Aquarius that will be firmly in place as the years, slowly but surely advance, hey I am old enough to remember the sixties!
In astrology, a decan is the subdivision of an astrological sign (zodiac sign). … Each sign is allocated a triplicity, consisting of three of the four classical elements air, water, earth or fire, and is therefore subdivided into three equal parts of 10 degrees each; these parts are referred to as decans or decanates.
And a man’s life it’s brief!
Uranus Ruler of Aquarius
Uranus had been observed on many occasions before its recognition as a planet, but it was generally mistaken for a star. Possibly the earliest known observation was by Hipparchos, who in 128 BC might have recorded it as a star for his star catalogue that was later incorporated into Ptolemy’s Almagest.]The earliest definite sighting was in 1690, when John Flamsteed observed it at least six times, cataloguing it as 34 Tauri. The French astronomer Pierre Charles Le Monnier observed Uranus at least twelve times between 1750 and 1769,including on four consecutive nights.
Sir William Herschel observed Uranus on 13 March 1781 from the garden of his house at 19 New King Street in Bath, Somerset, England (now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy), and initially reported it (on 26 April 1781) as a comet. Herschel “engaged in a series of observations on the parallax of the fixed stars”,using a telescope of his own design.
Herschel recorded in his journal: “In the quartile near ζ Tauri … either [a] Nebulous star or perhaps a comet.” On 17 March he noted: “I looked for the Comet or Nebulous Star and found that it is a Comet, for it has changed its place.” When he presented his discovery to the Royal Society, he continued to assert that he had found a comet, but also implicitly compared it to a planet.
Although Herschel continued to describe his new object as a comet, other astronomers had already begun to suspect otherwise. Finnish-Swedish astronomer Anders Johan Lexell, working in Russia, was the first to compute the orbit of the new object. Its nearly circular orbit led him to a conclusion that it was a planet rather than a comet. Berlin astronomer Johann Elert Bode described Herschel’s discovery as “a moving star that can be deemed a hitherto unknown planet-like object circulating beyond the orbit of Saturn”. Bode concluded that its near-circular orbit was more like a planet than a comet.
This planet (as well Neptune and Pluto) are associated with the unseen aspects of life. Uranus’ domain is akin to that of future-forward Aquarius, the star sign that rules scientific inventions, electricity, innovation and technology. These are all things that require us to stretch beyond our vision and lean in to belief. For example, we might not be able to prove the Uranian, but we feel a certainty about its existence. Even the Internet—which is Uranus’ domain—is a form of virtual reality, if you think about it.
In mythology, Uranus is known as Father Sky who bore children with Gaia, aka. Mother Earth. This is the planet that rules outer space and aeronautics and shows where we want to fly free—without restriction! (Gravity…what’s that?!) Given these liberated vibes, it’s no surprise that parenting did not come naturally to the Uranus of lore. Legend has it that Father Sky was cruel to his children, burying some in the earth and banishing others. Saturn, one of his sons, even castrated Uranus out of revenge, and Venus was born out of the sea, were Uranus testicles were tossed.
What it’s there to be positive?
Well, after unabated bad news, a bad economy, if you are not part of the infamous 1%, and I seriously doubt that, despite a total unenlightened political leadership, almost worldwide there it seems very few things you may feel worth to be happy to celebrate a New year.
But I said we will end in a positive note, and that I will do!
First we are still alive, second all the bad stuff hasn’t sip out my will to live and keep fighting, for whatever it’s just, and wise, regardless of the odds, and if you are reading this, right now you are probably in better shape I am, and I am willing yet to put a fight, hopefully, so do you!
There are people like us all over the world. You can find your ‘family’ online.
There is always a way. Always.
If you haven’t find it , keep looking!
We have been through a lot of hard times, and somehow we still standing, there’s no reason that if we keep the fight, things would go always the wrong way, finally our day of victory will come up, if you have not giving up, the fight it’s not over, period.
God loves you no matter what! With that knowledge, there is always hope!
There’s still Kindness, Joy, Grace, Love, and Mercy, go there find it, or give it out to someone, spread the good stuff.
My best wishes to you all, you deserve a great New Year!
“It is not conflict of opinions that has made history so violent but conflict of belief in opinions, that is to say conflict of convictions.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human.
When in my late teens, the books of Friedriech Nietzsche started to circulate with those students between us who undeservedly, thought ourselves, at such young age as ‘intellectuals.’
I smile now at our arrogance, and ignorance, at such young age, but vividly remember using the title of Nietzsche’s book, Human, All Too Human: A book for free spirits.’ Very often with condescending ironic tone, and a smile, when we heard, or witnessed, some stupidity, or act of ignorance, committed by whoever, or whatever event provoked us, empathizing the words; Human all too Human!
In accordance with the old Latin Proverb: Errare humanum est. ‘To err is human, but to persist in error (out of pride) is diabolical.’
Sadly, we never had to wait too long without having a chance to use it!
It’s common knowledge now day to see our World as chaotic, and a mess out of control, and we despair at the thought Mankind may not be around for too long if we persist to be ignorant of the problems we are constantly creating, and that have global repercussions, with few solutions in sight.
We even wonder what is at the root of these problems, and some of us we even choose far fetch reasons of our choosing, according to our own weakness, and proclivities, as our beliefs in opinions as Nietzsche’s quote above.
In the classic movie my dinner with Andre(1981) the following conversation took place:
”I think it’s quite possible that the 1960s represented the last burst of the human being before it was extinguished, and that this is the beginning of the rest of the future now. That from now on, there will simply be all these robots walking around – feeling nothing, thinking nothing, and that there will be nobody left almost to remind them that there once was a species called a human being with feelings and thoughts, and that history and memory are right now being erased and that soon nobody will really remember that life existed on the planet.”
– Andre, My Dinner With Andre
Our Many Maladies
There’s hundreds of people who have compiled lists with titles as: 50 reasons why Humans are too stupid to survive, or a 100 reasons, and have little faith Men will accomplish anything but annihilation not only of the Human race, but of the World we all live in , as well.
Reasons too long to list here, and redundant, all we got to do in the morning when we wake up is to turn on the news, and a good reason why for many years I now do not care to follow the news, but occasionally, and not very often, you could say I pick, and choose+ the events I care to watch.
Also occasionally I am baffled by some new idea of why we are all walking like lemmings to our doom, when talking to particular individuals with wacky ideas, or even bright, and intelligent but with far fetch reasons, they read here, or there, some even as bold to be the creators of such idea. No need to say more; if like me you are exposed to talk with all sort of people, I am sure you have heard it all, and as the days roll along, more keep coming!
What it’s rare, are those who have anything positive to say, and we may even look at them as people with good intentions, but too naive.
As to why we seem unable in almost every place, and age in time to learn from History lessons baffle many of us, and therefore the multiple explanations people come with.
Ockham’s razor; Latin: lex parsimoniae “law of parsimony“) is a problem-solving principle attributed to William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), who was an English Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopher, and theologian. His principle states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.
In science, Occam’s razor is used as a heuristic guide in the development of theoretical models, rather than as a rigorous arbiter between candidate models. In the scientific method, Occam’s razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result; the preference for simplicity in the scientific method is based on the falsifiability criterion. For each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there may be an extremely large, perhaps even incomprehensible, number of possible and more complex alternatives. Since one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypotheses to prevent them from being falsified, simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they are more testable.
In few words Occam’s razor, is not infallible, but it has become a very reliable tool to cut the B.S. out of Science. When investigating a theory, and the feasibility of it, as a fact, Occam’s razor it’s hard to beat.
A simpler explanation, most of the time comes to be the correct answer.
And the great thing about it, is that the solution to what it seems subjective, and complex issues of sometimes unfathomable nature, they posses a simple explanation.
For a brief time in History, it seems to be periods of greatness, and enlightened men who guide us through the stormy Oceans of life, just to fade into oblivion and we are faced with new, and never ending problems of many kinds., and most people wish new champions, or at least one, a giant between men, a Messiah may arise, and like a bridge over troubled waters may guide us to safety.
Abdicating in that way on our personal responsibility, at the state of affairs of the World, true, you can be a very nice guy, or gal, but you rather have someone else doing the job for you, of cleaning up the mess!
If we look for a culprit, we no longer need to look for specifics, we are in the state we are thanks to our collective ignorance.
Unfortunately Darwin’s theory of Evolution explain our biological evolution, but has little to do with our Human condition as social individuals, who require to be taught since the moment we are born to become decent, and useful citizens of the community, or place we live in.
We know now that about one child in a thousand, however, is born with no ability to hear whatsoever. Years ago such people were called deaf-mutes. Often they were considered retarded, and in a sense they were: they’d never learned language, a process that primes the pump for much later development. The critical age range seems to be 21 to 36 months. During this period children pick up the basics of language easily, and in so doing establish essential cognitive infrastructure. Later on it’s far more difficult. If the congenitally deaf aren’t diagnosed before they start school, they may face severe learning problems for the rest of their lives, even if in other respects their intelligence is normal.
And so my argument is we need to learn our social skills, and to be virtuous, like almost everything else, since it’s not a given!
Learning it’s consilient, we build like a wall with bricks, through our life, since early childhood, to old age.
And the reason why Humanity never seem to progress historically speaking, since every individual regardless has to start from zero, and learning it’s a process that it ends with death, not with certain age, and I do need to tell you this, you all know it, some people it’s more ignorant than others, because what the individual has learned through his/her life. And society it’s as good as the sum of it’s Wisdom, a poor amount of wise individuals over a majority of ignorant people, do not reflect good at the state of society, period.
Knowledge and Wisdom
Knowledge it’s acquired with teaching, and schooling, Wisdom it’s shown by our behavior, in how we apply what we have learnt.
We want a better World, we need a better society, we want a better society, equals better individuals, we want better individuals, they need to be taught, more education, less evils, like violence, war, poverty, crime, and less ignorant people.
And we cannot slack on it, as we are currently doing, and no, it’s shouldn’t be about money, and a privilege for the few, but about the right of the individual to have an inalienable right to education, at all levels, and World governments around the globe should be hold responsible, and accountable of doing so.
Even with a great education, I do not believe we will be free of problems, however I know we will be a lot better.
Acquiring Knowledge, and Wisdom should be a priority of our existence, like in the Greek word Arete, or moral virtues, Knowledge, and Wisdom are the sinequanone in all Sacred Paths, I have talked about that abundantly in many past posts, so I would not do it here.
“Once, a long time ago, there was a wise Zen master. People from far and near would seek his counsel and ask for his wisdom. Many would come and ask him to teach them, enlighten them in the way of Zen. He seldom turned any away.
One day an important man, a man used to command and obedience came to visit the master. “I have come today to ask you to teach me about Zen. Open my mind to enlightenment.” The tone of the important man’s voice was one used to getting his own way.
The Zen master smiled and said that they should discuss the matter over a cup of tea. When the tea was served the master poured his visitor a cup. He poured and he poured and the tea rose to the rim and began to spill over the table and finally onto the robes of the wealthy man. Finally the visitor shouted, “Enough. You are spilling the tea all over. Can’t you see the cup is full?”
The master stopped pouring and smiled at his guest. “You are like this tea cup, so full that nothing more can be added. Come back to me when the cup is empty. Come back to me with an empty mind.”
This teaching it’s so famous, and well known, that now it’s almost trivial, and yet the opportunity to be applied in today’s World at large, is practically endless!
A less well known phrase is Shoshin (初心) is a word from Zen Buddhism which means “beginner’s mind“. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese Martial Arts.
The well known Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki said:
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
Changing People’s Minds
The famous french woman writer Anais Nin once said: “we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” To see things as they are, instead of how we are, it requires leaving preconceptions behind, a receptive open mind, quieting of the ego, and a cultivation of the beginner’s mind.
We live in a political system known as democracy, even if it’s just a name, not a reality, and we feel, are entitled to our own opinions, and we see fit free to express it, regardless if we cannot add a single thing that can make any sense, or if it’s needed, when out of politeness people do not say nothing to avoid confrontations, despite the stupidity a particular individual may show.
One of the greatest tasks you can ever start, it’s to change people’s mind regarding any subject, a thing most of us avoid at all cost, we rather avoid the person in question than trying to set him straight.
We have made phrases of wisdom like: ‘Never argue about politics, or religion.’
Therefore our conversations are mainly trivial stuff, who almost nobody really cares, specially with those you got to deal not out of friendliness, but by duty, like family, or people you work with, specially if they are above you in rank. If you really want to talk about something important you go to a like minded friend, who you know he/she will not challenge you but confirm, and share your ideas, after all who needs a bad time confronting someone? In fact we choose friends more based on comfort, and ‘friendliness,’ instead of choosing people who can have a positive influence on us, and teaching us good things, despite the difficulties of being corrected, and told we are wrong.
On True Learning
Well, our focus, it’s not about our ideas, and how we see the World, but about our readiness to learn new things, so pardoning the digression above, just to show the rigidity of our minds, and how we are use to live with our preconceived ideas about almost anything, regardless of how little we may know about it.
Contrary at what most people’s think, learning it’s not difficult, actually what’s really difficult it is to change our attitude!
Perhaps it’s better today, I wonder, but reflecting, and being honest, even as children most of us with few exceptions granted, we went through school, as a duty, and found it a drudgery, only dissipated by the ring bell telling us recess was next, and it was time to play with friends, or it was finally time to go home!
Attitude, The Key Element To Learning
We know things, or we do not know, or maybe we know a little, but not enough, we have not even an idea, or we think we know better, but in reality it’s common to know nothing.
Humbleness it is a key to learning, admitting we do not know a subject it’s essential to learning, so to look for a qualified teacher to teach us, is the first step we need to take. A teacher can be many things, a person, a book, and above life, is the best teacher, by being humble we are accepting we are in lack of knowledge and we desire to improve, so we set to the task at hand which is to learn what we are in need to.
Now, observe we do not ask children to know if they approve, or desire to go to school, or not, children are in most countries obligated to attend school, some countries even penalize parents who do not take children to school.
As adults we are the ones who have to self motivate ourselves, and there is no way around it. Therefore our attitude to learn is primordial, otherwise it’s a no go situation, we are stuck!
Once we change our attitude, we are ready to, for whatever it’s necessary in order to learn, all these things may seem self evident, but if they are, how come so few people pay any attention to them?
There is a Hispanic saying: ‘Desde que se inventaron las excusas se acabaron los idiotas.’
An equivalent will be: ” Inventing an excuse, eliminates looking like an idiot.”
Excuses are just a way, to avoid changing our attitude, and they not remove the the obstacles for learning.
And therefore emptying the cup it’s a total change of attitude, and a preparation to open our senses, and our attention, and be ready to learn.
Now, pay attention and be ready to listen, and do the right thing, be alert!
Now in a lighter tone a long list, of random quotes on foolishness, and stupidity:
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The doctor sees all the weakness of mankind; the lawyer all the wickedness, the theologian all the stupidity. Arthur Schopenhauer
Stupidity is a talent for misconception.
Edgar Allan Poe
In politics stupidity is not a handicap.
Stubborn and ardent clinging to one’s opinion is the best proof of stupidity.
Michel de Montaigne
You know when you’re young, you have this unbelievable stupidity and arrogance and ignorance all mixed in?
People’s ignorance really pisses me off. Stupidity is when you can’t help it -ignorance is when you choose not to understand something.
Never attribute to malice, that which can be reasonably explained by stupidity.
I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.
Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.
People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.
Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.
You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.
Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words.”
Irony is wasted on the stupid
Beauty fades, dumb is forever.
When a great genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.
If your brains were dynamite there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr
Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah…it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.
THE SUBJECTIVE REALM, A KINGDOM OF THE IMAGINATION, POST-STRUCTURALISM, IBN ARABI, DANTE, AND MIND BENDING MOVIES
The world is an illusion; it has no real existence. And this is what is meant by ‘imagination’ (khayāl). For you just imagine that it (i.e., the world) is an autonomous reality quite different from and independent of the Absolute Reality, while in truth it is nothing of the sort’…. Know that you yourself are an imagination. And everything that you perceive and say to yourself, ‘this is not me’, is also an imagination. So that the whole world of existence is imagination within imagination.
I like to point out to anyone who may want to listen, that the world we live in, and we consider an indisputable fact of existence, it’s not so, contrary from what most of us think, we do not live in the World, the World lives into our subjective consciousness.
When we go to sleep the world we know, disappear totally, and if we dream ( We all do, some of us just do not recall the dreams, or are easily forgotten.) a new reality emerge during our dreams, were images, colors, ideas, emotions, and actions acquire a confusing atmosphere, of incomprehensible, or unintelligible gibberish, completely meaningless, sometimes with flashes of profound intuitive insights, that are totally mysterious in nature, but appear as some sort of connection, or an ethereal link to our particular everyday reality.
There is nothing new to this fact, except our ignorance about the subject.
Mind Bending Movies
Artist, like novelist, movie directors, aware of this fact had produced all kind of films were our basic principles about reality are questioned like The Matrix, Dark City, What Dreams May Come, The thirteen Floor, and others.
The Matrix draws from and makes reference to numerous cinematic and literary works, and concepts from mythology, religion and philosophy.The Matrix also makes reference to the ideas of Buddhism, Christianity, Gnosticism dualism, Hinduism, and Judaism. The Matrix‘s premise resembles the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Andrew Godoski from Screened.com observed Neo’s “virgin birth”, his doubt in himself, the prophecy of his coming, along with many Christianity references. In The Matrix, a copy of Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation is visible on-screen as the book used to conceal disks, and Morpheus quotes its phrase “desert of the real”. The book was required reading for the actors prior to filming. Baudrillard himself said that The Matrix misunderstands and distorts his work. Check my post MANICHAEISM, AN ONTOLOGICAL, DUALISTIC VIEW ON THE NATURE OF EXISTENCE March 2017
Baudrillard’s published work emerged as part of a generation of French thinkers including Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Lacan who all shared an interest in semiotics, and he is often seen as a part of the post-structuralist philosophical school. In common with many post-structuralists, his arguments consistently draw upon the notion that signification and meaning are both only understandable in terms of how particular words or “signs” interrelate. Baudrillard thought, as do many post-structuralists, that meaning is brought about through systems of signs working together. See my posts:
DELEUZE, WESTERN PHILOSOPHY AND THE ENDLESS REVERSING OF THE SOCK. April 2013)
LANGUAGE AND CONSCIOUSNESS February 2013
One can make a connection between the premise of The Matrix and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave; once one accepts that The Matrix is an illusion, then the allegory of the cave becomes clear. The allegory is related to Plato’s theory of Forms, (Archetypes) which holds that the true essence of an object is not what we perceive with our senses, but rather its quality, and that most people perceive only the shadow of the object and are thus limited to false perception. See my post:
THE WORLD WITHOUT DUST, GEOGRAPHICAL ARCHETYPES OF THE SOUL March 2012
Morpheus of the matrix paraphrases the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi when he asks Neo, “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you weren’t able to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference from the real world and the dream world?”
I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.
In the movie Inception (2010) the character Dom Cobb says: ‘Well dreams, they feel real while we’re in them, right? It’s only when we wake up that we realize that something was actually strange.’
Khayāl-The World of Creative Imagination
“Now in a dream, our mind continuously does this, we create and perceive our world simultaneously and our mind does this so well that we don’t even know it’s happening.” –Cobb
One of the most important concepts in Ibn ‘Arabi’s writing, which Inception illustrates beautifully, is a term called khayāl, which scholars translate as “imagination” or “imaginal faculty” to separate it from the illusory or derogatory connotations of the word “imaginary.” The world of khayāl is imaginary in that it the same stuff which dreams are made of, but this stuff is real, at least partially so. For example, most of us spend our lives in this imaginal world, not only during dreams, but also during our ordinary, everyday lives. When we see a color, or smell perfume, or feel an itch, our minds/souls are actually creating these sensations out of physical stimuli. We don’t see electromagnetic radiation with a 700 nm wavelength, we see red. Our minds “imagine” the sensory reality in which we live, simultaneously creating and perceiving these experiences, much like how Cobb described the process of dreaming to Ariadne during her first shared dream. In fact, Ibn ‘Arabi writes that one of the purposes of dreams is to alert us to this aspect of our existence, writing that “The only reason God placed sleep in the animate world was so that everyone might witness the Presence of Imagination and know that there is another world similar to the [everyday] sensory world.” For Ibn ‘Arabi, this imaginal world encompasses all human experience, and the imaginal faculty of ours gives form not only to physical but also metaphysical realities or archetypes. If you’ve ever written a melody or a poem, or drawn a picture, you’re already familiar with the magical process of imagination, the process of giving tangible forms to intangible ideas, concepts, and emotions. This is the function of the imaginal faculty, to bring together “pure ideas” and meanings and clothe them in sensible forms. But what of the reality of these things behind their imaginal forms, and what of reality itself? Most of us take these sensory, imaginal forms to be our reality, and are happy living out our days in this seemingly solid world. But Ibn ‘Arabi takes a different stance. Quoting the famous Prophetic tradition, “People are asleep, when they die, they awaken,”
It doesn’t matter if the top is spinning or not Before I continue, a quick aside about the much-debated end of the film is in order. I take the position that the film’s end is meant to be ambiguous and ambivalent, and I am completely uninterested in the director’s intentions or if, at the end, Cobb is “really” in a dream or back to reality. Part of the point is that the film is a dream, a phantom, a story, an illusion, so there is no “what really happens” on that level of reality. Dreams, like good movies and literature, are ambiguous and resist being pinned down to simple, literal descriptions, and this is simply the nature of all imaginal reality (more on this later). For the purposes this essay, I will take the perspective that whether or not the top stopped spinning, the film ends with Cobb still in a dream state, and in fact, Cobb has been in a dream state throughout the entire film. The entire action of the film takes place in a dream, the impossible dream technology with all of its logic-bending features, all the characters, everything, is part of a dream. In short, even if the top falls, he’s still dreaming because the top we see only ever existed in a dream.
Imagination and the limits of reason One of the most interesting and challenging aspects of Ibn ‘Arabi’s work for modern readers is his critique of reason. As Ibn ‘Arabi is fond of pointing out, one of the Arabic words for “reason,” ‘aql, 64 comes from the verb ‘aqala which means to “bind” or “fetter.” In this sense, reason is useful in that it allows us to get a handle on things and deal with them conceptually. However, in doing so, reason necessarily distorts reality by trying to delimit, define, and “bind” it in its rational schemas. Reason cannot deal with paradoxes and seeks to resolve ambiguities into “either/or” relations, while the worlds of imagination are characterized by the relations of “neither/nor” and “both/and.” But for Ibn ‘Arabi, reason and imagination are not opposed to each other; rather, they are complementary. Reason is critical and analytic, while imagination is creative and synthetic. A balance of both is needed to achieve the correct view of things, which Ibn ‘Arabi calls “seeing with two eyes.” The eye of reason distinguishes the real from the unreal, and the eye of imagination sees the images, reflections, and dreams that make up our world as simultaneously real and unreal. This formulation is particularly apt, because you need two eyes in order perceive the third dimension correctly, just as you need both reason and imagination to understand the metaphysical dimension of the world. With the eye of reason, we can discriminate things from each other and see the multiplicity of the world, and with the eye of imagination, we can see the many things as one. Ibn ‘Arabi argues that in order to understand things properly, we have to see both ways at once.
In Inception, Eames represents the pole of imagination, while Arthur represents that of reason. Eames calls Arthur a “stick in the mud,” and during a gunfight, tells him, “you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling,” before mysteriously producing a grenade launcher. Their friendly rivalry in the planning stages of the mission, in which Arthur demands “specificity,” while Eames calls inception a “subtle art,” teases Arthur for his condescension, and declares, “to perform Inception, you need imagination,” wonderfully illustrates the creative tension between imagination and reason. The ensuing fantastical fight scenes and Arthur’s ingenious (and wonderfully shot), gravity-free “kick” vividly depict the process of “seeing with both eyes,” of thinking simultaneously inside and beyond a given dream level. The team’s ability to think both vertically and horizontally, to “see with both eyes,” is what allows them to navigate the labyrinth of dream worlds. Similarly, for Ibn ‘Arabi, “seeing with both eyes” is what allows people to navigate the labyrinth of the imaginal worlds that make up our existence both before and after death. Unaware of the various levels of reality, the unimaginative projections are bound to one level of reality and its rules, while with the aid of imagination, Cobb and his team jump from level to level, bending and breaking the local laws of logic as they go. Reason is a tool and like most tools, works best in conjunction with others. In fact, pure reason has to be coupled with imagination and insight in order to work at all.65 This fact, and the limitations of reason, can be somewhat difficult for us to grasp today, because we live in a world that undervalues insight and imagination, and is simultaneously irrational and corroded by over-rationalization. Turned against imagination and insight, instead of working in conjunction with them, modern reason has tried, and then given up on addressing issues it can’t handle on its own, such as metaphysics, ethics, and teleology. For this reason, fundamental questions such as “What is real?”, “What is right?”, and “What are we here for?” are often better engaged by artists (such as filmmakers) than by scientists and academic philosophers.
What Dreams may come
The title comes from a line in Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be…” soliloquy, namely, “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come / When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, / Must give us pause.” The plot outline in the novel contains several allegorical references to Dante Alighieri’s epic poem The Divine Comedy (1308–1321).
The prologue is narrated by a man telling of his visit from a psychic woman, who gives him a manuscript she claims was dictated to her by his deceased brother Chris. Most of the novel consists of this manuscript.
Chris, a middle-aged man, is injured in an auto accident and dies in the hospital. He remains as a ghost, at first thinking he’s having a bad dream. Amid a failed séance that ends up reinforcing his wife’s belief that he didn’t survive death, an unidentified man keeps approaching Chris, telling him to concentrate on what’s beyond. Chris disregards this advice for a long time, unable to leave his wife Ann. After following the man’s advice, and focusing on pleasant memories, he feels himself being elevated.
He awakens in a beautiful glade, which he recognizes as a place where he and Ann traveled. Understanding now that he has died, he is surprised that he looks and feels alive, with apparently a physical body and sensations. After exploring the place for a while, he finds Albert, his cousin, who reveals himself as the unidentified man he had been seeing.
Albert explains that the place they occupy is called Summerland. Being a state of mind rather than a physical location, Summerland is practically endless and takes the form of the inhabitants’ wishes and desires. There is no pain or death, but people maintain occupations of sorts and perform leisure activities. The book depicts Summerland at length, through Chris’s eyes.
Divine “Imagination” and the Intermediate World: Ibn ‘Arabî on the Barzakh.
For centuries after the time of the Andalusian mystic Ibn ‘Arabî, his remarkable discussions and conceptions of the “Imagination” (al-khayâl) were elaborated by Islamic philosophers, poets, artists and critics in order to explain, interpret and justify the full range of artistic and creative activities carried on within later Islamic cultures, as far away as India and Indonesia.1 Modern western students of Ibn ‘Arabî writing on such themes have tended to focus on the development of those ideas in his celebrated Fusûs al-Hikam (“The Bezels of Wisdom”) and its long line of traditional philosophic commentaries.2 But another major source of those classical Islamic understandings of the Imagination was in the Shaykh’s many discussions of the eschatological “Barzakh” or “intermediate world” of the divine Imagination–as well as his accounts of his own striking experiences and decisive spiritual encounters there–which are scattered throughout his magnum opus, al-Futûhât al-Makkîya (“The Meccan Illuminations”). One of his most extensive and widely influential discussions of the Imagination/Barzakh, in all its humanly relevant dimensions, was in the set of five eschatological chapters (61-65) within the long opening section of the Futûhât–chapters first brought to the attention of a wider Western audience in the famous studies by Asin-Palacios of Islamic themes in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
See my post:
EROS SUBLIMATED , THE MUNDUS IMAGINALIS April 2013
Now there are some people who perceive this imaged-object (al-mutakhayyal) with the eye of the (physical) sensation, and there are others who perceive it with the eye of imagination. Of course I’m referring here to (our perceptions) in the waking state, since during sleep (everyone) definitely perceives with the eye of imagination. So if a person wishes to distinguish between (those two modes of perception) in their waking state, whether in this world or at the Day of Resurrection, they can determine (which sort of perception it is) by looking at the imaged-object. Thus if [a] the states of what one is looking at continue to change as it changes its shape and characteristics, even though you can’t deny that it is still the same thing, and [b] the fact of observing it does not stop it from changing its shape and formation–as when a chameleon, when you observe it, stops changing its colors–then that is undoubtedly (being seen) with the eye of imagination, not with the eye of the senses. For you perceive what-is-imagined (al-khayâl) with the eye of imagination, not with the eye of (physical) sensation.
Indeed few of those who lay claim to the unveiled vision of spirits, whether of fire (i.e., jinn) or of light (angels), really understand how this is. When (those spirits) take on the image of perceptible forms, (most people) don’t know whether they are perceiving them with the eye of the imagination or with the eye of (physical) sensation–since both sorts of perception involve the sensing activity of the eye. That (inner sensing activity) is what presents the perception through both the eye of imagination and the eye of (physical) sensation. So this is a subtle form of knowledge: I mean the knowledge of the distinction between the two “eyes,” and between the sensing activity of the eye and the eye of (physical) sensation. One can know that (what one perceives) is indeed sensible, not imaginal, and that one has perceived it with the eye of sensation, not the eye of imagination (by the following conditions): [a] when the eye perceives the imaged-object and, without being distracted, sees that its shape and characteristics don’t change; [b] when it doesn’t see that imaged-object in different places at the same time, assuming it is definitely a single reality; and [c] that imaged-object doesn’t become changed or transformed into different states.
This is how you should understand how a human being can perceive their Lord–may He be exalted!–in a dream, even though He transcends any form or image, as well as how that perception of Him takes place and its limitations. And through this you may understand what has come down in the sound report (of the famous hadith) concerning the Creator’s “manifesting Himself (to souls at the Resurrection) in the most unlikely of forms among those in which they saw Him,” and concerning His “transformation into a form which they knew (before then),” after they had been denying Him and taking refuge from Him (in more agreeable forms of His manifestation).
So you should know with which eye you are seeing Him! For I have already let you know that (the divine) Imagination is perceived either through itself–I mean through the eye of imagination–or through the (physical) vision. And which of those two is the sound one on which we should rely?! Regarding that we (wrote these verses): When my Beloved appears to me, with which eye do I see Him? With His eye, not with mine: for none sees Him but Him! (This is only) in accordance with the transcendence of His Station and confirming His Words, since He says: “The gazes do not perceive Him, [but He perceives the gazes…]” (6:103), and He did not specify any particular Abode (of this world or the next), but sent it as an Verse unrestricted (in its applicability) and as a definite, confirmed matter. For none other than Him perceives Him, so it is with His eye–may He be praised!–that I see Him, as in (the famous divine saying in) the sound hadith-report: “…I (God) was his gaze through which he sees.” So wake up, you who are asleep and heedless of all this, and pay attention! I have opened up for you a door to forms of awareness and inner knowing that thoughts can never reach, though intellects can come to accept them, either through special divine Providence or by “polishing hearts with dhikr and recitation (of the Qur’an).” Then the intellect accepts what the divine Self- manifestation (tajalli) gives it and knows that that (imaginal revelation) is beyond its own power with respect to its thinking, indeed that its thinking could never give it that. Therefore (that person) gives thanks to God–may He be exalted!–Who created their constitution (nash’a) so that it could receive things like that: this being the constitution of the (divine) Messengers and prophets and those among the saints who are the recipients of special divine Providence. This is so that (such a person) may know that their receptivity (to what is bestowed by God) is higher and more noble than their own thinking. So realize, o my brother, from now on Who it is that is manifesting Himself to you from behind this door (of the imagination)! For this is a prodigious matter, where even the innermost hearts become bewildered.
In a world of darkness, controlled by time, images and roles shift and change in an ongoing nightmare as if part of a mad experiment. Everyone seems under the spell of sleep and forgetfulness, just vaguely remembering a distant memory of light and home, but unable to remember how to get back there. When the plan of darkness, attack thoughts and projection is finally uncovered and exposed, the upside-down world is turned right-side-up and bathed in the light of innocence—the present moment. There is no memory of a past. The games of fear and guilt are ended in the light of true love. In the light, Christ is recognized anew, as if for the very first time with no memory of the past.
John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) awakens alone in a strange hotel to find that he is wanted for a series of brutal murders. The problem is that he can’t remember whether he committed the murders or not. For one brief moment, he is convinced that he has gone completely mad. Murdoch seeks to unravel the twisted riddle of his identity. As he edges closer to solving the mystery, he stumbles upon a fiendish underworld controlled by a group of ominous beings collectively known as the Strangers.
The Strangers bring Murdoch to their home beneath the city and force Dr. Schreber to imprint Murdoch with their collective memory, believing Murdoch to be the final result of their experiments. Schreber betrays them by inserting false memories in Murdoch which artificially reestablish his childhood as years spent training and honing his psychokinetic skills and learning about the Strangers and their machines. Murdoch awakens, fully realizing his skills, frees himself and battles with the Strangers, defeating their leader Mr. Book in a psychokinetic fight high above the city.
After learning from Dr. Schreber that Emma’s personality is gone and cannot be restored, Murdoch exercises his new-found powers, amplified by the Strangers’ machine, to create an actual Shell Beach by flooding the area within the force field with water and forming mountains and beaches. On his way to Shell Beach, Murdoch encounters Mr. Hand and informs him that the Strangers have been searching in the wrong place—the mind—to understand humanity. Murdoch turns the habitat toward the star it had been turned away from, and the city experiences sunlight for the first time.
He opens the door leading out of the city, and steps out to view the sunrise. Beyond him is a pier, where he finds the woman he knew as Emma, now with new memories and a new identity as Anna. Murdoch reintroduces himself as they walk to Shell Beach, beginning their relationship anew.
Ibn Arabi The Horn of Light
Hence the imagination (as indicated in many familiar hadith) sees knowledge in the form of milk, or honey and wine and pearls; and it sees Islâm in the form a dome and pillars; and it sees the Qur’an in the form of butter and honey; and it sees Religion in the form of a bond; and it sees God (al-Haqq) in the form a human being and in the form of light…. As for this “horn” (of the Barzakh/Imagination) being made of “light” (according to the hadith mentioned above), that is because light is the immediate cause for (things) becoming unveiled and clearly appearing, since without light, vision would perceive nothing at all. So God made this Imagination as a “light” through which could be perceived the Bringing-into-form (taswîr) of every thing, whatever that might be, as we’ve already mentioned. His Light passes through the absolute nothingness so that He might shape it into the forms of being. Hence the Imagination is more deserving of the (divine) Name “the Light” (al-Nûr) than all the created things ordinarily described as “luminous,” since Its Light does not resemble the (created) lights and through It the divine Self-manifestations are perceived.
