CHAPTER NINE: IMAGINARY VALUES
3. LONG AIONS
THE HELLENISTIC SHIFT OF PARADIGMS
3. LONG AIONS
The further back in time we attempt to extend our imagination, generally the fuzzier and more approximate become the dates. Orders of rigor tend to loosen as we project, through the lens of various disciplines, backwards into prior temporal domains. The epigrapher who studies forms of writing usually finds his subject within a mere span of 5000 years, while the archaeologist and art historian must go back further, perhaps to the great Paleolithic caves, but only extraordinarily beyond some 25,000 years ago. The anthropologist's reach, examining human institutions, may stretch an order of magnitude back to 250,000 years ago, or to even earlier dates if studying the origins and early evolution of our species...to around 2,500,000 years ago. This scale of time overlaps that of the paleontologist who studies all fossils, in addition to the domain of hominids, and therefore may consider evidence many millions of years old, on the order of geological durations. Patterns of continental drift appear to have changed the distribution of land masses significantly over some 25,000,000 years. Extending this scale by the common logarithm (in which the value for each step varies from the next by a factor of ten), we encounter truly astronomical durations since one galactic orbit (of our sun and solar system around the core of the Milky Way) is reckoned to be 250,000,000 years. One such revolution ago puts geological considerations in the Permian Period, while the temporal distinction between the Cambrian and Ordovician Periods occurred two galactic revolutions (500,000,000 years) ago. The Earth itself may have come into being almost ten times earlier than that, just shy of some 5 billion years ago. In some 5 billion years hence, just slightly over half of the radioactive uranium with which we have surrounded ourselves on the surface of the planet will have turned into lead.
The idea of mapping the universe by a scale based on the common logarithm was the idea of a Dutch schoolteacher named Kees Boeke. He took imaginary, powers-of-ten steps in both directions: in a view balancing the macrocosmic, he also explored the microcosm, down to the scale of subatomic phenomena. We find, perhaps not surprisingly, that approximations become more and more the standard order when approaching the limits of reckoning in either direction of the time scale. Nevertheless, this amusing and instructive exercise of the imagination has helped many ordinary people (particularly inquisitive children) attain the general perspectives of a "temporal literacy." Boeke's version has been updated both by himself and by others; one exposition of the idea provided the central theme for a catalog essay introducing the recent Dutch exhibition Time.
When we plot the time scales on a powers-of-ten ladder, we find the longest time scale at the top: the age of the universe, 10 [to the power of] 17.8 seconds [or, some say, in the range of 15 to 20 billion years since the hypothetical Big Bang]. But is there a shortest time scale? No, but there is a lowest rung on the powers-of-ten ladder, namely the time where physics as we know it ceases to apply. The absolutely shortest time scale with which we can hope to deal until our knowledge of fundamental physics improves, can be estimated as follows:
The Bottom of the Ladder of Time
Between the time scale of a human heartbeat, 10(0) = 1 second, and the shortest experimentally known time, 10(-26.2) seconds, lies a range which is even larger than the range from heartbeat to the age of the universe: half again as many rungs on the time ladder separate us from the subatomic world than are between us and the cosmos at large. Still, human beings occupy a kind of middle position on the ladder. The lowermost rung on the ladder of time is found at the Planck time, 10(-43.3) seconds. Time shorter than this cannot be understood with present day physics [in 1990]....The Planck time is phenomenally short...this is the time scale of relativistic quantum gravity. If we want to describe nature on time scales shorter than this, we need a relativistic theory of gravitational quantum mechanics. But such a theory does not exist! Not yet, anyway.
[Vincent Icke, "Time Scales," Time, catalog for Images of Time, Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam (1990), p. 16 f. See also, Philip and Phylis Morrison, Powers of Ten, Scientific American Books, New York (1982).]
Some even more recent speculation has pursued the issue by attempting to formulate the specific nature of problems that arise with imagined time travel. As if playing out the ultimate clew, following the conceptual cordage of labyrinthine twine to its uttermost ends, the quest for theories has considered visiting the past by whipping around mobile cosmic strings, in
...a seemingly innocuous solution of the equations that embody Einstein's theory of relativity. Discovered by J. Richard Gott III of Princeton University, this solution involves two cosmic strings--a pair of extremely thin, invisible strands of concentrated energy that warp space-time in a peculiar way....
