Joseph Campbell taking questions about Parzival, the Graal, and God – Grail Legends at the Ojai Foundation


How Sir Galahad, Sir Bors and Sir Percival were Fed with the Sanc Grael; But Sir Percival's Sister Died by the Way  Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1864

Sir Galahad, Sir Bors and Sir Percival Fed with the Sanc Grael – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1864

God is a function, God experienced is a function of your manner of experience. The elementary idea of God is transcendent of all forms, of all names, the tongue has never soiled it, it never got there.  So, any idea of God is historically conditioned, it’s a local idea no matter how much noise people make about it, it’s just a local notion.  And so, as man transforms, so are the laws of God transformed.  The laws of God are functions of the human psyche in its historic expression and development.  That’s what we get here, and this if Wolfram.

~Joseph Campbell, Grail Legends at the Ojai Foundation

The following is a verbatim transcription of the Q&A portion of a talk entitled Grail Legends, given by Joseph Campbell at the Ojai Foundation before his death in 1987.   We Meme Merchants quote this material frequently, so I thought I would present it to the public since this material is otherwise hard to obtain in digital form since it was originally on audio tape.  So far as I know, no one has ever produced a complete transcript of the presentation.

Continue reading

Argument from ignorance? – Berlinski on the Question: How in the world could these complex machines and systems have come about without intelligence? – A first look at the question


Warning 64pxAttention:  This is not necessarily an article about Intelligent Design; this is an article about how we think, how we think about scientific propositions, how we think about our own and other people’s thinking and more particularly how the logical fallacy of the Argument from Ignorance can be part of the dynamic.

All of what follows was wrapped around a conversation that was organized around a discussion of Intelligent Design hosted by the Watermark Community Church in Dallas on April 19, 2009 at a forum called The Creation Conversation.  Ok, the building, the host, and the audience were some brand of evangelical Christian, and their ulterior motives were whatever they were, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing for the rest of us to learn from what transpired there, that is if you can be open minded enough to set aside for the moment the place and intentions of that particular conference and learn something from what was said there.

Therefore, we will all be expected to proceed, for the sake of the discussion, as of the subject matter is worth of being treated as a legitimate hypothesis, to be falsified or passed forward to the next round of discussion because it attempts, in good faith, to answer a question that other hypotheses have failed so far to answer:  How in the world could these complex machines and systems have come about without intelligence?

Fair enough?

Continue reading

The Theodicy of φ


Heraclitus instructs Leibniz: "τῷ μὲν θεῷ καλὰ πάντα καὶ ἀγαθὰ καὶ δίκαια, ἄνθρωποι δὲ ἃ μὲν ἄδικα ὑπειλήφασιν ἃ δὲ δίκαια"  [phi studios 2015]

Heraclitus instructs Leibniz:   “τῷ μὲν θεῷ καλὰ πάντα καὶ ἀγαθὰ καὶ δίκαια, ἄνθρωποι δὲ ἃ μὲν ἄδικα ὑπειλήφασιν ἃ δὲ δίκαια.”                                                                         [phi studios 2015]

Why Good?  Why Evil?

Why Man?  Why God?

The problem of Good and  Evil, it’s really not that complicated, it’s a matter of frames of reference.  It is simply that men are not fitly placed to be scrutineer to the workings of God, nor Man the only thing on God’s mind.

Continue reading

David Berlinski – On the crisis of historiography-Uncommon Knowledge and what is admissible to consider


The City of God,  manuscript at the NY Public Library

The something lost?  The City of God                                     [manuscript at the NY Public Library]

Here is some more of David Berlinski being interviewed by Peter Robinson on the contrast of St Augustine’s reinterpretation of history, watching the fall of Roman civilization from across the Mediterranean versus the poverty of our own intellectual position in the early 21st watching the fall of our own civilization on the internet:

[Berlinski] The point is, we do live in a society where the house of intellect is coordinated with only a finite number of microphones, and those microphones are connected with the academic world and with a certain part of the journalistic world.  I think that is true in the United States, it’s true in Canada, England, France, throughout Europe.  There is a doctrine, amounting to a dogma.  And, according to the doctrine, the dogma, this way of thinking [Augustine’s City of God] no matter what [the last Pope] Benedict says, or what the rabbis in Israel say is not part of the interpretable cannon.  It cannot be introduced.  Should it be introduced?  would it make more sense?  have we lost something of tremendous value in our culture?  Don’t forget, we are part of a Judaeo-Christian culture.  My answer is yes, of course, of course.  We have lost something of value; we cannot think in those terms any more.