And It (or ‘He’) is the Light of the eye of imagination, not the light of the eye of sensation. So understand this! For if you understand how (the divine) Imagination is Light, and you know in what way it is (always) correct, then you will have an advantage over those who don’t know that–the sort of person who says: “that is only a false imagination!” That is because such people have failed to understand the perception of the light of imagination which has been given them by God. This is just like their saying that our senses are also “mistaken” in some of their perceptions, when in fact their sense-perceptions are sound, while the judgment (regarding the meaning of those perceptions) belongs to something else, not to the senses themselves. It is the judgment that is false, not the sensation. Likewise the imagination perceives with its light whatever it perceives, without passing judgment. The judgment only belongs to something else, which is the intellect, so the error can’t be attributed to the imagination. Thus there never is any “false imagination” at all–indeed all of it is correct!
The deepest aspect of your being resides in the inseparable, formless dimension of Eternal Presence.
Inception and Ibn Arabi by
Divine “Imagination” and the Intermediate World: Ibn ‘Arabî on the Barzakh.
James W Morris
HELOISE AND ABELARD, LOVE’S REQUITAL, FEMINISM AND RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY IN THE MIDDLE AGE, SCHOLARLY CHAUVINISM, AND CONTEMPORARY VIEWS, ON HELOISE LOVE LETTERS.
I would not want to give you cause for finding me disobedient in anything, so I have set the bridle of your injunction on the words which issue from my unbounded grief; thus in writing at least I may moderate what it is difficult or rather impossible to forestall in speech. For nothing is less under our control than our heart – having no power to command it we are forced to obey. And so when its impulses move us, none of us can stop their sudden promptings from easily breaking out, and even more easily overflowing into words which are the everready indications of the heart’s emotions: as it is written, ‘A man’s words are spoken from the overflowing of the heart.’ I will therefore hold my hand from writing words which I cannot restrain my tongue from speaking; would that a grieving heart would be as ready to obey as a writer’s hand!
Heloise on the Third Letter to Abelard.
‘Heloise and Abelard’ is one of history’s most passionate and romantic true love stories. The nine hundred year old love affair of the 12th century philosopher and theologian and his student Heloise continues to inspire and move us. Their passionate relationship scandalized the community in which they lived. The details of their physical and spiritual intimacy is also a cautionary tale for our time.
There are still societies whose policies result in rigid attitudes of intellectual, theological and sexual repression. This great love story, and the courage and passion of its protagonists, has much to teach us about our own understanding of religious tolerance, sexual equality and intellectual freedom.
Here is an admonitory tale screaming to us from across the centuries to reason, and to question, question, question!
In twelfth century Paris, the intellectually gifted young Heloise, the niece of Notre Dame’s Canon Fulbert, strives for knowledge, truth and the answer to the question of human existence. It soon becomes apparent that only one teacher in Paris can provide the education that she seeks. Though twenty years her senior, Abelard quickly becomes intrigued by Heloise’s uncommon wit and intelligence, for Heloise is on par intellectually with Abelard.
They soon find themselves so entwined that neither can resist the spiritual and physical desires of their bodies, yet they both know that the laws of the time forbid such a relationship. But their physical love and the strength of their passion proved to be a power impossible to resist.
When Heloise becomes pregnant, they realize it is not safe for her to remain in Paris. They flee for Brittany, Abelard’s place of birth. In a scheme to protect the dignity of his fallen niece, and return Heloise to his home, Canon Fulbert arranges a secret marriage between Heloise and Abelard. But shortly after the two lovers are wed, they discover Fulbert’s true plot is to ruin Abelard and keep Heloise for himself. For her safety, Heloise escapes to the convent at Argenteuil, but it is too late for Abelard and he is brutally attacked in Paris.
As a result of his humiliating punishment, Abelard no longer considers himself capable of continuing as a teacher at Notre Dame, and he and Heloise understand what they must do. Canon Bedell pleads with Abelard to not force such a fate upon Heloise, but both Heloise and Abelard agree that they must take Holy Orders as Monk and Nun. In a heartbreaking moment, Heloise must give up her child, knowing that she will never see him again.
Through their famous correspondence of twenty years, their love continues to flourish, in spite of their separation. After many years pass, in a chance meeting, Heloise and Abelard are briefly reunited at a ceremony in Paris. Though they have been physically apart all these years, at last in the sight of the other, the former lovers realize that the love they share is the reason for human existence. As the glorious ceremony begins, they triumphantly promise to remain “Forever One”.
They never met again, yet through their famous letters, their love endures.
“You know, beloved, as the whole world knows, how much I have lost in you, how at one wretched stroke of fortune that supreme act of flagrant treachery robbed me of my very self in robbing me of you; and how my sorrow for my loss is nothing compared with what I feel for the manner in which I lost you.”
Six hundred years later, it was Josephine Bonaparte, so moved by their story, the she ordered that the remains of Abelard and Heloise be entombed together at Pére Lachaise cemetery in Paris. To this day, lovers from all over the world visit the tomb where the remains of Heloise and Abelard rest eternally together.’
Now the above story, it’s a simplified versions, somewhat sweetened of the real struggle, on a Men dominated society, common, not only to Heloise, but of injustice for many women through the annals of History.
Heloise (1101-1164) was the niece and pride of Canon Fulbert. She was well-educated by her uncle in Paris. Abelard later writes in his autobiographical “Historica Calamitatum”: “Her uncle’s love for her was equaled only by his desire that she should have the best education which he could possibly procure for her. Of no mean beauty, she stood out above all by reason of her abundant knowledge of letters.”
John Marenbon, in his book on Abelard, has two chapters in which he deals with Heloise’s contribution to his ethics. The first of the two chapters is about dismissing claims that Heloise did not write her own letters. That, in itself, is telling. Take any woman philosopher who is not actually around to fight her ground, and chances are, someone will argue that she did not author her own work. Marenbon’s defense is spirited and convincing, but it does not go far towards building up an account of what Heloise might have had to contribute to the philosophy of her age. The second of the two chapters does a little better, as it claims that Abelard’s later account of Caritas as unconditional love of God was influenced by Heloise’s description of her love for Abelard. She, was, Marenbon said, a writer he had to take seriously, and this is reflected in his revisions of his own ethical thought.
‘Many commentators dealing with the question of Heloise’s tumultuous “inner life” as an abbess have focused primarily on Heloise’s refusal to relinquish her sexual desires for Abelard. In these cases, her desire has been construed as a form of subversion and transgression, thus relegating her to the position of the unruly female who must accept the “bridle of the [monastic] injunction.” Instead of being used as a heuristic for dialogue, it places the female subject into a position that must be controlled and subjugated. Rather than desire being an agent of actualization for the female subject, it shuts down avenues for negotiations of subjectivity. Furthermore, the inordinate focus on Heloise as a romantic heroine obscures the fact that she is also acutely anguished by the uncertainty of her heavenly reward. Despite claiming that she has done everything for the love of Abelard, Heloise still expresses her anxiety about her spiritual salvation. She believes that in her struggle against her own body and subjectivity, God will grant her a little “corner of heaven.” Thus, Heloise’s sudden redirection in the third letter should be approached for what it simply is, as a well-calculated rhetorical move on her part, for she knows that Abelard will not confront the question of her continued desire directly. Heloise starts afresh on another subject which she knows he would be more amenable to discuss, the management of the Oratory of the Paraclete. As such, though Heloise’s third letter to Abelard is submerged in mundane theological concerns, Robert Edwards argues that the third letter of Heloise continues an ongoing struggle and negotiation of and for desire. Desire here, however, is not only the overtly passionate eroticism that suffuses Heloise’s first two letters to Abelard, but desire in the broader sense, encompassing her own longing to attain intellectual communion with him. Prior to this letter, Heloise has already been sending a deluge of complaints to Abelard. She demands remuneration for the infinite debt he supposedly owes her; she pesters him to address her old perpetual complaint against God; she demands consolation for her emotional distress. In a sense, Heloise is seeking recognition from Abelard, asking him to realize that he has left her mired in their past, that he has forgotten about her after his castration. Abelard’s conversion is a continued source of anxiety and despair for Heloise, as she can no longer request the same sort of idealized engagement with him she so treasured from their past. Her dilemma arises from a desire explicitly forbidden by traditional monastic profession: a desire to let her past shape and influence her present and future religious life and a desire to construct a new order that would allow her to continue upholding her cherished notions of secular love.
And what a love it was. Until recently, we could read it directly only in eight letters discovered in the 13th century and composed long after the lovers’ entry into monastic life. The first, from Abelard, isn’t even directed to Heloise. Written for an unnamed monk, it’s what a medieval reader would have called a “letter of consolation,” meant to comfort a troubled friend by convincing him that your problems are greater than his. This early variant of schadenfreude, the so-called “Historia Calamitatum,” is how we learn of Abelard’s first arrival in Paris, of his growing renown as a teacher and his encounter with the well-educated young Heloise. Here too we learn of Abelard’s rash decision to move into her uncle Fulbert’s home and become her tutor, of their love and her pregnancy, of Fulbert’s rage, Abelard’s attempt to pacify him by proposing marriage and Heloise’s resistance — at least in part because of the damage it would do to her lover’s reputation. We learn that Abelard prevailed over his pupil, that the wedding was initially kept secret and that Fulbert ordered a terrible act of vengeance. Days after thugs broke into Abelard’s bedroom at night and castrated him, the newlyweds took vows of celibacy and repaired to their respective religious institutions.
The letters written after the “Historia Calamitatum” are the richest, containing the rash, ringing, reckless and altogether impious declarations of love for which Heloise will always be known. Here is a voice that refuses to stay in the Middle Ages; it reaches through the centuries and catches us at the throat. “Men call me chaste,” she writes. “They do not know the hypocrite I am.” Even during the celebration of Mass, she confesses, “lewd visions” of the pleasures she shared with Abelard “take such a hold upon my unhappy soul that my thoughts are on their wantonness instead of on prayers. I should be groaning over the sins I have committed, but I can only sigh for what I have lost.” She asserts the primacy of desire, boldly professing the amorous, sacrilegious motives that drove her into the convent: “It was not any sense of vocation which brought me as a young girl to accept the austerities of the cloister, but your bidding alone. . . . I can expect no reward for this from God, for it is certain that I have done nothing as yet for love of him. . . . I would have had no hesitation, God knows, in following you or going ahead at your bidding to the flames of hell.” Her bravado, her defiance, her ruthless honesty and her apotheosis of eros over morality are everywhere apparent — and still today they are shocking.
Love is Heloise’s religion, even when she’s wrapped in the robes of a nun. And in the practice of this religion, she is as uncompromising as she is unconventional. For her, love has no business with the law or money or social safety nets. It is for this reason, more than any other, that she opposes Abelard’s desire to wed: “I never sought anything in you except yourself. . . . I looked for no marriage bond.” Indeed, she proclaims,”if Augustus, emperor of the whole world, saw fit to honor me with marriage and conferred all the earth on me to possess forever, it would be dearer and more honorable to me to be called not his empress, but your whore.”
The dust will not settle on such words. At once intrepid and idealistic, transgressive and submissive, taboo-busting and sweet-natured, noble and naughty, they have seduced scholars for centuries. This woman, this prioress, who was prepared to sacrifice not just earthly reputation but heavenly salvation for the sake of her secular love, is a literary original. Petrarch couldn’t read her without scribbling exclamations in the margins; the three letters to Abelard that have come down to us from her monastic confinement have sufficed to make her name as a writer.
Only recently — and miraculously — has a new cache of material turned up, fragments of 113 letters that many scholars believe Abelard and Heloise exchanged before Abelard’s castration. Copied in the 15th century by a monk named Johannes de Vespria, discovered in 1980 by Constant J. Mews and finally published as “The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard,” these short but eloquent missives present two people vying — with no coyness or gender typecasting whatever — to outdo each other in expressions of adoration. “To a reddening rose under the spotless whiteness of lilies,” the woman addresses the man. “To his jewel, more pleasing and more splendid than the present light,” the man addresses the woman. The letters have unleashed a new storm of interest in the couple; it is to this that we owe the British filmmaker James Burge’s biography, “Abelard and Heloise.”
Burge spends much time glossing the new correspondence — unfortunately, trivializing rather than illuminating it. “This sounds to modern ears like a promise of sex,” he tells us at one point, then rushes to explain: “The question of when exactly they first consummated their love awaits more assiduous scholarship.” Given that scholars are still arguing about Heloise’s birth date (she’s been put between 15 and 27 years of age at the time of her encounter with Abelard, who would have been in his late 30’s), you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for this golden factoid. But what’s really missing in Burge’s biography is an ear for the lyricism of his subjects’ correspondence, a feel for the mystery of their bond.
Antoine Audouard’s novel “Farewell, My Only One” doesn’t draw explicitly on the new letters, but it’s substantially truer to their spirit. It also has an ingenious narrative scheme: the story is told from the point of view of a wandering student, William, who falls in love with Heloise at the same time that he becomes Abelard’s disciple. When he has outlived both, at the end of the tale, we discover an even closer connection.
Audouard, a former director of the French publisher Laffont-Fixot, evokes in gritty and poetic detail the streets of 12th-century Paris (where the narrator tells us he “stumbled over a pig”). He’s also very good at conveying the process of infatuation: William falls for Heloise when she loses consciousness in a crowd: “I am not strong. I have never carried a woman,” he marvels. And yet he does, and even lunges after the flower that has fallen from her hair. “A few crushed petals” are all that remain, though, when he opens his “clenched fist” — a foretaste of what happens when we grasp what we love too firmly.
But Audouard spends too much time alone with William — building churches, cleaning grates, making friends — and we resent being taken away from the lovers. Then again, anyone writing about Abelard and Heloise must compete with their own eloquence. The early letters are so clear and beautiful they can be read alone, without anachronistic glossing or fictional superstructures. Like the later letters — recently reprinted in a volume edited by the British medievalist and Abelard biographer Michael Clanchy — they glow. Together they preserve the myth of a shining couple, persecuted by authority and hounded by circumstance but true to each other, ready for all sacrifice, passionate even to the grave.
It’s a potent myth and a necessary one — but it is a myth. The reality of Abelard and Heloise’s story may be no less moving, but it’s less than perfect. You could argue, first off, that their relationship was already on the decline by the time Abelard was castrated. And that Fulbert’s vengeance was taken because Abelard was insufficiently, rather than excessively, close to his niece. Heloise already lived in a convent at the time of Abelard’s mutilation — not as a nun, but nevertheless under the protection of the nuns. Ostensibly this was a tactic to preserve the secrecy of their marriage; to Fulbert, however, it may have suggested that Abelard was planning to get rid of his wife. Is this what it meant to her? The arrangement, in any case, was neither ideal nor particularly gallant, and Abelard’s visits were decreasing in frequency: “You sadden my spirit,” Heloise writes in the last of her early letters.
Is it possible that Fulbert’s crime saved rather than sank the lovers’ passion? That by turning Abelard into a romantic martyr at the very moment his interest was flagging, Fulbert reinvigorated Heloise’s loyalty and gave Abelard an excuse to ignore her without blame?
This is, in fact, what he did for the next 12 years. It wasn’t until Heloise had become abbess of her own convent and stumbled upon his “Historia Calamitatum” that she was able to draw Abelard back into communication with her. And even then religion had changed him; the passion and warmth of the early letters had fled.
In the later letters, Abélard has become pious and self-centered. When Heloise entreats him to take pity on her loneliness, he sends her a set of prayers to say for him. When she serenades their love, he moans about the trouble he’s having with the other monks at his abbey. Never an easy man to get on with, he has made blood enemies of men whose well-being he is supposed to preserve: they are, he assures Heloise, relentlessly trying to poison him. Therefore the refrain, “Pray for me.”
It is Heloise’s tact and generosity that allow the dialogue to continue and even attain exemplary dimensions. Seeing that her beloved is no longer capable of the language of passion, she smothers her love song (“the loss,” as Burge states, “is history’s”) and addresses him on the only terms he still knows and values. Like the star student she once was, she begins to quiz him on every biblical, monastic and moral question she can think of. In doing so, she inspires much of the most valuable — and satisfying — work of Abelard’s life. Disdained by his own monks as well as by the Vatican (he was twice condemned for heresy), he found an enthusiastic audience in Heloise and her nuns. It is for Heloise that he undertakes what one scholar has called “the most substantial writings of the 12th century on women’s place in Christianity”; it is for Heloise that he writes countless sermons, hymns and disquisitions on spiritual themes. Heloise’s convent becomes, in some sense, the couple’s joint project, their spiritual child. Their cooperation struck onlookers as a dazzling example of friendship between a man and a woman.
If Heloise didn’t get what she most wanted from Abelard, she got the very best he had to give. His reflections, his confidences and his final, all-important confession were addressed to her; his most urgent worldly plea was to be buried where she would be near him. Is their story a fraud because Abelard, as Mews has written, was “tagging along behind” Heloise in matters of the heart?
The love stories that touch us most deeply are punctuated by human frailty. Look at them up close and you see the fault lines, compromises and anticlimaxes. At the beginning of Shakespeare’s play, Romeo is just as intemperately in love with a girl called Rosaline as he is later with Juliet. Tristan and Isolde’s passion could well be the fruit of substance abuse, of a love potion they drank unknowingly. And Abélard and Heloise? They weren’t equally strong or passionate or generous. Still, they put their frailties together and begat a perfect myth, as well as something perhaps even more precious — a surprising, splendid, fractured reality. “There is a crack,” the Leonard Cohen lyric goes, “a crack in everything: that’s how the light gets in.”
The Problemata Heloissae, And My Motivation
In all honesty my original intention was to focus on Heloise’s as:
Problemata Heloissae (The “Questions” of Heloise): Prefatory Letter, Heloise to Abelard.
The letter introduces 42 questions (the “Problemata”) that have arisen from the daily biblical readings Heloise and her nuns do. The questions involve issues of sin and judgment, intention versus action, law and punishment, damnation and repentance, as well as contradictions or odd references in the Bible. Heloise does not hesitate to draw an analogy between herself and Marcella, Jerome’s celebrated and very learned colleague and correspondent.
However I understood that focusing on such letters the main story would be lost and that it’s Heloise main love’s requital to Abelard, so the Theological letters would be of no interest to most readers anyway, the real story is told above.
Too much had been said about the couple to add new insights into their story, so I just put together from several sources what I thought would be interesting to the readers if unfamiliar with the story.
Also I would like to remind to our readers how different the times in the Middle Ages were compared to our contemporary values, Religion was, how we should say? No a fact of Life, but ‘the major fact of Life’ that took precedence over anything else.
Books Discussed in This Essay
SHARON JANE GO SHUA A Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Arts and Letters of Georgetown University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English
HELOISE AND ABELARD A New Biography. By James Burge. HarperSanFrancisco,
FAREWELL, MY ONLY ONE By Antoine Audouard. Translated by Euan Cameron. Houghton Mifflin,
ABELARD AND HELOISE By Constant J. Mews. Oxford University, cloth, $74; paper,
THE LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE Translated With an Introduction and Notes by Betty Radice. Revised by M. T. Clanchy. Penguin, paper,
THE LOST LETTERS OF HELOISE AND ABELARD Perceptions of Dialogue in Twelfth-Century France. By Constant J. Mews. With Translations by Neville Chiavaroli and Constant J. Mews. Palgrave Macmillan.
Cristina Nehring Eloise and Abelard: Love Hurts. writes regularly for The Atlantic. She is the author of the forthcoming “Women in Love From Simone de Beauvoir to Sylvia Plath: A Feminist Defense of Romance.”
“As for you, Gilgamesh, let your belly be full,
Make merry day and night.
Of each day make a feast of rejoicing.
Day and night dance and play!
Let your garments be sparkling fresh,
Your head be washed; bathe in water.
Pay heed to a little one that holds on to your hand,
Let a spouse delight in your bosom.
These things are alone the concern of men.”
Siduri the Barmaid to Gilgamesh.
Which may represent the first recorded advocacy of a hedonistic philosophy.
The Epic of Gilgamesh Tablet X
Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure and happiness are the primary or most important intrinsic goods and the proper aim of human life. A hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure (pleasure minus pain), but when having finally gained that pleasure, either through intrinsic or extrinsic goods, happiness remains stationary.
Ethical hedonism is the idea that all people have the right to do everything in their power to achieve the greatest amount of pleasure possible to them. It is also the idea that every person’s pleasure should far surpass their amount of pain. Ethical hedonism is said to have been started by Aristippus of Cyrene, a student of Socrates. He held the idea that pleasure is the highest good.
Hedonism is a sub-philosophy of utilitarianism, which says to act in a way that maximizes utility. Hedonists equate pleasure with utility and believe that pleasure is the master of all humankind, and acts as the ultimate life goal. Hedonists believe that there are only two motivators of human action, pleasure and pain, and that decisions should only be made that further our pleasurable experiences and minimize or completely eliminate our painful ones.
David Pearce is co-founder of Humanity, formerly the World Transhumanist Association, and a prominent figure within the transhumanism movement.
Based in Brighton, England, Pearce maintains a series of websites devoted to transhumanist topics and what he calls the “hedonistic imperative”, a moral obligation to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life. His book-length internet manifesto, The Hedonistic Imperative(1995), outlines how pharmacology, genetic engineering, nanotechnology and neurosurgery could converge to eliminate all forms of unpleasant experience from human and non-human life, replacing suffering with “gradients of bliss”. Pearce calls this the “abolitionist project”.
A vegan, Pearce argues that humans have a responsibility not only to avoid cruelty to animal within human society but also to redesign the global ecosystem so that animals do not suffer in the wild.
Hedonistic Transhumanism Manifesto
This manifesto outlines a strategy to eradicate suffering in all sentient life. The abolitionist project is ambitious, implausible, but technically feasible. It is defended here on ethical utilitarian grounds. Genetic engineering and nanotechnology allow Homo sapiens to discard the legacy-wetware of our evolutionary past. Our post-human successors will rewrite the vertebrate genome, redesign the global ecosystem, and abolish suffering throughout the living world.
Why does suffering exist? The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved only because they served the inclusive fitness of our genes in the ancestral environment. Their ugliness can be replaced by a new motivational system based entirely on gradients of well-being. Life-long happiness of an intensity now physiologically unimaginable can become the heritable norm of mental health. A sketch is offered of when, and why, this major evolutionary transition in the history of life is likely to occur. Possible objections, both practical and moral, are raised and then rebutted.
Contemporary images of opiate-addled junkies, and the lever-pressing frenzies of intra-cranially self-stimulating rats, are deceptive. Such stereotypes stigmatize, and falsely discredit, the only remedy for the world’s horrors and everyday discontents that is biologically realistic. For it is misleading to contrast social and intellectual development with perpetual happiness. There need be no such trade-off. Thus states of “dopamine-overdrive” can actually enhance exploratory and goal-directed activity. Hyper-dopaminergic states can also increase the range and diversity of actions an organism finds rewarding. Our descendants may live in a civilization of serenely well-motivated “high-achievers”, animated by gradients of bliss. Their productivity may far eclipse our own.
Two hundred years ago, before the development of potent synthetic pain-killers or surgical anesthetics, the notion that “physical” pain could be banished from most people’s lives would have seemed no less bizarre. Most of us in the developed world now take its daily absence for granted. The prospect that what we describe as “mental” pain, too, could one day be superseded is equally counter-intuitive. The technical option of its abolition turns its deliberate retention into an issue of political policy and ethical choice.
Pearce’s ideas inspired an abolitionist school of transhumanism, or “hedonistic transhumanism”, based on his idea of “paradise engineering” and his argument that the abolition of suffering—which he calls the “abolitionist project”—is a moral imperative.
Transhumanism(abbreviated as H+ orh+) is an international and intellectual movement that aims to transform the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology.
Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human as well as ethical limitations of using such technologies. The most common transhumanist thesis is that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into different beings with abilities so greatly expanded from the natural condition as to merit the label of posthuman beings.
The contemporary meaning of the term “transhumanism” was foreshadowed by one of the first professors of futurology, FM-2030, who taught “new concepts of the human” at The New School in the 1960s, when he began to identify people who adopt technologies, lifestyles and worldviews “transitional” to posthumanity as “transhuman”. The assertion would lay the intellectual groundwork for the British philosopher Max More to begin articulating the principles of transhumanism as a futurist philosophy in 1990 and organizing in California an intelligentsia that has since grown into the worldwide transhumanist movement.
Influenced by seminal works of science fiction, the transhumanist vision of a transformed future humanity has attracted many supporters and detractors from a wide range of perspectives, including philosophy and religion. Transhumanism has been characterized by one critic, Francis Fukuyama, as among the “world’s most dangerous ideas”, to which Ronald Bailey has countered that it is rather the “movement that epitomizes the most daring, courageous, imaginative and idealistic aspirations of humanity”
Here are three scenarios in ascending order of sociological plausibility:
b) Utopian designer drugs
c) genetic engineering and – what I want to focus on – the impending reproductive revolution of designer babies
a) Recall wireheading is direct stimulation of the pleasure centres of the brain via implanted electrodes. Intracranial self-stimulation shows no physiological or subjective tolerance i.e. it’s just as rewarding after two days as it is after two minutes. Wireheading doesn’t harm others; it has a small ecological footprint; it banishes psychological and physical pain; and arguably it’s a lot less offensive to human dignity than having sex. Admittedly, lifelong wireheading sounds an appealing prospect only to a handful of severe depressives. But what are the technical arguments against its adoption?
Well, wireheading is not an evolutionary stable solution: there would be selection pressure against its widespread adoption. Wireheading doesn’t promote nurturing behavior: wireheads, whether human or non-human, don’t want to raise baby wireheads. Uniform, indiscriminate bliss in the guise of wireheading or its equivalents would effectively bring the human experiment to an end, at least if it were adopted globally. Direct neurostimulation of the reward centers destroys informational sensitivity to environmental stimuli. So assuming we want to be smart – and become smarter – we have a choice. Intelligent agents can have a motivational structure based on gradients of ill-being, characteristic of some lifelong depressives today. Or intelligent agents can have our current typical mixture of pleasures and pains. Or alternatively, we could have an informational economy of mind based entirely on [adaptive] gradients of cerebral bliss – which I’m going to argue for.
Actually, this dismissal of wireheading may be too quick. In the far future, one can’t rule out offloading everything unpleasant or mundane onto inorganic supercomputers, prostheses and robots while we enjoy uniform orgasmic bliss. Or maybe not orgasmic bliss, possibly some other family of ideal states that simply couldn’t be improved upon. But that’s speculative. Whatever our ultimate destination, it would be more prudent, I think, to aim for both super happiness and super intelligence – at least until we understand the full implications of what we are doing. There isn’t a moral urgency to maximizing super happiness in the same way as there is to abolishing suffering.
[It’s worth noting that the offloading option assumes that inorganic computers, prostheses and robots don’t – or at least needn’t – experience subjective phenomenal pain even if their functional architecture allows them to avoid and respond to noxious stimuli. This absence of inorganic suffering is relatively uncontroversial with existing computers – switching off one’s PC doesn’t have ethical implications, and a silicon robot can be programmed to avoid corrosive acids without experiencing agony if it’s damaged. It’s debatable whether any computational system with a classical von Neumann architecture will ever be interestingly conscious. I’m skeptical; but either way, it doesn’t affect the offloading option, unless one argues that the subjective texture of suffering is functionally essential to any system capable of avoiding harmful stimuli.]
b) The second technical option for eradicating suffering is futuristic designer drugs. In an era of mature post-genomic medicine, will it be possible rationally to design truly ideal pleasure-drugs that deliver lifelong, high-functioning well-being without unacceptable side-effects? “Ideal pleasure drugs” here is just a piece of shorthand. Such drugs can in principle embrace cerebral, empathetic, aesthetic and perhaps spiritual well-being – and not just hedonistic pleasure in the usual one-dimensional and amoral sense.
We’re not talking here about recreational euphoriants, which simply activate the negative feedback mechanisms of the brain; nor the shallow, opiated contentment of a Brave New World; nor drugs that induce euphoric mania, with its uncontrolled excitement, loss of critical insight, grandiosity and flight of ideas. Can we develop true wonder drugs that deliver sublime well-being on a sustainable basis, re calibrating the hedonic treadmill to ensure a high quality of life for everyone?
A lot of people recoil from the word “drugs” – which is understandable given today’s noxious street drugs and their uninspiring medical counterparts. Yet even academics and intellectuals in our society typically take the prototypical dumb drug, ethyl alcohol. If it’s socially acceptable to take a drug that makes you temporarily happy and stupid, then why not rationally design drugs to make people perpetually happier and smarter? Presumably, in order to limit abuse-potential, one would want any ideal pleasure drug to be akin – in one limited but important sense – to nicotine, where the smoker’s brain finely calibrates its optimal level: there is no uncontrolled dose-escalation.
There are of course all kinds of pitfalls to drug-based solutions. Technically, I think these pitfalls can be overcome, though I won’t try to show this here. But there is a deeper issue. If there weren’t something fundamentally wrong – or at least fundamentally inadequate – with our existing natural state of consciousness bequeathed by evolution, then we wouldn’t be so keen to change it. Even when it’s not unpleasant, everyday consciousness is mediocre compared to what we call peak experiences. Ordinary everyday consciousness was presumably adaptive in the sense it helped our genes leave more copies of themselves on the African Savannah; but why keep it as our default-state indefinitely? Why not change human nature by literally repairing our genetic code?
Again, this dismissal of pharmacological solutions may be too quick. Arguably, Utopian designer drugs may always be useful for the fine-grained and readily reversible control of consciousness; and I think designer drugs will be an indispensable tool to explore the disparate varieties of conscious mind. But wouldn’t it be better if we were all born with a genetic predisposition to psychological super-health rather than needing chronic self-medication? Does even the most ardent abolitionist propose to give cocktails of drugs to all children from birth; and then to take such drug cocktails for the rest of our lives?
c) So thirdly, there are genetic solutions, embracing both somatic and germ line therapy.
By way of context, today there is a minority of people who are always depressed or dysthymic, albeit to varying degrees. Studies with mono- and dizygotic twins confirm there is a high degree of genetic loading for depression. Conversely, there are some people who are temperamentally optimistic. Beyond the optimists, there is a very small minority of people who are what psychiatrists call hyperthymic. Hyperthymic people aren’t manic or bipolar; but by contemporary standards, they are always exceedingly happy, albeit sometimes happier than others. Hyperthymic people respond “appropriately” and adaptively to their environment. Indeed they are characteristically energetic, productive and creative. Even when they are blissful, they aren’t “blissed out”.
Now what if, as a whole civilization, we were to opt to become genetically hyperthymic – to adopt a motivational system driven entirely by adaptive gradients of well-being? More radically, as the genetic basis of hedonic tone is understood, might we opt to add multiple extra copies of hyperthymia-promoting genes/allelic combinations and their regulatory promoters – not abolishing homeostasis and the hedonic treadmill but shifting our hedonic set-point to a vastly higher level?
Three points here:First, this genetic re-calibration might seem to be endorsing another kind of uniformity; but it’s worth recalling that happier people – and especially hyperdopaminergic people – are typically responsive to a broader range of potentially rewarding stimuli than depressives: they engage in more exploratory behavior. This makes getting stuck in a sub-optimal rut less likely, both for the enhanced individual and posthuman society as a whole.
Secondly, universal hyperthymia might sound like a gigantic experiment; and in a sense of course it is. But all sexual reproduction is an experiment. We play genetic roulette, shuffling our genes and then throwing the genetic dice. Most of us flinch at the word “eugenics”; but that’s what we’re effectively practicing, crudely and incompetently, when we choose our prospective mates. The difference is that within the next few decades, prospective parents will be able to act progressively more rationally and responsibly in their reproductive decisions. Pre-implantation genetic screening is going to become routine; artificial wombs will release us from the constraints of the human birth-canal; and a revolution in reproductive medicine will begin to replace the old Darwinian lottery. The question is not whether a reproductive revolution is coming, but rather what kinds of being – and what kinds of consciousness – do we want to create?
Thirdly, isn’t this reproductive revolution going to be the prerogative of rich elites in the West? Probably not for long. Compare the brief lag between the introduction of, say, mobile phones and their world-wide adoption with the 50 year time-lag between the introduction and world-wide adoption of radio; and the 20 year lag between the introduction and world-wide penetration of television. The time-lag between the initial introduction and global acceptance of new technologies is shrinking rapidly. So of course is the price.
Anyway, one of the advantages of genetically re-calibrating the hedonic treadmill rather than abolishing it altogether, at least for the foreseeable future, is that the functional analogues of pain, anxiety, guilt and even depression can be preserved without their nasty raw feels as we understand them today. We can retain the functional analogues of discontent – arguably the motor of progress – and retain the discernment and critical insight lacking in the euphorically manic. Even if hedonic tone is massively enhanced, and even if our reward centers are physically and functionally amplified, then it’s still possible in principle to conserve much of our existing preference architecture. If you prefer Mozart to Beethoven, or philosophy to pushpin, then you can still retain this preference ranking even if your hedonic tone is hugely enriched.
Now personally, I think it would be better if our preference architecture were radically changed, and we pursued [please pardon the jargon] a “re-encephalisation of emotion”. Evolution via natural selection has left us strongly predisposed to form all manner of dysfunctional preferences that harm both ourselves and others for the benefit of our genes. Recall Genghis Khan: “The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.”
Now I’m told academia isn’t quite that bad, but even university life has its forms of urbane savagery – its competitive status-seeking and alpha-male dominance rituals: a zero-sum game with many losers. Too many of our preferences reflect nasty behaviors and states of mind that were genetically adaptive in the ancestral environment. Instead, wouldn’t it be better if we rewrote our own corrupt code? I’ve focused here on genetically enhancing hedonic tone. Yet mastery of the biology of emotion means that we’ll be able, for instance, to enlarge our capacity for empathy, functionally amplifying mirror neurons and engineering a sustained increase in oxytocin-release to promote trust and sociability. Likewise, we can identify the molecular signatures of, say, spirituality, our aesthetic sense, or our sense of humor – and modulate and “over-express” their psychological machinery too. From an information-theoretic perspective, what is critical to an adaptive, flexible, intelligent response to the world is not our absolute point on a hedonic scale but that we are informationally sensitive to differences. Indeed information theorists sometimes simply define information as a “difference that makes a difference”.