Ultimately, pondering the byways of time travel tests the boundaries of the laws of physics. "We want to see whether or not closed time-like curves are prevented by general relativity," Gott says. "Maybe quantum mechanics comes in and somehow prevents them [as proposed by Steven W. Hawking of Cambridge University]. If so, we'd like to know why. That would be very interesting."
[Ivars Peterson, "Timely Questions," Science News, Volume 141 (March 28, 1992), p. 202 f.; Gott is quoted from the Physical Review Letters (March 4, 1991).]
We are attempting here to discover or divine what Duchamp might have had in mind--knowledge he ironically denies the artist himself--and exploring the possibilities of meaning in the mystery words that make up the ciphered inscription on With Hidden Noise...as if to put some meat on the skeleton of Duchamp's famous phrase about the artist,
...like a mediumistic being who, from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing.
[Duchamp, "The Creative Act," a talk given in Houston (1957);reprinted in Sanouillet, Salt Seller, p. 138.]
Within these vast, cosmic frameworks of time, both mensurable and purely theoretical, our primary attentions are devoted to works of art, and our main interests lie in discerning ways in which they might illumine human consciousness--in some form or manner--like Duchamp's sculpture/cosmogram With Hidden Noise. This might simplify the issue, although it appears we still require, for such analyses, a more sophisticated intellectual apparatus than that of a linear time scale.
The idea of the simple, linear development of society from the culture of the paleolithic (Old Stone Age) through the successive stages of the neolithic (New Stone Age), Bronze, and Iron Ages must be given up. Today we find primitive cultures co-existing with advanced modern society on all the continents--the [Abori-gines] of Australia, the [so-called] Bushmen of South Africa, truly primitive peoples in South America, and in New Guinea.... We shall now assume that, some 20,000 or more years ago, while paleolithic peoples held out in Europe, more advanced cultures existed elsewhere on the earth, and that we have inherited a part of what they once possessed, passed down from people to people.
[Hapgood, Maps p. 188 f.]
Archaeologists have unearthed one of Old Europe's earliest villages at Dolni Vestonice, in that part of Czechoslovakia called Moravia. It has been categorized as a Gravettian site in that obsolescent chronology invented by French pre-historians, which is to say that it dates from about 25,000 years--or one precessional cycle--ago. Evidence from this intriguing, open-air Paleolithic settlement reveals the earliest firing of clay. Some 77 miniature figurines in good condition have been discovered; half of them are caricature representations of carnivorous animals, although we know--from the actual bones found--that the main source of meat in the diet was mammoth. One of the hut-shelters contains remains of many fired pieces, including some exceptional female figures of paste clay mixed with ground bone, and what has been interpreted as a kiln. Skeletal remains indicate the resident potter was a woman; moreover, she appears to have suffered from facial disfigurement of a sort shown on one of the small, realistic ivory pieces carved to represent a human head, which might make it the first self-portrait identifiable as such in the history of art. Some of the other small carved ivory pieces are subject to ambiguities with respect to both interpretation of sexual content and the physical orientation of the piece of sculpture itself.
The obsession with sexual interpretations, and particularly with female genitalia, in the art can be traced back 75 years. In 1911 the abbé Breuil was consulted about certain deeply engraved motifs which had been found on some stone blocks in early Upper Palaeolithic sites in the Dordogne. Breuil declared these ovoid and subtriangular figures to be "pudendum muliebre," or vulvas. This was a highly subjective interpretation but, ever since then, most scholars have accepted it without question--even though a man of Breuil's profession [a cleric] should not perhaps be considered an expert on this particular motif!
[A] series of little ivory carvings from Dolni Vestonice have always been seen by most male scholars as abstract female figures with long necks and huge buttocks or breasts; the same applies to an ivory rod from the site, which has a pair of "breasts" protruding from it, some way up. However, feminist scholars suggest that these carvings [as we have suggested for With Hidden Noise] should be inverted, and clearly represent male genitalia!"
The theory that the art is about the male preoccupations of hunting, fighting and girls comes from twentieth-century male scholars. Feminist scholars have a different point of view about the supposedly sexual images (for the same reason, it would be interesting to see the reaction of a vegetarian culture to the animal figures). The macho view of Palaeolithic art is both simplistic and anachronistic. Some of the female figures may have aroused men, but there is no reason to suppose that this was their intended function: after all, many of them were carefully hidden in pits. Moreover, images of female genitalia are far rarer than has been claimed in the past, and those which were depicted may have been intended simply to indicate gender, rather than be erotic. The greater part of Palaeolithic art is clearly not about sex, at least in an explicit sense.
