The importance of Symbolism in the decipherment of history Part 2

See part 1 here: http://blog.tomstevens.com.au/the-importance-of-symbolism-in-the-decipherment-of-history/

My wife thinks it’s silly of me to read prefaces, indexes, and footnotes. It’s mostly a waste of time, she says. Yes, this can often times be true. But I have discovered so many interesting bits of information by looking through those oft neglected sections of books that I now rarely skip them. You never know what you might come across.

The preface of one book actually moved me close to tears. It was, believe it or not, in the form of a poem. It was found in the beginning of  a series of 12 volumes. You’d think that 12 volumes is long enough to try to get through without bothering with the introduction. It would have been all too easy to skip over the first few pages and miss a very interesting point that was expressed on the first page. And the point made was that the author had dedicated his life to this work but it had been accomplished at the cost of missing out on his children growing up. The series of books I am referring to is “Ancient Egypt: the Light of the World – a Work of Reclamation and Restitution in Twelve Books” by Gerald Massey.

The time and effort Massey put into his works is truly impressive. His deductive reasoning shines through in all his work. He was brilliantly adept at stripping back all the layers of added context which pile on throughout time to traditions, local customs, spoken and unspoken language, even place names, and he was able to imagine a time before recorded history. He then theorised about what essential elements of life would have given rise to the practices which have become integral to many communities’ identities. This gave rise to aptly titled works such as “The Book of The Beginnings” and “The Natural Genesis”.

Necessity gives birth not only to novel solutions but perhaps to everything.

This concept makes one realise that the world isn’t just a collection of crazy people (yes I said “just”) it is a collection of crazy people who got here using a very practical approach. Humans have the ability to deduct cause and effect. We don’t always get it right, but we have an instinctive need to work out what causes something and do our best at coming up with a reasonable explanation. From reading the works of philosophers like Plato, Plotinus, Xeno, Socrates, I can see that the human mind has been looking to understand the cause of things for the last 2 to 3 millennia and likely did so for a long time before those philosophers lived. Many pictographs indicate that this is indeed the case.

tomstevensmeme

Considering the fact that the human mind is best at remembering things when using pictures, (see part one of this blog post) and that this has been known for thousands of years as per the writings of Cicero, we can begin to decipher the encoded pictographs which are still with us since time immemorial.

If we were to strip back all the added elements of civilisation, social interaction, art, and non essential practices that surround us in today’s world we may find that some of the greatest concerns still remain. Food security would undoubtedly top the list. It would not be beyond reason to credit humans of old with the ability to deduct that the sun was one of the more obvious essential supports to plant and animal life. As the sun would be seen every year to increase and decrease in its power fear as to whether the sun would at some point continue fading away and never return could naturally arise. The hope of the sun’s return would have been an essential part of educating the next generation. Without some assurance that things will get better when the opposite is seen to be occurring people can, and often do, lose hope.

Human (anthropomorphic) or part animal  (therianthropic) characters as representatives of abstract concepts make for easier story creation.

To be continued.

