I was fortunate to be gifted with this book by the manager of Borders bookstore in San Jose. Following the launch of Celtic Women in Music in late 1999, she told me that my talk on ancient Celtic cultural heritage reminded her of this book, even though, like so many historians, Dr. Shlain, never mentions Celtic heritage.
Professor Shlain proposes that the process of learning alphabetic literacy rewired the human brain, with profound consequences for culture in that our evolving interdisciplinary capacity for visionary analytical thinking will be directed to finding 'holistic' solutions to our evolutionary needs.
Dr. Shlain explains the evolution of the human brain, as we slowly develop and coordinate our visionary and analytical skills.
With the introduction of the alphabet, Dr. Shlain believed our logical/linear thinking capacity grew exponentially, and that literacy reinforced the brain's linear, abstract, predominantly masculine left hemisphere at the expense of the holistic, iconic feminine right one.
Dr. Shlain explained,
“This shift upset the balance between men and women initiating the disappearance of goddesses, the abhorrence of images, and, in literacy's early stages, the decline of women's political status. Patriarchy and misogyny followed.” (Shlain, 1998)
But the good news is that he also described how we have developed our analytical capacity to the point where we can reengage our visionary capacity, with profound consequences for culture in that our evolving interdisciplinary visionary analytical thinking will be directed to finding 'holistic' solutions to our evolutionary needs.
"Max Planck stumbled upon a strange feature of the atomic world that greatly upset Newton's schema. Instead of the seamless linearity so long imagined to be at the heart of sequence, Planck discovered a discontinuity. This minute jerkiness began to uncouple cause-effect, the concept supporting so many cherished Western notions including linear sequence, the core principle of alphabets. Average people needed little prompting to integrate Planck's weird quantum distum concerning discontinuity. They were flocking to see flickering images of film, the burgeoning new communication medium." – Shlain, p 394.
Professor Shlain's 1998 Book launch lecture gives a comprehensive overview:
The following study notes are graciously offered by Robert Leaver – Alexrobinedith@verizon.net
References in brackets e.g. (2)
Image/Word Chronology of Time
History and the History of the Concept of Time:
1. "McLuhan classified speech, pictographs, ideographs, alphabets, print, radio, film, and television as distinctive information-conveying media, each with its own technology of transmission." (2) The technologies insinuate themselves into the collective psyche of the society that uses them and, once imbedded, stealthily exert an influence on cultural perceptions.
2. "There is one fact that can be established: the only phenomenon which, always in all parts of the world, seems to be linked with the appearance of writing…is the establishment of hierarchical societies, consisting of masters and slaves, and where one part of the population is made to work for the other part." – Claude Levi-Strauss (3)
Most important influences on a child: immediate family; culture; medium for perceiving and integrating information about the culture - images versus words. (3) Old Testament was the first writing to influence future generations (c.1000 BC) (7)
As primates differentiated from other mammals, they developed 3 modifications for living in trees: opposable thumbs, better eyesight, and a larger brain. Climate change and thinning of canopy in Great Rift Valley 5 million years ago brought apes down out of trees. They developed heels so they (first hominids) could walk upright. Then they learned to throw things with their free (right) hand. Brains grew more, resulting in longer childhood. The help our young, we developed altruism, kindness, generosity, and cooperation. Men had to assist women, drag game home. Women begged, trading sex for meat; gradually female estrus grew longer and disappeared, causing her to be attractive all the time. (Without estrus, Alpha Male could no longer demand first fuck rights. With all females available, other males had a shot at getting laid - if they had food to barter. Also, rape came into being.) Meat became an aphrodisiac. Killing made men transcendent. It gave him purpose, meaning, whereas women were kept immanent. Menses caused women to need meat for iron. Brains got still bigger, with the result that childhood took still longer. As adults taught children, we essentially conveyed culture, using Language. Speech enabled man to pass information on from generation to generation, wisdom to generations yet unborn. Major breakthrough.
Language started with pointing, first with one's eyes probably, then with arms, and then with fingers. In pointing, we made the enormous leap from concrete mentation to abstract thinking. It transformed "them" into "us."
Cooperative alliances among women. Men also became more involved in child rearing.
Division of labor:
Men were the hunters/killers and women were the nurturers. Men developed singularity of purpose and women, field awareness of all that was going on around her. She cradled her baby in her left arm, keeping her right available to gather or strike out in defense of her brood or tribe. Hence, men's and women's nervous systems developed differently.
Hominids' brains slowly enlarged for the first 2 million years. Over the next million years, while brains continued to grow, primarily in the neocortex, it also split in two. And we developed "hemispheric lateralization" with a bridge, the corpus callosum, between lobes. The part torn away, the left brain, became the home of ego, doing, speech, abstraction, and numbers. Some say we had to develop an alternative kind of brain, the left brain, in order to perceive time, in order to range back and forth along the line of past, present, and future. The ability to grasp the concept of linear time was the precondition for being able to grasp the concept of linear speech. "The survival and then success of humans required that evolution set aside an area of the newly enlarging brain in which the concept of time could be contemplated free of the holistic and gestalt spatial perceptions of the earlier mammalian and primate brains." (22)
9. "Time and sequence are the very crux of the language of numbers; it is impossible to think of arithmetic outside of its framework. I propose that the left hemisphere is actually a new sense organ designed by evolution to perceive time." (23)
10. Homo sapiens sapiens, the wise human, the human with hemispheric lateralization, - i.e. left brain, appeared over 100,000 years ago. Time was a masculine concept, more closely associated with hunting and killing, with taking life, whereas space was a female concept more closely associated with creating life, gathering and nurturing. "Time and Space are Real Beings, a Male and a Female. Time is a Man and Space is a Woman." Wlm Blake (23)
11. Hemispheric lateralization led to our ability to respond in an infinite variety of ways, making us very intelligent.
The evolution of cones (for focus, scrutiny, concentration, inspecting in sequence, and color) and rods for light sensitivity and movement (for field vision, gestalts). Cone vision develops later than rod vision, once the body gets the message that it's going to be a predatory mammal. The functioning of cones creates the illusion of time because images are seen one-at-a-time. You see what was, what is, and what's coming next. So, cones helped the left brain develop the idea of next, or the future. Men have more cones; women have more rods.
13. Hands also became specialized. The left, protective hand holds baby, wards off blows, carries the shield (Is this why boys were forced to be right handed in Rome? For the Phalanx?), forage. The right hand selected what the left hand carried. "Sinistra" = Italian for left. The left is considered to be under the control of the devil. Since the left brain controlled the right, it made it the instrument of action. It was part of our learning to throw, to hunt and kill.
14. The lateralization of brain, eye, and hand effects how each person perceives, manipulates, symbolizes, and ultimately thinks about the world. And a society can accentuate one or the other, the masculine or the feminine, depending on the demands of its environment and the shaping influences of its inventions. (27)
When we force behavior on our children, their reaction may be to lean in or become inclined to the opposite direction.