[Bahn, Images of the Ice Age, pp. 163 ff. See also, Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess, pp. 31, 32 figure 46.]
Yet, one of the more curious of the ivory pieces found at Dolni Vestonice is a pendant bead carved in the form of a detatched pair of human breasts. Duchamp's fascination with breasts is amply documented as in Please Touch (1947)--a collage with a foam rubber artificial breast and black velvet on cardboard, prepared by Duchamp and Enrico Donati for the cover of the catalog, Le Surralism en 1947--or in the earlier, In the Manner of Delvaux (1942)--a Surrealist collage of tinfoil on cardboard with a photo of a detail showing "the naked breast(s) of a model reflected in a mirror" from Paul Delvaux's painting Dawn, in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. Duchamp's verbal puns on the French word for "breasts" (seins) are well known, if difficult to render in English.
This "Litany of the Saints" first appeared in Littrature, no. 5, and then in V. Any attempt at translation is unrewarding since this is a play on words, the French words "seins," breasts, pronounced like "saints," and "des saints," which sounds much like both "dessein" (design, plan, scheme, project) and "dessin" (drawing or sketch). In addition "du bout" is close to "debout," standing up. Finally, this is not unlike the grammatical exercises found in texts for learning French.
[Rrose Sélavy, "Litanie des saints," in Littrature (nouvelle série, no. 5, Paris, 1 October 1922); commentary in Sanouillet, Salt Seller, p. 108. For Please Touch see, d'Harnoncourt and McShine, No. 164, p. 306; for Delvaux see, Schwarz, Complete Works, No. 312, p. 513 f.]
If we extend this reach back in time for a duration equal to two precessional cycles, we find evidence from seven different strata of Neanderthal burials in the cave of Shanidar in Northern Iraq. The estimated dates of two burials bracket the period of 50,000 years ago.
That of 40,000 BC was of a one-armed male, crippled from childhood, whose right arm and shoulder had never developed. He had been about forty years old when killed by a roof-fall in the cave, and at some time in his life the arm below the elbow had been amputated. The fact that he had survived to that age, cared for by his fellows to whom he could hardly have been of much practical help [although he may have known or realized something they didn't], tells us something of Old Stone Age man not formerly suspected.
The most significant find, however, came to light at a level of c. 60,000 BC. It consisted of a skeleton, with a badly crushed skull, of a male about 5 feet 8 inches tall, which for a Neanderthaler was large. The body had been laid to rest on a litter of evergreen boughs heaped with flowers, of which the surviving pollens have been identified by microscopic analysis.
[Campbell, Animal Powers, Volume 1, p. 53.]
We have mentioned this find above while commenting on the medicinal virtues of the eight species of plants ritually collected and interred with this obviously important man. Some of the identified species, such as the hollyhock (Althaea, which name is from the Greek verb "to heal") only grows in single strands, indicating that it was picked flower by flower. In the words of Ralph S. Solecki, the primary excavator of the site:
It may be simply coincidence that the flowers have medicinal or economic value (at least in our present knowledge), but the coincidence does raise speculation about the extent of human spirit in Neanderthals....One may speculate that [the individual technically known as "Shanidar IV"] was not only a very important man, a leader, but also may have been a medicine man or shaman in his group.
[Ralph S. Solecki, "Shanidar IV, a Neanderthal Flower Burial in Northern Iraq," Science, Vol. 190 (November 28, 1975), p. 881.]
