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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Universal Holography And The Gates Of Ishtar

[Norma Photo]

My own posture toward existence is mystic-panpsychic, spiritually an excusable hyphenate of my time. Whether we were evolved or created to participate in the intelligence of the universe is a subjective matter. Sometimes I feel like I was created for the Job Of Mankind but most mornings I feel thrown together at random. This ambivalence, like hay fever and occasional flatulence, sometimes sets me back socially but, in the subject under discussion, affords me special objectivity and neutrality.

The subject is how huge, spooky and full of tremendous operations this universe is. Why, it hardly seems manageable! Sometimes the best we can do is tease a code out of it and try to solve that. The universe rewards calm, methodical inquiry from small observers, us, instructs us. We think: Yes, I can do this; the world is not so baffling after all! Silly, of course, but without it we get a great wall-less sack of dreams and who knows where to grab hold of that? As examples of this process, let's examine two scholars.

I'm glad to see Harold Camping is finally involved in tempering young Armageddonists. I've tuned in to his open forum show, off and on, for well over 20 years and always learned something interesting about the Bible. But mainly I've admired his unfailing courtesy to every caller on his show, even those who are antagonistic or insulting --and he always cautions people away from religious extremism, especially in politics. I was recently, however, surprised to learn Camping is only 89 years old. His impressive scholarship and knowledge of the Bible led me to assume he'd written it.

I must also add that Harold Camping is something of a regional treasure here. His study of the Bible is confined to what is in the Bible and he considers it his obligation to alert people to the temporal coordinates of Judgement Day. He has long been California's beloved "get-ready!" man. I remember back in the mid-'90s, he said Jesus would return. When Jesus excused Himself from that engagement, Harold Camping pretty much just said "oops" and returned to his calculations. Camping is a no-drama sort of guy. I don't know where all the billboards and press-packages came from this time, but I suspect his company has picked up some younger members full of energy and strange enthusiasms.

I have also followed Richard Dawkins --British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author, emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008-- who is absolutely frantic with brains.

In September I watched a speech he made in the street. The Pope was coming! Dawkins, an Atheist, extemporized beautifully --delivered an address full of good sense and sound British scholarship-- and I was all attention! Police were in evidence but the crowd was extremely well-behaved, which is why I am glad I wasn't among them. Dawkins was fine until he said "ignominious expedient" without fumblemouthing. I can't and might have thrown something out of envy. Then, in an interview with the Washington Post this week, Dawkins was asked about Camping's latest prediction of the Rapture and used an unfortunate epithet, "loon". Those familiar with Camping know he would never use such an impolite term in return, so Dawkin's talk about him being a raving loon indicates an understandable unfamiliarity.

And maybe the Post interviewer sandbagged him into the word. I find it strange and interesting that Dawkins should be at odds with Camping. They are men of comparable scholarship and dedication to seeking order in the universe --according to the information before them. Dawkins, as an Atheist, and Camping, a Theist, have made equal leaps of faith and, as regards their separate researches, arguments of equal depth. But, before proceeding, let's examine Ishtar.

Ishtar was the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She was the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate north-west Semitic goddess Astarte. It requires no great linguistic convolution to associate her with Asherah who, according to the Book Of Kings, was once worshipped along side of Yahweh in Israel. According to ancient texts, amulets and figurines unearthed in ancient Canaanite coastal city Ugarit (now Syria) Asherah was a powerful fertility goddess. Asherah's connection to Yahweh is spelled out in both the Bible and an 8th century B.C. inscription on pottery found in the Sinai desert. She was Nature and considered His wife: Mrs. God.

That Asherah was mainly edited out of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is understandable given the political climate of the past 3000 years. Nomography, the drafting of laws, grew into an art form --so did punishments. The world forgot the simple and forceful yard-duty of Mrs. God: Sit on the bench until you learn to behave! Things became complicated. That is why I have discussed two contemporary views of the universe with a very old one. People are not generally disposed toward goddesses. Dawkins is opposed to Camping. Camping proceeds where his calulations call. That is what you may expect of a world that grew up without a mama.

This brings us to the holographic universe. What is that? It means the whole is accessable from any given point in space and time. Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin --Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, b.1873 d.1897-- who was a very smart kid, reliably intuited the following: "Each small part of everyday life is part of the total harmony of the universe." It means we are in this together; that we cover the same phenomenon from different times and angles; that there's no other way to view a holographic universe; that we are united in continuum.

True, even in this eternal and infinitely divisible moment, that is the universe, there are those who cannot appreciate, who even feel threatened by, opposing views. They cannot accept biological invitation to participate in the collective intellect of all histories, futures, worlds. Maybe they grew up wrong, endured childhoods inappropriate for adult recital, couldn't expel blockages to open hearts and minds. In this, together. Collective. Neighborhood sports coaches say there is no "I" in "team". There's a rather important one in recital. Lest we become
counterproductively retentive, I suggest we explore that.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Clouds Fly Now

[Norma photo]

A popularly accepted sign that an older person is about to garrulate are the words, "Young people nowadays..." It is a pattern, just as children tend to move their thoughts beyond available data, just as I often say things I haven't thought of yet. We progress in life through free playground association, underwear arguments with school roommates, brittle tête-à-têtes with colleagues, to finally leaning close and asking, "what was that?" But there is no really reliable forecast of impending garrulity. That is a myth.

Young people nowadays have it way harder than my generation. Why is that? I remember, 40-50 years ago, we had a huge number of young people who desired, above all, happiness --happiness for everybody. Then it attenuated to happiness for themselves because not everybody could be happy about everything. Then they grew up into very loud churches and subcultures that desired their own happiness over the unhappiness of others and paradise was lost. Sorry stuff, but kids now fear for their lives.

Young people nowadays aren't safe. They'd like to be. They'd like to achieve the same sustainable, egalitarian society all generations want. But we are stuck on Heraclitus who observed, "All beasts are driven to the pasture with blows." This does not improve the disposition of new Utopians. Young people are not beasts, they are human. We are human. What humans possess is a capacity for nonsense, for imagination, qualities that can thwart designs of corporate voices in the head and brutalities of misrule. Imaginative nonsense can lead us places for which defensive logic is sometimes too ponderously awkward.

Young people nowadays, to them I suggest, consider the clouds. Consider the herds of them making their way inland from the sea. They are heading toward distant mountains, on which to resolve into streams, join rivers, enrich the land and return to the sea once more. An ongoing cycle, but it too has changed since I was young. Clouds fly now. Time was, clouds had to walk inland. I'd see them plodding along lonely roads with gravel and weeds sticking to their foggy feet. They moved slowly, wearily, often minus parts of anatomy that snagged on fences or got sheared by a passing truck. They had dangerous work.

In the evening you could always tell when a cloud was knocking on the door. There wasn't a knock so much as a chuff-chuff, which was all their soft fists could manage. They'd ask for a glass of water. Sometimes they'd want directions to a nice pasture to lie down in, which was sad because they never got up --but it was how we got vernal pools so we accepted it. Then, by and by, something changed.

Somewhere, maybe out on the ocean, a cloud leaned forward and fell in a certain way and, as you and I sometimes do in dreams, began to fly. Clouds, like young people nowadays, are natural rubberneckers and once they get the principle of a thing they do it too. Before long, all clouds got to flying, like the ones in the picture above, and they arrived whole and safe upon the ranges of the earth. Young people nowadays, go thou and do likewise.