16. "Anxiety is the result of the perception of the truth of one's condition. What does it mean to be a self-conscious animal? The idea is ludicrous, if it is not monstrous. It means to know that one is food for worms. This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression - and with all this yet to die." – Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death, 1973, p. 87). (28)
"Fear was the first mother of the gods. Fear, above all, of death."
18. When we got linear time down, we came face to face with our death, and then life via sex, pregnancy, and birth. Mortality dawns on us at about 7. So, the first thing we did was to choose the idea of afterlife. Women understood about life before men because they saw the likeness between their babies and their fathers: ah-ha!
So, men discovered offspring. And the first thing we did was demand chastity. Though it probably served women's interests, as well. Patriarchies insist on chastity and fidelity. Alpha male, needing to control conception and thus perpetuation of his healthiest genes, and "menarche-to-menopause" tyranny over females.
Fear of death also leads to guilt. We hate the fact that we must kill to live. Old Testament: biting the fruit. Once Paleolithic hunters/gatherers saw that life is finite, it became sacred. Life and death became sacred.
Age communities consisted of +/- 10 hunters, their women and 30-40 children, or a total of 80-100 individuals. The tribe seldom mixed with other tribes. This setup remained essentially unchanged for 2,990,000 years.
Then, along came intentional planting, horticulture, and domestication of animals, with the resulting diminution of the hunter/killer role. It was a shift to the feminine with fecundity and fertility society's highest values. (Pets) (33) So men had to think up alternative fight/flight activities for those neural pathways and that adrenaline rush. To go with the radical psychological reprogramming which went with being a farmer. It was the replacement of the nomadic, wandering way of life (in which tribes were constantly on the move from one hunting ground to another) by the more stable, one location way of life. "Beginning some 7,000 years ago, farming societies began to sprout all across the Mediterranean and southern Europe." (33) Earth Mother.
23. Communities grew. Administration and bureaucracy. Men took up sport hunting, competitions, ritual killings, human sacrifices, and, eventually, war - the ultimate salve to man's innate combativeness.
24. Between 7000 and 4000 BC, man grew less violent and society more collaborative. Minoans, Crete, Knossos. 3500-1500 BC. Women created Neolithic religion, developed agriculture and controlled its products. Absence of military castes, central authority, and a science of warfare. (I can hardly imagine it, though I can sense that it must have been a great way to live.)
The fertile female statues were not part of a cult (as early white male archaeologists said), they were icons for the Goddess religion(s) which dominated from 8,000 BC to 3,000 BC. But then, over the course of the next 2,000 years, from 3000 BC to 1000 BC, the goddess's power eroded as the reign of the patriarch commenced - despite the fact that the societies remained agricultural. "When we look back across the historical time of patriarchy…there seems to be some terrible inevitability, a relentless desire to crush the female essence, human and divine. The question of why is among the most puzzling of our time." – Elinor Gadon
Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994) argued that the language of the goddess undergirds our entire Western culture. Gimbutas charts the "Old Europe" Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures, from about 9000 to 3500 BC, through the use of artifacts and sacred symbols to show the scope of goddess language.
"Marija Gimbutas...speculated in the 1960s that a semi-pastoral people called the Kurgan culture domesticated the horse in southern Russia around 5000 BC and mounted the first cavalry. Gimbutas asserts that these horsemen swept down out of the steppes of Russia beginning in 4500 BC and fell upon peaceful agricultural settlements, killing the men, enslaving the women, and appropriating wealth and land. The Kurgan people, Gimbutas speculates, then repressed Earth Goddess worship, supplanting Her with their sky gods." – Marija Gimbutas (The Language of the Goddess, 1989, xx) (35)
26. Levi-Strauss believes the decline of the goddess began with bride barter, or exogamy, in which pre-adolescent girls were traded between tribes to prevent inbreeding and strengthen alliances. The practice led men to begin thinking of women as chattel, or commodities, which, in turn, led us to begin appropriating women's power.
Ortner claims there's a natural tendency for gender roles to diverge because of society's tendency to associate men with culture and women with nature. Every group tries to rise above nature by mastering it via culture. On this subject Freud said boys love the first woman in their lives but then have to break away from their moms to become a man; hence the male habit of devaluing the female (especially in men who never make the break completely.) So, men break away into culture, whereas women remain with their mums in the realm of nature.
28. Engels said owning private property, i.e. equipment, food surpluses, and then land led to owning women. William Irving Thompson says the agrarian revolution led to the demeaning of men, to which they responded by turning their heretofore other-directed aggressiveness inward at their weaker partners, women. (37)
Lerner says it was due to the formation of states, governments, complex organization, to regulate trade, store surpluses, design and build irrigation projects, etc., which caused power to be concentrated in the hands of the few, the strong, the alpha male. He invoked divine parentage and then took slaves. Agriculture made slavery feasible because the men were home to watch the slaves. And captured women became sex slaves, dehumanizing them.
But what about the goddess states which were around between 5000 BC and 3000 BC? Here Shlain begins his pitch to the effect that literacy was anti-feminist. First writing, and then the alphabet and the books that resulted from it dealt the death knell to feminine values, both metaphorically and literally. (39)
31. "In oral communication the eye, ear, brain, senses, and faculties acted together in busy co-operation and rivalry, each eliciting, stimulating, and supplementing the other." – Harold Innis (The Bias of Communication, 1951, p. 105). "The evidence indicates that learning to read and write a language in youth influences the way the hemispheres work." – Robert Ornstein (The Right Mind, 1997, p. 40). (40)
Ch. 5 is about nonverbal versus verbal, how the written word is linear and about there and then, as opposed to being holistic and in the here and now. Speech is an act of improvisation; we make it up as we go. That makes the experience of the spoken word markedly different from reading the written word. How writing involves the muscle of only one small part of the body, whereas speaking involves a lot of muscles. The written word issues from linearity, sequence, reductionism, abstraction, control, central vision, and the dominant hand - all hunter/killer attributes. How writing caused a shift of tectonic proportions that broke the brain apart and made the left brain, flanked by the incisive cones of the eye and the aggressive right hand, dominant over the right.
33. "In the history of Homo sapiens, the book is an anthropological development similar to the invention of the wheel." – Joseph Brodsky (45) Pictographs, petroglyphs, and cuneiform (among the Sumerians, 3000 BC). The Akkadians conquered Sumer and created (the first?) phonetic writing. (2500 BC) (46) The Seven Tables of Creation (1700 BC) A male written goddess story of the origin of the world. Remained strong for the next 1000 years. This was the first creation myth to be reduced to writing and it's also the most misogynist myth of all time. It originated in a proto-Western culture.
The Seven Tables also coincided with Hammurabi's Code in cuneiform. Written laws became important at just the moment the Babylonian Goddess, Tiamat, was going down in defeat. In other words, the power of the written law supplanted the power of the Elders and Shamans, who had theretofore passed codes of conduct down orally. And, as it did, The Seven Tables was accepted as the death knell of Goddesses. What actually happened is that abstract laws replaced the Shaman's personal authority. The law replaced the direct experience. If you broke a taboo, you experienced the Shaman's and tribe's anguish, for you'd hurt the entire tribe and you could see it. If you broke a law, on the other hand, you were singled out as a deviant. In this way, individuality and ego replaced part-of-the-greater-whole and relative egolessness. Very impersonal, written laws, with their grammar and abstract authority. There was no equivocating with the written law: "cast in stone." Left brain, the antithesis of spontaneity and intuition. Plus, written laws inherently reinforce masculine principles (witness the extensive written rules for boy's games). (52)
Hieroglyphs vs Isis.