Even older are the sites of cave-bear altars at Drachenloch in Switzerland, which Emil Bächler began to excavate in 1917. Seven distinct levels were charted, some going back to the interglacial period known as the Riss-Wrm (pre-75,000 BCE, of three precessional cycles ago). Three separate caves produced coroborating evidence; each was located between 7000 to 8000 feet altitude and inaccessible during the intervening Würm glaciation. If the evidence at Shanidar suggests a sophisticated understanding of plants and their healing potential, then here may be an expression, as at Dolni Vestonice (with admitted differences in medium and context, to be sure) of a "transcendental" sense of wholeness shared with the world of animals. As Bächler wrote upon completion of his excavations of three related sites:
The purposeful collection and arranged preservation of the cave-bear skulls and long bones behind dry [stone] walls set up along the sides of the caves [one had these long cave-bear leg bones carefully placed beneath its snout, and another had these long bones pushed through the orbits of the eyes, proving careful deliberation]; and more especially the hermetic sealing away of the skulls, either in crudely built stone cabinets, protected by slab coverings, or in repositories walled with flagging, allow for no other conclusion, after the realistic consideration of every possibility, but that we have here to do with some sort of Bear Cult, specifically a Bone-offering Cult, inspired by the mystical thoughts and feelings of an Old Paleolithic population; thoughts involving transcendental, super-sensual ideas. Many ethnological parallels testify to a broad distribution of bone-offering cults in the historic period, especially among the hunting peoples of the north. And so, it seems we may be confronting here what is truly a First, in the elder Paleolithic: the original offering cult, namely, of mankind.
[Emil Bächler, Das alpine Paläolithikum der Schweitz im Wildkirschli, Drachenloch und Wildermannlisloch, Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte, Monographien zur Ur-und Frühgeschichte der Schweiz, Volume 2, Birkhauser, Basel (1940), p. 260. Quoted in translation by Campbell, Animal Powers, Volume 1, p. 55.]
We are not suggesting that the mysterious object inside With Hidden Noise is a fragment of cave-bear bone; that would have been all too excruciatingly exquisite! Bones of all sorts tend to command respect, in certain part because of their perdurability. The plastron of the tortoise was used for divination in ancicent China, and in early Classical Greece the heel bones of the boibalis, the Libyian antelope were the source of tali, the dice prized by the illuminati.
While the medium and technique of enclosure is different, the three Swiss caves and the 1916 piece have as one of their special features the sealing of a space in which something vital has been inserted. Marcel Duchamp's disarming little piece of sculpture is "Hermetically" sealed, but in a sense, rather, of Hermes Trismegistus, the transmitter of arcane wisdom and magic about life and death, rebirth or regeneration, and the principle of the continuity of consciousness--the secret knowledge and its esoteric transmission. For, as Joseph Campbell reminds us in his discussion of these sites, the altars for the cave-bear ritual represent
the earliest altars of any kind yet found, or known of, anywhere in the world.
[Campbell, Primitive Mythology, p. 341.]
If we go back even further, say, ten cycles of the precession of the equinox, to some 260,000 years ago--the order of time in which beings quite like those of our fellow hominids have been around--surviving evidence for artistic activity becomes exceedingly scarce. Even earlier-- though out of rhythm with this sequence--possibly some 400,000 years ago, there was a large communal shelter at the site of Terra Amata, near Nice on the French Riviera, destroyed (with a nice sense of irony) for the construction of a high-rise apartment. Twenty precessional cycles ago--around 500,000 BCE--there appeared, we noted, the earliest evidence for our use of fire; and we might recall, FIRE (actually, ".IR.") is one of the possibilities in the cyphered grid of With Hidden Noise. Some 2,600,000 years, or one hundred precessional cycles ago, the hyoid bone anchoring the tongue and permitting human speech had become a distinguishing feature of our species' anatomy: the key to our evolutionary "hidden noise."
THE HELLENISTIC SHIFT OF PARADIGMS
The late engineer and polymath R. Buckminster Fuller, in the wild, combinatoric neologisms of his scientifico-poetic typifications, summed up many theoretical aspects of the paradigm shift that occurred for the European tradition in the ancient world following the death of Socrates, then of Plato, and closure of the School of Athens:
For reasons unknown to us a retrogression in mathematical conceptioning emerges...for instance, Euclid in 300 BC retrogressed into two-dimensional plane geometry from the Babylonians' omnidimensional, finite system, experience-invoked time dimension. The Greeks and Egyptians [at Alexandria] became concerned only with omnilaterally, infinitely extensible plane geometry and its "square"-unit of areal subdivision. Superimposed upon this plane, two-dimensional base, the Greek and Egyptian geometers subsequently developed a timeless, weightless, temperatureless, three-dimensional, cubical coordinate system whose squares and cubes were geometrically irreconcilable with a spherical Earth and all the other radiationally and gravitation-ally divergent-convergent, inherently nucleated, finite, spherical systems' growths and shrinkages--electromagnetic and acoustical, spherically gradient wave propagations.