The importance of Symbolism in the decipherment of history Part 1

Many years ago a friend of mine told about having seen an episode of a show called “The $64,000 question”. In the show, from what I recall, contestants had to as a series of questions in an attempt to uncover some secret about another contestant. One contestant’s secret turned out to be that he had committed the entire 66 books which make up the Christian Holy Bible to memory. My friend thought it was silly that anyone would even try to do such a thing. I however wanted to know if it would be possible for me to pull off a similar feat. I wondered if this super memory was a skill or  was it something people are born with. Was there some way this could be learned? I could remember phone numbers and birthdays but what would it take to remember something that impressive? Did the person in question have some kind secret method? If so, what was it? How had he learnt the method? I had so many questions. Yet I could not figure out how I would ever be able to find any answers. Thus began my quest to uncover the secrets of super memory. Of course this was all before the internet. Finding information at the time often seemed impossible. Even with the advent of the internet it’s not always as straight forward as one would hope. Searches can and often do turn up mediocre results. Eventually, though, my searching did pay off. I finally discovered that there are techniques which can be learnt. The fact that the techniques were accessible, and that they actually worked was a very big moment for me. The book which held the secrets was published in 1966. It is called “The Art Of Memory” by Frances Yates and remains, in my opinion, unsurpassed in its comprehensive coverage of memory techniques throughout history. The earliest system mentioned by the author references a technique that had been set down in writing by Cicero in 55 BCE. The work in question affirms that a person by the name of Simonides had invented this technique some time prior, meaning that it is even older than the time of Cicero. It would be rash to exclude the possibility that various techniques for improving memory have been in use since much much earlier than this written instance. We will see later that mnemonic techniques have a much older origin as they can be seen as central in the development of a number of written languages. Writing, as we know, has played a central role in the flourishing of civilisation.

Sometimes peddled as secrets or arcane mysteries only for the initiated, super memory techniques are always going to be of interest to humans. Good memories are a valued human trait. From what I have gathered so far it appears that the most effective method for remembering anything at all is to create symbolic associations. The mind, it is said, categorises and imprints not specific words but images. While one could debate whether or not certain types of personalities respond better to one set of stimuli than they do to others, on the overall, I contend, that picture association will rarely fail to do the trick. If you need to remember that your new friend’s name is Jay Walker you can conjure up any image you want that involves objects that can be described as “Jay” and “Walker”. This is the basis of the technique, and it just works. From this starting point one can continue on to delve deeper as there are additional methods for working with words which have no homophones. Then there are techniques of linking many words together. But the method I just described is the basic technique. Just that little trick is enough to make a huge difference when trying to remember an important bit of information.

Part 2

 

On the Christ Myth

A collections of articles regarding the Christ Myth

Alexander The Great’s Historicity vs Jesus’

There are quite a number of well known characters whose existence is not one hundred percent certain. In some cases everything we know about them was compiled more than a generation after the time frame during which they are said to have lived. While it is frustrating to not be certain if these folks really did live, their stories are still a part of history. There are fascinating sayings attributed to them which inform our view of the world and humanity around their respective time periods. Many of the teachings even contain valuable timeless advice that many people choose to apply in their every day lives. Yes even some of the words attributed to the Jesus character. There is some quotable material, some kind of interesting stuff, some of the sayings may even be profound, if you know how to read them. Shakespere is another person whose historicity has been questioned. Even though this questioning was initiated by the same person who started the modern day Atlantis craze, Ignatius P Donelly, some people still find his arguments worth a look in. Moving further east we find that Buddha may never have existed. Evidence of his life from contemporary writers has not surfaced, nor has it even been alluded to, and therefore there isn’t a single shred of real useful evidence that he existed. His writings and teachings were compiled long after his death. Pillars built in his honour were constructed 300 years after the time he is said to have lived. And yet his philosophy has spread across the globe. Apollonius of Tyana’s life was written 100 years after his life. So he may never have existed. But his teachings live on in some remote fashion. His teachings are said to have influenced Bahaulla and the development of the Bahai religion many centuries later. Even Confucious doesn’t have anything written during his lifetime. But his proverbs have endured.

Some people say that there is as much evidence for Alexander the Great having lived as there is for Jesus. Therefore, they conclude, we should accept that Jesus Christ was a true life flesh and blood person.

Not so fast.

While the aforementioned people have no contemporary witnesses, Jesus ranks a little differently because of what we are being asked to believe.

First of all, without a virgin birth and without a resurrection he pretty much becomes a nobody.

Ok Alexander the Great was said to also have been sired by a god.  Velikovsky’s research on the topic suggests that Alexander’s mother visited Egypt, the priest of Amun, specifically for this purpose. No one seems to think that Alexander was actually sired by a supernatural god.