Egyptians invented hieroglyph about 3000 BC. Each hieroglyph served 3 functions. It represented the image of the thing, it stood for a sound of a syllable, and it clarified the meanings of the hieroglyphs on either side. Some times you recognized the meaning of the message by recognizing the patterns of all the icons simultaneously. The Egyptians invented 25 icons to represent their spoken consonants. It was the first rudimentary alphabet, though it was more right-brain than the Mesopotamian cuneiform. During Amenhotep IV's reign with Nefertiti, there was a brief return to the feminine, but right afterwards they went right back to the god Aton, from Amon. But the common people clung to the Goddess Isis, the Great Mother. Egyptian women fared far better than Mesopotamian women. Whereas Mesopotamia excelled in war, laws, cruelty, science, morality, conquest, commerce, and abstract concepts, Egypt excelled in sensuality, gaiety, and respect for motherhood. But as Egypt's literacy rate increased, feminine authority suffered a decline.
36. "The perceptions of anyone who learned how to send and receive information by means of regular, sequential, linear rows of abstract symbols were wrenched from a balanced, centrist position toward the dominating, masculine side of the human psyche. This radical shift produced a revolution in gender relationships that was so subtle and insidious that no one noticed what was happening." (63)
And we're still talking hieroglyphs and cuneiform…
Aleph/Bet. "It is only as language becomes written down that it becomes possible to think about it. The acoustic medium, being incapable of visualization, did not achieve recognition as a phenomenon wholly separate from the person who used it. But in the alphabetized document the medium became objectified. There it was, reproduced perfectly in the alphabet…no longer just a function of "me" the speaker but a document with an independent existence." – Eric Havelock, classicist. Sinai Peninsula; the Habiru ("dusty travelers"); Hebrew? In the first 2 millennium after the founding of Egypt and Mesopotamia, from 3000 BC to 1000 BC, this "patchwork quilt of clans," "this motley collection of proto-nations," began to make it's move. They changed the course of history by inventing the alphabet.
The alphabet ended the hegemony of the literate elite. (65) Instead of 600 cuneiform characters or 6000 hieroglyphs coupled with rules of grammar that would daunt the most eager student, we then had 20-odd letters. An alphabet, by definition, is a form of writing that contains fewer than 30 signs. Over time, the cultures that could take advantage of the alphabet became monotheistic cultures, used the Rule of Law to organize themselves, instituted democracy, hallowed individualism, invented money, and created prose, drama, and philosophy. And, they also glorified war, abused nature, perfected imperialism, and became deeply sexist.
The alphabet allowed us to systematize knowledge, to store and retrieve data, and thus to undertake theoretical science. These theoretical scientists have done more to transform civilization and the human condition than any other single factor or group. Alphabets reinforced (1) the left brain, (2) the cone, and (3) the right hand, and was the swan song of the unified response, of personal integration.
As civilization progressed from image based communication (pictographs and hieroglyphs) to non-iconic forms (cuneiform), written communication became steadily more left-brain. Water…w…(67) Alphabets have washed out the iconic patterns from earlier forms of writing. Writing d-o-g causes us to imagine some sort of dog, but it's a far cry from the picture of a dog we saw in pictographs, much less the spoken word, "dog," much less the visual image of an actual dog. What's going on as we progress up this ladder of abstraction is that we replace an all-at-once gestalt with an unnatural, one-at-a-time cognition. (D-o-g actually just gives our minds the bare bones. We wait for details, or we proceed with just the bare bones, as the writer wishes. In a sense, we're dependent on the writer for fragments, rather than our own senses for the whole. Is this why writing and reading require so much concentration as opposed to speaking? Part of it, no doubt. We're led by the very abstraction process. Analyze it in terms of Events and Experiences, Instinct, Emotion, Intellect. Are there some experiences we shouldn't try to abstract? That we cheapen by confining them to perception by our left brain? Some things you must not talk about? Hence, secret rituals?) In The Course, I try to keep a left-brain/right-brain balance between words, the serious business of reasoning, and laughter, or play. How about the way we assign different situations/problems to different ways of thinking, how we apply logic to crises, for example. Or how love is accepted as irrational or right brain, a gestalt.
Alphabets elevated the influence of the left brain at the expense of the right. Cones became stronger and the right hand (controlled by the left brain) became more dominant. And, over time, both sexes were brought to heel. Upon learning the alphabet, both men and women turned away from the idols and animal totems that represented the images of nature, and began paying homage to the abstract logos. A god with no face, everywhere, and we waited to be told how to deal with him.
Who invented the alphabet? Phoenicians? Canaanites? Egyptians? Or the Sinai dwellers? Petrie found examples of a "Proto-sinaitic" alphabet dating back to 1800 BC. Sinai? Where Yahweh gave Moses the Ten Commandments (and monotheism)? The Ten Commandments applied to everyone. No one was exempt, nor was ignorance any excuse under the law because you were expected to be able to read. (The codes of Draco, Solon, and Justinian, not to mention the Magna Carta, our constitution, and even our Miranda Rights can be traced back to the Ten Commandments. The Old Testament, Bible, was the first book written in an alphabet. Perhaps the transforming event was not the Bible, not Yahweh and Moses, but the invention of the alphabet. Do we have the Jews to thank for the alphabet?
"The occurrence of monotheism, codified law, and the alphabet all at the same time in history cannot have been coincidental…The abstractness of all three innovations were mutually reinforcing." Robert Logan (72) Torah: 1000-900 BC. Four different voices, the last from 400 BC. Talmud was post-Diaspora. In 367 AD, when Christians canonized New Testament, they also accepted the Old Testament. By sheer force of will, the Prophets enforced the laws of the Covenant. They railed against apostasy, image-worship, and backsliding. No afterlife. You'd be judged here on earth by Yahweh. Sin and guilt. Every decision is yours to make but you better make it right. Hence, Jewish tradition of arguing about right and wrong to distill the truth of conscience. Yahweh cared.
44. Nietzsche said "God is dead" (1888) because he felt God had become irrelevant, that science, philosophy, psychology, and laws had diminished God's role in the day to day life of man. But 3800 years before, in 1600 BC, there wasn't even a word for religion because it, and the praying that went with it, weren't a separate category of daily life. In other words, we'd abstracted God out of business.
Consider the Ark of the Covenant, a wooden box with Yahweh's written words. That was it, words. Bar Mitzvah (78): Boys reading the Torah. Ritual came into existence in Middle Ages. The first people to achieve literacy would provide the underpinnings for Western civilization. The written, silent word superseded the authority and sanctity of the spoken word, thus reducing the importance of liturgical sound and images. The written word has heft, gravity, and authority; talk is cheap by comparison. The written word is immortal, which may be why Jews didn’t have to have an afterlife.