However, to stress again, this re-encephalisation of emotion is optional. It’s technically feasible to engineer the well-being of all sentience and retain most but not all of our existing preference architecture. The three technical options for abolishing suffering presented here – wireheading, designer drugs and genetic engineering – aren’t mutually exclusive. Are they exhaustive? I don’t know of any other viable options. Some transhumanists believe we could one day all be scanned, digitized and uploaded into inorganic computers and reprogrammed. Well, perhaps, I’m skeptical; but in any case, this proposal doesn’t solve the suffering of existing organic life unless we embrace so-called destructive uploading – a holocaust option I’m not even going to consider here.
2: WHY IT SHOULD HAPPEN
Assume that within the next few centuries we will acquire these Godlike powers over our emotions. Assume, too, that the signalling function of unpleasant experience can be replaced – either through the re-calibration argued for here, or through the offloading of everything unpleasant or routine to inorganic prostheses, bionic implants or inorganic computers – or perhaps through outright elimination in the case of something like jealousy. Why should we all be abolitionists?
If one is a classical utilitarian, then the abolitionist project follows: it’s Bentham plus biotechnology. One doesn’t have to be a classical utilitarian to endorse the abolition of suffering; but all classical utilitarians should embrace the abolitionist project. Bentham championed social and legislative reform, which is great as far as it goes; but he was working before the era of biotechnology and genetic medicine.
If one is a scientifically enlightened Buddhist, then the abolitionist project follows too. Buddhists, uniquely among the world’s religions, focus on the primacy of suffering in the living world. Buddhists may think that the Noble Eight fold Path offers a surer route to Nirvana than genetic engineering; but it’s hard for a Buddhist to argue in principle against biotech if it works. Buddhists focus on relieving suffering via the extinction of desire; yet it’s worth noting this extinction is technically optional, and might arguably lead to a stagnant society. Instead it’s possible both to abolish suffering and continue to have all manner of desires.
Persuading followers of Islam and the Judaeo-Christian tradition is more of a challenge. But believers claim – despite anomalies in the empirical evidence – that Allah/God is infinitely compassionate and merciful. So if mere mortals can envisage the well-being of all sentience, it would seem blasphemous to claim that God is more limited in the scope of His benevolence.
Most contemporary philosophers aren’t classical utilitarians or Buddhists or theists. Why should, say, an ethical pluralist take the abolitionist project seriously?
Here I want to take as my text Shakespeare’s
“For there was never yet philosopher That could endure the toothache patiently.
[Much Ado About Nothing, Scene Five, Act One (Leonato speaking)]
When one is gripped by excruciating physical pain, one is always shocked at just how frightful it can be.
It’s tempting to suppose that purely “psychological” pain – loneliness, rejection, existential angst, grief, anxiety, depression – can’t be as atrocious as extreme physical pain; yet the reason over 800,000 people in the world take their own lives every year is mainly psychological distress. It’s not that other things – great art, friendship, social justice, a sense of humor, cultivating excellence of character, academic scholarship, etc – aren’t valuable; but rather when intense physical or psychological distress intrudes – either in one’s own life or that of a loved one – we recognize that this intense pain has immediate priority and urgency. If you are in agony after catching your hand in the door, then you’d give short shrift to someone who urged you to remember the finer things in life. If you’re distraught after an unhappy love affair, then you don’t want to be tactlessly reminded it’s a beautiful day outside.
OK, while it lasts, extreme pain or psychological distress has an urgency and priority that overrides the rest of one’s life projects; but so what? When the misery passes, why not just get on with one’s life as before?
Well, natural science aspires to “a view from nowhere”, a notional God’s-eye view. Physics tells us that no here-and-now is privileged over any other; all are equally real. Science and technology are shortly going to give us Godlike powers over the entire living world to match this Godlike perspective. I argue that so long as there is any sentient being who is undergoing suffering similar to our distress, that suffering should be tackled with the same priority and urgency as if it were one’s own pain or the pain of a loved one. With power comes complicity. Godlike powers carry godlike responsibilities. Thus the existence of suffering 200 years ago, for instance, may indeed have been terrible; but it’s not clear that such suffering can sensibly be called “immoral” – because there wasn’t much that could be done about it. But thanks to biotechnology, now there is – or shortly will be. Over the next few centuries, suffering of any kind is going to become optional.
If you’re not a classical ethical utilitarian, the advantage of re-calibrating the hedonic treadmill rather than simply seeking to maximize super-happiness is that you are retaining at least a recognizable descendant of our existing preference architecture. Re-calibration of the hedonic treadmill can be made consistent with your existing value scheme. Hence even the ill-named “preference utilitarian” can be accommodated. Indeed control over the emotions means that you can pursue your existing life projects more effectively.
And what about the alleged character-building function of suffering? “That which does not crush me makes me stronger”, said Nietzsche. This worry seems misplaced. Other things being equal, enhancing hedonic tone strengthens motivation – it makes us psychologically more robust. By contrast, prolonged low mood leads to a syndrome of learned helplessness and behavioral despair.
I haven’t explicitly addressed the value nihilist – the subjectivist or ethical skeptic who says all values are simply matters of opinion, and that one can’t logically derive an “ought” from an “is”.
Well, let’s say I find myself in agony because my hand is on a hot stove. That agony is intrinsically motivating, even if my conviction that I ought to withdraw my hand doesn’t follow the formal canons of logical inference.
If one takes the scientific world-picture seriously, then there is nothing ontologically special or privileged about here-and-now or me – the egocentric illusion is a trick of perspective engineered by selfish DNA.
If it’s wrong for me to be in agony, then it is wrong for anyone, anywhere.
3: WHY IT WILL HAPPEN
OK, it’s technically feasible. A world without suffering would be wonderful; and full-blown paradise-engineering even better. But again, so what? It’s technically feasible to build a thousand-metre cube of cheddar cheese. Why is a pain-free world going to happen? Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking. Perhaps we’ll opt to retain the biology of suffering indefinitely.
The counterargument here is that whether or not one is sympathetic to the abolitionist project, we are heading for a reproductive revolution of designer babies. Prospective parents are soon going to be choosing the characteristics of their future children. We’re on the eve of the Post-Darwinian Transition, not in the sense that selection pressure will be any less severe, but evolution will no longer be “blind” and “random”: there will no longer be natural selection but unnatural selection. We will be choosing the genetic makeup of our future offspring, selecting and designing alleles and allelic combinations in anticipation of their consequences. There will be selection pressure against nastier alleles and allelic combinations that were adaptive in the ancestral environment.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a rigorous argument, but imagine you are choosing the genetic dial-settings for mood – the hedonic set-point – of your future children. What settings would you pick? You might not want gradients of lifelong super-happiness, but the overwhelming bulk of parents will surely want to choose happy children. For a start, they are more fun to raise. Most parents across most cultures say, I think sincerely, that they want their children to be happy. One may be skeptical of parents who say happiness is the only thing they care about for their kids – many parents are highly ambitious. But other things being equal, happiness signals success – possibly the ultimate evolutionary origin of why we value the happiness of our children as well as our own.
Of course the parental choice argument isn’t decisive. Not least, it’s unclear how many more generations of free reproductive choices lie ahead before radical anti-aging technologies force a progressively tighter collective control over our reproductive decisions – since a swelling population of ageless quasi-immortals can’t multiply indefinitely in finite physical space. But even if centralized control of reproductive decisions becomes the norm, and procreation itself becomes rare, the selection pressure against primitive Darwinian genotypes will presumably be intense. Thus it’s hard to envisage what future social formations would really allow the premeditated creation of any predisposition to depressive or anxiety disorders – or even the “normal” pathologies of unenhanced consciousness.
RENE GUENON, TRADITIONALIST, ALEXANDER DUGIN ON THE FOURTH POLITICAL POWER, BRANCO MALIC’S RESPONSE, POLITICS, AND VISIONARIES
“The quantitative degeneration of all things is closely linked to that of money, as is shown by the fact that nowadays the ‘worth’ of an object is ordinarily ‘estimated’ only in terms of its price, considered simply as a ‘figure’, a ‘sum’, or a numerical quantity of money; in fact, with most of our contemporaries, every judgment brought to bear on an object is nearly always based exclusively on what it costs. The word ‘estimate’ has been emphasized because it has in itself a double meaning, qualitative and quantitative; today the first meaning has been lost to sight, or what amounts to the same thing, means have been found to equate it to the second, and thus it comes about that not only is the ‘worth’ of an object ‘estimated’ according to its price, but the ‘worth’ of a man is ‘estimated’ according to his wealth.”
― René Guénon
A Traditionalist an Perennialist
For many years, maybe 44 years to date, I have been aware of Rene, Jean, Marie, Joseph Guenon, also later known as Abd al –Wahid Yahya (al-Maliki, al-Hamidi ash-Shadhili ) a French author and intellectual who remains an influential figure in the domain of metaphysics, having written on topics ranging from metaphysics, “sacred science” and traditional studies to symbolism and initiation.
In 1921, Guénon published an Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines. His goal, as he writes it, is an attempt at presenting to westerners eastern metaphysics and spirituality as they are understood and thought by easterners themselves, while pointing at what René Guénon describes as all the erroneous interpretations and misunderstandings of western orientalism and “neospiritualism” (for the latter, notably the proponents of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophism). Right from that time, he presents a rigorous understanding, not only of Hindu doctrines, but also of eastern metaphysics in general. He managed to expose these doctrines to a western public viewed by him as quite unprepared and unreceptive as a whole. He departed from standard scholarship (orientalist) terminology and methods and preferred to expose the doctrines as a simple “easterner”, devoid of what he called “western prejudices”. For one of the most famous aspects of René Guénon’s work is the irreducible difference he describes between the East and the West. René Guénon defines eastern metaphysics and intellectualism as of “universal nature”, that “opens possibilities of conception which are truly beyond any limitation”.
His work comprises:
An exposition of fundamental metaphysical principles: Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines which contains the general definition of the term “tradition” as Guénon defines it, Man and His Becoming according to the Vedânta, The Symbolism of the Cross, The Multiple States of Being,The Metaphysical Principles of the Infinitesimal Calculus, Oriental Metaphysics.
Studies in symbolism (comprising many articles he wrote for the journal Le Voile d’Isis which became later known under the name Etudes Traditionnelles). These studies in symbolism were later compiled by Michel Valsan in the posthumous book Symbols of Sacred Science. The studies The Great Triad,Traditional Forms & Cosmic Cycles, Insights into Islamic Esoterism & Taoism and The King of the World (alternately translated as Lord of the World) are also mostly about symbolism.
Fundamental studies related to Initiation, a subject completely re-exposited by Guénon from the traditional perspective: Perspectives on Initiation, Initiation and Spiritual Realization, The Esoterism of Dante.
Criticism of the modern world and of “neospiritualism”: East and West, The Crisis of the Modern World, Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power, Theosophy: History of a Pseudo-Religion, The Spiritist Fallacy and The Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times, the latter book being often considered as his masterpiece as an explanation of the modern world from the traditional perspective.
Various studies in esoterism: Saint Bernard, Insights into Christian Esoterism, Studies in Freemasonry and Compagnonnage, Studies in Hinduism, &c.
Imagine my surprise of the likes of Alexander Dugin, the so named Putin’s Rasputin claiming ideas derived from Rene Guenon!
In all honesty I had read some time ago a little about Dugin, mainly on the Western media, not an unbiased source for news, and filtered through the lens of what it’s considered a politically, Liberal, and correct attitude, then the shock of recently reading a extract from his Fourth Political Theory book, and when he claims allegiance to the Traditionalist.
Dugin’s Fourth Political Power:
“Modernity and its ideological basis (individualism, liberal democracy, capitalism, consumerism, and so on) are the cause of the future catastrophe of humanity, and the global domination of the Western lifestyle is the reason for the final degradation of the Earth. The West is approaching its terminus, and we should not let it drag the rest of us down into the abyss with it.
Tradition (religion, hierarchy, and family) and its values were overthrown at the dawn of modernity. All three political theories were conceived as artificial ideological constructions by people who comprehended, in various ways, ‘the death of God’ (Nietzsche), the ‘disenchantment of the world’ (Weber), and the ‘end of the sacred.’ This was the core of the New Era of modernity: man came to replace God, philosophy and science replaced religion, and the rational, forceful, and technological constructs took the place of revelation.
When we use the term ‘modernization’, we mean progress, linear accumulation, and a certain continuous process. When we speak of ‘modernization’, we presuppose development, growth, and evolution. It is the same semantic system. Thus, when we speak of the ‘unconditionally positive achievements of modernization: we agree with a very important basic paradigm – we agree with the idea that ‘human society is developing, progressing, evolving, growing, and getting better and better: that is to say, we share a particular vision of historical optimism.
This historical optimism pertains to the three classical political ideologies (liberalism, Communism, and fascism). It is rooted in the scientific, societal, political, and social worldview in the humanities and natural sciences of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, when the ideas of progress, development, and growth were taken as axioms that could not be doubted. In other words, this entire set of axioms, as well as the whole historiography and predictive analytics of the Nineteenth century in the humanities and the natural sciences, were built upon the idea of progress.
The Socialist Herbert Spencer claimed that the development of human society that the development of human society was the next stage of evolution in the animal species, and that there was a connection, and a continuity between the animal world and social development.
And, therefore, all the laws of the animal world leading to the development, improvement, and evolution on the animal world, within Darwin’s framework, can be projected onto society, This is the basis of the famous theory, ‘Social Darwinism’, of which Spencer was a classic representative. If, according to Darwin, the driving force behind the evolution of the animal kingdom its the struggle for survival and natural selection, then the same process must take place in society, argued Spencer. And the more perfect the struggle is for survival (Inter-species, intrs-species, the struggle of the strong against the weak, the competition for resources, pleasure), the more perfect our society becomes, The question is how to aid this process of selection. According to Spencer, this is the theme of the liberal model, and is the meaning of social progress.
Therefore, if we are liberals, in one way or the other we inherited this ‘zoological’ approach to social development based on the struggle against the destruction of the weak by the strong.
Spencer’s theory contains an important point that must be elaborated upon. He argues that there are two phases of social development. The first phase occurs when the struggle for survival is conducted crudely, by force; this is characteristic of the ancient world. The second occurs when the struggle is carried out more subtly through economic means. Once the bourgeois revolution takes place, the struggle for survival doesn’t stop. According to Spencer, it acquires new, more advanced, and more efficient forms; it relocates into the sphere of the market. Here the strongest survive-that is the richest. Instead of the most powerful feudal lord, a hero, a strong person, or a leader, who simply sizes all that there is for grabs around his community, taking away what all that belongs to other nations and races and sharing it with the ruling ethnicity or cast, now come the capitalist, who bring the same aggressive principle to the market, the corporation, or the trading company. The transition from the order of power to the order of money, according to Spencer, does not mean the humanization of the process, but only underscores greater effectiveness. That is to say, the struggle in the market sphere between the strong (meaning the rich) and the weak (meaning the poor) becomes more efficient and leads to higher levels of development until super-rich, super-strong, and super developed countries emerge. Progress, according to Spencer, and, more broadly speaking, according to liberalism is always the growth of economic power, since this continues to refine the struggle for survival of the animal species, the warfare methods of strong nations, and the castes within the framework of pre-capitalistic states.
Thus, an animalistic form of aggression is embedded in the liberal idea of progress, which is regarded as the main trajectory of social development. With more economic freedom, there is greater power for takeovers, attacks, mergers, and acquisitions.
In such a system, the ‘more advanced’ law or the more advanced, ‘more modern’ methods of production do not mean that they are more humane; what it means that they allow more opportunities for the strong to more effectively realize their power, while the weak can only admit defeat, or, if they have any strength left, fight on. In this meaner, the modern idea of economic growth, as we see in liberals such as Alan Greenspan, and Ben Bernake, has its foundations and origins in the idea of the struggle between species, that is, the feral destruction of the weak by the strong, or the validation of the strong at the expense of the weak. Only instead of the conflict between predators and herbivores, we have the golden billion, and in that golden billion, their own ‘kings of beasts’ ( the New York Stock Exchange and the World Bank bankers) who devour all that there is up for grabs and, at the same time, turn the forest of the World into ‘social infrastructures’.
Therefore, when we speak of ‘modernization’ into the liberal vein, of necesity we mean the enhancement of the social, political, cultural, spiritual, and informational scenario within which the absolute aggression of the strong against the weak can be implemented.
There is only one way out-to reject the classical political theories, both winners and losers, strain our imaginations, seize the reality of a new world, correctly decipher the challenges of post-modernity, and create something new-something beyond the political battles of Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries. Such an approach is an invitation to the development of the Fourth Political Theory-beyond Communism, Fascism, and Liberalism.”
“Dugin charges that Liberalism in the end contributes to decline and does not achieve the progress it claims. “Communism and Fascism have collapsed,” Peter J. Leithart asserts, then he assigns the belief that “liberalism, the final twentieth-century ideology, turned into libertine postmodernism as soon as it triumphed,” to Dugin’s mindset. Dugin believes that “the idea of modernization is based on the idea of progress, which is regarded as the main trajectory of social development. With more economic freedom, there is greater power for takeovers, attacks, mergers, and acquisitions. Liberal discourse, meaning the analysis of the liberal ideologist, is a completely animal discourse.”
Branko Malic’s, Dugin’s questionable Traditionalism
“Alexander Dugin’s influence on Russian foreign policy is an object of speculation, mostly on the level of gossip. In the West he is often times dubbed new Rasputin, probably because mainstream opinion maker’s intelligence doesn’t seem to reach further of pattern recognition (clue: the beard). While it’s hard to believe that esteemed professor sees himself as “Russia’s greatest love machine”, it is impossible to overlook that some of the moves Russian foreign policy makes are fairly concordant to his opinions and affirm much of what he is saying. Diplomatic victory over the West during the first phase of Syria crisis cannot be denied, and it is hard to escape the fact that Reagan’s term “Evil empire” is coming dangerously close to denote the USA itself. However, there is a great danger in idealizing the Eurasian project spearheaded by Russian Federation. Uncritical glorification of the rising might of Russia, although understandable, shouldn’t lead to forgetting the famous saying about “enigma wrapped in secret”. In other words, Westerner must never forget that he doesn’t know and – as is implied in Dugin’s logic – maybe even cannot know, what goes on behind Putin’s stone face. Further, it is questionable how really can one reconcile militant Evolian mysticism with ascetic wisdom of Guenon, which Dugin apparently tries to do. It is a pity that West is more or less ignorant of Guenon’s consequent spiritual descendant, Hungarian Bela Hamvas, man far more experienced in enduring than exercising the violent force, but who nevertheless almost single handed kept the flame of Tradition alive for all Eastern Europe. What he and Guenon were able to do is to point the finger and say: this is Corruption. Nothing more, nothing less. And that in itself made them revolutionaries. Resistance of the sort Alexander Dugin advocates could prove no less immoral than the aggression of the West and in fact can hardly be reconciled with the religious attitude of Traditionalism.
We must conclude that Alexander Dugin is relevant thinker and his work is a point of reference for everybody who sees, or at least hears, something creeping in the bushes near his front door. Dugin says it clearly: in the plastic flowers of Globalization, there is a serpent hiding. But if we observe how he, as well as the European alternative right in general, splices the Traditionalism and realpolitik, the unavoidable question arises: do you really cure the viper’s bite with another batch of poison? No doubt, ever more people are becoming aware that history of 20th century was not what they were told it was. The values of the West more and more prove to be a threat not only to political, economical and biological, but also the very logical foundation of human being as such. Nihilism is all out of masks. However, to align with thinkers like Alexander Dugin solely because they see the shortcomings of the West so clearly is very unreasonable. For although his cards are not marked, don’t be so sure you know what card game he is really playing.”
My View of the Matter
I can’t deny to agree with the above words expressed by Dugin, but I would be the first to recognize at my lack of knowledge about Dugin’s political intentions, and his dealings with Putin, and as to what extent Putin himself take Dugin’s advise in his political dealings, or it’s just a ‘spiritual’ ideological adviser of a philosophical nature, rather than a de facto policy maker? Do not know, it’s said he doesn’t even hold a job at the Kremlin, journalist Alexander Nevzorov: “if we had had Sergey Kurginyan and Dugin instead of Putin, there would have been hell for all of us to pay, they would have unleashed a European and World War without a shadow of a doubt, without considering consequences at all.” But “Dugin and Kurginyan do not have the slightest impact on what is going on in the Kremlin and do not even get coaching there”.
My only interest on him, it’s in relation to Rene Guenon’s Traditionalist ideas. And in all this I suspect a little of an idealism, on his part, based on isolated, and disconnected readings on Guenon’s books, than a serious, more direct relationship, with Guenon’s school of Traditionalist heirs.
The Traditionalist School is a group of 20th and 21st century thinkers concerned with what they considered to be the demise of traditional forms of knowledge, both aesthetic and spiritual, within Western society. The principal thinkers in this tradition are René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy and Frithjof Schuon. Other important thinkers in this tradition include Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, Bela Hamvas, Jean-Louis Michon, Marco Pallis, Huston Smith, Hossein Nasr, Jean Borella, Julius Evola and William Chittick. A central belief of this school is the existence of a perennial wisdom, or perennial philosophy, which says that there are primordial and universal truths which form the source for, and are shared by all the major world religions.
A group of mainly Western idealists, mystics, religious scholars, seeking the Wisdom of the East, known only to the few who care what they have to say, certainly a small minority, who also have ideological detractors, but hardly a nest for political activism, upheaval, and controversial ideas regarding a ‘New World Order’. Now thrown into the searchlights, by Dugin’s pronouncements. And consequently my surprise of Dugin’s allegiance to the Traditionalist or Perennial school, despite my sympathy for the ideas he express above, and by my long acquaintance with the Traditionalist writings who seem to have little in common with Dugin’s public persona, by their disregard for the limelight of politics. However we know ideas move mountains, and that a seed on fertile soil, under the right conditions grows, as for what kind of seed may be, only the future will tell.
“The conclusion is that the whole of those laws
of nature which have been woven into a
unified scheme – mechanics, gravitation, electrodynamics and optics – have their origin,
not in any special mechanism of nature,
but in the workings of the mind”
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington
We all have noticed that time drags when we want to get over with something, like getting home after a long commute, or getting out from work after a long day of dealing with difficult things, but also the reverse it’s true, the more busy you are the faster time seems to go by, I remember a particular job I did for three years, were my job was to take call, after call, as a customer service representative, not an easy job, but that I got to like it, because as I got used to, most of the times someone would come to me and tap me on the shoulder, to call my attention, and said, it’s time to go. And it seem to me that I had only been there three, or four hours, rather than eight!
Over a century ago, Albert Einstein postulated that a given time interval is registered differently by independent (moving) clocks. Interestingly, Einstein himself recognized the similarity between the relativity of physical and psychological time: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute – and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.” Einstein was literally talking about different temporal contexts providing different read-outs for the same physical interval. While relative time became the de-facto view in physics, the relativity of psychological time is still a matter for debate. For example, neuron-biological evidence suggests indeed that major time scales (millisecond, second-to-minutes, and circadian) are processes by different regions of the brain (e.g., cortex, cerebellum, striatum, and suprachiasmatic nucleus), it is still unclear whether everyday timing in the seconds-to-minutes range is performed by a single or rather multiple parallel mechanisms in the brain.
Real or absolute time does not exist – only local time(is), different for each observer.
Short list of types of temporal illusions:
Telescoping effect: People tend to recall recent events as occurring further back in time than they actually did (backward telescoping) and distant events as occurring more recently than they actually did (forward telescoping).
Vierordt’s law: Shorter intervals tend to be overestimated while longer intervals tend to be underestimated
Time intervals associated with more changes may be perceived as longer than intervals with fewer changes
Perceived temporal length of a given task may shorten with greater motivation
Perceived temporal length of a given task may stretch when broken up or interrupted
Auditory stimuli may appear to last longer than visual stimuli
Time duration may appear longer with greater stimulus intensity (e.g., auditory loudness or pitch)
Simultaneity judgments can be manipulated by repeated exposure to non-simultaneous stimuli
Time as Unreal
In 5th century BC Greece, Antiphon the Sophist, in a fragment preserved from his chief work On Truth, held that: “Time is not a reality (hypostasis), but a concept (noêma) or a measure (metron).”Parmenides went further, maintaining that time, motion, and change were illusions, leading to the paradoxes of his follower Zeno. Time as an illusion is also a common theme in Buddhist thought.
J. M. E. McTaggarts 1908 The Unreality of Time argues that, since every event has the characteristic of being both present and not present (i.e., future or past), that time is a self-contradictory idea (see also The flow of time).
These arguments often center around what it means for something to be unreal. Modern physicists generally believe that time is as real as space, though others, such as Julian Barbour in his book The End of Time, argue that quantum equations of the universe take their true form when expressed in the timeless realm containing every possible now or momentary configuration of the universe, called ‘platonia’ by Barbour.
A modern philosophical theory called presentism views the past and the future as human-mind interpretations of movement instead of real parts of time (or “dimensions”) which coexist with the present. This theory rejects the existence of all direct interaction with the past or the future, holding only the present as tangible. This is one of the philosophical arguments against time travel. This contrasts with eternalism (all time: present, past and future, is real) and the growing block theory (the present and the past are real, but the future is not).
Our story: The Longest Night Of My life
There is a lot to talk about time, but this would have to be a book, and it’s just a post, so here it is my personal perception, and experience of how time can stretch to great lengths, it was many years ago, somewhere in December of 1973 just before Christmas and close to the Winter Solstice when nights are long, a friend of mine invited me to go and listen to a conference to a town 60 miles away from us, the conference would start at 8:30 PM and we would be living somewhere before 7:00 PM to arrive with plenty of time to find the place.
Having to teach a Yoga class at 6:AM the next day, decided to take a little nap somewhere at 4:00 PM that evening before leaving, expecting a long night ahead of us, but to be back before midnight. Woke up from my nap at 5:00 PM and headed to the Yoga studio where we would meet to leave, at that time it was one of the shortest days of the year and I remember it was almost dark, and by the time that I arrived to the studio, 40 minutes after it was totally dark, and not only that, it started to rain, shortly as I left my home, very likely now day, I would had apologize to my friend and cancel the trip, but been young and excited about the conference the four of us we left as planed somewhere around 6:30 PM.
Half way down the way, with the rain some rocks had landslide in to the road, being dark and rainy my friend hit one of the rocks and had a flat tire, and broke the ring of the wheel. It took us quite a while in the dark, and with the danger of other cars hitting us from behind to change the wheel. Needless to say by the time we could mount the spare tire we better should had turn the car around and go back home, but instead my friend the driver over optimistic we fought traffic and the rain in the city, and once when we finally got to the conference, we were able to listen the answer to the last question the speaker had, somewhere a little after 10:00 PM.
My friend worried about not having a spare tire on our way back, he went looking with some of his relatives who lived in that town, for a spare tire, to begin with, the relatives lived at quite some distance, and that also took some time, and he not only pick up the tire but he talked to the relatives for an hour or so, finally we left back to our town and we arrived maybe at 2:00 AM, but of course they couldn’t drop me right away, they were hungry and wanted diner!
So we looked for a 24 hour place to eat, and needless to say it was way past the time estimated we would be back by midnight, somewhere around 3:30 AM when they drop me home, went to bed immediately just after setting the alarm for 5:00 AM, after a brief sleep the alarm went off, and dressing up I went in to the wet, and muddy streets, rain was still pouring, and what strike me right at that moment as I walked to the class, through the poor lighted streets avoiding mud, and big pools of water, under the rain, how it was still dark, and despite traveling to a different town, and back, doing all the things we did, here I was walking the same path I did earlier a few hours before in darkness to meet my friends at the studio, but the night wasn’t over yet..!
No doubt the night wasn’t longer than any other night around that time of the year, but so much events were sandwiched in between, including walking twice to the Yoga studio in darkness during the same cold, rainy night, that it stuck in my memory, neither was the toughest night of my life, as I have memories of hell, like spending the night on a train trip on the mountains in a freezing night without proper clothing, and no heating in the car compartment, this just been only the prelude of many subsequent nights on that trip, sleeping on cement floors, on top of cardboard, and the flimsiest of a sleeping bag, separating my body from the cement floor, on subfreezing weather for a whole month. And many other nights when I used to work night shift, or whatever many other occurrences through a life’s long journey.
Time perception is relative, maybe because so much was sandwiched in between, went on that night, and we wasted the night away without achieving anything of purpose, since waking up from my early nap in semidarkness, and not seeing the light of day after finishing the teaching of the class in the early morning. It stayed in my memory as a very long night, it was the longest night I remember maybe because it just stuck on my mind, to be that way. I am sure for all of us there have being similar occurrences, when time seem to stretch for ever, or at least an unusual length, for no other reason that we perceive it that way.
MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH CINEMA, FROM TEN SECONDS TO HELL, HURRICANES, AND THINGS TO COME, CINEMA PARADISO, AN EDUCATION, AND DISILLUSIONMENT
“For me, film making combines everything. That’s the reason I’ve made cinema my life’s work. In films, painting and literature, theater and music come together. But a film is still a film.”
My love of movies
I was probably six years of age when my parents took me to see my first movie ever, at the time movie theaters didn’t allow children less than seven years of age in to the theaters, at the 8:00PM show mainly I guess at least in my days as a child they put us in bed just after diner no later than 9:00PM, or not to disturb the adults at the theater, besides most movies were foreign movies and had subtitles, if you were too young to read there was no point to take a child to the movies. The movie I remember was Ten seconds to Hell, a movie by Robert Aldrich with Jack Palance, and Jeff Chandler, the movie was sort of a failure, and not memorable, except to me, since it was the first of thousands of movies I have watched through the years.
Fortunately I learnt to read at five, so I could read the subtitles, now there was no television in town, a thing hard to understand to people now days , but I got to remind you this was 1959, there was no satellites even if the first Russian Sputnik was launched in October 1957, first time ever than TV signal was transmitted from a satellite wasn’t until July 23, 1962, but since in my town we lacked a tower to capture the signal, in fact not until 1968 our town got a TV tower for the first time.
So as a child I missed watching TV, but in our small town we had been watching movies since 1897 two years just after the Lumiere brothers offered their first picture to the people of Paris, and in my childhood we possessed a whooping six movie theaters, or at least three of them running continually, since one did not have a roof and run at night only for obvious reasons, (but not a drive in) aptly named “Tropical” and two of them were out of action periodically, theaters would start selling tickets at 3:30PM, and punctually at 4:00PM the magic of turning off the lights and start rolling the first movie would begin, you could adjust your watch to it, possibly the only thing that would run on time in my town!
And we had at each theater three old movies on Monday, three different on Tuesday, and Wednesday, Three more on Thursday, and Friday to Sunday two new releases, if my math is correct we had at least from 33, to around 60 different pictures, you could choose to watch at any given week, not counting matinees who were meant for children, and that I did, watching on the mid sixties to the early early seventies, numerous films, being at the theater four, or five times a week! An evening without going to the theater was a bore, even on school days being out of school by five we could be at a theater to catch the second picture, and stay there if we wish to do so until the end of the last picture around midnight.
Growing Up Nurtured by Movies
Now I used to joke if it wasn’t for the big old theaters at home showing us so many movies, and a respite to our daily boredom, in a town where the only two things a young person could do was go to the beach during the mornings, and to the movies during the evenings, pretty much there was nothing else to do but to read a book, or go to a bar to drink!
I believe the movies saved many of us young people of becoming early alcoholics, sad to say but on those days there where bars everywhere, I remember a particular corner with a bar in all it’s three points, and the fourth point, the local beer brewery! Movies was an innocent healthy escape you could say, not to talk a respite to the heat as well, since few people could afford air condition, and above all, truly an education on cinema, a window to the world seen on celluloid, in a time when communication with the outside world meant to be able to travel. Going to the movies on the other hand, was relatively cheap, around 35, 0r 40 cents depending on the theater.
And what a first class cinema education I got, the rich fare we were served, through our theaters we saw every movie made around the globe, not only by Hollywood, but French, Italian, British, Swedish, German, Japanese, Spanish, Indian, Mexican, Argentinian, Brazilian, and anybody who could make a movie, somehow slowly but surely the heavy canisters of celluloid would reach our theaters, and were loaded into the big old projectors. In my opinion the golden age of cinema was reached on the late fifties, through most of the sixties, and had been a long slow decline since, to the point that long after I ceased to go to the theaters, in the early eighties, and renting them instead to watch at home, and finally cancelled my Netflix account quite a few years ago, now days I ever hardly watch a movie, and haven’t been to a theater in ages, by that I do not mean good movies are no longer made, they do, not just that often.
I saw Cinema Paradiso on video, some years after it was released in 1988, already somewhat disenchanted with the mass production of movies on a totally corporate business like, industrial line of production, not that old movies were not done that way, but wised up by age, disillusioned, with the so named seventh art, maybe too much of a cynic. One of the reasons for the success of Cinema Paradiso, no doubt was that Toto’s story it’s for many of us who grew up in a small town, our own story, people like me who left for good their small town, in an age where people abandoned their small towns to go to the big cities to study, or try their luck in search of work, and a better life somewhere else, and the local movie theater was the window that provided the necessary inspiration to look for bigger horizons.
And we share the same story with some variants no doubt, but pretty much on the same lines, leaving a young High school sweetheart behind, family, and friends, to face life in the big city, with farther, and farther in between visits to home, and family, and when back, the heartbreak from seeing the abandoned remains of the old movie houses, where we spend our childhood, for so many hours dreaming…
My Story, A Matinee, and Things to Come
Only twelve years of age on September 26 1965, a Sunday my elder brother and myself did what we used to do every Sunday morning, and that was to go to the matinee that started a 10:00AM. every Sunday, it matter little to us what movies were playing, as long we had not see them yet, we used to go along with three or more friends, little did matter also that the day was sort looking like rain was coming, in those days without satellites to track the weather they relied on weather balloons that would send up every day sketchy weather information, our mother hesitated a little before letting us go, since it looked like a storm was about to hit town, but we went anyway prevailing over our mother’s fears, we arrived to the old theater and there were two movies to watch, and that was all we cared, we took our seats in our favorite spot and saw the first movie without any incident worth talking, I can’t even recall what movie it was, but during the second movie an interesting old British prewar movie, about half into it, we start noticing that the old theater roof was having leaks of water here, and there, first slowly, but as the minutes went by, more and more water start leaking down on us, suddenly a ceiling panel with a loud noise ripped off the false ceiling, and a veritable waterfall equal to emptying a swimming pool on top of our heads come down the theater!