Continue reading

Macaulay’s Idea of Progress – the bifurcation of material and social progress – Some thoughts on David Berlinski


Thomas Babington Macaulay, National Portrait Gallery, London [John Partridge d.1872]

Thomas Babington Macaulay,  National Portrait Gallery, London            [John Partridge d.1872]

David Berlinski begins his, still unacountably unfinished, book The Best of Times with this quote from 19th century British philosopher and Whig politician Thomas Babington Macaulay:

“We rely on the natural tendency of the human intellect to truth, and of the natural tendency of society to improvement.”

The 20th and 21st centuries speak otherwise according to Berlinski.

Continue reading

THE FOURTH OF JULY – a few days late


Star Flag

A woman sews a star on a United States flag, 1917

In the post-post modern post colonial west, particularly among its disciples in liberal Europe and even aux Etats Unis [such as Hakim Bey] have been busily propagating the idea that the American Revolution of 1776 represented some kind of an anti-colonialist movement that once having achieved a kind of hegemony over the natives decided it no longer needed the protection of the motherland to secure their power rose up against their former masters cast and them off.

This point of view is of course factually and demonstrably false.

Continue reading

PAGES2K Non-Corrigendum, Which Way is Up? – Disingenuousness or Defective Thinking in Climate Science?


Don't fall behind the power curve    [atani studios ccsa 3.0]

Don’t fall behind the power curve                                                                [atani studios ccsa 3.0]

This is yet another blog article that fell by the wayside as other projects took over, but I had put too much effort into it already to abandon it completely.  So, here it is even if it may no longer be quite as interesting as it might have been a couple of weeks ago – but hopefully still somewhat relevant – or maybe its the other way around.

Over at Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit, the topic of discussion has moved away from the parsing of the Michael Mann defamation suite and the shenanigans of blog commenter Nick Stokes towards a multi-part discussion of the publication of the recent “non-corrigendum” by the  PAGES2K Arctic Workingroup of a significant revisions to their  PAGES2K Arctic database of paleoclimate data.  The series started with McIntyre’s Revisions to Pages2K Arctic back on October 1st.

The original version of this particular product of the PAGES Consortium had garnered strong criticism at Climate Audit in the past particularly in regards to the inclusion of several contaminated lake sediment proxy series, the use [or misuse] of several series in an orientation that is either ambiguous or inverted to that used by specialists in the field, and a small laundry list of other complaints since it was first published in 2010.  McIntyre said of the publication:

Kaufman and the PAGES2K Arctic2K group recently published a series of major corrections to their database, some of which directly respond to Climate Audit criticism. The resulting reconstruction has been substantially revised with substantially increased medieval warmth. His correction of the contaminated Igaliku series is unfortunately incomplete and other defects remain.

McIntyre goes on in his ensuing series of articles to dissect in great statistical detail precisely what the remaining defects are in the PAGES2k Arctic database, why he thinks it is important that they be corrected as well, and why he thinks a formal corrigendum at the original publishing journal, Nature.com, is warranted – so those errors do not remain “in play” for other scientist to use [or misuse] by continuing to cite them in future research.

All of McIntyre’s reasoning seems reasonable and correct to me – the last and least among the readers who are non-experts at CA.

 

Continue reading

All is Lost – Too Long for Netflix – The editors ordeal


After the Storm, 1844, Eugène Louis Gabriel Isabey 1803-1886

After the Storm, 1844,                                                  [Eugène Louis Gabriel Isabey 1803-1886]

This blog isn’t supposed to be yet another movie review blog, we go to other blogs ourselves for that kind of thing, but sometimes we feel so stymied by the length restrictions imposed by some of the new social media websites, in this case Netfix and their 2000 character limit, that we feel compelled to publish here what we wish we were able to say over there in the first place.  Two thousand characters isn’t much [if you are counting spaces as well], that’s less than about 400 words.  It’s difficult to express one decent idea  in that few words and two ideas starts to become a parody of editorial excess.

Today’s essay started as a reaction, maybe a negative one, to the Meme Merchants Cinema Society’s recent viewing of the otherwise critically acclaimed 2013 film All is Lost by American screenwriter and director J.C. Chandor [Jeffery McDonald]  staring Robert Redford in a tour de force solo performance, which is usually described with some emphasis as being without any dialogue – as if that’s supposed to be an intrinsically good thing.