46. Despite many good things, the new Israelite religion introduced religious intolerance. Xenophobic; their zeal brooked no compromise in the protection of their religion. They believed they were superior to people who still worshipped idols. There is no record of a religious war before monotheism, as the polytheistic religions fostered tolerance. The God of the Israelites had neither a father, a mother, a wife, a son, or a daughter. Tough concept for a polytheist. Abstraction is a crucial component of logical thinking. One effect of the new abstract, linear, sequential, and reductionist way of communicating is the move toward more left brain, masculine thinking - which thinking tends to include a greater certainty in the rightness of one's position or cause. (Monotheism was in itself an abstraction, the step between illiterate polytheism and the literate monotheism.) (81)
47. First 4 commandments: (82)
(1.) "I am the Lord they God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." No more goddess. I am a man. The exclusion of the goddess in the very first sentence makes this the most radical sentence in human history. (2.) Thou shalt have no graven images. No more other gods and no more iconic information. Art is made more dangerous than murder, a later commandment. The Israelites were opposed to the images more than the gods, themselves, because they knew that image worship was their greatest enemy, that right brain was the enemy of the system they wanted to impose. (3.) Don't mention Yahweh's name. This reinforces the written over the spoken. And (4.) remember the Sabbath, or keep track of time. So, we've got I'm it; written words over images; written words over spoken words; and watch the TIME. The time commandment lays the groundwork for the idea of justice, since linear time is necessary for the idea of punishment delayed and reward postponed. Non-literate people don't care about justice because they have no sense of linear time, of "later." A Judgement Day occurs only in literate people. Non-literate people think of death as a passage into another world - without a day in court or before a judge. Alphabets stretch out our sense of time and make us more aware of the possibility of retribution. Alphabets also allow the keeping of history, the chronological sequence of events. In the fourth commandment, Yahweh was really telling people to be aware of, to celebrate, and to COUNT time. Afterwards, it was literate cultures that invented sundials, water clocks, pendulums, cogs, gears, and calendars. (Actually, the wrist watch became an idol, a competing god, at which point a clock with chimes broke the first, second, and third commandments!) In other words, Yahweh introduced the rule of the alphabet, it in turn led to time, and then time and the alphabet ate Yahweh. It's like our fear of the things we create, such as the computer. We create something that causes us to behave in a new way, and then the new behavior takes us over and changes us in ways we couldn't have anticipated. Are we going to destroy ourselves? Or swing back to right brain and holism?
The earliest written words were magical. When they were said to proclaim the words of a god, they were even more powerful. Ah, but the true message was in code. When you learned to read and write, the god had you. The medium is the message. Then, you order people to foreswear any other gods, not even to imagine them. You lock them into accessing god by reading about you. But the real thing you do is lock them into a process which enslaves them forever. (86)
"Of all the great hybrid unions that bread furious release of energy and change, there is none to surpass the meeting of literate and oral cultures. This giving to man of an eye for an ear by phonetic literacy is, socially and politically, probably the most radical explosion that can occur in any social structure."– McLuhan & Zingrone (Essential McLuhan, 1997, p. 175) (87)
(In any new religion, we have to have people pray to the actual experience, as opposed to praying to it via an abstraction of it. Mindfulness.) The Israelites' is the ONLY belief system to survive from antiquity. Jews date from 1800 BC (89). No goddess; me, Yahweh; no images; no speaking Yahweh; pay attention to time. They kept it alive with the written word.
50. Abraham gave Yahweh complete loyalty in exchange for being the head of the Jews. First task: cut off your foreskin. Also, requiring circumcision precluded women. Abram became Abraham and Sarah became Sarah. Would Abraham sacrifice his only son? Ok, but not necessary, Yahweh said. Isaac grew to manhood and married Rebecca, and they had 2 sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob was "a sitter in tents." He married Rachel and her sister Leah (who bore him 6 sons and a daughter). Rachel gave him Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph was a writer who came into possession of a lot of Egypt. After he died, the Hebrews were deported to slave camps where they were worked to death. It appears the Hebrews got into trouble because they were literate, stubborn, and superior - smarty-pants. Out of the slave camp came Moses. Speech defect, hence good writer. Burning bush; Yahweh tells Moses to go demand his people's freedom. Derision; plagues; Exodus; 40 year journey to base of Mt. Sinai; Ten Commandments; Commandments meet golden calf, both shatter; Moses takes 40 days without food and reconstructs the tablets (Moses wrote what Yahweh dictated). The Hebrews changed their names to Israelites, placed the tablets in a wooden Ark, and hid it in the desert. Hebrews remained in the desert for another 40 years (during which Moses had no face and wore a veil - you give the word to your people, you lose your face). The third generation in the desert didn't have the slave mentality and could therefore be the basis of the group who would build the new nation. Moses died and his ashes were scattered in an unknown place (no other gods but me and no idols). Joshua took over. When the Israelites slaughtered the Canaanites because they worshipped images, it was the first time in all history that an innocent people were exterminated because of religious zeal. Written words triumphed over pictures. (102)
"Why is it continually inferred that the age of the "pagan" religions, the time of the worship of female deities (if mentioned at all), was dark and chaotic, mysterious and evil, without the light of order and the reason that supposedly accompanied the later male religions, when it has been archaeologically confirmed that the earliest law, government, medicine, agriculture, architecture, metallurgy, wheeled vehicles, ceramics, textiles, and written language were developed in societies that worshipped the Goddess." - Merlin Stone, (1976), "When God was a Woman, xxiv.
The originators of Judaism had to make an appearance of being equitable, but at the same time keep the goddess down. The women in the Old Testament were known for their multifaceted personalities, yet the demolition of women's status began on the second of 700 pages. Woman was created as an after thought, out of Adam's rib (superfluous bone). Thus, readers saw that a woman's function was to support her man. Then she eats the forbidden fruit. "…and he shall rule over thee." Thus, Eve suffered pain and possible death, and lost her freedom for life. Later, she would be called her husband's property, along with his ass and house. (114) Slaves are to be freed after 7 years but women serve forever. Yahweh judges murder by a man a less offense than disobedience by a woman. And female curiosity was branded the greatest sin.