There is also an important difference between Alexander the Great and Jesus. No one is praying for you to turn to Alexander and listen to the Holy Spirit’s urging you to give your life to Alexander. No one says “Alexander loves you”, and “Alexander can heal you!”, and “Let Alexander carry your burdens and worries!”


All those manuscripts.

So much was written about Jesus in the second, third and fourth centuries. Surely, some aver, there must have been a real person to write about. Why else would they write so much material?

First of all, not a single manuscript that is extant today has been dated to the supposed time of Jesus life. There are a couple of manuscripts that were written very close to the time, but the references to Jesus are insertions, so crudely done, that they made me laugh out loud when I came across them.

All the gospels were written much later than the time period allotted to Jesus. Now people say that these were stories passed down through the spoken word. If we take this point of view, how can these writings be considered anything remotely resembling eye witness accounts. The whole thing is rather baffling.

It could be compared to me saying that I am going to write a book about the life of Mr. Amazeness who lived in X-town in 1766. Of course my book includes private conversations and even a couple soliloquies! Let’s imagine that this personage becomes very popular. The book is a best seller and becomes a phenomenal success, the Mr Amazeness craziness . Eventually fan fiction appears. But just because there’s fan fiction doesn’t mean the original knew anything about what happened 150 years before putting pen to paper. This is not even the biggest hole in the plot! Imagine if the story included a chapter on he was conceived. His mother had been impregnated by an ethereal being. The kid grew up and then was killed and … it’s got all the hall marks of Zeus, and Osiris, and Set, it’s mythology pure and simple. Let’s face it, with the Jesus story, the Romans, or whoever composed it, were just trying to make their own even better version of the very cool god the Greek rulers of Egypt had 500 years earlier: Serapis!

Recommended reading: The Christ(Free ebook from Gutenberg.org)


 

Christmas is not in December nor is it in July in Australia

Happy Christmas on June 22 to everyone in the southern hemisphere.

The sun god is reborn and begins increasing time spent in our view every day from June 22. If we were to only take into account the time of sunrise at dawn then July 1 would be the rebirth. That’s the day when sunrises stop getting later every day and start happening earlier. By taking into account length of the day we see that the total amount of daylight time stops decreasing and begins a very tiny increase of 2 seconds on 22 June. In the northern hemisphere this happens in December. December 25th, Christmas.

The Romish version was a celebration of the change at dawn; the Byzantine Eastern Orthodox version celebrates the change of time at sunset as they have Christmas in January. Both were based on “eye reckoning” as the dates reflect noticeable changes in the position of the sun on the horizon.

Locally we have the following lengths of day around the winter solstice.

Date Sunrise Sunset Length Difference
June 19 7:35 AM 5:08 PM 9:32:37 −0:07
June 20 7:35 AM 5:08 PM 9:32:33 −0:04
June 21 7:36 AM 5:08 PM 9:32:32 −0:01
June 22 7:36 AM 5:08 PM 9:32:34 +0:02
June 23 7:36 AM 5:09 PM 9:32:39 +0:05
June 24 7:36 AM 5:09 PM 9:32:47 +0:08

 

 

Genius From Outside the League

I find it tremendously awe inspiring to read about work that continues on in spite of fierce opposition. Researchers or writers who bring up concepts which fall outside of so called “mainstream” academia invariably receive a fair share of ridicule if they are acknowledged at all before some traction takes hold and support for their work begins to build. Sometimes their life’s work becomes accepted and confirmation becomes undeniable. Though it’s just as likely that they are never welcomed into the world of accepted knowledge. A few eventually have their thesis accepted and incorporated into the textbooks.

Foucault’s pendulum, Paris. Photo by Ben Ostrowsky (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sylvar/70589378/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Let’s not forget that it wasn’t too long ago that the earth’s rotation was still in doubt. On January 3, 1851, Leon Foucault set about to test the rotation of the earth.