[Fuller, Critical Path, pp. 29, 33]
While such expressions as these by the dear, late Bucky Fuller might seem to lurk on the fringes of weird science, they are amenable to reasonable interpretations. In a concentrated way, Fuller has given us defining aspects of two paradigms: one modeled on a spherical vision of the world, and the other on flatland. In history we may recognize a time around the late fourth century BCE when flat-Earth theories began to assume a dominating influence.
Just why they came to do so is another question. One interpretation argues that a spherically-conceived cosmos, the natural frame of reference for maritime navigation, might have continued down through Classical times in Athens, since the power base of that ancient Greek polis lay in its shipborne grain trade with Black Sea ports, and the naval forces which assured its military dominance over the other Greek city-states. This theoretically global, integral view was supplanted under Alexander eventually, and most influentially in Alexandria, by state-sponsored research in plane geometry and the applied sciences because (thinking as a general rather than as an admiral) the Head of State planned his military adventures as land-based expeditions of conquest rather than as missions based on sea power, or as strategically dependent upon maritime lines of supply (LONGSEA of the cypher).
With the exception of the BC Greek, spherically informed world mapping, all the post-Roman emperor-pope's and pre-1500 AD comprehensive maps show the world as a flat-out system surrounded by an infinitely extendable, planar wilderness....The people in the times of Alexander the Great or of Caesar or of Saladin, all thought in that flat way. As yet today "simple, elementary, plane geometry" is used by and taught to beginners; "solid" is considered more difficult, and "spherical trig" even more advanced and difficult.
The real consequences of that--psychologically, philosophically, and mathematically--are devastating.
[Fuller Critical Path, p. 44.]
As Fuller himself confesses, we may not know the reasons for all this; or, better said, we certainly do not know all of the reasons, even though we can guess at some of them and explain the probable mechanism for yet others. Aristotle left the School of Athens to form his own institution, that of the Peripatetics, and shifted the emphasis of his inquiry away from the ages-old fascination with cosmic, magical numbers and the ever-recurring cycles within cycles. After he was hired to tutor the young Alexander of Macedon, free speculative philosophical thought--to the degree that it might have been enjoyed in Athens--was all the more likely to be compromised by subservience to the military and economic interests of the political state. Subsequently, the books from Aristotle's own library became the core texts for founding the Library of Alexandria.
The American poet Ezra Pound's Guide to Kulchur, first published in 1937, still reads as one of the most radical and stimulating essays on educational ideals and the practical reform of curricula. Scattered through the trenchant text are several references to Aristotle; citing some of these provides pithy insights into the nature of the paradigm shift that followed Aristotle, emerging from the karmic wake of events perpetrated by his most highly touted and carefully toutored pupil.
The question is whether Arry Stotl was a good guy or the opposite is vexed. A man who suffered fools as badly as he, must have been unpopular even during the decadence of greek institutions....Or, as they say, originality of speculative research (guess work) was exhausted with Arry Stotl.
[Ezra Pound, Guide to Kulchur, Peter Owen, Ltd., London (1937) p. 120.]
Something more than the fruits of a long "mythomatical" tradition was jeopardized when the School of Plato dissipated and Aristotle founded the Peripatetic School, turning away from the ages-old high regard for mathematical models:
Socrates tried to make people think, or at any rate the Socrates "of Plato" tried to make 'em use their language with greater precision and to distinguish knowledge from not-knowledge.
And the Platonic inebriety comes to readers and Platonists when Plato's Socrates forgets all about logic, when he launches into "sublimity" about the heaven above heavens, the pure light of the mind, the splendour of crystalline lastingness, or runs on with something a sibyl has told him.
He was deemed anti-statal. Aristotle on the other hand failed to keep Alexander in bounds.
[Pound, Guide to Kulchur, p. 33, although not MARKED "33."]
On the contrary, rather than keeping him in bounds, Aristotle sent Alexander on his way (and a serious, self- important, not a very merry way it was) with treatises on COLONIES and on MONARCHY. Hmmm. Yet, Aristotle was the first writer to focus on legislation in his gathering together laws of the 158 Greek states, i.e. initiating an objective study of that which has been set into the marked state as the net or the web of law. The close study of Aristotle informed the thinking by centuries of Western clerics:
Aristotle was so good at his job that he anchored human thought for 2000 years. What he didn't define clearly remained a muddle for the rest of the race, for centuries following. But he did not engender a sense of social responsibility.