53. The story of Genesis was intended to convert those Israelites who still held the Goddess in high regard. Scriptures made it clear that the mothers of Hebrews were deficient, not the fathers. (116) Conception was deemed a man's job. Why did Yahweh remain indifferent to the Jews for 430 years after Joseph's death? Spousal abuse of Israel by Yahweh. Jews sublimated their sexuality into "Sophia," wisdom (First century BC writings.) While wisdom was considered feminine, none of the Jewish leaders sought feminine wisdom. Rather, they were all looking for BOOK learning! The aleph-bet broke the spirit of women. To summarize about the Hebrews, they bequeathed the alphabet to the Canaanites, who then taught it to the Phoenicians, who then taught it to the Greeks. (119)
Israel and Greece were the first two cultures to embrace the alphabet. And, like the Israelis before them, the Greeks revised their mytho-history to disempower women. Prince Cadmus introduced the alphabet to the Greeks. Vagina dentata. Cadmus extracted the teeth. "Wisdom teeth" so named because we associate teeth with wisdom and power. Also, the bull, for the shape of his head and horns. The bull became the Goddess's totem. Bull in water = female's reproductive organs. With the alphabet, the bull became lusty male. In 8th century BC, Iliad glorifies male values and denigrates female ones. Some say it's a story about men's need to control women and their reproductive organs. The Old Testament and the Iliad are the West's oldest literary anchors. We've taught them to children for thousands of years, yet no one disagrees that they're sexist credos.(131)
Whereas the Israelites tried to channel sex into the narrowest of channels, with punishments for anyone who deviated, the Greeks enjoyed a riot of sexual excess. Yahweh and Zeus were at opposite ends of the spectrum on sex. Zeus raped Ganymede. In doing so, he put homo sex above hetero sex. So, in the beginning of the contact between the Israelites and the Greeks, despite their shared commitment to literacy, there was conflict. The result is that our culture has the two fathers, the stern and the playful.
(136) "The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur." Alfred North Whitehead (136) In the 5th century BC, the Greeks ejected Hestia, goddess of hearth, family, and children, and replaced her with Dionysus, god of wine, sexuality, and dance. It was at the time of flowering literacy, Greek rationality, and classical art. Dionysus was the god of moon, night, the fig tree, moisture, guiltless sex, altered states of consciousness, and orgiastic celebration of dance and music. He was the god of the lucky hunch, the flash of insight, the divine epiphany, and intuitive knowledge. He had the gift of divination. He could prick the imagination of mortals, but his touch was a hair's breadth from the inundation of insanity.
Why would the Greeks, who codified logic and had a god, Apollo, for reason (to stand against Dionysus, madness), create a male god of madness? At a time when their left brains were hypertrophying? As the god of irrationality, Dionysus was a male usurping a female role. His true gender, nature, was female. Witness drama, a right brain activity, the menders, nurses, and fanatical priestesses, the maenads.
As indicated by the two masks, tragedy and comedy, Dionysus represented man's dual nature. Laughter, faith, watching a sunset, any act where there is no demonstrable "purpose" involved, the appreciation of art and beauty, sexual arousal, love, nationalism, altruism, are all irrational. In Greece, men despised and feared women. And the women, in turn, suffered a high rate of depression. Many went crazy or committed suicide. (Plutarch reported that to deter suicide a king proclaimed that the corpses of suicides would be dragged naked through the streets.) The women experienced pain, terror, and death in the Dionysian rituals. How they chased and killed the girls.(140)
Before Dionysus, the Greeks celebrated man's dual nature with Apollo and Artemis, the nascent West's first yin and yang. They were both very reserved. Artemis was a fiercely independent huntress who protected women in childbirth and made sure young women grew up straight and healthy. With the rise of Dionysus, Artemis became less important, at least to men. And over time, Dionysus appropriated many of Artemis's aspects. By the 4th century BC, Apollo/Dionysus had supplanted Apollo/Artemis.
In some of the Dionysian rituals women ate men. There's no such savagery in pre-literate cultures. The otherwise civilized Greeks were paying homage to a cannibal god. As the only member of the Golden Circle who could die, Dionysus also represented annual resurrection. Dionysus was the master magician of pleasure and pain, beauty and cruelty, ecstasy and terror, and creativity and madness. He was the enigmatic spirit of the dual-yet-opposing natures of human experience. He represented the complementarity between intuition and reason, the sacred and profane, the feminine and the masculine.
The essential nature of the human male and female had been forged over the past 3 million years of hunter/gatherer and gatherer/nurturer. Females are considered more kindly, generous, nurturing, and compassionate than males. Yet women were portrayed as harpies, furies, and sirens, creatures who abandoned their children and murdered men. Why? Well, when one group prepares for war against another, the first thing they do is demonize the other. Greeks demonized women because Dionysus' mother's parents were Cadmus and Harmony, the daughter of Ares, the god of war. It was the union of the alphabet and war. And throughout history, whenever great advances in science and knowledge through the alphabet have occurred, they have been associated with war. In the 4th century BC, Greece was at its height. And then, suddenly, between 411 and 386 BC, a monstrous conflict emerged in which Socrates was condemned to death, etc. The price for not recognizing Dionysus is to be psychologically torn apart. "The House of Cadmus suffered a curse as ghastly as the one that dogged the House of Athens. All the Cadmean women, and many of the men, suffered terrible tribulations through six generations. The founder of the House of cadmus killed the many-toothed serpent, the feminine symbol of power and wisdom, and was responsible for the Greeks having the instrument to initiate a society ruled by law. It was poetic justice that the last female of this line should sacrifice her life because the law had lost its soul. The alphabet was a vast gift. Women paid the price of its curse." (148)
(149) "We are heirs to the Greek intellectual tradition, one of single file logic and rational analysis. And it is not only the formal arguments of Aristotle that have passed down, it is the alphabet itself that may play an unexpected role in our brain organization."
- Robert Ornstein (The Right Mind, 1997, p. 41)
While the literate Athenians were demonizing women, the non-literate Spartans were honoring women. Socrates appreciated women, AND opposed writing (because you couldn't ask it questions, nor could it ask you.) Socrates worked both sides of the street, both hemispheres of his brain, with the give and take of debate. Plato, who became history's earliest prose writer, was also leery of writing. In "Phaedrus," he pointed out that writing is the symbol for the spoken word, which itself is a symbol once removed from thought, itself; therefore, the written word is twice removed from the truth in the mind of "one who knows." Plato was a transitional figure, between orality and literacy.
How did the tradition-bound, superstitious Greeks wake up and come to see themselves as individuals possessing free will? The answer lies in the changing technology of communication. The left brain discarded the right brain's way of receiving information. Plato was gay. He banned artists from his utopia. "The art of representation is therefore a long way removed from truth…"
But Plato's pupil, Aristotle, held the most malevolent view of women. With Aristotle, the Greek world passed through oral instruction to the habit of reading. And Aristotle justified slavery and championed male domination of women.
65. The Greeks also invented currency in 7th century BC, including the first coins which weren't worth their stated value or weight in silver or gold. (156) Those who accepted copper for goods had to rise to a level of abstract thinking that required as willing suspension of disbelief as drama. The opposable thumb not only grasped and held, it led to the concept of personal ownership in our brain. Hence, greed. There are 4 ways to obtain something from another: ask it as a gift, claim it by killing its owner, steal it, or barter it. Bartering is the fairest and least disruptive. Then came the shekel, in Mesopotamia and Egypt. But the shekel was still a commodity with its own intrinsic value, because shekels were the payment. Athenian copper rounds were a logarithmic leap in abstraction, a unit of currency which was a promise to pay at a later date and in a different location an agreed upon weight of gold. What's more, someone unfamiliar with the initial transaction would complete the redemption. Currency projected its owner forward through time and space. Nothing resembles monotheism as much as moneytheism. Alphabet cultures have found a way to accommodate the twin aspirations of wanting to be nearer to both Gott and Geld. The Puritan ethic encouraged guiltless devotion to both. Although different in content and value, the abstract mental process by which people believe in an imageless deity is close to the one by which they place faith in the worth of abstract monetary equivalencies.