The movie being of interest to us took a second seat to the real show when every panel of the ceiling start being coming apart under the weight of the water accumulated, between the roof, and the false ceiling, we were exposed not only to get soaked wet, but in danger of a piece of ceiling hitting us, so we run for cover, not out of the theater as we should have done, but under the projection cabin, to protect us from the water, and the more dangerous debris from the roof, and just sat there to weather the storm and keep watching the movie, and the falling debris of the ceiling!
Incredible enough the movie kept playing and we didn’t abandon the protection under the cabin until every piece of the roof was gone, and the corrugated sheets of asbestos were totally torn off by the storm, and flew away one by one, like if they were sheets of paper, still wonder where they landed, they probably did great damage!
Water kept pouring and we decided we had enough, mainly because we couldn’t see the movie anymore, there was no roof anymore, and the place look like if it was a drive inn with seats, even if the projector kept running and the light of the day, and the rain made it difficult for us to keep seeing the action on the movie, just as we started to leave the theater finally the power gave out, no doubt an electricity pole falling down somewhere, or many!
Every employee of the theater had abandoned the theater, including the projectionist, in fact we were the last to leave the now totally wrecked theater, my surprise had no end, when we descended in to the lobby and saw the candy shop under water, and the popcorn floating around!
The theater was located in a low zone of the city, in terrain that very likely was a estuary, or a marsh, if not outright land gained from the ocean, that naturally flooded when a storm of the magnitude of Hurricane Hazel hit the city.
Luckily the employees of the theater, who obviously knew better, had deserted us for quite some time, but didn’t even lock up the theater, or turn the projector off. With water to our chest and waddling through a current of water holding ourselves cautiously from the iron works of the house’s windows along our way we reached narrow Constitution street where water was running with the force of a river rapid, and had a first hand knowledge at that moment as to the why the sidewalks on that street where that high! We solved the problem by walking back in the opposite direction from where the water was coming, and forded the current so we could come out successfully at the opposite sidewalk, crossing the street at an angle, now reflect how lucky we were of not been swept away by the strong current!
From there we reached high ground on Plaza Revolucion, right at that corner in the picture below, although the plaza didn’t look as nice as in the picture!
There was no a tree left standing, every heavy Indian Laurel fig laying on the ground, but to us was an adventure just crossing the park through the the jungle of fallen branches, by that time the storm had subsided, and we reached home all excited by such great adventure, in our young lives, of course mother had another view of the event, herself a victim of an earlier Hurricane adventure, my poor mother was scared out of her wits, and blaming herself for letting us go to the matinee, posted to the window through the storm in hope to see us come safe home that day, and later more terrorized by our account of the destruction of the theater, and the general mayhem at the town caused by the storm.
Later next day my father who was out of town arrived home, and we drove on his car avoiding all sort of obstacles, like downed trees, and big water holes, and cautiously made our way along the coast seeing the devastation of many places and kept driving until we reached a point called Sabalo, at the time way out of town, where the lonely figure of a local character, famous for his jolly occurrences, nicknamed Pacharo, who had recently acted on a minor role, a little above extra, working for scale on a non talking role, along Yul Brynner and George Chakiris on a forgetful movie named Kings of the Sun, filmed on location on the outskirts of our town, Pacharo who owned a palapa restaurant by the beach, and faced the storm all by himself, very little remained of his destroyed place, but he was so happy to see us, being the first people to be able to reach his place since the day before the storm, he recognized us and yelled my father’s name running toward us as soon he saw us, as we got out of the car to talk to him, in character with his recent movie exploits he exclaimed: I withstood the storm all alone; Like Attila frente a Roma! (Sign of the Pagan) thing that provoke all the members of our family to laugh, and remember through the years Pacharo’s ordeal.
Not My First One
It was not even my first Hurricane, I had a first seat from a window at home, as a witness of great mayhem occasioned by a Hurricane in 1958 or 1959? When I was only five or six years of age and our house’s windows faced another park, and saw every huge Indian Laurel tree in the park being lifted in to the air pulled by the roots like a carrot, and crash with an uproar, like thunder sound, just fifty feet from our house, meanwhile I watched my father and an elder cousin who where trying to rescue my mother who had the bad idea just before the Hurricane hit, to go and fetch up a bag of coffee at the grocery store for breakfast that day, mother spent most of the hurricane a block from home holding in to the iron bars of a window until my father and cousin could rescue her, and brought her back home safe, a home that no longer exist, and was located in front of the park on the upper right corner in relation to the park (middle) in the picture below.
Neither those Hurricanes were the last ones, been on six Hurricanes through my life, however non as exciting as the two first ones, for many years between our friends who participated on that faithful matinee in September, try to figure out what was the name of the movie we never finished, the main problem being because at that age we cared little to read the credits, all we wanted was for the credits to end soon, so we could start watching the movie, that and the fact we didn’t knew the original title in English, on those days the translators would change the original name and give it any name they saw fit, or they pleased, as an example the Sound of Music was translated as La Novicia Rebelde! (The Rebel Novice) go figure!
Well, after almost fifty years later could figure it was Things to Come (also known in promotional material as H. G. Wells’ Things to Come) is a 1936 British black-and-white science fiction film from United Artists, produced by Alexander Korda, directed by William Cameron Menzies, and written by H. G. Wells. The film stars Raymond Massey, Ralph Richardson, Cedric Hardwicke, Pearl Argyle, and Margaretta Scott.
Thanks to the Internet, and Youtube could solve the mystery, we went to a matinee to watch Things to Come, and what it come was a Hurricane!
Ironically in my town, the oldest of all the theaters, was the only one to survive, and after it’s almost total destruction by another Hurricane in 1975 was beautifully restored and you can appreciate it on the third picture, now the place for all kinds of cultural events.
I have wonderful memories of the great many movies I had watched through the years of my life, even if now days hardly watch a movie, tired of the direction movies in general have gone, some people mainly young ones, sometimes try to talk me into watching this movie, or that other one, rarely if I do, care too much about it, at least not as I did so many years ago, I guess I have changed, lost that sense of wonderment you carry as a young person, and look at things, and life with different eyes, I will not go to specifics, too well known by many, and in fairness there is a few movies made that are good, and enjoyable no doubt, but I am no more the same small child who looked in wonderment from my seat, in the cool darkness, and silence of the old theaters, with devotion like in a temple, to the magical reflection on the screen that opened new worlds of discovery to my young eyes, and imagination.
“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
The Silver Age of Literature
The world’s first hand-tinted motion picture was produced by Thomas Edison’s company, Edison Studios, in 1895, more than 115 years ago. The dancer, Annabelle Moore (1878-1961), was just a teenager when this film was released, and her dance caused both a sensation and a scandal.
Ironically the end of the Nineteen century and the beginning of the Twenty century, those were the heydays of Literature, with writers in Russia like Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Turgenev, Andreyev, Bunin, Bulgakov In England Dickens, W Eliot, Bronte, Hardy, Kipling in America Poe, Whitman, Melville, Twain, in France Balzac, Baudelaire, Hugo, Dumas, Flaubert, Zola, Maupassant, Proust, in German Fontane, Rilke, Musil, Roth, Mann, Kafka, Hesse, in Hungary Kosztolányi, Poland Sienkiewicz, Bruno Schultz, and Gombrowicz, in Italy Pirandello and Svevo, in Spain Perez Galdos, Leopoldo Alas, Palacio Valdes, Valle Inclan, Pio Baroja, Blasco Ibañez, in Portugal, Eça de Queirós, Ireland, Wilde, James Joyce, Norway, Ibsen, and Hamsun, Sweden, Strindberg, Lagerlöf, and Lagerkvist.
And this it’s not an exhaustive list, just a few well known names to a roster of great writers of many nations who wrote great many books in a sort of Silver age of writing after the Golden age of Shakespeare, and Cervantes.
Literature As Art, Or Entertainment?
Before starting throwing accusations to contemporary literature, in all fairness let’s say most people read as an utilitarian occupation, in order to learn something, like a subject at school, like math, History, Biology, etc. We will not talk about business since if you are not able to read basically it’s even hard to get a job!
Then some may read as entertainment like reading a thriller, or a detective story, romance novel, science fiction, etc. This it’s what we call genre novels, whose main objective it’s to fill our time to avoid boredom, now some may be pretty good, and engaging, some may even border on real Literature…As to when a piece of writing crosses the line and become an authentic piece of Literature, it’s hard to tell, since most people have different standards to qualify a work of art, sad to say but now days our standards are very low, we consume a lot of garbage, in food, music, movies, television, and mass media.
It doesn’t help that the prime motivator of writing a novel it’s to sell it, not to promote Literature, or good taste on people’s reading habits, so bottom line is that a novel in order to be successful is necessary to produce money to the writer who laboriously wasted uncounted hours writing it, and to the editors as well, who need to profit from the book, so the first requisite of a writer it’s not to produce a piece of art, but something that sells, and here comes the editor saying : Sorry your work it’s very good, but I will not be able to sell it, there is not a car chase, nobody gets kill, there is not even someone stealing something, or nothing really exciting ever happens, there is not even bad words, or sex! How do you expect for me to sell this?
Exhibit Number One, The Thriller
Thriller is a broad genre of literature, film and television, having numerous sub genres. Thrillers are characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. The Merriam Webster dictionary: one that thrills; especially : a work of fiction or drama designed to hold the interest by the use of a high degree of intrigue, adventure, or suspense.
Writer Vladimir Nabokov, in his lectures at Cornell University, said: “In an Anglo-Saxon thriller, the villain is generally punished, and the strong silent man generally wins the weak babbling girl, but there is no governmental law in Western countries to ban a story that does not comply with a fond tradition, so that we always hope that the wicked but romantic fellow will escape scot-free and the good but dull chap will be finally snubbed by the moody heroine.”
Thrillers may be defined by the primary mood that they elicit: suspenseful excitement. In short, if it “thrills”, it is a thriller. As the introduction to a major anthology explains:
Thrillers provide such a rich literary feast. There are all kinds. The legal thriller, spy thriller, action-adventure thriller, medical thriller, police thriller, romantic thriller, historical thriller, political thriller, religious thriller, high-tech thriller, military thriller. The list goes on and on, with new variations constantly being invented. In fact, this openness to expansion is one of the genre’s most enduring characteristics. But what gives the variety of thrillers a common ground is the intensity of emotions they create, particularly those of apprehension and exhilaration, of excitement and breathlessness, all designed to generate that all-important thrill. By definition, if a thriller doesn’t thrill, it’s not doing its job.
Common methods and themes in crime and action thrillers are mainly ransoms, captivities, heists, revenge, kidnappings. Common in mystery thrillers are investigations and the whodunit technique. Common elements in dramatic and psychological thrillers include plot twists, psychology, obsession and mind games. Common in horror thrillers are serial killers, stalking, deathtraps and horror-of-personality. Elements such as fringe theories, false accusations and paranoia are common in paranoid thrillers. Threats to entire countries, spies, espionage, conspiracies, assassins and electronic surveillance are common in spy thrillers.
Characters may include criminals, stalkers, assassins, innocent victims (often on the run), menaced women, psychotic individuals, spree killers, sociopaths, agents, terrorists, cops and escaped cons, private eyes, people involved in twisted relationships, world-weary men and women, psycho-fiends, and more. The themes frequently include terrorism, political conspiracy, pursuit, or romantic triangles leading to murder. Plots of thrillers involve characters which come into conflict with each other or with outside forces.
The protagonist of these films is set against a problem. No matter what sub-genre a thriller film falls into, it will emphasize the danger that the protagonist faces. The protagonists are frequently ordinary citizens unaccustomed to danger, although commonly in crime and action thrillers, they may also be “hard men” accustomed to danger such as police officers and detectives. While protagonists of thrillers have traditionally been men, women lead characters are increasingly common.[ In psychological thrillers, the protagonists are reliant on their mental resources, whether it be by battling wits with the antagonist or by battling for equilibrium in the character’s own mind. The suspense often comes from two or more characters preying upon one another’s minds, either by playing deceptive games with the other or by merely trying to demolish the other’s mental state.
An atmosphere of menace and sudden violence, such as crime and murder, characterize thrillers. The tension usually arises when the character(s) is placed in a dangerous situation, or a trap from which escaping seems impossible. Life is threatened, usually because the principal character is unsuspectingly or unknowingly involved in a dangerous or potentially deadly situation.
Hitchcock’s films often placed an innocent victim (an average, responsible person) into a strange, life-threatening or terrorizing situation, in a case of mistaken identity or wrongful accusation.
Thrillers take place mostly in ordinary suburbs and cities, although sometimes they may take place wholly or partly in exotic settings such as foreign cities, deserts, polar regions, or the high seas. These usually tough, resourceful, but essentially ordinary heroes are pitted against villains determined to destroy them, their country, or the stability of the free world. Often in a thriller movie, the protagonist is faced with what seem to be insurmountable problems in his mission, carried out against a ticking clock, the stakes are high and although resourceful, they face personal dilemmas along the way forcing them to make sacrifices for others.
Yes unfortunately it’s true, if a novel doesn’t hit us with the brutal force of a koboko whiplash and wake us from our dense, saturated, and insensitive slumber we will not be able to read the book, our attention span, it’s getting shorter, and shorter does not tolerate anything less than a high doses of peak events, like an earthquake, or a tremendous explosion, the hijack of a terrorist, the threat of a nuclear explosion, police descending in mas like the invasion of an army, a terrific car chase where cars fly through the air like airplanes, and explode like bombs, why bother to keep reading? Regardless of the fact many of us never will be in the cross lines of a rifle sight held by a professional killer. A far fetch concocted piece of trash designed as junk food for our minds, the Doritos bag of chips to go along our Friday movie night watching of an exciting movie. This genre pretends to make us believe that what you see in the news as incidents of a highly unusual nature, that are one in a million, it may be happening to you at any moment, when your chances of being hit by lightening are higher, but not as high as wining the lotto!
In principle I am not oppose to consider this type of writing, as Literature if it’s very good, but just like twins conjoined are one in 200,000, and of those only about 5% survive, they are oddities, and the subject is not something it may happen to you, words that come to mind are epic, implausible, far fetched, contrived, Manichean, (good vs evil) it points out as writing for entertainment, Literature in my opinion it’s something we all can relate, and identify as happening to any of us, what makes it great, and different, is just the way is told.
Exhibit Two, the whodunit
Detective fiction in the English-speaking world is considered to have begun in 1841 with the publication of Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” itself, featuring “the first fictional detective, the eccentric and brilliant C. Auguste Dupin”. Poe devised a “plot formula that’s been successful ever since, give or take a few shifting variables.” Poe followed with further Auguste Dupin tales: “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” in 1843 and “The Purloined Letter” in 1845.
Poe referred to his stories as “tales of ratiocination”. In stories such as these, the primary concern of the plot is ascertaining truth, and the usual means of obtaining the truth is a complex and mysterious process combining intuitive logic, astute observation, and perspicacious inference. “Early detective stories tended to follow an investigating protagonist from the first scene to the last, making the unraveling a practical rather than emotional matter.” “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” is particularly interesting because it is a barely fictionalized account based on Poe’s theory of what happened to the real-life Mary Cecilia Rogers.
The period of the 1920s and ’30s is generally referred to as the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. During this period, a number of very popular writers emerged, mostly British but with a notable subset of American and New Zealand writers. Female writers constituted a major portion of notable Golden Age writers, including Agatha Christie, the most famous of the Golden Age writers, and among the most famous authors of any genre, of all time. Four female writers of the Golden Age are considered the four original “Queens of Crime”: Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham. Apart from Ngaio Marsh (a New Zealander) they were British.
Various conventions of the detective genre were standardized during the Golden Age, and in 1929 some of them were codified by writer Ronald Knox in his ‘Decalogue’ of rules for detective fiction, among them to avoid supernatural elements, all of which were meant to guarantee that, in Knox’s words, a detective story “must have as its main interest the unraveling of a mystery; a mystery whose elements are clearly presented to the reader at an early stage in the proceedings, and whose nature is such as to arouse curiosity, a curiosity which is gratified at the end.” In Golden Age detective stories, an outsider, sometimes a salaried investigator or a police officer, but often a gifted amateur investigates a murder committed in a closed environment by one of a limited number of suspects.
The most widespread sub genre of the detective novel became the whodunit (or whodunit, short for “who done it?”), where great ingenuity may be exercised in narrating the events of the crime, usually a homicide, and of the subsequent investigation in such a manner as to conceal the identity of the criminal from the reader until the end of the book, when the method and culprit are revealed. According to scholars Carole Kismaric and Marvi Heiferman, “The golden age of detective fiction began with high-class amateur detectives sniffing out murderers lurking in rose gardens, down country lanes, and in picturesque villages. Many conventions of the detective-fiction genre evolved in this era, as numerous writers, from populist entertainers, to respected poets, tried their hands at mystery.
The murder, or the detective novel, a simple premise someone gets killed, no one seems to know who did it, so a policeman, or a private detective have to uncover the mystery surrounding it, and catch the perpetrator(s). A genre so common that many of the writers get a style that it’s easily recognizable by the readers, and even if this give us a pretty good idea how the novel will develop, and after reading two, or three novels by the same author we can figure pretty easy who did it, either you stop buying the author, or keep coming because you identify with the hero, or enjoy his witticism. The novels are done with a mass audience in mind who are not hard to please, and do not demand much of you as a reader, usually short, and very formulaic, successful authors know this, and do not bother to come with anything new, why bother if your books sell? So you keep making the same book over, and over, changing names, and situations a little, just enough to justify the different title. Of course depending on the author this genre can be very entertaining, regardless of it’s merits as Literature, and taken to the big screen very often.
Exhibit Number Three, Science Fiction.
Science fiction (often shortened to sci-fi or scifi) is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a “literature of ideas.” It usually eschews the supernatural, and unlike the related genre of fantasy, historically science fiction stories were intended to have at least a faint grounding in science-based fact or theory at the time the story was created, but this connection has become tenuous or non-existent in much of science fiction.
Literature of ideas a most generous name given to this genre, if you ask me, but like in anything there is some good storytellers, far and few needless to say.
Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally about alternative possible worlds or futures. It is related to, but different from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated physical laws (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation).
The settings of science fiction are often contrary to those of consensus reality, but most science fiction relies on a considerable degree of suspension of disbelief, which is facilitated in the reader’s mind by potential scientific explanations or solutions to various fictional elements. Science fiction elements include:
A time setting in the future, in alternative timelines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archaeological record.
A spatial setting or scenes in outer space (e.g. spaceflight), on other worlds, or on subterranean earth.
Characters that include aliens, mutants, androids, or humanoid robots and other types of characters arising from a future human evolution.
Futuristic or plausible technology such as ray guns, teleportation machines, and humanoid computers.
Scientific principles that are new or that contradict accepted physical laws, for example time travel, wormholes, or faster-than-light travel or communication.
New and different political or social systems, e.g. Utopian, dystopian, post-scarcity, or post-apocalyptic.
Paranormal abilities such as mind control, telepathy, telekinesis (e.g. “The Force” in Star Wars.)
Other universes or dimensions and travel between them.
The annual Hugo Awards for science fiction and fantasy have been running uninterrupted (with the exception of a brief hiatus in 1954) since 1953. Voting is open to anyone prepared to stump up the money (currently $40) and the ceremony has been held all over the world. As such, the awards can lay serious claim to being one of the most venerable, democratic and international in existence, not to mention one of the most transparent
Outside the sci-fi community, however, the awards barely resonate. Leaving aside the (admittedly interesting) question of whether democratic voting will always select the best novel over that year’s populist Dan Brown equivalent, there’s the well-known snobbery around these genre books. Science fiction may be one of the defining literature of the last century, but it’s rare that its products get any kind of acceptance by the academy (and when they do, they’re then generally called something else).
I got little taste for this type of writing, born by the advent of our contemporary Science, and based on the infatuation from our Western obsession with Science, at the root a staunch materialism, from people with the idea Science it’s a panacea for Mankind, a delusional idea if there is one, who even ignore the second law of Thermodynamics: Entropy, yes the Universe had a beginning, and consequently would have an end, therefore a material existence ends with death, there is no hope of extending life beyond it’s end, however rosy a picture you may have of a fictional future brought by Science and technology, there will not be eternal life, at least not on this material dimension, so go seek it elsewhere!
To be fair there is nothing wrong to read for entertainment purposes, neither a desire to be thrilled, and we have the freedom to choose and pick our own form of entertainment, even if we secretly may feel guilty of indulging our time in such pursuits, myself a clear example of it, for many years I read WWII History, and biographies, knowing that they didn’t add a thing, but to my knowledge of History, if that has any value at all, now days once in a while pick one of this books, read it and feel a little bit guilty afterwards, in fact reading any book that doesn’t make me feel I learnt something valuable, even if I enjoyed it make me feel that way!
As a fellow blogger just read recently describe himself:
“As my faithful readers must have surmised, I like to touch upon a variety of subjects. I was diagnosed “borderline dilettante” at an early age. Fortunately my Juvenile records are sealed. Fiction, non-fiction, gender, travel and the accompanying “yours truly’s” photographs.”
Genre is a label that characterizes elements a reader can expect in a work of literature. The major forms of literature can be written in various genres. Genre is a category characterized by similarities in style, or subject matter.
The classic major genres of literature are:
- Realistic fiction
- Romance novel
My original intention was to talk about all of these, however for the sake of brevity we would end this post right here, and we may tackle the subject on further posts.
“The first men to be created and formed were called the Sorcerer of Fatal Laughter, the Sorcerer of Night, Unkempt, and the Black Sorcerer … They were endowed with intelligence, they succeeded in knowing all that there is in the world. When they looked, instantly they saw all that is around them, and they contemplated in turn the arc of heaven and the round face of the earth … [Then the Creator said]: ‘They know all … what shall we do with them now? Let their sight reach only to that which is near; let them see only a little of the face of the earth!… Are they not by nature simple creatures of our making? Must they also be gods?”
The Devil’s Advocate
My friend Bob it’s a very nice guy, but a little on the stubborn side, when it come to arguing about anything, he rather choose an eccentric point of view than a logical one, he prefers to abandon common sense than to be subjected to established rules, or measures of any kind, as an example recently it took me half an afternoon to explain him, against his better understanding of why we have leap years, his argument was since a day has 24 hours and a year consist of 365 days why we have a need of leap days, and leap years?
When I pointed out a year has no relation to the rotation of the Earth around it’s axis, 24 hours a full rotation known as a day, but to the Earth orbit around the Sun 149.60 millions kilometers, 92.96 million miles, he couldn’t figure out why there was not a synchronicity relationship of exactly 365 days, but a leftover roughly a quarter of a day (256. 363 004 parts of a day), and therefore the need every four year to add a leap day to keep an accurate calendar system, I tried to explain him to the best of my ability that a calendar it’s just a conception of the measure of time for utilitarian purposes, and point to the fact even our months are not all of 30 days thanks to the 5 days over 360, a beautiful division of our 360 degrees of a circle, in twelve months of 30 days, but in reality an idealized way to divide a circle, if we wouldn’t add a leap year in a century we would be roughly 25 days off time, and in a millennium that would add up to 250 days off the mark and that would throw off the seasons, our January first would be somewhere in early September.
Of course my friend Bob argued that if calendars were arbitrary and relative measures of time why we couldn’t just divide time as we pleased, as simple as cutting a cake in 365 equal parts!
Neither to say at this point of the conversation I had to point to the obvious need of an standard system of measure, in order to have consensus, that it may be relative to, but not arbitrary, just like going to his house the time it may take him in his car, has no relation as to how many times it’s wheels may spin, since that it’s determine, by the diameter of the wheels, x π (pi)=circumference or size of the wheel, in relation to the distance, regardless of the speed, he could be driving 5 miles an hour, or 60, it will not matter, the number of spins from the wheels will be the same, independent of the time it make take him to get there.
Measure it’s related to honesty, and justice, maybe you will be surprised to know how our writing it is related to this virtues, not surprising writing was not as we know it today. In Mesopotamia it started out as simple counting marks, alongside which sometimes a non-arbitrary well understood sign, in the form of a simple picture image, that was cut into wood, stone, pots but more often pressed onto clay tokens. In that way, recorded accounts of amounts of goods involved in a transaction could be made. This convention began when people developed agriculture and settled into permanent communities that were centered on increasingly large and organised trading marketplaces. These marketplaces traded sheep, grain, and bread loaves, each and every one of these items was recorded by clay tokens. These initially very small clay tokens were continually used all the way from the pre-historic Mesopotamia period, 9000 BC, to the start of the historic period around 3000 BC, when the use of writing for recording was widely adopted.
No doubt this was simply a practical reason to keep record of any transaction, and in this way to keep people of short memory honest!
Any measure it’s Relative to
We have come a long way since, and a preconception of time involve a complex set of variables for a celestial planet, or star in relation to other celestial objects, just like our planet Earth year it’s in relation to our Sun, by it’s orbit, so do the rest of our Solar system, as for example a year in Venus it’s 224.7 days long, but a day in the other hand takes a whooping 243 day of our Earth, imagine a day in Venus, is longer than a Venus year!
A year in Jupiter it’s the equivalent of 11.86 years on Earth. As for a day time it depends on where you are in Jupiter! Because Jupiter is not a solid body, its upper atmosphere undergoes differential rotation. The rotation of Jupiter’s polar atmosphere is about 5 minutes longer than that of the equatorial atmosphere; three systems are used as frames of reference, particularly when graphing the motion of atmospheric features. System I applies from the latitudes 10° N to 10° S; its period is the planet’s shortest, at 9 hours 50 minutes 30.0 seconds. System II applies at all latitudes north and south of these; its period is 9h 55m 40.6s. System III was first defined by radio astronomers, and corresponds to the rotation of the planet’s magnetosphere; its period is Jupiter’s official rotation.
Human measure systems
As we saw every planet has it’s own particular conditions, and therefore ruled by different time standards in relation to one another, but this is not so different from our way to measure anything here on Earth.
We had so many calendars through History, by every civilization you can think of, that a whole post wouldn’t be big enough to enumerate, and do justice to the subject. There is Solar calendars, Lunar calendars, and Luni-solar.
A little known fact outside of France was the French republican calendar also commonly called the French Revolutionary Calendar (calendrier révolutionnaire français), was a calendar created and implemented during the French Revolution, and used by the French government for about 12 years from late 1793 to 1805, and for 18 days by the Paris Commune in 1871. The revolutionary system was designed in part to remove all religious and royalist influences from the calendar, and was part of a larger attempt at decimalization in France (which also included decimal time of day, decimalization of currency, and metrication).
Each day in the Republican Calendar was divided into ten hours, each hour into 100 decimal minutes, and each decimal minute into 100 decimal seconds. Thus an hour was 144 conventional minutes (more than twice as long as a conventional hour), a minute was 86.4 conventional seconds (44% longer than a conventional minute), and a second was 0.864 conventional seconds (13.6% shorter than a conventional second)
There were twelve months, each divided into three ten-day weeks called décades. The tenth day, décadi, replaced Sunday as the day of rest and festivity. The five or six extra days needed to approximate the solar or tropical year were placed after the months at the end of each year and called complementary days. This arrangement was an almost exact copy of the calendar used by the Ancient Egyptians, though in their case the beginning of the year was marked by summer solstice rather than autumn equinox.
A period of four years ending on a leap day was to be called a “Franciade”. The name “Olympique” was originally proposed but changed to Franciade to commemorate the fact that it had taken the revolution four years to establish a republican government in France.
The leap year was called Sextile, an allusion to the “bissextile” leap years of the Julian and Gregorian calendars, because it contained a sixth complementary day.
Weights and measures have taken a great variety of forms over the course of history, from simple informal expectations in barter transactions to elaborate state and supranational systems that integrate measures of many different kinds. Weights and measures from the oldest societies can often be inferred at least in part from archaeological specimens, often preserved in museums. The comparison of the dimensions of buildings with the descriptions of contemporary writers is another source of information. An interesting example of this is the comparison of the dimensions of the Greek Parthenon with the description given by Plutarch from which a fairly accurate idea of the size of the Attic foot is obtained. Because of the comparative volume of artifacts and documentation, we know much more about the state-sanctioned measures of large, advanced societies than we do about those of smaller societies or about the informal measures that often coexisted with official ones throughout history. In some cases, we have only plausible theories and we must sometimes select the interpretation to be given to the evidence.
By studying the evidence given by all available sources, and by correlating the relevant facts, we obtain some idea of the origin and development of the units. We find that they have changed more or less gradually with the passing of time in a complex manner because of a great variety of modifying influences. It is possible to group official measurement systems for large societies into historical systems that are relatively stable over time, including: the Babylonian system, the Egyptian system, the Phileterian system of the Ptolemaic age, the Olympic system of Greece, the Roman system, the British system, and the metric system.
Standard weights and measures have existed in the Indus Valley Civilization since the 5th millennium BCE. The centralized weight and measure system served the commercial interest of Indus merchants as smaller weight measures were used to measure luxury goods while larger weights were employed for buying bulkier items, such as food grains etc.Weights existed in multiples of a standard weight and in categories. Technical standardization enabled gauging devices to be effectively used in angular measurement and measurement for construction. Uniform units of length were used in the planning of towns such as Lothal, Surkotada, Kalibangan, Dolavira, Harappa, and Mohenjo-daro. The weights and measures of the Indus civilization also reached Persia and Central Asia, where they were further modified.
Every System Had A Utilitarian Purpose
My point is every measure system had a human origin base on a practical purpose, and could differ according to the specific needs of the task, and the cultural backgrounds of the people who invented the system, a relatively new invention The metric system is a called a decimal-based system because it is based on multiples of ten. Any measurement given in one metric unit(e.g., kilogram) can be converted to another metric unit (e.g., gram) simply by moving the decimal place. Adopted by most of the countries in the world even England the creators, except us here in the United States of America we keep company with Myanmar, and Liberia the other two countries where we cling to the more complicate British Imperial, or Exchequer System.
However no system it’s a God’s given system attuned to every need since as we see in the Heavens every planet, and Star holds different conditions particular, and specific to the given celestial body with their own calendar. Could we have a better calendar now days? Very likely, however changing a calendar just because it’s better it’s not practical just like the Republican French found out, people it’s used to what we have, changing things may bring a lot of unhappiness for the sake of accuracy, an expedience.
As a bit of anecdote the Toltec, Olmec, and the Maya build their calendar, according to their own Cosmological views with their own logic, that until recent were totally unknown to the rest of the world, some people argue the Julian it’s still a better calendar, but the fact remains the Maya adjusted their calendar five days every 52 years, meanwhile in the same period we adjust it 13 times!
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
The verses below reportedly were written on the wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta, India, and are widely attributed to her.
A Personal Anecdote
First let me say I was born a Catholic, perhaps a little of a misnomer, no one is born having a particular Religion, or Faith, our parents give us that as a fact of life, few parents would choose a different Faith for their children like in the Gandhi movie where an individual full with repentance feelings after killing a Muslim, Gandhi recommends for him to raise the child of an orphan from Muslim background as his, but not in his own Faith but as a Muslim, as an act of atonement for his crime.
Nevertheless I was a sort of precocious child and from an early age I start to question my Faith, and figure it was my own teachers who provoked me in to question that Faith being them Italian Francis Xavier missioners priest, not that they want me to change my Faith, however they provided me with the base of a solid education, that I will be grateful for life, but of my own inquisitive mind, and not doubt a germ of a rebellious nature typical of youth, combined with a curious disposition, and an skeptic character of mine. Let me just say that by the time I was twelve years of age, I no longer considered myself a Catholic, and even if at this time kind of smile at my early change of mind, and now understand the Faith of my parents far better than I did then, never return to the fold of the Catholic church, as a matter of fact do not think Spirituality as an Institution it’s the way for me, whatever Religion it may be.
A picture of my eldest brother, and me on our first communion at six, or seven years of age with our Godfather, Father observing in the background the man with the black tie by the doorway.
Now the anecdote; a brother of a close friend of mine interviewed Mother Teresa for the radio, a few years before she died in 1997, and despite of him being a Catholic he still hold reservations about the church condemning birth control, and from all the questions he could choose to ask her, having a short chance to talk to her, he could only make one question to her, he picked that one, asking her opinion about it.
Of course Mother Teresa a good Catholic she was, cited 1968, Pope Paul VI landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, “Human Life”), which reemphasized the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence.
My brother’s friend, naive as he was in those matters try to argue with her about it saying: “But Mother what about all those children who are born out of wedlock and live in poverty, and many are just abandoned, and thrown in to the streets with no help of anybody, by the thousands?”
Mother Teresa looking him on the eye and holding his hand said: “Do you know a child abandoned?”
He answered: “Well no, but I know there is many!”
Mother Teresa still holding his hand said: “Then what business it’s for you to question the church stance on these matters?”
My friend’s brother stammered something about the injustice of it. Mother Teresa smiling said: “Do not worry my son, whenever you find an abandoned child, if you can’t take care of him, bring it to me, I will take care of him, and that will take the worry out of your head.”
Releasing his hand, and walking away she still turn around and said: “Bring as many as you can find, I will take care of all of them!”
Now my friend’s brother despite being a Catholic didn’t like the answer Mother Teresa gave him, and had a poor opinion of her, I sort of smiled and said to him:
“I didn’t knew much about Mother Teresa to have an opinion about her, but now you have left no doubt in my mind Mother Teresa is a saint!”
Mother Teresa Critics
According to a paper written by three Canadian academics, Serge Larivée, Geneviève Chénard, and Carole Sénéchal, Teresa’s clinics received millions of dollars in donations, yet their conditions drew criticism from people disturbed by the shortage of medical care, systematic diagnosis, and necessary nutrition, as well as the scarcity of analgesics for those in pain;[ they said that “Mother Teresa believed the sick must suffer like Christ on the cross”. Some have argued that the additional money could have had transformative effects on the health of the poor by creating advanced palliative care facilities in the city. Abortion rights groups criticized her stance on abortion, while anti-abortion advocates praised her support of fetal rights.