In his fascinating book Pendulum: Foucault and the Triumph of Science, Dr Amir D Aczel recounts what a struggle it was for Leon Foucault to convince the nation’s mathematics that the earth was rotating on its axis. He tells us of the struggle and eventual triumph of this self-taught physicist.

Foucault had been working on making the perfect pendulum for months.  Wires, metal cutters, measuring devices, and weights were all employed in its construction. What he finally came up with was a 2 meter long steel wire attached to the ceiling of his cellar in a way that allowed for free rotation without resulting torque. At the other end  of the wire, he attached a 5 kilogram brass bob. It was a free-swinging pendulum, suspended from the ceiling.

 Aczel goes on to tell us that: “Once the pendulum was set in motion, the plane in which it  oscillated back and forth could change in any direction. Designing a mechanism that would secure this property was the hardest  part of his preparations. The pendulum had to be perfectly  symmetric: Any imperfection in its shape or distribution of  weight could skew the results of the experiment, denying Foucault the proof he desired.

He held his breath as the pendulum began  to swing. Suddenly the wire snapped, and the bob fell heavily to  the ground. Three days later, he was ready to try again. He care-  fully set the pendulum in motion and waited. The bob swung  slowly in front of his eyes, and Foucault attentively followed every  oscillation.  Finally, he saw it. He detected the slight but clearly perceptible change he was looking for in the plane of the swing of the pendulum. The pendulum’s plane of oscillation had moved away  from its initial position, as if a magic hand had intervened and  pushed it slowly but steadily away from him. Foucault knew he  had just observed the impossible. The mathematicians—and  among them France’s greatest names: Laplace, Cauchy, and Poisson—had all said that such motion could not occur or, if it did,  could never be detected. Yet he, not a mathematician and not a trained physicist, somehow always knew that the mysterious  force would be there. And now, he finally found it. He saw a clear  shift in the plane of the swing of the pendulum. Léon Foucault  had just seen the Earth turn.”

To be told that something is impossible by none other than the top minds in one of the most intimidating disciplines could be enough to make many people quit. But this didn’t dissuade Foucault. In the end he had such a strong case that his opposers had to concede he may be on to something. The French Academy of Sciences still took their time in allowing him in as a member. It wasn’t until 1865 that his application to be elected as a member was successful.
His tenacity and determination is inspiring. His story also shows that new ideas take time to work their way into the body of accepted knowledge.
Of course after making this point I will point out that being outside “mainstream” doesn’t mean someone is right nor does it mean they are wrong. I have read many books by authors that many consider “fringe” writers. Some make a strong case, others seem like cranks and crackpots.
I find great pleasure in examining any argument, trying to get a complete picture and forming my own opinion without being influenced by the prevailing consensus. I think appeal to consensus smacks of cowardice, and if nothing else is lazy. Since the majority can be right as often as it is wrong we can’t rely on consensus for the forming our own opinions.

Activists Revolutions and The Corruption Of Power

Students of history often note how it becomes plainly obvious that there are cycles in history which keep on repeating. The cyclical nature of politics is summed up in the brilliant satirical film Land Of The Blind.

The film which takes place in an unspecified decade and cleverly compresses a range of differing eras into one timespan should be required viewing for any student of political science. Also activists should watch it.

“So the story of man runs in a dreary circle, because he is not yet master of the earth that holds him.”
Will Durant

History Repeats Itself. How Will It Play Out This Time?

The moment I heard that a well known tycoon was bidding for the presidency of The United States of America for some reason I thought of an incident I had read about in Gibbons’ History and Of The Decline and Fall Of The Roman Empire.

The story goes something like this. The top position in Rome was under negotiation after the Praetorian guard had turned on the despotic ruler they were meant to guard. A wealthy senator became convinced that he should put in a bid and became consul. The story didn’t end well for the senator. The Praetorian guard who’d accepted his money soon yielded to a war veteran toward whom they all felt the deepest respect. Within nine short weeks as ruler of the Roman world the senator was disposed of in a most unceremonious manner.