A clear sense of linear time is a prerequisite for the convention of currency. Possessors of gold understand that they have only postponed the pleasure of holding gold in their hands. Copper rounds represented delayed gratification. Only a culture immersed in a linear alphabet could have conceived of the equation/adage "Time is money."
Both businessmen and monotheists possess an abiding faith in the ineffable, invisible force that will settle all accounts in the end. "In God We Trust." (We've bamboozled ourselves to the point where we even say, "All others pay cash.")
Because abstraction, numeracy, and linearity are left brain functions, money has traditionally been the purview of men. When men learned to write, they segued from hunting into money. Dollars became wooly mammoths: "Bringing home the bacon." Because the perceptual strategy of women is holistic and concrete, finance isn't generally attractive to them. Women store their money where they can find it. Hence, "portable wealth." (158)
Traditionally, the West has been outer directed and dualistic; the East, inner seeking and monist. The West sees its history as a series of events; the East tends to see patterns that recur. Western medicine tends to the mechanistic; Eastern medicine embraces holism. The West's aspects predominantly personify the left brain; the East's characterize the right. Check out India.
70. Sati, bride burning, female infanticide, and Purdah, the practice of segregating the sexes. Three thousand BC, a highly advanced culture. Lingam, the phallus, and yoni, the vulva. Sanskrit, "sacred and pure." Around 1500 BC, Harappan culture waned, to be replaced by the Aryan Hittites. The Vedas, ancient poems, got changed as passed from one culture to the next. Same with Rig-Veda, India's oldest epic poem. Women had had but lost power with the advent of literacy, as the poetry was written down. In the Mahabharata, Drapaudi was married to 5 guys. (161) The Upanishads, the philosophical section of the Vedas, was partially written by a woman. The Vedas said we weren't creations of god, but manifestations of God. No sin, no guilt, no blame, no disobedience, no fall from grace, no punishment meted out. The serpent isn't cursed and the woman isn't the root of all evil.
But beginning about 1250 BC, priestly assistants to the dominant warriors who'd conquered the country, known as Brahmins, gained control over writing. The Brahmins got control of education and when they did they taught kids that they were tops and the warriors were second. Essentially, the Brahmins controlled society by controlling the dissemination of information. (They also discouraged women from getting an education.)
Every religion asks: Where do we come from, and where do we go when we die? The Hindus came up with the idea of karma, in which the dead return to earth to serve out their karmic sentence. This is how they kept the people down for so long. The law of karma is a soporific to prevent people - especially women - from trying to enhance their positions. India was one of the last of the major cultures to adopt alphabetic writing. With a genderless Brahmin, sexually explicit art, important goddesses, the worship of nature, and yoga to attain spirituality, India has a strong right brain bias - despite the efforts of Aryans, Greeks, and Muslims to impose masculine, left brain values.
(168) "On ignorance depends karma; on karma depends consciousness; on consciousness depends name and form; on name and form depend the 5 organs of sense; on the 5 organs of sense depend contact; on contact depends sensation; on sensation depends desire; on desire depends clutching; on clutching depends existence; on existence depends birth; on birth depends old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief, and despair." – Buddha
After achieving enlightenment in 533 BC, Buddha began preaching. He was very successful in recruiting converts. But by 500 AD, Buddhism was almost extinct. Yet, even as it was dying out in India it was growing elsewhere. How could this happen? [First, the story of Buddha: Siddhartha saw the ego as a selfish brat who would stop but nothing to continue breathing. Ego covets food and drink, possessions, identity, human relationships. It's lusty because sexual union feeds the karmic cycle by providing the never-ending stream of carnal bodies re-entering this vale of woe. The ego, in short, prevents one from combining the soul of self with the soul of not-self. Ego prevents us from seeing that we "are not two." The enlightened being realizes that there are no divisions between selves. Nirvana means extinguished, as in ego. Buddha decided to stay and teach as a Boddhisvatva. He held up a small flower. He was silent. If his insight was ineffable and could only be gained by intense self-examination, how could he transmit it?
75. Buddha taught: People suffer because everything changes. We live in a fleeting, transitory world but we don't want to admit it. We cling to that which is impermanent. Yet love, fame, money, youth, health, and ultimately life itself are all subject to decay and permutation. We need to become indifferent to change, to pain and loss. Without desire, people would be free. The price is indifference to relationships and passion.
76. Buddha founded an atheistic religion. He said the gods were poltergeists in a vast delusional system intended to reinforce our cravings. Priests, rituals, prayers, angels, demons, devotions, sacrifices, supplications, incantations, are all hokum. All religious hierarchies are designed to benefit the priests. He resisted a code of law, believing that all laws imposed by an external authority ultimately degenerate into tyranny.
Buddha was contemptuous of the written word. He discouraged transcription of his teachings. After his enlightenment, Buddha's doctrine flowed from his personal experience of nirvana; mere literary narrative could never hope to convey the truth of his insight. He tried to convey his insight through his actions. To him, there were no chosen or more valuable people, no divine rights. He was, he told his followers, a mere mortal who had discovered a great truth. He called speculations about creation, the nature of the soul, all that stuff distractions from the real work at hand: rejoining the One through a life of inner contemplation.
78. His teachings included feminine motifs, as well as dictates for stripping away the power of the male priests. His key words were "Wisdom" and "Compassion," two concepts associated with the feminine principle. (The Jews believed wisdom could best be achieved through knowledge of God's written word. Buddha believed wisdom could best be achieved through direct experience and intuition.) But Buddha also taught the dangers of sex. In fact, he addressed it in his first sutra, admonishing Ananda not to have any contact with women. Also, his disciples excluded women and his monks took vows of celibacy. And, of course, the end of birth isn't exactly good for women.
79. Buddha wasn't unhappy (because he recommended the end of birth and talked about suffering, dukkha). Because attachment causes suffering. He achieved commitment without attachment. But why did Buddha leave his loving wife, doting father, and adoring son? (His mum died when he was a boy. His mother was named Maya, the Sanskrit word for illusion. It's natural that he might be negative about birth. Why did he refuse to allow women to take orders in his new sect? He insisted women be second-class citizens. Is this true? Or is it the way they memorized the sutras and (300 years later) wrote them down? (177) Did his followers push his teachings toward the masculine because of the way the use of the alphabet changes the way we perceive, think, and value things? Plus, you go 10 years without women and they never get back in. And could this be true of all spiritual leaders?