This is not a stricture on what he said. You can find worthy suggestions about conduct in both Aristotle and Plato.
Aristotle was banned by the Church, I think because he was so discouraging. Some sort of vital instinct, down under the superficial intolerance and stupidity, felt the menace of logic-chopping, of all this cutting up, rationalizing and dissecting of reality. Not but what a man can dig a lot of acute sense out of Aristotle if he pick out what suits him in a given case or a given moment....Gemistus Plethon brought over a species of Platonism to Italy in the 1430s...and is supposed to have set off a renaissance....At any rate he had a nailed boot for Aristotle.
[Pound, Guide to Kulchur, pp. 39, 45, 224.]
There is some question (raised by the contributors to The Oxford Classical Dictionary) if Aristotle really deserves the credit for thinking up the idea of global government; his scheme, or vision, appears to have been less like a proto-United Nations than it was a new plan for Empire. The "Divine Right of Empire" may be more like it, since Alexander reportedly was eager to assume the persona of a Rex Divinus, whose dutiful open-handedness came not from a generosity of spirit, but as the logical actions of a ruler who believed that the gods proved they were gods because they gave things. Whether or not Alexander deserved the apellation the "Great," depends in some part upon the influence of Aristotle, his teacher, having transmitted (or having failed to transmit) the thread of the mystical tradition, and the precise sense in which the mystical state came to be understood.
And this can NOT be limited to a mere definition of abstract concepts. There is no doubt whatsoever that human beings are subject to emotion and that they attain to very fine, enjoyable and dynamic emotional states which cause them to emit what to careful chartered accountants may seem intemperate language, as [the Alexandrian Neo-Platonic philosopher] Iamblichus: fire of the gods, tou ton theon pyros, etc. which comes down into a man and produces superior ecstasies, feelings of regained youth, super-youth and so forth, not to be surpassed by the first glass of absinthe (never to be regained by the second or 50th imbibition).
Two mystic states can be dissociated: the ecstatic-beneficient-and-benevolent, contemplation of the divine love, divine splendour with goodwill toward others.
And the bestial, namely the fanatical, the man on fire with God and anxious to stick his snotty nose into other men's business or reprove his neighbor for having a set of tropisms different from that of the fanatic's, or for having the courage to live more greatly and more openly.
The second set of mystic states is manifest in scarcity economists, in repossessors, etc.
The first state is a dynamism. It has, time and again, driven men to great living, it has given them courage to go on for decades in the face of public stupidity. It is a paradisical reward in itself seeking naught further...perhaps because a feeling of certitude inheres in the state of feeling itself. The glory of life exists without further proof for this mystic.
[Pound, Guide to Kulchur, p. 223 f.]
Meanwhile, in the centuries following Aristotle and the Hellenistic shift of the library (and associated with it, a center of fervent intellectual activity) to Alexandria, there sprang into being the school of Neo-Platonism in all its glory--not entirely the fault of Plato--accentuating the projected bifurcation between this world and some other, ideal, non-material world of Ideas. This philosophical heritage was then called upon to help legitimize an image of the cosmos with an other-worldly heaven of promises above, and an all-too-real torment of hell beneath the infinite extent of a flat-earth.
Alongside or rather a long way from alongside of factual study, for 2000 or more years has run the celestial tradition, the caeruleum coelum, the augustum coelum, etc.
"The heaven which is above the heavens (etc.) no earthly poet (etc.) has sung or ever will sing in a worthy manner."
"The colorless, formless and intangible essence is visible to the mind which is the only lord of the soul. Circling around this in the region above the heavens is the place of true knowledge." ET cetera. This kind of thing from the Phaedrus, or wherever it comes from, undoubtedly excites certain temperaments, or perhaps almost anyone if caught at the right state of adolescence or in certain humours.
For the Western world Plato is the father of this sort of prose rhapsody. And deleterious students can, I suspect, net vast tracts of the same sort of thing in the orient, even (and/or especially) in non-Confucian.
This sort of thing bumped into Hebrew tradition. It overflowed the Church fathers.
It annoys Mr. Eliot. At least I assume that it is this sort of writing which causes Mr. Eliot to break out against Plato, Inc. (or rather not incorporated in any way but the "societé anonyme" sense).