The elves at Netflix had this to say:

In this harrowing drama — which has no dialogue — a man stranded alone at sea courageously battles a ferocious storm as he struggles to survive.

Pardon me if I disagree with that assessment.  Rotten Tomatoes  gives the film a 93% Fresh, which is very good, so I’m wondering where the divergence lies.

What follows is what I wrote and wanted to publish, with some expansion;  what I actually managed to publish at Netflix is right at the bottom.

Continue reading

I Atticus Finch – Too Long for YouTube, again – Putting down a diseased arguement humanely


 [CCSA3.0 Atani Studios]

Operation Frantic: blood on the boarder lands                                     [CCSA3.0 Atani Studios]

Every once in a while I come across something said on the internet that is so egregiously backwards that it requires a reply so equal in incisiveness that it bursts the bounds of the host site’s normal reply mechanism and the social requirement for the polite give and take of civilized netiquette.  So, today you seem to be victim of another Too Long for YouTube breakdown because of some YouTube commenter who’s replies are so rabid in the defense of the Nazi cause I have momentarily let slip good taste – though hopefully not common sense.

At these moments I feel prompted to act in a way like Atticus Finch, in Harprer Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” when the gentleman lawyer is compelled to shoot dead with one well-aimed shot, a hydrophobic dog wandering the streets of his town before it can cause harm any innocent bystander – or itself continue to suffer with its fatal affliction.

Continue reading

Heyerdahl and Parallel Evolution at the Talkshop


Going with the flow, Heyerdahl and Kon-Tiki

Going with the flow, Heyerdahl and Kon-Tiki

There is a recent post up over at Tallbloke’s Talkshop: Thor Heyerdal: Retrospective on an Adventurous Anthropologist, which charts the man’s life and career on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of his birth: October, 6th 1914.

The article at the Talkshop commented at some length on Heyerdal’s various ocean voyages to support his ideas about trans-cultural diffusion over very long ocean distances.

Heyerdahl in particular inspired by his experiences in the south pacific in French Polynesia was possessed by the idea that the similarities between the famous moai figures of Easter Island and certain sculptures of pre-Columbian Peru indicated the possibility that vayagers from Peru encountered the native inhabitants and this was attested to in the oral legends of the islands inhabitants the Rapa Nui.  Examining the possibility of a voyage by ancient Peruvians to Easter Island lead to the famous Kon-Tiki expedition in 1947.

Another, similar, idea that possessed Heyerdahl was that the similarity between the pyramids of the ancient Egyptians and the Mayans indicated a possibility of a previously unrecognized trans-oceanic connection there as well.  This lead to the various Ra expeditions between 1969 and 1970.

I had a comment started which rapidly became too large to post there without blushing, so I posted a much abbreviated version there and the full length analysis below.

Heyerdahl was a hugely determined and brave adventurer, a great man and a great inspiration, but not much of a scientist in my opinion.  Heyerdahl certainly did prove that it was possible for a Norske to build a raft and to drift across two different oceans following the trade winds  – knowing there is someplace to wind up and the possibility of a safe return via boat or aircraft – but not much else in my opinion.

As for embarking on his later quest to effect the transformation the chief of the pantheon of your own culture’s archaic religion to a historical ruler/king somewhere in central Asia, a lot of other people besides Heyerdahl have fallen into that particular folly.

The problem with Heyerdahl’s thinking, and which is pretty common even in academic anthropology and archeology is to mistake a morphological similarity due to parallel evolution with a line of decent – an easy mistake to make.

Continue reading

In Moderation Limbo – Michael Mann’s legal fictions


 The treason trial of Aaron Burr

The treason trial of Aaron Burr, legal pleadings or legal fictions?

A Comment Lost in Limbo

Steve McIntyre. announced a change in moderation policy a few days ago at his blog Climate Audit in response to the recent Fokker Scourge of blog spam that has been sweeping the blogosphere.  Somehow I seem to have fallen afoul of the new anti-spam procedures, which is ok, but my most recent comment, presently in moderation limbo, awaits the Descensus Christi ad Inferos promised to posts that despite their possible sins, died in friendship with the moderator and await their present resurrection.

Hopefully Steve M. or some kind moderator will notice before the comment becomes completely irreverent – things move quickly in the blogosphere.

Continue reading