80. Like other spiritual leaders, Buddha was a humanistic philosopher who didn't believe in gods. As such, he suffered the ignoble fate of being deified. Why? Because his monks could then change Buddhism into a patriarchal religion based on an alphabetical text. Buddha said people should develop a detached indifference to reality, which he called an illusion, yet his followers banned images. Why didn't they treat them just like all other forms of reality, and show indifference to them? Because they were hooked on the written text/left brain, the linear, sequential form which seemed to exclude images. Crisp, clear alphabets entice readers to believe in spare, imageless religions. They also bring about patriarchy. Buddhism was Hinduism's Reformation.
81. Buddhism was based on feminine principles but abhors sex, was suspicious about women, and had a negative attitude about birth. I believe it's failure to embrace the alphabet was the cause of its decline in India. When it finally reversed itself, 500 years later, it was too late. The other countries where Buddhism found a home were illiterate or used a non-alphabetic language. Until lately, Buddhism has never succeeded in a literate society. To try to outflank Buddhism in its early years, the Brahmin priests adopted clear laws, including the sexist Manu Code. Buddhism was no match for this literate Hinduism, knew it, and stepped aside.
China, home of the yin/yang symbol is one of the world's most rigid patriarchies. Preliterate China was more egalitarian, however. The character for wife meant equal. Spoken Chinese contains 400-800 monosyllabic sounds, or "vocables," as linguists call them - none of which signifies a single word. The meaning of each syllable depends entirely on its place relative to the others. Spoken Chinese is an exercise in auditory pattern recognition. They listen for the whole in order to make sense of the parts. There is no word for "word" because the language has no words. Rather, it depends on holistic syntax and musicality. Each vocable has 4-9 tones and the meaning can vary depending on the singsong manner in which it's spoken. Pattern recognition and musicality are right brain functions, as are deciphering hand gestures and facial expressions.
The Chinese written language differs from those used in the West, as well. The oldest characters are 1500 BC. Whereas Western languages translate sounds of the voice into letters, the Chinese translate mental ideas into concrete images. Along with Hebrew, Chinese is the oldest continuously used written language.
The principle behind alphabets is to correlate one letter or a letter combination with each of the 43 distinct sounds or "phonemes" that the human voice can easily express. It makes it difficult for people speaking different languages to communicate, even though they use the same alphabet. Written Chinese has no alphabet, no parts of speech, and none of the complex rules of grammar of the Western languages. Instead of nouns and verbs, the Chinese have 216 basic "radicals." An ideogram is built up of as many as 8 radicals, which the reader apprehends simultaneously. There's no spelling in Chinese. Reading Chinese calls forth the right brain's ability to synthesize, rather than the left's ability to analyze.
Chinese characters must be read in sequence, but they're arranged vertically. This affects the way the information is perceived. Consider lists. It's more of an all-at-once perception, e.g. a menu or theater bill. Imagine using phone directories if they were horizontal. Horizontal scanning is better for tracking time, one thing after another. (Vietnam Memorial lists deaths by date, reminding viewers of the impermanence of passing time.) Perusing items in a column is a right-brain function, whereas perusing them in a horizontal line is a left-brain function.
86. We stand perpendicular to the earth. In "conversation," our eyes roam up and down our partner's body, garnering non-verbal information. We don't check people "across," we size them "up." Whereas conversationalists rely on vertical scrolling, hunters rely on horizontal scanning. NB. The Chinese attitude toward time. Their language doesn't have tenses indicating past, present, and future. They have no conditional pluperfect future, so that they have no concept of such a thing as a week, or Sunday. Also, whereas content supersedes form in the West, form supersedes content in China. You have to be an artist to write well in Chinese. One might say Chinese writing depends more on poetry than alphabetic writing. Chinese combines images, and therefore has more metaphor possibilities. Reading Chinese requires a certain reductionism because you have to break down the ideograms. On the continuum that stretches from speech through pictures, pictographs, Chinese ideograms, and finally to alphabets, Chinese writing is still closer to the alphabet than to oral communication. In this sense, it's masculine.
87. The 5 most influential abstractions in society - imageless deities, written laws, speculative philosophy, mathematics, and theoretical science - are highly regarded and particularly well developed in alphabetic societies. Ideographic cultures cannot conceive of imageless gods, they rely on custom, they discourage philosophical speculation (concentrating instead on practical issues), and they fail to see the transforming possibilities of math and science.
Due to the reductionism inherent in alphabetic cultures, they lack unity. They splinter. (185). Ideographic cultures are more likely to form-long term empires and have long-term stability. Alphabetic cultures have more of a story, a beginning, middle, and end (Armageddon!). In the conflict between the alphabetic West and the ideographic East, the West has played the masculine and the East, the feminine.
Re the two's attitude toward the individual, the reductionist aspect of alphabets, namely spelling, encourages the individual to see himself as apart from nature, their deity, their governments, and one another. The pattern recognition inherent in ideographic language, on the other hand, enmeshes its users in a web of interpersonal relationships. They're bound to their institutions, not separate from them. Their form of language shields them from the existential angst that accompanies the actualized self - at the same time it's stifled them with etiquette, customs, and manners.
In this most recent round, the West has bested the East. But the fight's young. We may have lost a significant portion of our soul in the process. Language is destiny. What a child speaks will determine how he thinks. We need to make an effort to integrate with the Chinese, just as we have to make an effort to integrate the female into our own psyches.
In the 6th century BC, these two different philosophical systems emerged. They were founded by Lao-tzu and Confucius –contemporaries. Taoism was an egalitarian, feminine view from the past, and Confucianism was a male dominance view with a view to the future. Taoism promoted Mother Nature as a guiding force, while Confucianism touted the father culture. Mother nature versus Father culture. At their founding, they both lacked a deity and both were humanistic practical guides to living. And both had strong opinions about women, writing, and images.
Whereas the Tao flows like horizontal water, everywhere, silently, and gently, Confucianism was based on a hierarchical ordering of the world. Its foundation was the family - in which the wife was obedient to the husband. The Confucian yang sought to control the Tao yin - which felt nobody should ever try to control anything. In Taoism, intuition was the guide to wisdom; in Confucianism, reason and reading the classics was the key.
Taoism came first. (188) (Lao-tzu got discouraged at the end of his life and beat it for the country. On his way out of town, a guard asked him to sum up his teachings. He wrote Tao Te Ching, history's shortest doctrinal book. The right hemisphere broke the silence to speak up for the feminine. Because we've layered the world with artificial categories, we've obscured the Tao. We're seaweed, wafting to and from in the current. If we make no effort to resist, if we abandon all left-brain stratagems (if we LISTEN without bias), all will be allowed and come to pass. Under Taoism, language is the great barrier to knowing the Way.
"The Tao that can be spoken is not the real Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal Name."
He who knows does not speak, and he who speaks does not know…
Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing, teaching no talking. Silence is the precondition of wisdom. This maxim is what the right brain would say if it could speak. Written laws were a bane to Lao-tzu. As laws increase so do rascals. In the Tao, there is no need for laws. "Sue a flea and catch a bite." Laws are embroidered mental constructions that men artificially impose on the natural world.