One of Teresa’s most outspoken critics was the English journalist, literary critic and antitheist Christopher Hitchens, who wrote the extended essay The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (1995) and wrote in a 2003 article, “This returns us to the medieval corruption of the church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hell fire and continence to the poor. [Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.” He also accused her of hypocrisy for opting to receive advanced treatment for her heart condition.
Hitchens thought he was the only witness (Chatterjee, another with views antagonistic to Teresa, was also called) called by the Vatican to give evidence against Teresa’s beatification and canonization process, because the Vatican had abolished the traditional “devil’s advocate” role which fulfilled a similar purpose. Hitchens said that “her intention was not to help people”, and that she lied to donors about the use of their contributions. “It was by talking to her that I discovered, and she assured me, that she wasn’t working to alleviate poverty”, he said, “She was working to expand the number of Catholics. She said, ‘I’m not a social worker. I don’t do it for this reason. I do it for Christ. I do it for the church.
The Dark Night of the Soul
Analysing her deeds and achievements, John Paul II asked: “Where did Mother Teresa find the strength and perseverance to place herself completely at the service of others? She found it in prayer and in the silent contemplation of Jesus Christ, his Holy Face, his Sacred Heart. Privately, Mother Teresa experienced doubts and struggles over her religious beliefs which lasted nearly 50 years until the end of her life, during which “she felt no presence of God whatsoever”, “neither in her heart or in the Eucharist” as put by her postulator, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk. Mother Teresa expressed grave doubts about God’s existence and pain over her lack of faith:
Where is my faith? Even deep down … there is nothing but emptiness and darkness … If there be God—please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul.
With reference to the above words, Kolodiejchuk (the official responsible for gathering the evidence for her sanctification) said he thought that some might misinterpret her meaning, but her faith that God was working through her remained undiminished, and that while she pined for the lost sentiment of closeness with God, she did not question his existence, and that she may have experienced something similar to what is believed of Jesus Christ when crucified who was heard to say “Eli Eli lama sabachthani?” which is translated to “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Kolodiejchuk drew comparisons to the 16th-century mystic St. John of the Cross, who coined the term the “Dark Night of the Soul”. Many other saints had similar experiences of spiritual dryness, or what Catholics believe to be spiritual tests (“passive purification”), such as Mother Teresa’s namesake, St. Therese of Lisieux, who called it a “night of nothingness.” The Rev. James Langford said these doubts were typical and would not be an impediment to canonization.
Teresa wrote many letters to her confessors and superiors over a 66-year period, most notably to Calcutta Archbishop Ferdinand Perier and a Jesuit priest, Celeste van Exem, who had been her spiritual adviser since the formation of the Missionaries of Charity. She had asked that her letters be destroyed, concerned that “people will think more of me—less of Jesus.” Despite this request, the correspondences have been compiled in Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday) In one publicly released letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, she wrote, “Jesus has a very special love for you. [But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see,—Listen and do not hear—the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me—that I let Him have [a] free hand.”
Stations and States
The various stages of self-awareness on the Sufi path are known as ‘Maqamat’, or the ‘stations’, which are attainable through continuous spiritual practices and sincere efforts. However, ‘haal’ or ‘state’ can only happen by the Grace of God.
Rumi has described these stages poetically as: ‘Maqam’ is the (King’s) being alone with the bride while ‘haal’ is like unveiling of the beauteous bride.
To elaborate these stages further:
‘MAQAM’ represents a spiritual station, where the seeker finds him after sincerely treading the spiritual path for a while. With gradual polishing of the mirror of the heart through meditative exercises, he keeps on becoming aware of the spiritual subtleties behind the physical realm. With each breakthrough, he finds a new level of awareness. In this process, his previous level of awareness serves as the ‘Maqam’ where he becomes stationed till he moves on. Maqamat or Stations can also be perceived as the ascending rungs of the spiritual ladder. With continuous spiritual practices, a seeker ascends on this ladder. While moving from station to station, he may be touched by the special Grace or HAAL from time to time.
HAAL occurs spontaneously as a spiritual gift. While walking in the spiritual forest amidst pathways decorated with dancing trees and perfumed flowers, a soft cloud appears on the horizon, engulfs the seeker while quenching his spiritual thirst then moves on leaving him in a state of awe. In this state, a seeker neither expects what comes to him from the unseen world nor has the slightest idea about the nature of experience. He is simply taken over by an overwhelming compassionate power. It reflects a state, where a door opens out of nowhere and breeze from the garden of eternity surrounds the seeker and colours him with its perfume. A realm of ecstasy prevails due to unbearable display of beauty. This state of Hal comes and goes on its own. A seeker can never claim such a state due to its extraordinariness and his ordinariness. It always happens as a Grace.
Such stages are not some concrete milestones depicting progress on the Sufi path step by step rather reflects inner spiritual development. This is why; there exists no consensus among Sufi’s on the number and details of these stages.
I never cared much for the late English journalist, literary critic and antitheist Christopher Hitchens a controversial figure to say the least, after describing himself a socialist, a Marxist and anti totalitarian, made a turncoat move to the far right, joining and supporting with his jingoistic tirades in the news media the second Bush invasion of Iraq, this actions left no sympathies in me for his opinions, as for his criticism of Mother Teresa, I question how much he was motivated by his personal atheistic beliefs, and personal complacency, as my friend’s brother, and many others, who having an opinion, on every subject imaginable, and supposedly worrying about multiple things, still without moving a finger to do anything about it! On that respect any opinion you may express, in my view has little value whatsoever, and more when you do not know nothing about it, specially when you are far from being a saint, yourself!
Another close friend of mine a rabid atheist, in a very recent conversation, a few days ago, or I should said argument, he carried against some nice young Jewish Lubavitcher followers just because he can’t imagine any rational being to posses Faith, and belong to a Religion, who just happen to ask us if we were Jewish, immediately my friend engaged them on an argument about their Faith, for quite some time, one of the nice young men mentioned in his arguments that his father run a kitchen for the homeless in another country where he serves 70,000 meals a year to the poor, my friend after they left, dared even to question the reasons this person may have in doing this, fed up with his reasoning I said: “Stop it, as far as I am concern he feeds 69.999 people more a year, save my occasional guest, than I do, and probably more than you do as well, so you have no right to question his motives!
Errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum:
‘To err is human, but to persist (in the mistake) is diabolical.
Mother Teresa was a human being, maybe she did a lot of mistakes like we all do, but she worked tirelessly most of her life helping the downtrodden, and that in my opinion, it is to have achieved a higher Spiritual Station, regardless if she never experienced bliss, or ecstasy like some saints do, the more merit to her since she only relied on Faith to sustain her, and to persist on her work despite her dark night of the soul.
I may write in a further post about Saints, Sadhus, Babas, Aghoris, and Holly men who become God intoxicated through meditation, singing, and dancing as Dervishes do, others they even smoke ganja, or drink herbal brews of a psychotropic nature, and acquire Ecstatic states, some briefly, others for days, weeks, even months, some even years, but as we read above, bliss, ecstasy it’s a grace, or a gift if you wish, not really difficult to experience, the path to Godhead or Spiritual Realization comes not in a single fashion, but in myriads of ways, some, or most I should add we do not know nothing about, so we can’t judge easy in matters of Spirit when we have no knowledge of it, but to reach a high Spiritual Station it’s what make a Saint great, not the states. In other words; Spiritually it’s not what you take, but what you give what it is important.
The twenty century has been marked by cynicism,
selfishness, greed, and the desire to please,
all without changing the status quo.
In the 21st we must resurrect solidarity and
Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace 1986
A century of wars, and failed utopias
At the beginning of the Twenty century the world was involved in a class struggle over a hundred years old, since the French revolution, the American independence, the beginning of the end of colonization, and old Empires, monarchies become obsolete, and state nations like America surged here, and there, in other parts like in Russia the monarchy come to a bloody end, after the hecatomb of the First World War, basically a scramble for power between old, and outdated Empires, as the British, Austro Hungarian, German, Russian, and Ottoman Empires. And the start of America flexing it’s new power around the globe.
The Russian revolution saw the emergence of Socialism, and the utopia of communism, a reign of terror of unimaginable proportions, First World War was just a preamble to the unsolved problems of what yet was to come The Horrific World War II that culminated in the destruction of most of Europe, were not only soldiers fought and lost their lives, but also civilian population was involved and not spared, along with genocide, and not only of Jews, but of many other people like Chinese, Asians of many nations, Eastern Europeans, and even the Japanese bombed twice with atomic bombs, as for the need of it with Japan on the brink of collapse justifications are numerous, but of dubious necessity, or credibility.
A cold war soon after, and an armament race that exhausted Soviet Russia, but empowered brutal capitalism and an industry based on manufacturing weapons instead of looking for a better use of science in the benefit of society at large. Mini wars here, and there, all over the globe feeding the war industrialist, and solidifying Capitalism, and shoving it down the throats of undeveloped Nations all over the world.
A sad, and shameless History was the Twenty Century if you ask me, and so far on this new Century doesn’t look any better!
The facts about the twenty century and our current condition
No, I do not live with the idea that past times were always better, but neither believe that our time it’s the best ever. It is hard to describe this without being accused of nostalgic idealization of the past, and biased interpretation of History. It’s hard to quantify the degree of deterioration to the quality of life, not only of the privileged, as well of those living in poverty, and disadvantaged, life that has been cheapened and debased, despite the so much vaunted progress, in every sphere of knowledge, and technology, social inequality still reigns unabashedly in most parts of the world, regardless of the relative comparisons between what they didn’t have in past centuries, to our days, since if they lacked many of the advances in technology, science, medicine, and the many trinkets we enjoy today, nevertheless, they enjoyed a more tranquil, and quieter life without the fast pace, and stress imposed on us since the Advent of modernity, slavery has been abolished in the Nineteen century, but another type of hopeless servitude still exist well and alive now days in many parts of the world.
Few examples are necessary to prove my point, people with only a few years of school made more money, and lived in bigger, and more comfortable surroundings, than most people in their present life today, many mothers as housewives never needed to look for a job, they enjoyed a quieter life, and at more relaxed surroundings than most of us do, herded in crowded apartment buildings, and run down neighborhoods, and neither commuted two hours just to get to work, never the worker was asked to do so much work for less money, as plutocrats now days take for granted you will work for less, not since the time of the industrial revolution the progress of labor have being so dismal. Some may argue the past generation they were smarter, or better than we are now days, being called by some, “The greatest Generation” a myth if I had heard of one, if anything they should be called “The Great War Generation” (That by the way wasn’t WWI but WWII) who just happened to benefit from the work brought by an Industrial war machinery, and from Roosevelt’s New deal together with the GI bill who granted free education for veterans, unlike now days were you have to pay dearly for an education, even to the point to be saddled with debt for the rest of your life! But we also witness that despite their great assets, they also suffered substantial set backs on their later years, as result of the new winds of change enveloping all of us in the new game of greater effort, more skills, and bigger sacrifices demanded from you, for less rewards, a common state of affairs we live now days, nevertheless they fared way better than my generation, were we now endure this trend even from early age where you have to compete as a child through the years we need to spend in school where more is demanded from you, as a preparation for the work ordeal you got to face, and endure now days, for far less return, and without a job security as our fathers took for granted, but a shifty, insecure, and for precarious prospects, with the consequent deterioration, and diminishing in the quality of life for the majority. Like if by the mere fact of your existence you would not deserve, or grant you a fair chance, and decent conditions of living, but have to wrestle it away from other less lucky. My question to you is, what sort of benefit it’s to live under these so much vaunted conditions of “Freedom and Democracy”? When you are not even a person but a consumer=a sheep to be fleeced! Just read an article were old medicine drugs, costing a dollar, and necessary for many people suffering decease, are revamped and sell in new patents for over $500 dollars! These type of abuse its an everyday occurrence so common as to be relegated to the back pages of the newspapers.
In Brief, an outmoded, and obsolete form of government.
We remain as spectators, and helpless victims of a political system that now days it’s as inefficient, and out of pace with our current needs, whose only reason for it’s existence is to enrich the few, and as useless as Monarchy was at the beginning of the Twenty Century, it just doesn’t work and we need to shake it!
There is a chasm that keep on widening, fueled by rampant privatization, mass incarceration, the demolition of the welfare state, a consumer culture, the corruption by money of the democratic process, a failed judicial branch of government, police militarization, military solutions, instead of diplomacy, that favors interests rather than justice, global inequality, the despoliation of resources of the poor countries, by the rich countries, the subjugation of the same nations by credits who benefit few, but saddle the countries with enormous unpayable debt, the spread of a capitalistic global octopus who cares little what may be the result of such despoliation, and governments that in fact are accomplices of such barbaric enterprises, but above all the corrosive lie that they keep spreading; that things can’t be different or be changed, propagated by a media apparatus of Orwellian proportions, whose labor it’s to control opinion, by a relentless barrage of misinformation, that keep people brainwashed in to believing any effort to confront them it’s futile, and useless, and to accept as normal what should be intolerable.
A MISGUIDED BUT COMMON IDEA ABOUT DEMOCRACY, THE FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME IN AMERICA, AND TO KNOW YOURSELF.
“IN THE FUTURE EVERYBODY WILL
BE WORLD FAMOUS FOR 15 MINUTES. ”
THE NATIONAL DREAM
In the United States of America everybody is entitled to become famous, rich, successful, popular, even infamously, if its necessary, by doing whatever you dream, and aspire to become, regardless of your merits to do so, or at least have a chance to win the big one, playing the lottery, and daydream how you would expend your winnings, once you get the winning ticket.
Most people consider you a rare bird if you do not hold any such lofty aspirations, like becoming somebody worthy of praise by getting rich, or achieve your rightful place in history by succeeding on your not so secret dream of becoming an actor, tycoon, Rock musician, artist, or in whatever field of choice lays your ambition, to make a statement of success.
Once many years ago by ill fortune, and self made mistakes, I had fallen in hard times, and this may be a subject for another story, anyway I took a low level job since I needed a job ASAP. One thing I had clear on my mind at the time was, that whatever it was needed from me, I would do in order to do a great job of a bad situation, taken one thing at a time, and try my best, despite the drudgery of the work, my attitude after a year was rewarded with a promotion by my good performance, however because my honesty when asked by the head of the personnel department what were my future plans for advancing with the new job position in the company, and manifested I had none, I was dismissed, the offer was cancel, and sent me back to my old position!
My lack of ambition was judged as a clear sign that I was not good for the growth of the company, despite my excellent work performance at the same, and the reason why my immediate boss applied for my promotion, ignoring the fact I was willing to do as much effort on my new assignment, regardless of not allowing myself to build sand castles on my imagination, and was perfectly capable of fulfilling such task properly. Soon after, another company offered me a better paid job, took the new position, and did as well, or better in that company as the last one, got numerous awards, being the first, or second employee of the month, gaining numerous prices, and incentives straight for two years, until the company moved elsewhere in the country, being one of the few 4, or 5 employees in over two hundred employees to receive an offer to be paid for moving to the new location on the other side of the country, and it would represent a good career move for me, regardless I decided not to, since had no desire to start my life at a new place where had no interest to relocate, judging I would do well at any future job I may be offered in my city, and there was no need for me to start in an unknown city, preferring familiarity, and old friendships, over success, and a monetary reward of dubious satisfaction, since happiness it’s such a subjective, and relative thing.
FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME
German art historian Benjamin H. D. Buchloh suggests that the core tenet of Warhol’s aesthetic, being “the systematic invalidation of the hierarchies of representational functions and techniques” of art, corresponds directly to the belief that the “hierarchy of subjects worthy to be represented will someday be abolished,” hence anybody, and therefore “everybody,” can be famous once that hierarchy dissipates, “in the future,” and by logical extension of that, “in the future, everybody will be famous,” and not merely those individuals worthy of fame.
On the other hand, wide proliferation of the adapted idiom “my fifteen minutes” and its entrance into common parlance have led to a slightly different application, having to do with both the ephemeral nature of fame in the information age and, more recently, the democratization of media outlets brought about by the advent of the internet. In this formulation, Warhol’s quote has been taken to mean: “At the present, because there are so many channels by which an individual might attain fame, albeit not enduring fame, virtually anyone can become famous for a brief period of time.”
There is a third and even more remote interpretation of the term, as used by an individual who has been legitimately famous or skirted celebrity for a brief period of time, that period of time being his or her “fifteen minutes.”
DEMOCRACY VS MERITOCRACY
One of the breakthroughs of political history was the invention and implementation of democracy in the West. Its virtue was that it could take absolute power away from despots, tyrants, autocrats, and monarchs and emperors parading under a Divine Right, and hand a lot of that power to the formerly oppressed citizens, thus evening up the odds.
In a world where ideas and information flow freely, where governments have to answer to other governments, and where free speech is a sign of a healthy civilization, democracy becomes especially important and valuable, and suggesting that it is not up to snuff is a tricky business. Even in cases where corruption perverts a democratic system, it’s usually traced to a deviation from this ideal, not to the ideal itself.
Although meritocracy as a term is a relatively recently coined word (1958), the concept of a government based on standardized examinations originates from the works of Confucius, along with other Legalist and Confucian philosophers. The first meritocracy was implemented in the second century BC/BCE, by the Han Dynasty, which introduced the world’s first civil service exams evaluating the “merit” of officials. Meritocracy as a concept spread from China to British India during the seventeenth century, and then into continental Europe and the United States.
With the translation of Confucian texts during the Enlightenment, the concept of a meritocracy reached intellectuals in the West, who saw it as an alternative to the traditional ancient regime of Europe. In the United States, the assassination of President James A. Garfield in 1881 prompted the replacement of the American Spoils System with a meritocracy. In 1883, The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act was passed, stipulating government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit through competitive exams, rather than ties to politicians or political affiliation.
The most common form of meritocratic screening found today is the college degree. Higher education is an imperfect meritocratic screening system for various reasons, such as lack of uniform standards worldwide, lack of scope, not all occupations and processes are included, and lack of access, some talented people never have an opportunity to participate because of the expense, most especially in developing countries. Nonetheless, academic degrees serve some amount of meritocratic screening purpose in the absence of a more refined methodology. Education alone, however, does not constitute a complete system, as meritocracy must automatically confer power and authority, which a degree does not accomplish independently.
MY VIEWS ON THE MATTER
I will not ramble on the merits of one system over the other, my point it’s to make aware my fellow Americans that we should never confuse our much vaunted democracy as our natural right to success, and fame. Democracy it’s a form of government that allows us to be consider as equals, when it come to our rights as individuals, and we deserve to be respected individually, regardless of our humble rank as the garbage collector, or as the powerful first citizen, the president of the United States of America. Sure almost any citizen could be president according to our laws, but I remind you that in 240 years of our history, we had only 43 presidents a rather short number if becoming a president would be God’s given right of every Harry, Dick and Tom in America.
Freedom for any individual to pursue a possibility doesn’t mean it’s a free pass for everybody to have a right to become exalted in rank in whatever you do, just because you have dreams of obtaining your fifteen minutes of fame without having to work hard for what you believe to deserve.
Dreaming it’s fine, dreaming too much and lacking the skills, or means to realize your dream it’s practically the definition of a fool. And who wants to be a fool?
Well judging by the numbers, it seem many of us fit the definition, I will not tire you with anecdotes of such foolery I am sure you have many anecdotes of your own, from relatives, friends, acquaintances at work, or elsewhere, maybe at one point in our life, ourselves played such role.
Yes we all deserve a chance, and yes we all should do our best to succeed, but before dreaming too high, we should do better by studying our shortcomings, and see a way to amend them, after all, success function more like a Meritocracy, than a Democracy despite both being not perfect. There is not a substitute for working hard at what you want, and sometimes that it’s not enough, other factors weight on the balance, so a philosophical attitude it’s necessary to deal with our lot in life, but please do not expect that after a life of mediocrity, and lack of effort to be rewarded with fame, and richness if you didn’t inherit a legacy from a rich family. If we examine our life and figure our handicaps, but are not willing to do anything, oh well, you can still buy your lotto ticket and dream like anybody else!
But my advice save the money of the ticket the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are roughly 1 in 259 million, not very good, rather look at the other side of the coin, and that is to realize, and discover who you truly are, what its important is to be happy with yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with realizing that you are not ambitious, while this does not bother, or disturb you, the important thing is to be happy in your heart with who you are, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be better, just the realization of knowing yourself it’s preferable than winning the lotto, in fact winning the lotto it may destroy your life. Meanwhile knowing yourself will be your real winning.
For many years I thought there was something wrong with my character, since never cared to become rich doing this, or that, neither to achieve success, or pursuing concrete goals, actually I was pretty indifferent to acquire lots of money, and as long as I had enough to go by, was pretty happy with, until…
Well that, is another story to be told on a future post, let just me say, that after years discover that my lack of ambition, turned to be my biggest treasure, and what an asset this is! Precisely my lack of ambition freed me of the need to be the kind of person I was not, and it was not in my nature to be, and stop me from pursuing the wrong things, the kind of stuff that would have been detrimental to my soul.
Life it’s an irony, doesn’t it?
But a wise irony it is!
Carl Jung said: “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. Lin Yutang
And the grass grows by itself.
Love cannot be found in erudition and science, books and pages. Whatever is discussed by people, that is not the way of lovers. Whatever you have said or hear is the shell. The kernel of Love is a mystery that cannot be divulged.
Why Romantic Love Seems Destined For Failure?
On our day an age we are no wiser that our forefathers were, in fact we seem to fall in to folly easier!
We spoke before about Romantic Love on April 2015 here we go back to it adding unsaid things about Love. For those of you who never read it maybe it will be useful to do it, since I prefer not to repeat saying the same things already treated on another post, but briefly I would say our notions of romantic love, and expectations for most of us in our predominant Western culture are totally out of whack with reality, feed by the media, movies, TV, romantic novels, and crass commercialism, hey it’s not a secret, Love sells! We celebrate it on every occasion, Valentines, super expensive weddings, jewelry, gift cards, flowers, chocolate, cakes, and any other present made in the name of love, from diners, movies, cars, houses, diamonds, serenades, dances, vacations, clothes, makeup, hairdos, you want to look good, and any conceivable expenditure made on the name of love too many to exhaust easily, weddings are also the foundation of a multi-billion dollar industry rife with questionable traditions and irrational expenses.
Our youth of course it’s the primary target for buying the idealization of love so when they marry can’t be strangers to the idea of throwing the house through the window, and in fact most parents paid for these weddings which tell you how even if the parents are already divorced themselves, still marrying your daughter or son becomes a matter of prestige, to expend extravagantly on a wedding.
With all these high expectations for happiness out of romantic love no wonder the letdown of failing to fulfill that happiness is anything but brutal.
If you look at the history of weddings only the nobility would celebrate sumptuous weddings, kings and princes would celebrate weddings, the rest of the people would have if lucky a blessing by a priest of their religion, before going back to milk the cow, or cook the daily meal. My point if you notice, is that a lavish wedding celebration now days is trying to mimic a fairy tale dream of kings and princesses, living happy ever after. What sort of model is that for realistic expectations for your average couple struggling to make a living?
But being the juicy business it is do not expect a change of values, since it is business who fuel the romantic notions of what love should be, my only advice if you want to be a fool for love, is hold on to your wallet, and get rid of fairy tales expectations about love, it is not real!
Love to begin with it is not infatuation, I will not try to define love, there is many degrees of love, but it’s not illusion, to care dearly for a woman, or a man is fine, to expect things to be a fairy tale, well that is a whole different story.
Fairy tales we tell children, hopefully with a moral story to help them to implant good values on them, but for adults to enact these fantasies, at a great price no doubt, tell us the children in us is well and alive, nothing wrong with it you may think, but it will be unwise not to realize there lays an Archetype dream, and that to try to become that Archetype it is not a good idea, since we always be short in fulfilling dreams.
Archetypes are innate universal pre-conscious psychic dispositions that form the substrate from which the basic themes of human life emerge. The archetypes are components of the collective unconscious and serve to organize, direct and inform human thought and behavior. Archetypes hold control of the human life cycle.
As we mature the archetypal plan unfolds through a programmed sequence which Jung called the stages of life. Each stage of life is mediated through a new set of archetypal imperatives which seek fulfillment in action. These may include being parented, initiation, courtship, marriage and preparation for death.
Hindsight is 20/20 we like to say, as we live the experience we learn from it, but of course it’s too late to change anything, at least for some if not everybody, old age brings maturity and set illusions to rest, and we can see the folly of our past actions, and too understand our dreams, and expectations were too big, and that romantic love was frail with all sorts of illusions that not correspond to our imperfect world of painful realities.
In India the Sanatana Dharma followers call this Maya; Illusion sometimes translated as the world to be an illusion, it is more subtle than that, more like not seeing truthfully things as they are.
“YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD
WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL,
AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND”
“YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD
AND HIM ONLY SHALL YOU SERVE”
As a child remember in my Catechism classes the rule that only God you could adore, and worship, humans and other things you could love, but adoring them and worshiping them was tantamount to idolatry. I guess that was my first hint that you have to take romantic love with a grain of salt, and not to make idols with clay feet. Not that it made me any good later, but we will not get in to that, since either yourself went through it, or you will likely find out on your own!
Relationships they are never perfect, more likely something we have to cope with it, a noble enterprise if you wish, marriage is a such a quandary state of living, as a friend of mine liked to quote her mother: “Marriage is the art of reaching a committed agreement, where the force of habit triumphs over hate.”
Not very romantic, but pretty good advice to any sensible, but full of illusion person wishing to get marry. So do not go overboard with romantic illusions, be practical keep your feet on solid ground, realize marriage it’s not a joy ride, more like a tough endurance race, that you bear with, for love.
And no, this is not a final word about love, Love is inexhaustible doesn’t it? So there will be more of it on future posts.
If people knew how hard I worked to get my
Mastery it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.
Practice it is what is needed in order to achieve Mastery, and practice is work, the amount of time you work in your practice it will depend on the seriousness of your intention, and the will you exercise in to it, and that’s practice.
My Aikido, and Zen teacher, will scratch his head when a student with false expectations would abandon the Dojo after a few lessons, realizing it will be impossible for them to acquire easily the skills necessary to be like the heroes of the many Martial Arts movies that at the time where big hits, but now days are a dime a dozen, and shaking his head my Sensei would say:
“Don’t they understand? It’s only a movie!”
Media it’s so powerful today that is easy to forget most things require a great effort to be achieved, at least those things that have any value, they require long time and much practice, be these working as a chef, fishing for crab in Alaska, become a great musician, or a great artist in the diverse fields of Arts, or simply following a Spiritual path.
The results of most enterprises will depend on the amount of time , effort, and work you put on any task at hand, period. To believe otherwise is to be fooling yourself, and setting yourself for disappointment
Excellence has a price, and you got to be willing to pay the price, otherwise you are wasting your time, another great anecdote from my Sensei come to mind.
Concerning a female friend of his who decided to study ceramic making with a great Sensei living in Japan, she announced to him she was leaving for Japan in order to become an apprentice with such Master.
A couple of years later he run in to her at a bank, my Sensei was very surprised to see her since he expected her to be in Japan at the time studying as he was told by her, after a brief conversations they went for coffee so she could explain to him why she was back, and here is what she told him.
“I was very naive at the time, I loved the beautiful ceramics and thought I could learn this beautiful craft just going over there and learn it easy, but to begin with as you know my Sensei live in the mountains far from populated areas, one of the reasons is that in order to set the ceramic pieces in the kilns a lot of wood it is necessary for the fires to keep them going day, and night for up to a month of work.
As I arrived in the mountains realized how rural, and simply my Sensei lived, there was no electrical power, no modern conveniences, or appliances of any kind, even the simplest tasks like cooking with firewood, or washing clothes by the creek in the cold waters of the mountain had to be done by hand, the same way with cleaning the wood floors, or mats, on your knees and with wet rags, also we had to care for a plot of land where we grew vegetables for use in our cooking, we cleaned, cooked, mended clothes, and all kind of chores necessary to run a household, plus taking instruction from Sensei about pottery making.
You go to bed after diner basically and it’s necessary to do it early because you got to get up very early every day of the year at 3:00 AM in order to go out and collect firewood, every one is required to bring a pack load of wood more or less the equivalent of your weight, and because you can’t just go and cut a tree you are only able to pick dead branches, and for that it’s necessary to walk for miles, up and down the steep mountains with hardly any tracks for you to walk bringing the wood from miles around, in the summer months it’s not an easy task, but in the winter months with the snow well…you can imagine how hard to find the wood in the snow, and darkness, dig it out, and to carry such heavy weight through the snow back to the house. Not to talk about how cold it gets out there, your hands and feet are numb all the time, and with chilblains, it’s brutal.
During the summer the Master will put the completed ceramic pieces in the kilns and set the fires burning that required vigilance and attendance 24 x 7 for weeks to feed the fires and make sure the temperatures of the kilns will be correct, and everything would go according to Sensei’s orders, of course that mean we couldn’t go to sleep guarding the fires until the whole thing was done, this was an ongoing thing for a whole month!
Excuse to tell you we hardly slept at all for the period and we where totally exhausted by the end of it.
During that time I did a lot of thinking about my vocation to be a Master ceramist, specially when I found out it will take twenty years of my life to live along Sensei in the conditions described, with no life but the study under Sensei’s rules, but what about my own life, and being a young woman. what about finding a husband, making a family, visiting my own parents in America was troublesome, so with heartbreak, and sorrow come to the conclusion being a Master ceramist wasn’t mean for me, and here I am…
In a time when we are so removed from simple living by the use of technology we almost live in a virtual world, wherever you go you see people walking holding their new gadget that allow them to live in cyberspace for hours at a time. Our tastes are now dictated by media like movies, and TV, where actors portray fantasies that are confuse with reality by many. We choose to follow the example of fictitious characters portrait by actors in movies, in my city the joke says every waiter it’s an aspiring actor, rock musician, script writer, plastic artist or at least a poet, but in fact I had run in to many other occupations who are in pursuit of the fame dream, or rag to riches dream, I use to meet casually at the place I work before the crash of 2008 with a lot of phone stock market brokers, now a not so popular occupation, who dreamed of making scripts, or movies, and at restaurants and cafes all kinds of people are in search of a person who may connect them to the right place in order to pedal their dream wares, there is an industry now who prey on these dreamers and help them put together a script, or a small movie, shot with aspiring actors looking themselves for their big chance, and all kind, of advice, and seminars in how to achieve your dreams. If you haven’t watch Zizek’s “The pervert guide to cinema” you should.
To have a vague fantasy of something you want to do, will no turn to be what in reality it is, confused by the romantic side, or the glamour of certain activities, like acting, or being a rock idol, have a way of confusing people’s minds in to believing something unreal to be real, deluding themselves in to making things work according to their fantasies.
When concerned with life as it is, as oppose as how you imagine things to be, things take a turn for the unexpected and we learn a lesson in humbleness after hardship, and enduring trials, and tribulations when you pursue anything of value. For those who go through such experiences there is something gained, even the knowledge that such thing wasn’t for you, or having grown up, character building, a great inner knowledge, and satisfaction of learning a precious thing about yourself.
And for those that endure to the end and Master whatever they choose to do, there is even a bigger reward of Spiritual worth.
Great Mystery spoke to our heart
and told us that Earth Would be
the Mother of countless life forms.
Cherokee Nation oral tradition
The age of Earth is approximately one-third of the age of the universe. An immense amount of geological change has occurred in that time span, accompanied by biological change.
Earth formed around 4.54 billion years ago by accretion from the solar nebula.Volcanic out gassing probably created the primordial atmosphere and then the ocean; but the atmosphere contained almost no oxygen and so would have been toxic to most modern life including humans. Much of the Earth was molten because of frequent collisions with other bodies which led to extreme volcanism. A “giant impact” collision with a planet-sized body is thought to have been responsible for forming the Moon.
The water must have been supplied by meteorites from the outer asteroid belt and some large planetary embryos from beyond 2.5 AU. Comets may also have contributed. Though most comets are today in orbits farther away from the Sun than Neptune, computer simulations show they were originally far more common in the inner parts of the solar system.
As the Earth cooled, clouds formed. Rain created the oceans. Recent evidence suggests the oceans may have begun forming as early as 4.4 Ga. By the start of the Archean eon they already covered the Earth.
Theories for the formation of the Moon must explain its late formation as well as the following facts. First, the Moon has a low density (3.3 times that of water, compared to 5.5 for the earth and a small metallic core. Second, there is virtually no water or other volatile on the moon. Third, the Earth and Moon have the same oxygen isotopic signature (relative abundance of the oxygen isotopes). Of the theories that have been proposed to account for these phenomena, only one is widely accepted: The giant impact hypothesis proposes that the Moon originated after a body the size of Mars (sometimes named Theia) struck the proto-Earth a glancing blow.
The collision released about 100 million times more energy than the more recent Chicxulub impact that is believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. It was enough to vaporize some of the Earth’s outer layers and melt both bodies. A portion of the mantle material was ejected into orbit around the Earth. The giant impact hypothesis predicts that the Moon was depleted of metallic material, explaining its abnormal composition. The ejecta in orbit around the Earth could have condensed into a single body within a couple of weeks. Under the influence of its own gravity, the ejected material became a more spherical body: the Moon
This is of course a very brief synthetic version of the formation of the Earth, my intention its not a thorough scientific exposition of Earth history for those interested on Geological, and biological phenomena you can look elsewhere. My views concern more on looking at our Mother Earth in more than Historical scientific facts, and more towards her Archetype role model, and it’s Spiritual connection with ourselves, her children, since Earth it’s our Mother.
Native Americans say: One general truth that threads throughout the Native American spiritual beliefs is the belief of the Mother Earth spirituality. The Native Americans felt that the earth is our mother, the sky our father, and all things were interconnected. The many Creation myths of the Native American stress the mutuality and interdependence between people and other forms of life. There is mutual respectfulness required when interacting with trees, birds, and plants and also natural forces such as the wind and the rain. Their creation stories empathize that Creation did not just happen a million years ago and end there, but that the Spirit that first infused the world is still with us now and can be experienced as “immanence”, the spirit which imbues all things.
There were 500 hundred plus nations scattered from “sea to shining sea” north to Alaska and south to Land’s End, on Tierra del Fuego (Patagonia) It is a mistake is to believe that all of the 500-600 tribes were alike in their beliefs. Like most indigenous peoples, their ceremonies were tied to the land and their way of life. Each tribe’s rituals were connected to the specific qualities of the land that they called “home”. Because of the particular history of these tribes, their way of life was severely curtailed by the coming of the European settlers, and many spiritual practices and rites have been lost forever.