[Pound, "Neo-Platonicks Etc." Chapter 39, Guide to Kulchur, p. 222.]
The medieval world of Islam, in the approach of its orthodoxy, maintained respect for Aristotle. However, it was the tendency of the Sufis (or, mystical schools generally) to form a different evaluation of the two ancients, as may be appreciated in these two citations:
Know oh brother...that the study of sensible geometry leads to skill in all practical arts, while the study of intelligible geometry leads to skill in the intellectual arts because this science is one of the gates through which we move to the knowledge of the essence of the soul, and that is the root of all knowledge.
--From the Rasa `il by the Brotherhood of Purity, translated by S. H. Nasr.
Our master is Plato, especially in his works Timaeus and Phaedo; whereas Aristotle remains the lodestar of those who seek truth by the empirical method...this mystic, Platonic method is a different kind of philosophy and a shorter way than that of the peripatetics, which loses itself in secondary questions.
--Suhrawardi (d. 1191):
[Keith Critchlow, "Platonic Spheres --a millennium before Plato," Time Stands Still: New Light on Megalithic Science, St Martin's Press, New York (1982); the quotations appear at the beginning of Chapter 7, pp. 131 ff. The "spheres" are those of stone from Neolithic Scotland.]
A current of mysticism--of the genuine, ecstatic sort, whether expressed in Plato's ethereal terms or in the more enthusiastic manner of Neo-Platonists--flowing underground for much of the time, still infused the minds of both Muslim Sufi and Renaissance visionaries.
Such individuals as Pythagoras and Buddha were unanticipated by the behind-the-scenes physical power structures...not until about 200 BC did the great power structures operating behind the official states' officers begin to find ways of putting the brakes on the individual's metaphysical breakthrough. The power structure began to enter into the cosmological formulations...what the power structures needed was a way to put in a control switchborad so that the individuals would have to "call up" God only through officialdom's censor-approved switchboard.
[Fuller Critical Path, p. 48.]
On the other hand, the prevailing, orthodox, conventional beliefs during the last aion of 2160 years, since the shift of emphasis epitomized by Aristotle, have devoutly urged that everyone else's divine spark be constrained, just as the brass plaques of With Hidden Noise, appear to imprison spiritual energy--in the West, traditionally represented as "ether"--in its free flow through the organic torus symbolizing the living being, both the stuff and the form of Life itself. Above, blocking off access to heaven as well as the cascade of grace that is heavenly light, the institutionalization of spiritual control by dogma and fiat was imposed over the space of free spiritulity like an impenetrable metal plate. The base for this structure was the image of a flat earth, made out to be alien and impenetrable, the strictures of control for living in cities having progressively cut off the flow of nurturing Nature, whose animals and plants, whose herbal medicines and spirits of place the Church redefined as demons and consigned below to hell. But what, in this historical cosmogram, we may well ask, are the energies--who are the people or the institutions--bolting this artificial, imprisoning, enslaving structure together?
It is clear that beginning with Plato's pupil Aristotle (384-322 BCE) and the latter's practical philosophy, the geocentric concept of the celestial system was, after 200 BC, becoming more and more adopted by the "world's" flat-minded power-structure "authorities," despite contradictory complexities. [Inexplicably complex motions required by the theory] as they rationalized it...seemingly had no "practical" bearing on everyday affairs. It seems almost equally clear that between 200 BC and 200 AD a deliberately planned policy was adopted by the combined supreme political and religious power structure of that period which undertook the conditioning of human reflexes to mis-conceive and mis-see (or mostly not see at all) the macro-micro-cosmic systems in which we live. Their success drew the curtains on science for 1700 years--until 1500 AD....[Then] scientific thinking constantly discovered experimental evidence of the erroneous conceptioning of non-scientific authority. The emperor-pope did not want any of his subjects "attempting to set in order the facts of their own experience" [as Sir James Jeans defined the "earnest attempt" of Science.]
[Fuller Critical Path, pp. 37, 43.]
Four leading candidates for the "bolts" in whose self-presumed, short-term interests this contrived structure was maintained--imposing on the physical body and taxing the material resources, controlling or censoring the flow of ideas, punishing the emotions, and attempting to imprison the free human spirit--appear to have been generals/admirals, priests/popes, kings/emperors, and the financial powers behind them.