Although most of Native American societies did not have a written language or holy book, some tribes were very advanced and had written history and very organized spiritual ceremonies and practices. Some tribes were totally destroyed and others moved thousands of miles from the ancestral home. It is only in the last 25 years has the importance of the Native American culture and spiritual beliefs became more popularly known. By delving into the practices and beliefs and experiencing their essence for ourselves, we can be enriched by them and reach a better understanding of traditions that have been practiced for thousands of years.
Mother as an Archetype
It always strike me as naive, and lack of an interior life by those who miss the connection between the Earth and the Mother archetype, not only when it come to recognize the correspondence between Earth as the mother of every living creature in it, but our own relation with our carnal mothers as a mystery to be solve by our own development as Spiritual beings.
The mother archetype is a particularly good example. All of our ancestors had mothers. We have evolved in an environment that included a mother or mother-substitute. We would never have survived without our connection with a nurturing-one during our times as helpless infants. It stands to reason that we are “built” in a way that reflects that evolutionary environment: We come into this world ready to want mother, to seek her, to recognize her, to deal with her.
So the mother archetype is our built-in ability to recognize a certain relationship, that of “mothering.” Jung says that this is rather abstract, and we are likely to project the archetype out into the world and onto a particular person, usually our own mothers. Even when an archetype doesn’t have a particular real person available, we tend to personify the archetype, that is, turn it into a mythological “story-book” character. This character symbolizes the archetype.
The mother archetype is symbolized by the primordial mother or “earth mother” of mythology, by Eve and Mary in western traditions, and by less personal symbols such as the church, the nation, a forest, or the ocean. According to Jung, someone whose own mother failed to satisfy the demands of the archetype may well be one that spends his or her life seeking comfort in the church, or in identification with “the motherland,” or in meditating upon the figure of Mary, or in a life at sea.
Of course this examples are generalizations, it is to each individual to dive in to his own subjective self (soul) to discover how the Mother archetype affect him and what self discovery it’s necessary for the individual to make the connection that will bring resolution to his anima, and put him in harmony, not only within himself, but bring outward this realizations to make his actions on Earth in accordance with this inner self, and become positive steps for a better relationship not only with the environment, the treatment of women as second class citizens, and abuse, but a total understanding as Thelema quoting Aleister Crowley:
“As the Great Mother, represents MATTER, a word which is derived from the Latin word for Mother. She is the physical mother of each of us, the one who provided us with material flesh to clothe our naked spirits; She is the Archetypal Mother, the Great Yoni, the Womb of all that lives through the flowing of Blood; She is the Great Sea, the Divine Blood itself which cloaks the World and which courses through our veins; and She is Mother Earth, the Womb of All Life that we know.”
Carl Gustav Jung suggested that the archetypal mother was a part of the collective unconscious, a term I always like to substitute by subconscious) of all humans, and various Jungian students, e.g. Erich Neumann and Ernst Whitmont have argued that such mother imagery underpins many mythologies, and precedes the image of the paternal “father”, in such religious systems. Such speculations help explain the universality of such mother goddess imagery around the world.
All ancient civilizations had their Cosmogonies, what we call now creation Myths, and explanation of the birth of the Cosmos, or Earth, and the beginning of life, we will explore those in further posts.
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life
Hardly explainable on an age of skepticism, and Science explanations for all kind of phenomena, Angels are now treated like a sort of New Age fad. They are something we associate with beautiful Pre-Raphaelite and renaissance paintings, carved statues accompanying Gothic architecture and supernatural beings who intervene in our lives at times of trouble.
An angel is a primarily spiritual being found in various religions. In Abrahamic religions and Zoroastrianism, angels are often depicted as benevolent celestial beings who act as intermediaries between God or Heaven and Earth, or as guardian spirits or a guiding influence. Other roles of angels include protecting and guiding human beings, and carrying out God’s tasks. The term “angel” has also been diverse to various notions of spirits or figures found in many other religious traditions. The theological study of angels is known as “angelology”.
If we look for the origin of Angels we can track them down to Chaldean Zoroastrian beliefs and further back to Indian Devas.
Deva (Sanskrit: देव, Devá) means “heavenly, divine, anything of excellence”, and is also one of the terms for a deity in Hinduism. Deva is masculine, and the related feminine equivalent is devi.
In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Asuras. The concepts and legends evolve in ancient Indian literature, and by the late Vedic period, benevolent supernatural beings are referred to as Deva-Asuras. In post-Vedic texts, such as the Puranas and the Itihasas of Hinduism, the Devas represent the good, and the Asuras the bad. In some medieval Indian literature, Devas are also referred to as Suras and contrasted with their equally powerful, but malevolent half-brothers referred to as the Asuras.
Devas along with Asuras, Yaksha (nature spirits) and Rakshasas (ghosts, ogres) are part of Indian mythology, and Devas feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism.
In Judaism an angel (Hebrew: מַלְאָךְ malakh, pluralmalakhim) is a messenger of God, an angelic envoy or an angel in general who appears throughout the Hebrew Bible, Rabbinic literature, and traditional Jewish liturgy. Angels in Judaism are categorized in different hierarchies. The figure of “the angel of Yahveh” (Heb. מלאך יהוה) has been perceived by generations of exegetes and interpreters as theologically troublesome due to its obscure and perplexing identity. Yet, mal’akh Yahvehseems to conceal the answer in regards to the origins of the idea of angels as heavenly commissioners.
Jewish mysticism or Kabbalah describes the angels at length. Angels are described in Kabbalah literature as forces that send information, feelings, between mankind and the God of Israel. They are analogized to atoms, wavelengths or channels that help God in his creation, and it is therefore, reasoned that they should not be worshiped, prayed to, nor invoked. They are not physical in nature but spiritual beings, like spiritual atoms. Therefore, the Kabbalah reasons, when they appear in the Hebrew Bible their description is from the viewpoint of the person that received the vision or prophesy or occurrence, which will be anthropomorphic. However, they are not material beings but are likened to a single emotion, feeling, or material, controlled by God for his purpose of creation.
On returning home from services on Friday night, the eve of Shabbat, or at the dinner-table before dinner Friday night, it is customary in Orthodox Judaism and Conservative Judaism to greet ones guardian angels (Angels of Service or Ministering Angels) with a traditional hymn beginning with:
- Peace be unto you, Malachai HaSharet (Angels of Service)
- Angels of the Most High
- From the King of the kings of kings
- The Holy One Blessed Be He
Before going to sleep, many Jews recite a traditional prayer naming four archangels, “To my right Michael and to my left Gabriel, in front of me Uriel and behind me Raphael, and over my head God’s Shekhinah [“the presence of God”].”
On the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, it is customary to call all the boys (in some synagogues, all the children) to the Torah reading and for the whole congregation to recite a verse from Jacob’s blessing to Ephraim and Manasheh (Manassas).
- May the angel who redeems me from all evil, bless the children, and let my name be named in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and let them flourish like fish for multitude in the midst of the land (Genesis 48: 16)
- In Christianity mainly new converts belonging to pagan religions to begin with, had no qualms in accepting Angels, demons and whatever follows along with.
An Angel Appears to Mary
26 During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin. She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary. 28 The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.”
29 But Mary was very startled by what the angel said and wondered what this greeting might mean.
30 The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his grace. 31 Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of King David, his ancestor. 33 He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”
34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. For this reason the baby will be holy and will be called the Son of God. 36 Now Elizabeth, your relative, is also pregnant with a son though she is very old. Everyone thought she could not have a baby, but she has been pregnant for six months.37 God can do anything!”
38 Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!” Then the angel went away.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 Mary got up and went quickly to a town in the hills of Judea. 40 She came to Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the unborn baby inside her jumped, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 She cried out in a loud voice, “God has blessed you more than any other woman, and he has blessed the baby to which you will give birth. 43 Why has this good thing happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?44 When I heard your voice, the baby inside me jumped with joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that what the Lord said to you would really happen.”
Mary Praises God
46 Then Mary said,
“My soul praises the Lord;
47 my heart rejoices in God my Savior,
48 because he has shown his concern for his humble servant girl.
From now on, all people will say that I am blessed,
49 because the Powerful One has done great things for me.
His name is holy.
50 God will show his mercy forever and ever
to those who worship and serve him.
51 He has done mighty deeds by his power.
He has scattered the people who are proud
and think great things about themselves.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
and raised up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with nothing.
54 He has helped his servant, the people of Israel,
remembering to show them mercy
55 as he promised to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his children forever.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
In Islam Angels Arabic: ملائكة malāʾikah; singular: ملاك or مَلَكْmalāk are heavenly beings mentioned many times in the Quran and hadith. Unlike humans or jinn, they have no free will and therefore can do only what God orders them to do. Believing in angels is one of the six Articles of Faith in Islam. Just as humans are made of clay, and jinn are made of smokeless fire, angels are made of light
- In Islam, the functions that the angels perform vary, one of the most prominent of these functions is their function as messengers. The angel Jibreel (Gabriel) is the most important (prominent) messenger angel, as in Islam, he delivers the message of God (Allah) to the Islamic prophets. Angels cannot be seen as they are heavenly beings but that can take on different forms, including human.
- Ibn Arabi discussing why Angels and Jinns can’t be seen said:
- God hid them from our view, so we cannot see them except when He wants to unveil them to some of His servants and let them see them. Since they are from the world of insubstantiality and subtlety, they can take on the appearance they wish to adopt among the sensory forms. The original form attributed to them is that of spirit, or to be more precise, this was the first form they received when God created them. Later they took on diverse semblances in accordance with how God wishes them to be. If God were to unveil our ordinary sight so that we could see what form is given by the faculty of image-making which God entrusts with making representations in the imagination of those of us who use imagination, then you would come to see in time the human being (insān) in various forms quite unlike each other.
The Jewish angelic hierarchy is established in theHebrew Bible, Talmud, Rabbinic literature, and traditional Jewish liturgy. They are categorized in different hierarchies proposed by various theologians. For example, Maimonides, in his Mishneh Torah or Yad ha-Chazakah: Yesodei ha-Torah, counts ten ranks of angels.
The most influential Christian angelic hierarchy was that put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the 4th or 5th century in his book De Coelesti Hierarchia (On the Celestial Hierarchy). During the Middle Ages, many schemes were proposed, some drawing on and expanding on Pseudo-Dionysius, others suggesting completely different classifications. According to medieval Christian theologians, the angels are organized into several orders, or “Angelic Choirs”.
Pseudo-Dionysius (On the Celestial Hierarchy) and Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica) drew on passages from the New Testament, specifically Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16, to develop a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs.
There is no standard hierarchical organization in Islam that parallels the Christian division into different “choirs” or spheres, and the topic is not directly addressed in the Quran. However, it is clear that there is a set order or hierarchy that exists between angels, defined by the assigned jobs and various tasks to which angels are commanded by God. Some scholars suggest that Islamic angels can be grouped into fourteen categories, with some of the higher orders being considered archangels.
There is also an informal Zoroastrian angelic hierarchy, with specific angelic beings called yazatas having key positions in the day-name dedications on the Zoroastrian calendar.
- The Skeptical view
- Two-thirds of all Americans believe not only that angels and demons exist, but also that they are “active in the world.” Skeptics are dumbfounded by such “archaic nonsense.”
To believe in nonphysical beings—souls or spirits without bodies or brains—in today’s world may seem, well, delusional. But there are serious scholars who take angels and demons seriously. Why?
Certainly, nonphysical beings would challenge the scientific worldview that only the physical is real. Certainly, angels and demons, in one form or another, populate most of the world’s religions. But do angels and demons really exist?
- Dean Radin, a leading researcher in extrasensory perception, has special ideas about angels and demons. “I view them as a projection of the unconscious,” he says. “You don’t need to go too far into the ESP world to appreciate why people persist in believing in such things. There is some kind of inter subjective reality, a reality that we create between ourselves and others by sharing thoughts and feelings.”
This is more than personal psychology. “It’s a natural extension of the idea that you’re not locked inside your head,” Radin says. “The moment that you make the leap of faith that our intentions, to some degree, can affect the world around us and what other people think, then you might create a shared mental space which can appear as if it were an angel or demon. It will seem just as real as a hard table would seem real, but it’s different in type.”
- Carl Jung asserted that we must embrace the inner darkness. The shadow must be faced to overcome it. It is our awareness of this inner demon’s existence that brings freedom from its control.
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Jung
- Rilke’s Duino Elegies excerpts
- Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the Angelic
Orders? And even if one were to suddenly
take me to its heart, I would vanish into its
stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but
the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear,
and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains
to destroy us. Every Angel is terror.
And so I hold myself back and swallow the cry
of a darkened sobbing. Ah, who then can
we make use of? Not Angels: not men.
Finally they have no more need of us, the early-departed,
weaned gently from earthly things, as one outgrows
the mother’s mild breast. But we, needing
such great secrets, for whom sadness is often
the source of a blessed progress, could we exist without them?
Is it a meaningless story how once, in the grieving for Linos,
first music ventured to penetrate arid rigidity,
so that, in startled space, which an almost godlike youth
suddenly left forever, the emptiness first felt
the quivering that now enraptures us, and comforts, and helps.
DEMOCRACY A WEAK SYSTEM AGAINST CORRUPTING TYRANNY AND OLIGARCHY, OSTRACISM AS A PREVENTION IN ANCIENT GREECE
It’s always strike me as a great irony that the name of Marcus Junius Brutus Minor is an infamous name to many in our Republic history, and that most sympathize with Caesar.
“Et tu, Brute?“and you, Brutus?” or “you too, Brutus?”, purportedly as the last words of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar to his friend Marcus Brutus at the moment of his assassination. The quotation is widely used in English-speaking world to signify the utmost unexpected betrayal by a person, such as a friend.
The fame of the quotation is entirely due to its occurrence in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, as Caesar utters these words as he is being stabbed to death, having recognized his friend and protege Brutus among the assassins. However, there is no evidence that Caesar actually said these words. Despite Brutus friendship.
Whatever unknown reasons Brutus may had in the killing of Caesar, it is suspected he was his illegitimate child, and he was a favorite of Caesar, still the fact is that he was defending the Republic against tyranny, and together with many senators was doing the killing of Caesar a sort of heroic act, in order to save the Republic from tyranny. Maybe it reflect our subconscious sympathies for our undemocratic love for empire.
Ostracism (From the Greek ὀστρακισμός, ostrakismos) was a procedure in which any citizen of ancient Athens could be expelled from the city-state for ten years. While some instances clearly expressed popular anger at the citizen, ostracism was often used preemptively. It was used as a way of neutralizing someone thought to be a threat to the state or potential tyrant. It has been called an “honorable exile”
Ostracism is derived from the ostraka, referring to the potsherds or pieces of broken pottery that were used as voting tokens. Broken pottery, abundant and virtually free, served as a kind of scrap paper, and was used by the citizens of Athens to write down the name of the one they wised to be ostracized. In contrast, papyrus, which was imported from Egypt as a high-quality writing surface, and was thus too costly to be disposable.
Ostracismwas a pre-emptive strike to take down any citizen who seemed to be trying to take control of the city. Because it could be done so early in anyone political career, it helped defuse any major confrontations between rival politicians or political groups before it overheated into civil war.
Each year, around January or February, the Athenians were asked in the assembly whether they wished to hold an ostracism. If they voted “yes”, then an ostracism would be held around two months later. In a roped-off area of the agora, citizens scratched the name of a citizen they wished to expel on pot shards, and deposited them in urns. The presiding officials counted the ostraka submitted; if a minimum of six thousand votes were reached, then the ostracism took place: the officials sorted the names into separate piles, and the person receiving the highest number of votes was exiled for ten years.
Crucially, ostracism had no relation to the processes of justice. There was no charge or defense, and the exile was not in fact a penalty; it was simply a command from the Athenian people that one of their number be gone for ten years. The person nominated had ten days to leave the city, if he attempted to return, the penalty was death.
The first rash of people ostracized in the decade after the defeat of the first Persian invasion at Marathon in 490 BC were all related or connected to the tyrant Peisistratos, who had controlled Athens for 36 years up to 527 BC. After his son Hippias was deposed with Spartan help in 510 BC, the family sought refuge with the Persians, and nearly twenty years later Hippias landed with their invasion force at Marathon. Tyranny and Persian aggression were paired threats facing the new democratic regime at Athens, and ostracism was used against both.
In 443 BC Thucydides son of Milesias (not to be confused with the historian of the same name) was ostracized. He led an aristocratic opposition to Athenian imperialism and in particular to Pericles’ building program on the acropolis, which was funded by taxes created for the wars against Persia. By expelling Thucydides the Athenian people sent a clear message about the direction of Athenian policy. Similar but more controversial claims have been made about the ostracism of Cimon in 461 BC.
In part ostracism lapsed as a procedure at the end of the fifth century because it was replaced by the graphe paranomon, a regular court action under which a much larger number of politicians might be targeted, instead of just one a year as with ostracism, and with greater severity. But it may already have come to seem like an anachronism as factional alliances organised around important men became increasingly less significant in the later period, and power was more specifically located in the interaction of the individual speaker with the power of the assembly and the courts. The threat to the democratic system in the late 5th century came not from tyranny but from oligarchic coups, threats of which became prominent after two brief seizures of power, in 411 by “the Four Hundred” and in 404 BC by “the Thirty”, which were not dependent on single powerful individuals. Ostracism was not an effective defense against the oligarchic threat and it was not so used.
As we can see ancient Athenians used ostracism as a defense mainly towards powerful, rich citizens, who using their money, and influences were potentially capable of destabilizing the State, by undermining democracy, oligarchs who through diverse ways tried to take over power either to become tyrants, or just to profit from their dealings at expense of the people. It could be alleged that on the long run didn’t work out, but we can’t deny that at least they tried to curb the ambition of the powerful so unlike today were the rich through corporate power basically do whatever they please to our expense, and we are incapable to defend our so much vaunted, but in fact ineffective democracy.
Our oncoming elections a clear example of the abuse of the powerful against the common interest of the many, where our are choices are dictated by the infamous 1% and the inevitable choice between the less of two evils takes effect, rather than what would be ideal for the common good.
In his famous book, MOSES AND MONOTHEISM, Sigmund Freud concluded that monotheism was not a Jewish but an Egyptian invention, descending from the cult of the Egyptian sun god Aten. Moreover, upon applying his psychoanalysis to the myths/stories of the Hebrew bible, Freud not only argued that Moses was an Egyptian priest but he was also perplexed by how the whole story of Moses/Exodus, according to the oedipal pattern of analysis, was inverted and didn’t make sense the way it had been told. In other words the Hebrew myths/stories didn’t seem original.
First let me say there is a lot of nonsense and misunderstanding related to the why of Monotheism, including Sigismund Freud idea of psychoanalyses of the Hebrew Bible!
Second let me say the word God it’s a loaded issue in itself!
Why is a loaded word? Because God means a myriad things to a myriad of people, in fact there is no man who may have a similar idea of the word God, and what it encompass. And that it’s why some religious people prefer not to give it a name, unfortunately because the intolerance of many religious groups and individuals through History the word God has become a word of dissension rather than unity.
One thing it’s not disputable is the fact that the word God encompass our private idea about it, which it’s by far not the same idea other individual may have. And if we can’t agree in a definition, or a meaning, how we will be able to sort this issue?
For some the word God it’s just a word, with no real existence, to others it’s not just a word but an experience, a way of life.
Some people rather than use the word God like to say it’s a Mystery, to which I wholeheartedly agree, ultimately any idea, or definition will be lacking…
Polytheism refers to the worship of or belief in multiple deities usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals. In most religions which accept polytheism, the different gods and goddesses are representations of forces of nature or ancestral principles, and can be viewed either as autonomous or as aspects or emanations of a a creator God transcendental principle a monists theologies, which manifests immanently in nature as panetheistic and pantheistic theologies.
Unfortunately some of our Western pagans when trying to defend their views rely more on emotional issues like Patriarchy and it’s nefarious historical ramifications than on rational, and solid theological grounds.
And this by no means to dismiss their just claims, Patriarchy should be remember it’s a tribal institution adopted by migratory clans, shepherds and the like, who it’s independent of theological argument, unfortunately Monotheism was invested with these social garments in the Abrahamic religions, but I want to remind the reader these social characteristics are of no relevance when it come to the theological argument, of an All inclusive God, Transcendent and Immanent, I don’t see any problem with a vision of a religion with different social trappings based in equality and justice not only between men and women, but one that include social justice to the environment, Pachamama, our Mother Earth, and any non human creatures. There is a social problem around the world of a male dominated society independently of Religion, that of course reflects in our way of living, consequently some religious groups may still embrace this ossified mentality which it’s deplorable at this day an age.
VIEWS FROM SANATANA DHARMA =HINDUISM
Ed Viswanathan on : Am I A Hindu says:
“Hindus consider it absurd to state that any other true religion of the world is false.”
“The Bhagavad Gita (4:11) Krishna (a Hindu word for God) says: ‘Whatever and whichever way men approach Me, even so do I accept them; whatever paths they may chose finally lead to Me’….. From these lines, one can easily understand that Hinduism does not project itself as the only way to God-realization. It claims no monopoly on wisdom. It tolerates all forms of thoughts. A Hindu Yogi will never try to convert a person from another religion to Hinduism. Instead he will try to make a person’s faith steadfast in his/her own religion. The Gita says, ‘In whatever form a devotee seeks to worship Me with faith, I make his faith steadfast in that form alone.'”
“So, in Hinduism, you can worship the Almighty, which is formless and timeless, as Krishna, Jesus, Allah, Moses or as anyone or anything. As long as you have faith in that form of the Almighty, you will be following a true religion and you will ultimately realize the truth, even if you are following a crude form of worship. No one can be lost, according to Hinduism. In whichever way one may seek God, one is always in the path of God.”
“When someone calls ‘It’ Jesus Christ, ‘It’ comes as Jesus Christ; when someone calls ‘It’ Lord Krishna, ‘It’ comes as Lord Krishna. The great Muslim mystics, the Sufis, said, Wheresoever you turn, there is the face of Allah. In all forms of worship, ultimately the worshiper will transcend the name and form of his/her personal god. All of them started with their attachment to a personal god and finally ended up with an almighty which is timeless and formless…. The word Islam means submitter to the will of Allah, and Allah has no proper definition…. No religion has a monopoly on God.”
“All came from that which cannot be defined called Brahman (monism).” “All came from That, so all existence is good and divine (pantheism).” “There is only one God (monotheism).” “All of us are Gods. This, of course, is just like saying that if you analyze one drop of seawater, then you know everything about the entire sea, or that if you the properties of electricity within the light bulb, then you know all about the electricity in the entire network.” To search for God is like a pinch of salt finding the depth of the ocean, it becomes part and parcel of the ocean. Similarly, a devotee who seeks God becomes part and parcel of That.”
THE MYTH OF IMMUTABILITY IN RELIGION
The idea that religions are immutable in character it’s more a wish idea than anything close to reality, religion it’s linked to Man, and men change with time, places, customs, Historical periods, and new ideas, who come to discard old ideas who had lost their contemporary appeal, or reinvigorate them with new leaven, that it’s why it is of no point to stick to the letter in scriptures, literal interpretations encase words in to a straight jacket, when what it’s really important is to embrace the Spirit of it, and Spirit it’s a living thing, not a fossil encased on an old interpretation of a word, just like languages they evolve and change to become richer and useful, or they die and disappear as dead languages. “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.” (John 5:39,40).
This was true on Jesus days, as it is now. The world will be a better place if men will defend Truth, rather than words.
ONEIROMANCY DREAM INTERPRETATION, THE RAMESSIDE PAPYRUS, ARTEMIDORUS ONEIROKRITICON, SHAMANIC DREAMING, AND IBN SIRIN
80. With these last words the dying Enkidu did pray
and say to his beloved companion:
- “In dreams last night
- the heavens and the earth poured
- out great groans while I alone
- stood facing devastation. Some fierce
- and threatening creature flew down at me
- and pushed me with its talons toward
- the horror-filled house of death
- wherein lrkalla, queen of shades,
90. stands in command.There is darkness which lets no personagain see light of day.
- There is a road leading away from
- bright and lively life.
- There dwell those who eat dry dust
- and have no cooling water to quench their awful thirst.
- As I stood there I saw all those who’ve died
- and even kings among those darkened souls
- have none of their remote and former glory.
100. All earthly greatness was forfeitand I entered then into the house of death.Others who have been there longdid rise to welcome me.”
EPIC OF GILGAMESH
THE SCIENCE OF DREAM INTERPRETATION ONEIROMANCY
Oneiromancy It is defined as :(from the Greek όνειροϛ oneiros, dream, and μαντεία manteia, prophecy) is a form of divination based upon dreams; it is a system of dream interpretation that uses dreams to predict the future.
I m not in agreement with the definition, specifically with the idea it’s some sort of divination, a bad word that our Jungian friends would be insulted if we would define them as diviners, rather than interpreters, or analyzers of dreams, I agree Intuition may play by no means a small role, however this it’s not to imply a supernatural science, but rather a long time of study, and the acquisition of wisdom by experience and skill, that makes to the eyes of the uninitiated appear like a magic trick or divination.
Dream interpretation it’s not a new science, it was well known to our ancestors the Egyptian, Babylonian, Sumerian, Indian, Chinese, Greek, Roman, Celt, Maya, Aztec, Inca and all Native Americans Nations in North, Central, and South America on prehispanic times, and today between the Shamans of the Amazon basin and anywhere on America or Africa, or Asia, and Oceania including Australia and New Zealand, where Native Indigenous cultures have survived the onslaught of so call Western civilization.
Sigismund Freud, and The Swiss psychotherapist Carl Gustav Jung they didn’t discovered a new science they made the role of the High Priest, and the Shaman in to a methodological approach named psychiatry, and developed the field of analytical psychology, focused this idea and formed theories, experiments, and terminology around Oneiromancy, although if in need of therapy maybe with a few exceptions I would rather entrust myself to a wise Shaman in Amazonia, or elsewhere than to a run of the mill psychotherapist, a product of academy and dependent on pharmaceuticals for treatment.
A unique exemplar of a book of dream-interpretation survives from pre-Hellenistic Egypt, the so-called “Ramesside Dream-Book”
The Dream Book
From Deir el-Medina, Egypt19th Dynasty, around 1275 BC
Papyrus giving a list of dreams and their interpretations
The meaning of dreams is a subject that fascinated the ancient Egyptians. This hieratic papyrus, probably dates to the early reign of Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC). On each page of the papyrus a vertical column of hieratic signs begins: ‘if a man sees himself in a dream’; each horizontal line describes a dream, followed by the diagnosis ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and then the interpretation. For example, ‘if a man sees himself in a dream looking out of a window, good; it means the hearing of his cry’. Or, ‘if a man sees himself in a dream with his bed catching fire, bad; it means driving away his wife’. The text first lists good dreams, and then bad ones; the word ‘bad’ is written in red, ‘the colour of ill omen’.
The papyrus had several owners before it was, presumably, deposited in the cemetery at Deir el-Medina. It is uncertain who the original owner was, but it passed into the hands of the scribe Qeniherkhepshef; on the other side of the papyrus, the scribe copied a poem about the Battle of Kadesh, which took place in the reign of Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC). The Dream Book passed to Khaemamen, Qeniherkhepshef’s wife’s second husband, and then to his son Amennakht (both added their name to the papyrus). The Dream Book was part of an archive, including a wide variety of literary, magical and documentary material, which passed down through the family for more than a century.
During the Hellenistic era all across the Mediterranean, the practice took place in temples that were staffed by priest-physicians. In fact, dream temples made up the single most popular spiritual healing institution in the Mediterranean world.
These restful sanctuaries were designed to produce dreams that provided healing wisdom — and also instant cures — if we are to believe the boasts of ancient graffiti. Successful cures were honored with inscriptions on the walls of the sanctuaries, acting as advertisements as well.
The dream healers of ancient Greece were also surgeons and herbalists, teaching their young doctors the art of empirical observation coupled with an environment of safety and spiritual cleansing. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, learned from his dream healing mentors to make empirical observations rather than simply following untested beliefs. Hippocrates is also cited as writing a medical dream dictionary that focused on a number of common dream symbols that indicate bodily ailments, although many scholars attribute the work to his disciples.
Artemidorus (Greek: Ἀρτεμίδωρος ὁ Δαλδιανός) or Ephesius was a professional diviner who lived in the 2nd century. He is known from an extant five-volume Greek work, the Oneirocritica or Oneirokritikon (English: The Interpretation of Dreams)
Artemidorus was surnamed Ephesius, from Ephesus, on the west coast of Asia Minor, but was also called Daldianus, from his mother’s native city, Daldis in Lycia. He lived in the 2nd century AD.
According to Artemidorus, the material for his work was gathered during lengthy travels through Greece, Italy and Asia, from diviners of high and low station. Another major source were the writings of Artemidorus’ predecessors, sixteen of whom he cites by name. It is clear he built on a rich written tradition, now otherwise lost. Artemidorus’ method is, at root, analogical. He writes that dream interpretation is “nothing other than the juxtaposition of similarities” (2.25). But like other types of Greek divination, including Astrology, celestial divination and pallomancy, Greek dream divination (Oneiromancy) became exceedingly complex, a given dream subject to a number of interpretations depending on secondary considerations, such as the age, sex, and status of the dreamer. At other times, subtle distinctions within the dream itself are significant. In a particularly memorable passage, Artemidorus expounds upon the meaning of dreams involving sex with one’s mother:
- “The case of one’s mother is both complex and manifold and admits of many different interpretations—a thing not all dream interpreters have realized. The fact is that the mere act of intercourse by itself is not enough to show what is portended. Rather, the manner of the embraces and the various positions of the bodies indicate different outcomes.”
I rather put my allegiance to Artemidorus than to Sigmund Freud when it come to dreaming about the Mother, obviously an Archetype of primordial proportions , and to his practical skills as a priest of the temple of Ephesus where the sick specifically went to find an oracle to cure their sickness or deal with their problems, let’s just say that Artemidorus knew some ill patient was about to die when it’s dream was having sex with their mother and she was on top, an obvious allusion to the fact of been covered by mother earth, a returning to the womb we all come from.
The first three books of the Oneirocritica are dedicated to one Cassius Maximus and were intended to serve as a detailed introduction for both diviners and the general public. Books four and five were written for Artemidorus’ son, also Artemidorus, to give him a leg-up on competitors, and Artemidorus cautions him about making copies.
According to the Suda The Suda or Souda (Medieval Greek:Σοῦδα Soũda) is a massive 10th-century Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed to an author called Suidas. It is an encyclopedic lexicon, written in Greek, with 30,000 entries, many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often derived from medieval Christian compilers. (Alpha 4025), Artemidorus also penned a Oiônoscopica(Interpretation of Birds) and a Chiroscopica (Palmistry), but neither has survived, and the authorship is discounted. In the Oneirocritica, Artemidorus displays a hostile attitude to palmistry.
Among the authors Artemidorus cites are Antiphon (possibly the same as Antiphon the Sophist), Aristander of Telmessus, Demetrius of Phalerum, Alexander of Myndus in Caria, and Artemon of Miletus.
Shamanism And The Dream
For thousands of years, many indigenous tribes and cultures have valued dreaming. The Shaman’s journey to other worlds in non-ordinary reality to commune with the spirits, to retrieve lost soul parts, to find healing for their community. Aborigine tribes of Australia believed dreaming was a way to travel to other places. Cultures used dreaming to foretell the future so they could plan for what was coming.
Dreaming is a time when we can turn off our conscious and third dimensional mind chatter and enter into a world of vivid imagination where the subconscious and our creativity connect to the sacred divine. Our dreams are gateways, they tell us a story, and it is up to us to follow the storyline and find the meaning.
There are many ways of dreaming, the Shamans use journeying, and employing all their senses to be able to walk in both worlds. Lucid dreaming and guided meditation are other forms of being able to travel the worlds. I would not like to dwell too much on these practices, since it would be too extensive to cite examples of many cultures around the world, with their own set of beliefs, and rituals, some may include entheogens, some may not, it’s just enough to say wherever there is an indigenous group of people who preserve their culture, despite the encroaching of the prevailing dominant Eurocentric culture, there you will find Shamans who will dream, and interpret dreams as a Spiritual quest, and as healing tools.
Ibn Sirin, Muhammad was one of the first ascetics of Al-Basra. He became the prime imam in religion and an erudite in the Qur’an. He was described by one of his contemporaries (Abu Ná’eem) as wise, heeding God and perspicacious, sharing food with his brethren and travelers, strongly interceding in favor of the lonely and those who were punished for one reason or another. He was alert, cautious, honest and properly maintaining whatever was entrusted to him. He used to weep at night and smile and rove around all day. And he fasted every other day. No one was as religious or as knowledgeable as him in his art. His family was so generous that they would not hesitate to offer to their visitor the last loaf of bread in their house. He used to savor and recite poetry.
He was particularly renowned for his extraordinary skill in interpreting dreams as attested by the Arabs’ greatest intellectuals, such as Al-Gaheth, Ibn Qutaybah and Ibn Khaldoun, who considered his work as crucial in this field.
The most notable of the books attributed to him is Dreams and Interpretations. Ibn Al-Nadim says that he was the author of Taabirul Ro’oya (What Dreams Express), which is different from or an abridged version of Muntakhabul Kalam Fi Tafsir El Ahlam (A Concise Guide for the Interpretation of Dreams) first printed in Bulaq, Egypt, in 1284 AH, in Lucknow in AD 1874 and in Bombay in 1296 AH. It was subsequently reprinted numerous times in various parts of the Arab World under different titles.
It’s very likely Ibn Sirin never wrote anything, but his fame was so great that later composers of books about dream interpretation used his name in order to add prestige to the books in question, the fact remain this book it’s a great help to interpret dreams.
My personal Views
Dream interpretation it’s as old as the time of the first dream, which set the date of dream interpretation way back to the time the first Man had a dream, and that is why Dream, and Myth are closely link by Archetypes. Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung were pioneers in our current Western culture for a systematic study approach to it, but by no means were discoverers, the same way Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America, Indigenous people did Thousands of years ago, and populated America, Christopher Columbus just made people in Europe aware of it.
By the very nature of dreams, their fluid state, and the myriad of objects, and situations, books about dream interpretation, can only be of help to recognize a symbolic meaning to objects without been categorically the last word, the dream interpreter has to analyze the dream taking in to consideration many factors, that may scape the neophyte, a dictionary of dreams it’s ultimately one of the many tools a skillful dream interpreter has resort to when the meaning it’s not clear, but as any tool it’s the skill of it’s use that brings good result to the enterprise, regardless of the tool itself, therefore dream books are just a general guide for interpretation, and the interpreter can’t rely solely on the book period.
Questioning the dreamer about the details of the dream can be useful, the more a person can recall about a dream the clearer the interpretation can be revealing in the details, sensations, feelings, colors, etc. The meaning of the dream, deep knowledge of Symbology, the use of analogy, are key factors, Spiritual awareness brings light, in to many affairs, and Intuition, plus knowledge about the dreamer facilitate the interpretation.
“There are as many paths to God as human souls on earth”. Ibn Arabi
You must only follow your path, path of the heart, learn how to feel and this way see beyond the mask, (ego) because reason, it sees the mask, the outside, the logic, but heart connects to one reality beyond it. Spiritual awareness shouldn’t be discarded either, on the contrary it’s closely linked in to the language of symbols.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SYMBOLS, CARL G. JUNG, SYMBOLISM NOT JUST AN ANCIENT SCIENCE, BUT IT’S RELEVANCE TODAY
Dreams are often parables that contain hidden treasure
if you’re willing to search for it. The condition of your heart
directly affects your spiritual insight and understanding.
Are you distracted or captivated by the gift God may
be giving you in your dreams? …It may reflect the condition of your heart.
Jesus only spoke in parables to the unbelieving because
He wanted them to have to apply their heart. He says in Matthew 13:13-15
This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14)
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ”
‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15)
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
I sort of smile, when reading about something were the author goes on with his dissertation ignorant about the many issues surrounding the topic he is talking about specifically one sided explanations, that ignore the deep power of symbols, and the use the ancients had for them way before we come to lost our way around them, this a profound loss for the understanding of an issue, even the explanation of the symbol itself!
According to the dictionary
something that represents or stands for something else, usually by convention or association, specifically a material object used to represent something abstract
an object, person, idea, etc, used in a literary work, film, etc, to stand for or suggest something else with which it is associated either explicitly or in some more subtle way
a letter, figure, or sign used in mathematics,science, music, etc to represent a quantity, phenomenon, operation, function, etc
But of course there is more, a lot more than that!
As for example:
Word Origin and History for symbol Expand
early 15c., “creed, summary, religious belief,” from Late Latin symbolum “creed, token, mark,” from Greek symbolon “token, watchword” (applied c.250 by Cyprian of Carthage to the Apostles’ Creed, on the notion of the “mark” that distinguishes Christians from pagans), literally “that which is thrown or cast together,” from syn- “together” (see syn- ) + bole “a throwing, a casting, the stroke of a missile, bolt,beam,” from bol-, nominative stem of ballein “to throw” (see ballistics).
The sense evolution in Greek is from “throwing things together” to “contrasting” to “comparing” to “token used in comparisons to determine if something is genuine.” Hence, “outward sign” of something. The meaning “something which stands for something else”first recorded 1590 (in “Faerie Queene”).
In considering the effect of a symbol on the psyche, in his seminal essay The Symbol without Meaning Joseph Campbell proposes the following definition: A symbol is an energy evoking, and directing, agent.
Later, expanding on what he means by this definition Campbell says:
“a symbol, like everything else, shows a double aspect. We must distinguish, therefore between the ‘sense’ and the ‘meaning’ of the symbol. It seems to me perfectly clear that all the great and little symbolical systems of the past functioned simultaneously on three levels: the corporeal of waking consciousness, the spiritual of dream, and the ineffable of the absolutely unknowable. The term ‘meaning’ can refer only to the first two but these, today, are in the charge of science – which is the province as we have said, not of symbols but of signs. The ineffable, the absolutely unknowable, can be only sensed. It is the province of art which is not ‘expression’ merely, or even primarily, but a quest for, and formulation of, experience evoking, energy-waking images: yielding what Sir Herbert Read has aptly termed a ‘sensuous apprehension of being’.
Heinrich Zimmer gives a concise overview of the nature, and perennial relevance, of symbols.
“Concepts and words are symbols, just as visions, rituals, and images are; so too are the manners and customs of daily life. Through all of these a transcendent reality is mirrored. They are so many metaphors reflecting and implying something which, though thus variously expressed, is ineffable, though thus rendered multiform, remains inscrutable. Symbols hold the mind to truth but are not themselves the truth, hence it is delusory to borrow them. Each civilization, every age, must bring forth its own.”
In the book Signs and Symbols, it is stated that A symbol … is a visual image or sign representing an idea — a deeper indicator of a universal truth.
Symbols are a means of complex communication that often can have multiple levels of meaning. This separates symbols from signs, as signs have only one meaning.
Human cultures use symbols to express specific ideologies and social structures and to represent aspects of their specific culture. Thus, symbols carry meanings that depend upon one’s cultural background; in other words, the meaning of a symbol is not inherent in the symbol itself but is culturally learned.
Symbols are the basis of all human understanding and serve as vehicles of conception for all human knowledge. Symbols facilitate understanding of the world in which we live, thus serving as the grounds upon which we make judgments. In this way, people use symbols not only to make sense of the world around them, but also to identify and cooperate in society through constitutive rhetoric.
Carl Gustav Jung and the Collective Unconscious
Carl Gustav Jung ; 26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961), often referred to as C. G. Jung, was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. His work has been influential not only in psychiatry but also in philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, literature, and religious studies. He was a prolific writer, though many of his works were not published until after his death.
Collective unconscious, a term coined by Carl Jung, refers to structures of the unconscious mind which are shared among beings of the same species. According to Jung, the human collective unconscious is populated by instincts and by archetypes: universal symbols such as the Great Mother, the Wise Old Man, the Shadow, the Tower, Water, the Tree of Life, and many more.
Jung considered the collective unconscious to underpin and surround the unconscious mind, distinguishing it from the personal unconscious of Freudian psychoanalysis. He argued that the collective unconscious had profound influence on the lives of individuals, who lived out its symbols and clothed them in meaning through their experiences.
In Jung’s 1916 essay, “The Structure of the Unconscious”. This essay distinguishes between the “personal”, Freudian unconscious, filled with sexual fantasies and repressed images, and the “collective” unconscious encompassing the soul of humanity at large.
In “The Significance of Constitution and Heredity in Psychology” (November 1929), Jung wrote:
And the essential thing, psychologically, is that in dreams, fantasies, and other exceptional states of mind the most far-fetched mythological motifs and symbols can appear autochthonously at any time, often, apparently, as the result of particular influences, traditions, and excitations working on the individual, but more often without any sign of them. These “primordial images” or “archetypes,” as I have called them, belong to the basic stock of the unconscious psyche and cannot be explained as personal acquisitions. Together they make up that psychic stratum which has been called the collective unconscious.
The existence of the collective unconscious means that individual consciousness is anything but atabula rasa and is not immune to predetermining influences. On the contrary, it is in the highest degree influenced by inherited presuppositions, quite apart from the unavoidable influences exerted upon it by the environment. The collective unconscious comprises in itself the psychic life of our ancestors right back to the earliest beginnings. It is the matrix of all conscious psychic occurrences, and hence it exerts an influence that compromises the freedom of consciousness in the highest degree, since it is continually striving to lead all conscious processes back into the old paths.
On October 19, 1936, Jung delivered a lecture “The Concept of the Collective Unconscious” to the Abernethian Society at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. He said:
My thesis then, is as follows: in addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.
Jung’s work on himself and his patients convinced him that life has a spiritual purpose beyond material goals. Our main task, he believed, is to discover and fulfill our deep innate potential. Based on his study of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Taoism, and other traditions, Jung believed that this journey of transformation, which he called individuation, is at the mystical heart of all religions. It is a journey to meet the self and at the same time to meet the Divine. Unlike Freud’s objectivist worldview, Jung’s pantheism may have led him to believe that spiritual experience was essential to our well-being, as he specifically identifies individual human life with the universe as a whole. Jung’s ideas on religion gave a counterbalance to the Freudian skepticism of religion. Jung’s idea of religion as a practical road to individuation has been quite popular, and is still treated in modern textbooks on the psychology of religion, though his ideas have also been criticized.
It is only through comparative studies in mythology, folk-lore, religion, and language that we can determine these symbols in a scientific way. The evolutionary stages through which the human psyche has passed are more clearly discernible in the dream than in consciousness. The dream speaks in images and gives expression to instincts that are derived from the most primitive levels of nature. Consciousness all too easily departs from the law of nature, but it can be brought again into harmony with the latter by the assimilation of unconscious contents. By fostering this process, [one comes to] the rediscovery of the law of one’s own being
“We have no symbolic life, and we are all badly in need of the symbolic life. Only the symbolic life can express the need of the soul – the daily need of the soul, mind you! And because people have no such thing, they can never step out of this mill – this awful, banal, grinding life in which they are “nothing but.” . . . Everything is banal; everything is “nothing but,” and that is the reason why people are neurotic. They are simply sick of the whole thing, sick of that banal life, and therefore they want sensation. They even want a war; they all want a war; they are all glad when there is a war; they say, “Thank heaven, now something is going to happen – something bigger than ourselves!”
These things go pretty deep, and no wonder people get neurotic. Life is too rational; there is no symbolic existence in which I am something else, in which I am fulfilling my role, my role as one of the actors in the divine drama of life.”
My Personal Views
I never liked the word Unconscious, which in my opinion represents more a physical state, like when someone pass out by a blow on the head, or by the effects of anesthesia, rather than representing the substrata of impressions of the individual, the term Subconscious fits more my idea of things, something that it’s present in the background, but not necessarily, an active and present awareness of it on our immediate consciousness, but nevertheless present, and can be recollected under close examination of memory, or in the substance of our dreams. I believe this slight, but fundamental differentiation on the meaning of the word, would make it more palatable, and acceptable, and would take the hocus pocus aspect of it, that rational, and scientific minds oppose.
There is such a thing as knowledge by inference that doesn’t come to the mind in an obvious and categorical way, at least in the beginning, but on reflection, and meditation subtleties come to mind, like the meaning of a dream by analogy, and relations of symbols, and constitute a revelation to our conscious mind. This may appear out of nowhere, or magical, to many, but it’s rather an Intuitive, but perfectly logical way of cognition, once this symbolic associations are known.
Albert Einstein, now a darling of truism in quotes of many subject matters, not my favorite person to quote, not fault of his own, but for the way he has been abused in this respect by the many, plus the fact he had it’s failures as we all do, but are not dwelled on, as much as his triumphs, Einstein’s dreams and it’s conclusions lead to the discovery of his famous theory of Relativity, now there is so many versions of different dreams he had, that I hesitate to describe one as the dream that give him the key, but nevertheless point out to the usefulness of the symbolic in order to clarify, and reveal the hidden. The following quote attributed to him reveals the value he conceded to the Symbolic.
The importance of the study of Symbols as a way to access our subconscious stratus of our minds, what the ancients use to name as Soul it’s as relevant today as it was in the past, this can’t be done without a personal effort in our part to seek clarification, to our hidden life and motivations, that propel us here, or there, ignoring the why?
Arnold J. Toynbee a historian philosopher argues:
First the Dominant Minority attempts to hold by force – against all right and reason – a position of inherited privilege which it has ceased to merit; and then the Proletariat repays injustice with resentment, fear with hate, and violence with violence when it executes its acts of secession. Yet the whole movement ends in positive acts of creation – and this on the part of all the actors in the tragedy of disintegration. The Dominant Minority creates a universal state, the Internal Proletariat a universal church, and the External Proletariat a bevy of barbarian war-bands.
If you examine the general state of affairs of the World, where rules, and commands are handled down from a one percent corporate capitalistic outlook with few regards for the lower workers, the actual majority, and where the State itself is just the tool this minority uses as a machine of control for their own ends, and where a breakdown of values it’s just a constant increase, where the dispossessed, and disfranchised majority suffers the will of this entrenched minority who do not comprehend their actions will lead to a total breakdown of society as we know it, is not hard to understand that the new creed represents liberation from oppression, and a new form of social contract would emerge, where the rewards of the new system must satisfy not only the lower material needs of society, but it’s higher Artistic, and Spiritual needs as well, a recovery of Soul it’s specifically need it in order to bring psychic wellbeing to the individual, and therefore to society at large.
Satisfaction to the material needs of society will always be a primordial goal, but ignoring our Spiritual and hidden subjective side, will bring always a backlash of sorts, that would not take a no for an answer, and would demand it’s share, as in Mathew 22:21 “They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
It’s is not hard to see, that with our way of living we are rapidly approaching a breaking point, when now even the World Ecology of which all living beings depend it’s at risk of collapse, meanwhile our Nations States, pay a lip service, but actually do nothing to alleviate the impending crisis.
Sociobiology is a field of scientific study which is based on the hypothesis
that social behavior has resulted from evolution and attempts to explain
and examine social behavior within that context. A branch of biology that
deals with social behavior, it also draws from ethology, anthropology,
evolution, zoology, archaeology, population genetics, and other disciplines.
Within the study of human societies, sociobiology is very closely allied
to the fields of Darwinian anthropology, human behavioral ecology and
From a Darwinian viewpoint, the existence of altruism in nature is at first sight puzzling, as Darwin himself realized. Natural selection leads us to expect animals to behave in ways that increase their own chances of survival and reproduction, not those of others. But by behaving altruistically an animal reduces its own fitness, so should be at a selective disadvantage vis-à-vis one which behaves selfishly. To see this, imagine that some members of a group of Vervet monkeys give alarm calls when they see predators, but others do not. Other things being equal, the latter will have an advantage. By selfishly refusing to give an alarm call, a monkey can reduce the chance that it will itself be attacked, while at the same time benefiting from the alarm calls of others. So we should expect natural selection to favor those monkeys that do not give alarm calls over those that do. But this raises an immediate puzzle. How did the alarm-calling behavior evolve in the first place, and why has it not been eliminated by natural selection? How can the existence of altruism be reconciled with basic Darwinian principles?
Enter Genetic Altruism!
In the study, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, German researchers took a saliva sample from 101 men and women, using the sample to extract DNA from the participants’ cells. The researchers were focusing on the three variations of a gene called the COMT gene, which influences how certain neurotransmitters are activated in the brain. Previous research has linked those particular neurotransmitters, including dopamine, to positive emotions and social behaviors like bonding.
After providing the saliva sample, the participants had to try to memorize a set of numbers and repeat them as accurately as possible; they received five Euros for completing this memory test. After the test, they could try to increase their reward by gambling with it.
Finally, the participants were shown images that were taken from an ad for a charity: a picture of a little girl—named Lina, from Peru—and a bracelet she had knitted. The experimenters left the room and told the participants they could anonymously donate to the charity some or all of the money they’d earned, though the experimenters were actually able to keep track of how much money each person gave. (After the study ended, all money the participants chose to donate was in fact given to the charity.)
The researchers discovered that people with either of two of the variations of the COMT gene (called the Val/Val and Val/Met variations) donated twice as much money to the charity as people with the other variation (called Met/Met), regardless of their gender. In fact, more than 20 percent of the people with the altruistic variations donated all of their money.
In the general population, the number of people with the altruistic variations of the COMT gene varies by ethnicity, says study author Christian Montag, a psychologist at the University of Bonn. Among Caucasians, the ethnicity of all the participants in this particular study, roughly 75 percent carry one of the two altruistic variations: 25 percent carry the val/val, 50 percent carry the val/met, and 25 percent carry the met/met variant.
While researchers have had evidence for years that altruistic behavior is at least partly influenced by genetics, that evidence has come mainly from studies of twins reporting how altruistic they are, which have found that people with identical genetic material show similar patterns of altruism. This is the first study to link altruism to a specific gene.
Psychologist Sebastian Markett, a study co-author also at the University of Bonn, says the results show how a single genetic mutation can have a large effect on our behavior. But he believes science still has much to learn about the genetics of altruism.
“There must be more genes which influence altruistic behavior whose association has not been discovered yet,” he says. “Our future objective will be to identify all of those genes and how they interact with each other to eventually put a pretty complicated puzzle together—with the goal to understand who we are and why we are how we are.”
The “selfish gene” is a catchy anthropomorphic metaphor for a basic evolutionary truth: The goal of every organism is to perpetuate its own DNA. Metaphors may be useful in providing “handles” for understanding complex processes, but they are loaded with booby traps. In the case of “the selfish gene,” the metaphor has morphed into a slogan and the slogan acts as an enemy of thought.
Dawkins’ premise is that the human capacity for sacrifice is the product of a gene for altruism that somehow sneaked past the “survival of the fittest” screen. He bases his premise on studies by W. D. Hamilton, who showed self-sacrificing behavior to be statistically possible, if the sacrifice was of value sufficient to enable close kin to survive. But Hamilton’s research was based on social insects, in which the reproductive role is limited to a few ants and bees in the hive or nest — these are the units of natural selection. Observations of a social organization in which the rank-and-file do not have sex and do not compete as mammals must do for mates, are hardly applicable to humans.
Scientists in the Human Genome Project have determined that no single gene determines a particular behavior. Instead, many genes are involved in determining behavior, and their effects are often influenced by environmental factors. Even disregarding Dawkins’ anthropomorphism in using the word “selfish,” to focus on a gene is spurious. Social behavior can’t be answered by specific genes, but by learned lessons of subjective nature with little relation to mere chemical interactions.
Wilson Flip Flop
In 1965, Wilson, then a young entomologist, was one of the first scientists to grab hold of Hamilton’s equation and used it to explain altruism he observed in ant colonies. Wilson quickly became an evangelist for the idea, championing the theory that altruism had emerged through natural selection as a means to pass on genes to the next generation, not as a selfless act of moral transcendence.
But over the years Wilson saw cracks in the armor of the theory of inclusive fitness. His doubts continued to build around a theory he had helped elevate to the level of near scientific consensus. Eventually the errors piled too high for Wilson to ignore. In 2010, he and his colleagues published a paper in the prestigious scientific journal Nature claiming a paucity of real-world evidence supporting the claim that organisms displaying altruistic behavior follow the rule rB>C. The authors went further to say that the factors in the equation, B and C were too difficult to quantify. Wilson, for his part, admitted that the equation was elegant and alluring, but just too simple to work in practice.
Wilson’s “flip-flop” (said with great respect, as changing one’s mind in science is more often a virtue than a vice) has caused an uproar in the scientific community and drawn heavy criticism from some of the most vocal evolutionary biologists, including Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins. Wilson’s critics have said he is using his authority to make assumptions without backing up his claims with real-world data. The critics also point out that a large group of evolutionary biologists (more than 140) have publicly announced their support for the theory of inclusive fitness despite Wilson’s apostasy. Wilson has countered his critics by pointing to a lack of biological examples showing altruistic traits emerging in species that follow Hamilton’s equation. The dust-up makes for the juiciest kind of intellectual debate, one that sends scientists out into the field in search of more evidence.
Subjective and individualistic Social Experience; Wisdom
First let me say it outright, in case the title of my post had not alerted you about my stand on this issue, I am not merely in disagreement on this issue, but I hold in total contempt the idea that there is a gene for altruism, just because it will be the only rationalistic, and materialistic explanation to such behavior, when in actuality not such a gene has ever being discovered and isolated as proof of such behavior, that without it, humans would behave like beast of prey, a far common behavior, not due to a gene, but to selfishness, born out of ignorance, not of a gene, in my view the lack of a spiritual approach from contemporary science force them in to idiocy!
Moral qualities are not born of a gene but out of the subjective experience, and social interaction of intelligent individuals and passed not on our genes but taught, by men of virtue, many times at the price of their life like a Socrates, or Jesus.
The danger with discarding any other explanation not subjected to a total materialistic view of existence it’s here patent, sending this supposedly well educated, but nevertheless misguided individuals looking for a gene in our DNA, well good luck!
This is what happens when ideology trumps common sense, and everything it’s reduced at chemical neuron interactions which bring the old Vedanta philosophy, of our scientist pursuing illusions (Maya) :
Just because a rope in the dark can be perceived as a snake and this trigger the chemical reaction of fear, doesn’t mean the danger was real, once light allows to see the rope, there is no more fear, here you have to differentiate the gene producing the chemical reaction to a perceived treat, to the knowledge making us see the reality of it, you may argue the capacity of understanding knowledge to be in our genes, but not that the knowledge it’s itself the product of a gene, but the subjective quality of discrimination, just like Virtue, or altruism subjective experiences, and not genetically engineered, but the product of wisdom, particular to the individual experience, and not subjective to be inherited as such, at least I never heard wisdom to be inherited, but earned through hard work on an individual basis, like earning a degree in college is not an inheritance but hard work, unless your super rich dad, bought you a title, but still this was not a genetic transmission, but a shameless social behavior!
The Upanishads describe the universe, and the human experience, as an interplay of Purusha (the eternal, unchanging principles, consciousness) and Prakṛti (the temporary, changing material world, nature). The former manifests itself as Ātman (Soul, Self), and the latter as Māyā. The Upanishads refer to the knowledge of Atman as “true knowledge” (Vidya), and the knowledge of Maya as “not true knowledge” (Avidya, Nescience, lack of awareness, lack of true knowledge). Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, states Ben-Ami Scharfstein, describes Maya as “the tendency to imagine something where it does not exist, for example, atman with the body”. To the Upanishads, knowledge includes empirical knowledge and spiritual knowledge, complete knowing necessarily includes understanding the hidden principles that work, the realization of the soul of things.
Hendrick Vroom explains, “The term Maya has been translated as ‘illusion,’ but then it does not concern normal illusion. Here ‘illusion’ does not mean that the world is not real and simply a figment of the human imagination. Maya means that the world is not as it seems; the world that one experiences is misleading as far as its true nature is concerned.” Lynn Foulston states, “The world is both real and unreal because it exists but is ‘not what it appears to be’.” According to Wendy Doniger, “to say that the universe is an illusion (māyā) is not to say that it is unreal; it is to say, instead, that it is not what it seems to be, that it is something constantly being made. Māyā not only deceives people about the things they think they know; more basically, it limits their knowledge.”
Māyā pre-exists and co-exists with Brahman – the Ultimate Principle, Consciousness. Maya is perceived reality, one that does not reveal the hidden principles, the true reality. Maya is unconscious, Atman is conscious. Maya is the literal, Brahman is the figurative Upādāna – the principle, the cause. Maya is born, changes, evolves, dies with time, from circumstances, due to invisible principles of nature, state the Upanishads. Atman-Brahman is eternal, unchanging, invisible principle, unaffected absolute and resplendent consciousness. Maya concept in the Upanishads, states Archibald Gough, is “the indifferent aggregate of all the possibilities of emanatory or derived existences, pre-existing with Brahman”, just like the possibility of a future tree pre-exists in the seed of the tree.
The concept of Maya appears in numerous Upanishads. The verses 4.9 to 4.10 of Svetasvatara Upanishad, is the oldest explicit occurrence of the idea that Brahman (Supreme Soul) is the hidden reality, nature is magic, Brahman is the magician, human beings infatuate with the magic and thus creating bondage to illusions and delusions, and for freedom and liberation one must seek true insights and correct knowledge of the principles behind the hidden magic. Gaudapada in his Karika on Mandukya Upanishad explains the interplay of Atman and Maya as follows,
The Soul is imagined first, then the particularity of objects,
External and internal, as one knows so one remembers.
As a rope, not perceived distinctly in dark, is erroneously imagined,
As snake, as a streak of water, so is the Soul (Atman) erroneously imagined.
As when the rope is distinctly perceived, and the erroneous imagination withdrawn,
Only the rope remains, without a second, so when distinctly perceived, the Atman.
When he as Pranas (living beings), as all the diverse objects appears to us,
Then it is all mere Maya, with which the Brahman (Supreme Soul) deceives himself.
—Gaudapada, Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.16-19
If every behavior has to be rule by a gene I muse, in my daily commute to work wonder what gene rules exiting the bus by the front door, despite the automated voice at every stop warning to leave by the two back doors, and the many signs saying so on the bus, instead many people like to jam themselves against the incoming persons who are boarding the bus paying their fare, inconveniencing many, and delaying the bus in the process, now the whole thing it does not make any sense, if most people would walk away from the bus heading in the direction ahead of the bus, at least I could understand, they want to save 2 or 3 seconds, but my amazement grows when most of the time people after leaving the bus by the front door, head towards the opposite direction, the one the bus was coming, the back of the bus, they would have been better served by exiting through the back doors, without inconveniencing anybody! How do you explain that?
What about a gene for the ones who despite many empty seats on the bus, like to ride gunshot standing near the driver, in the narrowest place of the bus, inconveniencing incoming people, and the ones who try to jam their way out through the front door, with the added risk of exiting the bus through the windshield, if the bus has to break suddenly?
Trying to use genes for explaining human behavior is nonsense, hubris, and a waste of time. What about looking for a gene for behavioral Idiocy?
Infatuation is the state of being completely carried away by unreasoning passion
or love; addictive love. Infatuation usually occurs at the beginning of relationship
when sexual attraction is central.
“They do not love that do not show their love.
The course of true love never did run smooth. Love is a familiar.
Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but Love.”
“Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed night;
Give me my Romeo; and, when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night…”
Our Cultural Attitudes About Love
It always bother me when reading, or watching the news how easy we presuppose that our way, it’s not only the best way, but far vast superior to other cultures ways, like for example love. In our culture we are free to choose our partner in love or at least we believe to be so, a young man, or woman can choose the love partner of their choice, and be happier ever after. This simplistic notion we extol everywhere, movies, novels, etc. And no wonder we take for granted, ignoring that not long ago (relatively speaking on historical time) we didn’t had the same social practices on matters of marriage, and romance as we know it, well in fact they didn’t exist!
Actually up to a a little more than a hundred years ago, most people wouldn’t marry anyone that wasn’t chosen by the family members, or at least approved by them, I dare to say that up to this day even if you have the freedom to fall in love, or marry whoever you want, to bring it to the members of your family for approval, can be a little bit of a challenge, since we all know many other factors, and considerations weight on the balance beside your infatuation for that particular person, this could be economic, religious, education, social class, race, age, political, etc. We all know that love it’s not the only factor that counts for a successful union, however we extol the love factor in our culture through our media, novels, movies, etc. That it appears as the only factor that matters, which it’s of course untrue.
Infatuation or what it pass for love in our culture
Sheri Meyers a family and marriage therapist writes:
“Love — a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker.” — Author Unknown
Ahh… love. Is there anything else that feels quite so sublime?
Your heart’s pounding, you’re flush with excitement and giddy with anticipation. You jump every time your smartphone pings you with a text, hoping it’s from them. You can’t focus on your work. You’ve lost your appetite for food because you’re reminiscing about how delicious it feels to be in their arms.
Nobody “gets” you the way your sweetheart does. The connection you feel with them is out of this world. It’s as if you’ve known each other your entire life. You can barely stand to be apart.
You have no qualms announcing your good news to your friends and family — you’ve finally found “the one”!
Along with the dizzying heights, there are the terrifying lows, too. They forget to call and you’re anxious. They are in a bad mood and you obsess over whether it’s your fault. They express their doubts about the relationship and you’re in agony for days.
In spite of the occasional pain and uncertainty, the sheer magnitude of emotion just proves how much you love each other — or so you believe.
If this isn’t real love, what is? Right?
Actually, not so fast.”
As a relationship therapist, whenever I hear my clients describe their relationship as an all-consuming, exhilarating, obsessive tidal wave of emotion, I know that what they’re describing isn’t real love, but an immature, attachment-based infatuation.
Are you focusing solely on how your partner makes you feel, both good and bad? How empty life feels when you are apart from each other? How you want your partner to change so that you can maintain the high? How you’ve never felt like this before and the relationship is everything you’ve ever wanted? Do you feel more whole now because this person is in your life? Chances are, when you’re obsessing on what you’re feeling, needing and wanting from the relationship, you’re experiencing an immature, attachment-focused infatuation, not real love.
With infatuation, you create unrealistic expectations and beliefs about your partner in order to maintain that incredible high. You expect that because you love each other, the relationship should always feel good and that your needs should naturally be fulfilled. You can’t stand the thought that relationships do take work, don’t always feel perfect or that your partner won’t change in order to please you. When things go awry, you shut down, cling or pull away, and fear that the relationship is over.”
History of Courtly Love
The conception of romantic love was popularized in Western culture by the concept of courtly love. Chevaliers, or knights in the Middle Ages, engaged in what were usually non-physical and non-marital relationships with women of nobility of whom they served. These relations were highly elaborate and ritualized in a complexity that was steeped in a framework of tradition, which stemmed from theories of etiquette derived out of chivalry as a moral code of conduct.
Courtly love and the notion of domnei were often the subjects of troubadours, and could be typically found in artistic endeavors such as lyrical narratives and poetic prose of the time. Since marriage was commonly nothing more than a formal arrangement, courtly love sometimes permitted expressions of emotional closeness which may have been lacking from the union between husband and wife. In terms of courtly love, “lovers” did not necessarily refer to those engaging in sexual acts, but rather, to the act of caring and to emotional intimacy.
The bond between a knight and his Lady, or the woman of typically high stature of whom he served, may have escalated psychologically but seldom ever physically. For knighthood during the Middle Ages, the intrinsic importance of a code of conduct was in large part as a value system of rules codified as a guide to aid a knight in his capacity as champion of the downtrodden, but especially in his service to the Lord.
In the context of dutiful service to a woman of high social standing, ethics designated as a code were effectively established as an institution to provide a firm moral foundation by which to combat the idea that unfit attentions and affections were to ever be tolerated as “a secret game of trysts” behind closed doors. Therefore, a knight trained in the substance of “chivalry” was instructed, with especial emphasis, to serve a lady most honorably, with purity of heart and mind. To that end, he committed himself to the welfare of both Lord and Lady with unwavering discipline and devotion, while at the same time, presuming to uphold core principles set forth in the code by the religion by which he followed.
Religious meditations upon the Virgin Mary were partially responsible for the development of chivalry as an ethic and lifestyle: the concept of the honor of a lady and knightly devotion to her, coupled with an obligatory respect for all women, factored prominently as central to the very identity of medieval knighthood. As knights were increasingly emulated, eventual changes were reflected in the inner-workings of feudal society. Members of the aristocracy were schooled in the principles of chivalry, which facilitated important changes in attitudes regarding the value of women.
Behaviorally, the manner in which a knight was to regard himself towards a lady, was with a transcendence of premeditated thought; his virtue ingrained within his character. A chevalier was to conduct himself always graciously, bestowing upon her the utmost courtesy and attentiveness. He was to echo shades of this to all women, regardless of class, age, or status. Over time, the concept of chivalry and the notion of the courtly gentleman became synonymous with the ideal of how love and romance should exist between the sexes. Through the timeless popularization in art and literature of tales of knights and princesses, kings and queens, a formative and long standing (sub)consciousness helped to shape relationships between men and women.
De amore or The Art of Courtly Love, as it is known in English, was written in the 12th century. The text is widely misread as permissive of extramarital affairs. However, it is useful to differentiate the physical from without: romantic love as separate and apart from courtly love when interpreting such topics as: “Marriage is no real excuse for not loving”, “He who is not jealous cannot love”, “No one can be bound by a double love”, and “When made public love rarely endures”.
Some believe that romantic love evolved independently in multiple cultures. For example, in an article presented by Henry Grunebaum, he argues “therapists mistakenly believe that romantic love is a phenomenon unique to Western cultures and first expressed by the troubadours of the Middle Ages.”
The more current and Western traditional terminology meaning “court as lover” or the general idea of “romantic love” is believed to have originated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, primarily from that of the French culture. This idea is what has spurred the connection between the words “romantic” and “lover,” thus coining English phrases for romantic love such as “loving like the Romans do.” The precise origins of such a connection are unknown, however. Although the word “romance” or the equivalents thereof may not have the same connotation in other cultures, the general idea of “romantic love” appears to have crossed cultures and been accepted as a concept at one point in time or another.
Love Marriage Versus Arranged Marriage?
Arranged marriages last longer than love marriages! Here is the reason. For two persons to get along in a close relationship, they have a greater chance of succeeding if they are alike. In arranged marriages – still practiced in Japan and India- the elders in a family look for a partner, seeking one of similar background, religion and ethnicity. In love marriages, the assumption that “love conquers all” is patently false, for love will eventually fade and then you will be faced with a person dissimilar and often opposed to your lifestyle. This makes the getting along more difficult, resulting in sequential marriages. This does not bode well for kids, for they need both parents to raise them.
Arranged marriages, offer more protection and security to the women as the parents decide the family. Parents make use of their maturity and decision while choosing suitable spouses for their children. The decision of parents sometimes helps to make the right choice. But it doesn’t mean that arranged marriages are ideal marriages.
A good marriage is based on love, respect, trust, commitment, compatibility, loyalty, common views and opinions, and being willing to constantly work on your marriage. And you have to be good to each other, as well as good for each other. Think of a marriage as a living, breathing being, which needs constant nurturing. You can’t neglect it, nor can you abuse it, and expect it to work.
The above it’s well known for those who study dating, or in the dating industry, I will add my two cents in to the pot, if you get in to a boxing match, you better know what you are doing, I mean you got to study under an expert, train frequently and with dedication, and be ready to go through punishment and pain, lots of it! You may find the analogy hideous, but it’s naive in the part for most couples to go in to marriage just for the initial infatuation, and for our misguided ideas about romantic love.
Unfortunately our culture it’s not good at prevention, we get lots of help, but only after the fact! Kind like our medicine, it’s only after they roll you out of the operation room that a new life it’s possible for you through diet, and exercise, and stop eating all that junk food that is high in carbs, sugars, fats, and low in nutrients, but that nevertheless it’s easily available everywhere 24/7! Just like romance movies or novels with happy endings, but you never hear of a class in college named: “How to pick a partner for life” or “Before marriage, you should be prepared” Or see many romantic movies where our happy couple end in disappointment, instead we go instilling the idea that infatuation, so call romance is the way to go, and we toss aside any other consideration, and to make things worse we publicly deride Cultures were our way is not their way, and look at them with a highbrow, compassionate attitude: “Oh my God, the poor things, veils, arranged marriages, so barbarous!”
Of course all this can be easily rebuffed saying there is nothing to impede you to go in to marriage with your eyes wide open, and not to drink from our fairytale social culture waters, and be practical, but in the meantime you go through a cultural barrage as a young person of romantic ideals, that are nothing but hogwash, were the only warning sign for those alert are the tabloids at the check out counter at the market!
As to what is real love?
Well, for the sake of brevity, we will talk about in a future post.
And from its midst was the likeness of four living beings,
And this is their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.
And [each] one had four faces, and [each] one had four wings.
And their legs were straight legs, and the soles of their feet were
like a round foot, and they sparkled like the color of burnished copper.
And human hands were beneath their wings on their four sides,
And their faces and their wings were [the same] to all four of them.
Their wings joined one to the other; they did not turn when they
Walked; each one would go toward the direction of his face.
And the likeness of their faces was the face of a man,
And the face of a lion was on their right, to the four of them,
And the face of an ox to their left, to the four of them,
And the face of an eagle [was] to the four of them.
Ezekiel – Chapter 1. 5-10
Axial Precession or the Precession of the Equinoxes
In astronomy, axial precession is a gravity-induced, slow, and continuous change in the orientation of an astronomical body’s rotational axis. In particular, it refers to the gradual shift in the orientation of Earth’s axis of rotation, which, similar to a wobbling top, traces out a pair of cones joined at their apices in a cycle of approximately 25,920 years.The term “precession” typically refers only to this largest part of the motion; other changes in the alignment of Earth’s axis – nutation and polar motion – are much smaller in magnitude.
Earth’s precession was historically called the precession of the equinoxes, because the equinoxes moved westward along the ecliptic relative to the fixed stars, opposite to the yearly motion of the Sun along the ecliptic. This term is still used in non-technical discussions, that is, when detailed mathematics are absent. Historically, Hipparchus has been credited with discovering the precession of the equinoxes, although evidence from cuneiform tablets suggest that his statements and mathematics relied heavily on Babylonian astronomical materials that had existed for many centuries prior. The exact dates of his life are not known, but astronomical observations attributed to him by Ptolemy date from 147 BC to 127 BC.
With improvements in the ability to calculate the gravitational force between and among planets during the first half of the nineteenth century, it was recognized that the ecliptic itself moved slightly, which was named planetary precession, as early as 1863, while the dominant component was named lunisolar precession.Their combination was named general precession, instead of precession of the equinoxes. Lunisolar precession is caused by the gravitational forces of the Moon and Sun on Earth’s equatorial bulge, causing Earth’s axis to move with respect to inertial space. Planetary precession (an advance) is due to the small angle between the gravitational force of the other planets on Earth and its orbital plane (the ecliptic), causing the plane of the ecliptic to shift slightly relative to inertial space. Lunisolar precession is about 500 times greater than planetary precession.In addition to the Moon and Sun, the other planets also cause a small movement of Earth’s axis in inertial space, making the contrast in the terms lunisolar versus planetary misleading, so in 2006 the International Astronomical Union recommended that the dominant component be renamed, the precession of the equator, and the minor component be renamed, precession of the ecliptic, but their combination is still named general precession. Many references to the old terms exist in publications predating the change.
This of course it’s only the astronomical point of view, of celestial mechanics,to understand the phenomena of the precession, but little to do with the Ancient interpretations of this movement denominated by some of them as the Platonic Year. The Platonic Year was named after Plato (427 – 347 BC) because of his conviction of the intimate relationship between space and time. Plato believed that the heavens were “designed” by God for the measurement of time. He called one complete cycle of the bodies a ‘Perfect Year’.
Although there is no written testimony of a recognition of precession before the Greeks, it is clear from Greek testimony (such as from Aristotle), that Egyptian and Babylonian sciences were shrouded in mystery and only available to the ‘initiated’. However, this lack of written evidence by no means precludes such knowledge from being understood, as the numbers that represent the precessionary cycle, can be found in the dimensions of ‘sacred’ structures and mythologies from around the ancient world as the following examples illustrate.
Turkey – (See Metsamor). First recorded division of the sky into 12 equal parts. Metsamor was identified by Livvio Stecchini as an ancient oracle centre. It lies at the foot of Mount Ararat, and archaeology has shown that the area was home to a sophisticated culture that was present in Anatolia from c. 6,000 BC.
Sumeria – Gudea, a ruler of ‘Lagash’, of Sumeria, recorded that he was given instructions in a vision. “A wise man that shone like the heaven,“ by whose side stood “a divine bird,” “commanded me to build this temple”. Gudea employed a male ‘diviner, maker of decisions’, and a female ‘searcher of secrets’ to locate the site. He then recruited 216,000 people for the job. (23).
Babylon – The Babylonian historian Berossus (third century BC) ascribed a total reign of 432,000 years (120shar’s of 3,600 yrs each), to the mythical Kings who ruled the land of Sumer before the flood. He also ascribed a period of 2,160,000 years to the period ‘between creation and universal catastrophe’. (21)
The King-List known as W-B/144, records the following:-
‘when kingship was lowered from heaven, kingship was first in Eridu’
The following lengths of time were given for each ruler:-
Alulim – 28,000 yrs Alalgar – 36,000 yrs Enmenluanna – 43,200 yrs Enmengalanna – 28,800 yrs Dumuzi – 36,000 yrs Ensipazianna – 21,600 yrs Uburtutu – 18,000 yrs
The Sumerian text W-B/62, adds Larsa and its two divine rulers to the King-List, also multiples of 3,600. (23).
We can be fairly sure that the Sumerians were aware of the cycle, as we can see from the table above that it offers a natural division of both time and space into 360°, from units of 6 and 10. The Sumerians are the earliest culture to measure both time and space in units of 6 and 10. A system called the Hexi-decimal system.
Remarkably, time and space are still measured today by the same units of measurement. For example, we can see the year divided by 12 months, with each day being divided by 24 hours, each one divisible by 60 minutes, and each minute by a further 60 seconds. Similarly, the earth is divided by 360 degrees, each degree being divisible by 60 ‘minutes and each minute by a further 60 ‘seconds’ of an arc.
China – Early Jesuit scholars, who were among the first Europeans to visit China had the opportunity in the imperial library, to study a vast work consisting of 4,320 volumes, said to have been handed down from ancient times and to contain ‘all knowledge’. This great book included a number of traditions which told of the consequences that followed when mankind rebelled against the high gods and the system of the universe fell into disorder’: ‘The planets altered their courses. The sky sank lower towards the north. The Sun, moon and stars changed their motions. The earth fell to pieces and the waters in its bosom rushed upwards with violence and overflowed the earth’. Extract from (21).
The Great Pyramid of Giza.
It has been shown that the exterior measurements of the ‘Great’ Pyramid of Giza are an accurate representation of the Earth’s’ northern hemisphere on a scale of 1:43,200.
A number that proves highly significant when one considers the method of doubling/halving the numbers that was used in ancient Egypt (kemi)
25,920 years / 12 = 2,160 (x 2 = 4,320)
In relation to this, it has been pointed out that the possibility may exist whereby the numbers expressing the Precessionary cycle (Approx’ 26,000 years), when viewed as fractals may be translated into the 60-based system of degrees (26° 00′ 00″). Modern pocket electronic calculators have a key (DD>DMS) for this function.
The Platonic Year of 25,920 years would produce the following numbers:
25.92 (doubled) = 51.84 where, 51.84° is 51° 50′ 24″.
In other words, the angle of inclination 51° 50′ 24″ would express the decimal number 51.84°, which is the fractal expression of double the 25,920 Platonic Year number (25920 x 2 = 51840).
This would mean that the angle of inclination cited by Piazzi Smyth for the Great pyramid of Giza of 51° 51′ 14″ would reflect the decimal number 51.85399° or the fractal halved to that of 25,926.995 years (51,85399/2=25,926.995). A number which appears at very least, an extraordinary coincidence considering the astronomical references to the pyramid throughout history.
From the Ox Apis to the Water Bearer
An astrological age is a time period in astrologic mythology which astrologers claim parallel major changes in the development of Earth’s inhabitants, particularly relating to culture, society and politics. There are twelve astrological ages corresponding to the twelve zodiacal signs in western astrology. At the completion of one cycle of twelve astrological ages, the cycle is claimed to repeat itself every 25,920 years.
The Age of Aquarius is an astrological term denoting either the current or forthcoming astrological age, depending on the method of calculation. Astrologers maintain that an astrological age is a product of the earth’s slow precessional rotation and lasts for 2,160 years, on average (25,920) year period of precession / 12 zodiac signs = 2,160 years).
There are various methods of calculating the length of an astrological age. In sun-sign astrology, the first sign is Aries, followed by Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces, whereupon the cycle returns to Aries and through the zodiacal signs again. Astrological ages, however, proceed in the opposite direction (“retrograde” in astronomy). The Platonic year because it’s base on the Axial Precession of the Equinox runs in retrograde, Leo, Cancer, Gemini, Taurus, Aries, Pisces, therefore, now we are beginning the Age of Aquarius.
Dr. Serge Raynaud de la Ferriere a Scientist and an Astrologer who studied the Religious cycles or Ages from the Platonic year and the ancient cultures of the World wrote last century on the forties:
“Speaking of God is to the sky that we look at, as from early ages man has raised his eyes towards the sky, and the myriads of stars have had to intrigue (we now know that it exists by the hundred of millions, of which roughly 6,000 are visible to the naked eye).
When one rises to look at these stars, how not to find so many parallels that make us understand the homogeneity of the Great Whole? Microcosm and macrocosm are closely linked and Dr. Lavezzeri already revealed the curious relationship between astronomical life and human life.
The heartbeats from a man in good health are at 72, the same employing the sun to move one degree across the sky on the Platonic year.
The heart beats 4 times when we breathe once, ie the number of breaths per minute is 18, corresponding to the 4 seasons and 18 years of nutation of the Earth’s axis under the lunar influence.
As for the 25,920 breaths in 24 hours, remind us of the precession of the equinoxes, by the number of years the famous Great Cycle, which finally closed its Zodiacal constellations turn; there also derive the great precessional Eras: (25,920 / 12 = 2160 years by sign) and from 4320-2160 before of the Christian era, the Cycle of TAURUS symbolized Egypt, Chaldea, etc. Then came the era of ARIES that transformed religion: Moses forbade the Jews worshiping the Golden Calf (Apis Ox). The Christian Era corresponds to the sun penetrating since the year I was in the new sign of PISCES (Did not Jesus was represented by this emblem?).
Naturally this symbolism is not of absolute precision, but it should be noted that the large cycles mark the history of the World and it’s people.
Obviously the history of mankind is not cut into equal pieces because everyone knows that winter comes a little in the Spring; the summer often extends over the Fall; therefore the fact of passing in to another sign does not imply an abrupt renewal; however, all the Great Civilizations are characterized by the precessional motion, which makes many say we approach the Golden Age.
The Age of AQUARIUS must effectively symbolize a new cycle of 2000 years or so and make a renewal. Some are based to enunciate as a result of the discovery of the splitting of the atom, calling our age Atomic Age, which can be symbolized by the planet Uranus characterizes sudden events and governs precisely the sign of AGUADOR (Aquarius).”
The Ages or Cycles
Every zodiac Age has a particular symbolism that affect the destiny of History, and the tendencies of the particular age in question, according to some students of the occult the half of the Ages are Positive, and half Negative in polarity manifesting the characteristics of the Zodiac sign that rules at the time.
“The Age of Earth, I have, or I want, Agriculture and the Bull” This age is claimed to have occurred approximately around the time of the building of the Pyramids in Egypt.
Religious similarities Bull worshiping cults began to form in India Assyria, Egypt and Crete during this mythological age.
Ankh: thoracic vertebra of a bull – Egyptian symbol of life
Worship of Apis, the bull-deity (see also Bull (mythology)), the most important of all the sacred animals in Egypt, said to be instituted during the Second Dynasty of the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt and worshipped in the Memphis region until the New Kingdom (16th century BC).
When Moses was said to have descended from the mountain with the ten commandments (c. 17th – 13th century BC, the end of the Age of Taurus), some of his people or followers were found by him to be worshipping a golden bull calf. He instructed these worshippers to be killed. This represents Moses “killing” the bull and ending the Age of Taurus, and ushering in the Age of Aries, which he represents.
“The Age of War, Fire and the Ram”
Historical similarities Aries represents a Fire symbol as well as bold actions, a lot of these behaviors can be seen during any age. However, the themes emphasized during this age relate to courage, initiative, war and adventure. Nations during this age such as the expanding empires of China, Persia, Greece and Rome, are often cited as examples of the archetypes of Aries in action. Also the Aries constellation shows a ram running. This could correspond with the sacrifice of Abraham’s Ram. While the number of names containing the sound of the ram during this period is noted: Ra (Sun God), Ram, Rama, Brahman, Brahma, Abram/Abraham, Amon Ra, and Ramesses I. The battering ram was employed by the Assyrians, Greeks and Romans with great success during this time. (The symbol of Mars, the planetary ruler of Aries, evokes this interpretation.) According to the Roman state religion, the Roman people were the “Sons of Mars”.
Aries is associated with the metal iron, and iron ore was for the first time smelted and worked into iron swords in Anatolia during the early phase of this era, replacing the heavier, softer-metaled, duller-edged bronze swords of the previous Taurus Age.
Traits of Aries such as ‘initiative’ may suggest the explosion of originality in the development of social aspects, sciences and arts in regions such as Ancient Greece but at the same time traits such as ‘Impulsivity’ may be attributed to the various Wars of the time.
Religious similarities The Age of Aries ushered in efforts to replace polytheism with monotheism. The earliest known attempt was by the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, who, in about 1350 BC, decreed the Sun God Aten to be the supreme deity, apparently in reaction to his earlier lack of inclusion in religious rites by his family. After his death, however, power reverted to the original polytheistic priests, who re-established the old religion. Speculation (including that of Freud) has it that later, during the reign of Ramesses II, Moses was influenced by Akhenaten’s revolutionary idea, and grasped the idea of a single supreme God, who especially favored his people, as an inspirational mechanism that best suited his people held in bondage. The symbol of Aries can be seen as representing the power of multiple gods streaming down into a single god-head.
Moses (born c. 16th–13th century BC; 7 Adar 2368 – 7 Adar 2488 in the Hebrew calendar), an early Biblical Hebrew religious leader, lawgiver, prophet, and military leader, condemns his own people upon finding them worshiping a ‘golden calf’ (a symbol of the previous Age of Taurus and of the worship of the bull deity) after coming down Mount Sinai. These events may have occurred during the Age of Aries.
The Age of Pisces is – The Age of Monotheism (one God), Spirituality, and the Fish. It is characterized by the rise of many religions such as Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. This represents the “spiritual” nature of Pisces. Throughout most of Pisces though this spiritual side is for the most part seen as the truth hidden behind the five senses. Spirituality was seen in relation to the world, not through an innate knowing of divinity. And the fact many Religions reverted to, or adopted the old pagan Gods in to saints, adopting a middle ground where idolatry was not abandoned completely, and where most of the times what you preach it’s not what you do, look at the great religious wars in the name of God all through the Age of Pisces.
The Fall of Rome began at the beginning of this Age
As with all Great Cycle changes the Age of Pisces began with chaos. Rome fell and chaos was rampant as the great change of power began. It was the birthing of the Middle Ages.
Egypt’s Isis was dropped and Mary mother of Jesus came into being replacing her near the close of the Age of Aries. Jesus is said to have been born of the Virgin Mary. Virgo is the polar opposite sign of Pisces. The Age of Pisces also represents charity, mercy, sacrifice, compassion and pardon, which are the virtues taught and lived by Jesus.
Water played a prominent role in the teachings of Jesus, and Pisces is a water sign. The fish is the symbol of Pisces. Many of Jesus’ gatherings were near lakes and water. Fish were a big part of the diet of Jesus, his disciples and the multitudes. Water was used to baptize the people.
Jesus was sacrificed because he was the “Lamb” of God. This represents the sacrificing of the RAM of Aries, which ended the Age of Aries the astrological age before Pisces.
Earlier on in the Age of Pisces, the Europeans, the Vikings, and more integrated with other cultures on mass. In recent history, China, India and much of the East have found their economic might and now the economies of the West are totally reliant on this trade. The East and West have merged as never before making it difficult for wars and other negative activities to continue.
Religious wars have been ramped during Pisces, with people killing others simply because they didn’t have the same religious beliefs. No specific religions need be singled out, since this phenomena occurred throughout most of the “civilized” world from East to West. The value of organized religion should diminish as the grip of Pisces comes to a close.
On the other hand the Age of Pisces has also been a very spiritual age. Monasteries, ashrams, temples, and pilgrimages, all came into being during this age. Many started “on the path” back to the creator. But few were able to get to it because they were heavily tied to the senses. This searching will come to fruition in the Age of Aquarius and the greater meaning of things will be known.
The Piscean Age is a time of gentleness, materialism and artistry, but also it’s impracticality. This is possibly due to the rise in the European empires. To the spiritually undeveloped person Pisces represents “servitude.” To the disciple or aspirant, the vision of “service to humanity…world savior” as Jesus, came to the forefront. Good recent examples are Mother Theresa and the Dali Lama.
During the Age of Pisces, we were told what to BELIVE (Pisces word I believe) through religions, authority figures, dictators, etc. These powers have been losing ground and the shift is towards “power over self.” This debacle of power will escalate now that the Age of Pisces has ended.
The Age of Aquarius
Aquarius sign it’s represented by a man bearing a pitcher of water, represented Ganymede who was abducted by Zeus from Mount Ida, near Troy in Phrygia. Ganymede had been tending sheep, a rustic or humble pursuit characteristic of a hero’s boyhood before his privileged status is revealed. Zeus either sent an eagle or turned himself into an eagle to transport the youth to Mount Olympus.
In Olympus, Zeus granted him eternal youth and immortality and the office of cupbearer to the gods, supplanting Hebe. Edmund Veckenstedt associated Ganymede with the genesis of the intoxicating drink mead, which had a traditional origin in Phrygia. All the gods were filled with joy to see the youth, except for Hera, Zeus’s consort, who regarded Ganymede as a rival for her husband’s affection. Zeus later put Ganymede in the sky as the constellation Aquarius, which is associated with that of the Eagle (Aquila). A moon of Jupiter, the planet named for Zeus’s Roman counterpart, was named Ganymede by astronomer Simon Marius.
Plato accounts for the pederasty aspect of the myth by attributing its origin to Crete, where the social custom of paiderastía was supposed to have originated. He has Socrates deny that Ganymede was the “catamite” of Zeus, and say the god loved him non-sexually for his psychē, “mind” or “soul,” giving the etymology of his name as ganu-, “taking pleasure,” and mēd-, “mind.” Ganymede, he points out, was the only one of Zeus’s lovers who was granted immortality. This points to the new general tendencies of using drugs as mind alter substances some with the purpose of ecstatic states of consciousness, therefore the symbolic “Eagle rapture.”
We talked briefly as to when the Aquarius age started or would start, there is many opinions on the subject, my opinion is that we are already in it, I wouldn’t put a date to it but events like the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the invention of the airplane, rockets, the Atomic bomb, the landing of the Moon, the satellites, and the exploration of Space, the switch form a Newtonian physics, to an Einstein Relativity, to a Quantum physics, Electricity, Telegraph, Radio, TV, and now Computers, Robotics, Nanotechnology, and all kind of breathless advances in Science, that it’s hard to keep pace with it, the fact that science, reason, and a new spirit of emancipation it’s sweeping the World at all levels, equality for women, gays, (Ganymede the water bearer) and the oppressed no longer tied to ancient dogmas, or beliefs, talk loudly of leaving the age of Pisces behind.
John 14. 12
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Luke 22. 10
And he said unto them, Behold, when you are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he enters in.
The Age of Aquarius encourage us to look beyond the five senses and experience true living by relying on our guidance from within. Aquarius will be an Age when we truly realize that the love we show towards our brothers is the love we feel towards ourselves. This represents the oneness of all things which fosters unconditional love.
Science and technology will be used to improve human and environmental situations on earth, and not for monetary gain. We will finally know the true meaning of “progress.” In the Aquarian Age progress will represent decisions or activities where ALL things and people gain from the change. Sound impossible? It’s not.
We will finally KNOW (Aquarius word) we are not “victims” of circumstances, but the “creators” of our experiences. We are also the ones to change our earthly situation. The focus will be on making our lives a heaven on earth.
Now here I am expressing many opinions about this subject, if I agree with some of these views and predictions, do not necessary share all these diverse, and wide views, but agree in a transformation of Human consciousness towards ways of life with a lot of more Wisdom, that in the past, were the study of History it’s mainly the study of Human conflict, wars, conquest, empires, and the Geopolitical shaping of the Earth through these methods. Also would like to express that the subject matter is too big to put it here in a single post, so by the sake of brevity, omit many other great information.
A new way of thinking, acting, and living it’s not only possible, but now on it’s way.
Alchemy it’s not the pseudoscience of transforming
Base metals in to gold as many naïve Individuals who
May believe to be just Hocus Pocus tales, or at best the
Beginning of chemistry, but Alchemy it’s the art to
Elevate our souls from the gross in to the
Sublime. The true alchemist is the one who
Through the hardship of the furnace (life)
He is capable through time and effort
To bring change in to his soul
And become transformed, analogous to be
The “Materia prima” transformed in to the
Body of Light, or the gold seek by the
Titus Burckhardt on alchemy
To make of the body a spirit and of the spirit a body”: this adage sums up the whole of alchemy. Gold itself, which represents outwardly the fruit of the work, appears as an opaque body become luminous, or as a light become solid. Transposed into the human and spiritual order, gold is bodily consciousness transmuted into spirit, or spirit fixed in the body.
For the base metal, which represents the material ready to be worked, is none other than consciousness linked with the body and as if steeped in it. It is the “metallic body” from which must be extracted the “soul” and “spirit,” which are Mercury and Sulphur. If the body were not an inner reality it could not serve as material for the spiritual work.
With the average man, “to know” and “to be” are polarized, as it were, in thought and bodily consciousness; the first represents an intelligence separated from the being of its objects; whereas the second is a passive state of being and as if bereft of intelligence. This dichotomy is noticeable even in the dream state, where the psychic form of the body is more or less detached from its sensory form. The return to the Centre, to the heart considered as “place” of the spirit, will comprise an integration and something like a reversal of the two poles: bodily consciousness will become in its way intelligent; it will transmute itself into a static state of knowledge, and at the same time thought—or the mentality—will crystallize out under the lightning action of the spirit.
This transmutation from spirit into body and from body into spirit can be found in a more or less direct and unmistakable manner in every method of spiritual realization; alchemy, however, has made it its principal theme, in conformity with the metallurgic symbolism founded on the possibility of changing the “state of aggregation” of a body.
At the beginning of the work, the bodily consciousness is chaotic and obscure. It is then compared to lead and the “order” which corresponds to this state of “matter” is attributed to Saturn. This planet represents the principle of condensation, and it is this which explains its seemingly contradictory assignment to the metal lead among things corporeal and to reason among the faculties of the soul; in relation to the existential dimension of the other faculties, reason is like a point without extension. The polarity of thought and bodily consciousness, the opposition “spirit”—“body”, is thus to be found in the nature of Saturn, and this corroborates the hostile character, impeding and even sinister, which this planet assumes in divinatory astrology.
On the plane of method, saturnine condensation becomes concentration; the intelligence withdraws from the exterior to the interior; having become a single point it submerges itself in the inner darkness of the body.
According to alchemical doctrine every metal is constituted by the more or less perfect union of two principles called Sulphur and Mercury; just as bodily consciousness, assimilated to metal as transformer, is woven from these two principles or subtle forces, at the same time opposite and complementary; Sulphur, which is male, and Mercury, which is female, are combined in the chaotic bodily consciousness—or in the base metal—in a manner in which they neutralize or shackle one another.
Basil Valentine writes: “Where soul, spirit and metallic form are present, there, too, must be found quicksilver, sulphur and metallic salt….”Therefore he likens Mercury to the soul and Sulphur to the spirit, and it is thus that the two principles should be understood, always bearing in mind the fact that alchemy considers these primarily as powers or forces co-operating on the same plane of “nature.” If it happens that the same author, or other alchemists, call Mercury “spirit,” it must be understood that its “volatile” nature is here opposed to that of inert or solid bodies; in this sense both Sulphur and Mercury are “spirits.” On the other hand, Mercury, as “substance” of the inner or psychic form of the body, corresponds to the vital principle, intermediary between soul and body.
According to Galen, the vital spirit is a very pure substance distributed in cosmic space, and which the heart assimilates by a process analogous to respiration, thus transforming it into animal life. It is easy to see that this corresponds to the role of prana, the “vital breath,” as conceived by the Hindus; its employment in laya-yoga, the “yoga of solution,” appears to be exactly analogous to the use to which the alchemists put their “universal solvent.”
Just as breathing rhythmically re-establishes the link between the physical organism and the cosmic environment (a tie which the progressive solidification of the body tends to break) so this parallel, but more intimate, assimilation of the vital breath maintains the continuity between the psychic form of the body and the cosmic substance. Brother Marcanton writes on this subject: “It is not that I do not know that your secret Mercury is none other than a living spirit, universal and innate, which ceaselessly descends from heaven to earth, in the form of an aerial vapor, to replenish its porous belly, and is then born amongst the impure Sulphurs, and in growing passes from a volatile to a fixed nature, giving to itself the “radical humid” form. The “porous belly” of the earth here corresponds to the human body; as for the “impure Sulphurs” they are nothing but the gross bodies confining, as it were, their Sulphur, which is their formal principle, In allying itself with the psychic form of the body, Mercury is solidified, so to speak, while forming at the same time its “humid radical,” its hyle,or plastic substance.
With regard to ordinary mercury, it is noteworthy that, alone amongst metals known to antiquity and the Middle Ages, it occurs normally under the liquid aspect which evaporates under the action of the craftsman’s fire; it is thus, at one and the same time, both a “body” and a “spirit.” Through it gold and silver can be liquefied; it also extracts the noble metal from a mixture of impure and insoluble minerals; the amalgam being exposed to the fire expels the mercury and lays bare the gold.
Just as common mercury forms an amalgam with gold, so subtle Mercury contains the germ of spiritual gold; the vital breath, while being “humid” by nature, as with the feminine cosmic energy—the Shakti of Hindu doctrine—carries the igneous principle of life. Reduced to its universal prototype, Mercury corresponds to the primordial ocean of Hindu mythology, to Prakriti, which carries Hiranyagharba, the golden embryo of the world.
Conformably with this universal prototype, Mercury includes a maternal aspect; more precisely, it is itself the maternal aspect or power of the materia of the world of the soul. On this account alchemists sometimes give it the name—a little disconcertingly—of the “menstruum”; they mean by that the blood of the matrix which nourishes the embryo as long as it does not flow outwards to become corrupted; Mercury indeed nourishes the spiritual embryo enclosed in the hermetic vessel.
It is through bodily consciousness, apparently closed in on itself, and within its innermost enclosure that the alchemist recovers this cosmic substance, Mercury. In order to “win it over” he relies on a bodily function such as respiration, and this is significant for all spiritual arts related to alchemy; starting out from a physical modality, the consciousness, which is essentially intelligence, ascends through its own “sheaths” to arrive at the universal reality of which this modality is the reflection or echo. Such an integration cannot however be achieved without some kind of grace; moreover it presupposes a sacred framework as well as an attitude excluding every kind of promethean or egoistic adventure.
Mercury is thus, at the same time and according to the different planes of its manifestation, the subtle “breath” animating the body, the transient substance of the soul, lunar power, the materia of all the world of the soul, and finally the materia prima. Just as the universal energy which the Hindus call Shakti possesses not only a maternal but also a terrible and destructive aspect, so Mercury is at the same time the “water of life” and the “mortal poison”; that is to say its “humid” nature is generative or dissolvent, according to circumstances.
“Let us leave the compound” wrote Synesius,
take its simple (sic)for it is its quintessence. Observe that we have two bodies of great perfection (gold and silver, or the heart and blood) filled with quick-silver. Thence draw your quicksilver and you will make of it the draught, which is called quintessence, having a permanent and ever victorious power. It is a living light which illuminates every soul that has once beheld it. It is the knot and bond of all the elements, which it contains in itself, just as it is the spirit which nourishes and vivifies all things, and by means of which nature acts in the universe. It is the force, the beginning, the middle and the end of the work. To tell you all in a few words, know, my son, that the quintessence and the occult thing of our stone is no other than our viscous soul, heavenly and glorious, which we hold by our mastery of the ore-bearing mine which alone engenders it and that it is not in our power to make this water by any art, since nature alone can beget it. And this water is the sharp vinegar which makes a pure spirit from the body of gold. And I tell you, my son, take no account of any other things, for they are vain, but only of this water, which burns, whitens, dissolves and congeals. It is indeed that which decomposes, and that which makes to germinate.
Although Mercury, after the manner of universal substances, contains all natural qualities in potentiality—it is also often represented as androgynous—it is polarized in relation to Sulphur and manifests itself as cold and humid, while Sulphur manifests as warm and dry. It should be noted here that warmth and dryness, which are the two masculine qualities, correspond to expansion and solidification, and that the two feminine qualities of humidity and cold represent solution and contraction. To a certain extent Sulphur imitates, in a dynamic and indirect way, the action of the formal principle, of the essence, which “deploys” forms and “fixes” them in a certain plane of existence. Solution and contraction, on the other hand, which originate from Mercury, express the receptivity of the plastic or feminine principle, its faculty of embracing all forms without being held by them, as also its delimiting and separate action, which is an aspect of the materia.In the order of craftsmanship, the analogy of Sulphur with the formal principle is evinced in the coloring action of the former: thus the union of common sulphur and mercury produces cinnabar, in which the fluid mercury is at one and the same time fixed and colored by sulphur; now, in metallurgic symbolism color is analogous to quality, therefore to form, according to the traditional significance of the term. However, it should be stressed that cinnabar is only an imperfect product of the principles concerned, just as common sulphur and common mercury are not identical with the two alchemical principles they symbolize.
In the first phase of the work, it is the solidifying and coagulating action of Sulphur which is opposed to the liberation of Mercury, even as the contracting action of the latter neutralizes Sulphur. The knot is loosened by the growth of Mercury: to the extent which this dissolves the imperfect coagulation which is the “base metal,” the expanding warmth of Sulphur comes into play in its turn. At the beginning Mercury works against the solidifying power of Sulphur; but after that, it awakens its generative force, which manifests the true form of gold. Here we have the analogy of the love contest between man and woman; it is the feminine fascination which dissolves the “solidification” of the virile nature and awakens its power. It is sufficient here to remark that it is this fascination, spiritually canalized, which plays a certain part in Tantric methods.
In Les Noces Chymiques de Christian Rosencreutz, Johann Valentin Andréae narrates the following parable: “…a beautiful unicorn, white as snow, and wearing a gold collar inscribed with certain signs, advanced towards the fountain, and bending its front legs knelt as if to do obeisance to the lion who stood upright on the fountain. This lion, who because of his complete immobility seemed to be made of stone or brass, forthwith seized a naked sword which he held in his claws, and broke it in twain: I think the two halves fell in the fountain. Then the lion continued to roar until a white dove, carrying an olive branch in its beak, flew towards him as fast as it could; she gave the branch to the lion who swallowed it and became quiet once more. Then with joyous bounds the unicorn returned to her place.” The white unicorn, a lunary animal, is Mercury in its pure state. The lion is Sulphur, which being identified with the body of which it is the formal principle, appears at first immobile as a statue. By the homage of Mercury he wakes and begins to roar. His roaring is none other than his creative power: according to the Physiologus, the lion vivifies the still-born whelps by his voice. The lion breaks the sword of reason and the pieces fall in the fountain, where they will be dissolved. He does not stop roaring until the dove of the Holy Spirit gives him to eat the olive branch of knowledge. This seems to be the meaning of this parable of which Johann Valentin Andréae certainly was not the author.
In certain conditions, Sulphur, when fettered, is the reason and contains the gold of the spirit in a sterile state. This gold has first to be dissolved in the fountain of Mercury, in order to become the living “ferment” which will transform other metals into gold.
The first action of Mercury is to “whiten” the body. Artephius wrote:
The whole secret…is that we should know how to extract from the body of the Magnesia the non-burning quicksilver, which is Antimony, and the Mercurial Sublimate; that is to say, it is necessary to extract an incombustible living water, then to congeal it with the perfect body of the Sun, which is dissolved in it in a white substance, coagulated like cream, until it all becomes white. However, first the Sun, by the decomposition and solution it undergoes in this water, will lose its light, will be obscured and darkened; then it will rise on the water and, little by little, a white color and substance will float on the surface; it is this which is called whitening the red brass, its philosophical sublimation and reduction to its primary matter, that is to say, to incombustible white sulphur and fixed quicksilver. Thus, humid when limited, that is to say gold, our body, having undergone repeated liquefaction in our dissolvent water, will be converted and reduced to sulphur and fixed quicksilver; and in this way the perfect body of the sun will take life in this water and be vivified and inspired; it will wax and multiply in its own kind, as do all other things.…
The sun referred to by Artephius, which dies and is dissolved in the mercurial water before being reborn, is none other than the individual consciousness bound to the body, the bodily ego, as it were, which is only gold or sun in a latent condition. Alchemists often gave the name of “gold” or “sun” to that which is gold in a virtual sense.
The “whitening” of the “body” which follows the “blackening” is sometimes described as a dissolution of the body in the mercurial water and at other times as a separation of the soul from the body. This is because the reduction of bodily consciousness to its psychic substance causes the soul to withdraw from the sensory organs and go out, so to speak, into a “space” which is both inward and unlimited. “It mounts from Earth to Heaven—says the Emerald Tablet—and re-descends from Heaven to Earth, thus receiving the power of both superior and inferior things.” In the same way, one
speaks of a sublimation which has to be followed by a new coagulation.
When the inner consciousness is thus reduced to its primary matter, similar to the moon and silver, Sulphur reveals itself in its true nature, which is a power emanating from the mysterious center of the being, from its divine essence; it is the roaring of the solar lion, which is like a sonorous light, or a luminous sound. Sulphur “fixes” the fluid and ungraspable substance of Mercury by giving it a new form which is at the same time both body and spirit.
…natures change from one to the other, since the body incorporates the spirit, and the spirit changes the body into spirit both colored and white…boil it in our white water, that is in Mercury, until it is melted into blackness; then, through a continuous decoction, the blackness will disappear, and in the end the body thus dissolved will mount up with the white soul (bodily consciousness reabsorbed into the soul), and the one shall blend with the other, and they shall embrace in such a way that they can nevermore be separated; it is