Lao-tzu said the yin was more powerful than the yang. The female triumphs over the male because of her stillness, her immersion in the Tao. Water wears away rock. The left brain rebels against the Tao. Was Lao-tzu a woman? Many woman? When Lao-tzu committed the way to language, he essentially sacrificed Taoism. Yet, there would come a day in the late 20th century when the world would refocus its attention on Taoism. Come out the other end, sort of.
When Lao-tzu granted an interview to Confucius, he said little. Confucius was pitching the subordination of women, that men should learn to control themselves, first, their wives, second, and their children, third. And wealth, of course, the men got to control all the wealth. Was Confucius, a divorcee, gay? No women among his 3000 students. When asked by a king what he would do first if given power, he answered, "First, I would rectify names." He knew: The corruption of language is the single most pressing problem bedeviling society. Plus, the namers have all the control. Lao-tzu said we should ignore names. Naming is a left brain function. (192) Confucius taught that we should follow the example of the heroes and sharpen our wits through disputation. Plus, his guiding principle was a version of the Golden Rule. Reciprocity was the word with Confucius. But it didn't apply to women. NB. Very little of what he actually said came from his own hand.
Taoism and Confucianism have vied throughout Chinese history (from the 6th century BC). Let's compare Taoism and Confucianism in terms of literacy and women's rights. In 200 BC Chinese ideographs were standardized, making writing easier. As more people became literate, the teachings of Confucius became more popular. As they did, women's rights declined. And they haven't recovered since. During China's "Dark Ages," Taoism made a comeback, as did Buddhism. In 923 AD, when the Chinese refined block printing (which had been known to them for centuries), literacy began to soar, followed by codes of law. They also thought up paper currency (970 AD). Chu Hsi, who had revised earlier editions of Confucius' "Analects," put them into easily comprehensible text about 1200 AD. His interpretation lasted until Mao and Communism took over. "Nature is nothing else than law," Chu Hsi declared.
Under Confucianism, husbands dined alone, women's feet were bound (970 AD; same time as first printing press). Also, Buddha was deified and his Chinese disciples became Chinese saints called Lohars. Mind you, a Chinese could practice all three religions. In Taoism, about the same time, the 10th century, a male hierarchy organized itself along Buddhist lines: Taoist priests practiced celibacy. And Lao-tzu was made into a god. It was not what he (she?) - who had warned of the evils of language - had had in mind - no sex among his priests and his own deification.
In addition, Taoists and Confucians had different views regarding images, especially the human face and body. (It's said that a man falls in love through his eyes, a woman through her ears.) Taoists encouraged images of fish, birds, and animals. They transformed the beauty of the female into a passion for feminine nature… as the female force became the Tao Te Ching. The Tao contains no single proper pronouns, nor does it glorify any individual. The symbol of Taoism is the yin/yang image. Confucianism encouraged calligraphy and bamboo leaves; no images of feminine beauty allowed in such a patriarchy.
In the early days of Taoism and Confucianism, people worshipped a series of female deities by statues. With the push on Confucianism, these images gradually disappeared. They had the Great Goddess, but she was in the form of the Buddha! He looked like the Mona Lisa, plus he was fat and had breasts. As a general rule, the more patriarchal the Eastern society, the more feminine the Buddha; the more egalitarian, the more manly. Korea, and Japan - the only countries in ancient Asia to adopt a linear horizontal alphabet - along with China are all strong patriarchies; they have the fattest Buddhas.
100. In sum, the last 12 chapters:
In 6th and 5th centuries BC, a number of new schools of thought emerged, from Greece to China: Jainism, Asceticism, Materialism, Sophism, Rationalism, and Legalism. In addition, Bhakti in India and Dionysus in Greece gave the era an intensely agitated aura. Historians call it the "Axial Age." Isaiah, Socrates, Zoroaster (Persian monotheism), Buddha, Lao-tzu, and Confucius. They had one thing in common, these men: They all developed or refined an abstract system of thought that challenged the brains of all who attempted to understand them; and all were literate. Also, none of these men had a relationship with a woman that he valued above solitude or the company of men. The alphabet in the West and the ideogram in the East both became commonplace in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. One possible explanation for the Axial Age could be that complex systems of thought came into existence because literacy, the ultimate abstraction, was the impetus propelling these leaders to a higher level of consciousness. Why did misogyny get built into their messages?THERE IS SOMETHING INHERENTLY ANTI-FEMALE IN THE WRITTEN WORD. MEN OBSESSED WITH THE WRITTEN WORD ARE SEXIST. Plus, the guys who retreat to caves obviously don't love women.
All of these guys proposed a new method, path, Logic, Way, system, or Law to achieve spiritual awareness. Literacy enabled them to do it, and/or for their messages to be perpetuated. It would take women 2500 years to get back into anything faintly resembling equality.
Greeks defeated by Philip II of Macedonia in 338 BC., followed by his son, Alexander. Macedonians diminished the written word, and women's position improved. Women lived better under the Ptolemies, who also controlled Egypt, than they had under the Greeks.
Within 100 years (by 220 BC), Western civilization was in the callused hands of the Roman warrior-farmers. They expanded Greek notion of freedom with the publica, res publica, the "public thing". Only male land-owners could participate. The Romans were literate thugs who used a simple Latin alphabet and advocated universal male literacy. The Romans saw the value of the defeated Greek culture and, like the true pragmatic bureaucrats they were, adopted it all, even the religion. The fact that Rome didn't have creative thinkers caused their experiment in democracy to die after 400 years, in 49 BC when Caesar crossed the Rubicon and took over the government.
Julius Caesar, while judged an enlightened despot by history, unleashed a tyranny and was the kiss of death for Rome: "The man who dons the purple is transformed into a god." Unlike the Greeks, the Romans mixed the sacred and secular. The Romans required everyone but the Jews - the "People of the Book" - to swear fealty to their gods and emperor. Control of large majority of slaves was a big problem. Pax Romana lasted longer than the Greek experiment. Extending over 1,250,000 miles and 60 million people, it was HUGE. But without innovations.
The Romans embraced Dionysus as Bacchus. The old fertility god of ecstasy, frenzied celebration, and priapic sexuality enjoyed a rapid rise. Bacchus metamorphosed into the part-mortal, part god Orpheus. Thus the Greek Dionysus, who tore men limb from limb, was metamorphosed into the gentle poet-musician Orpheus. Orpheus represented compassion and love. Women were drawn to him. The Orphics lived lives above reproach.
In the first century BC, literacy was at a high point, encouraging dualistic, objective thinking. The human condition became seen as a battleground between good and evil. Plus, the growing sophistication among Romans eroded their loyalty to tribal or local gods. The Stoics advocated accepting your lot and following the Golden Rule. As Epictetus said, "What you shun to suffer, do not make others suffer."
In 40 BC, Virgil wrote, "Now…the great line of centuries begins anew…Only do thou, sweet Lucinda, smile on the birth of a child, under whom the iron brood shall first cease, and a golden race spring up throughout the world." (210).
Besides Orphism, Judaism impressed many first century Romans - ethical structure, industry, intellectual qualities, family, charity, care of the sick, etc. But the increasing number of non-Romans questioned the "master race." The Jews, being smart, held a lot of the high positions in the bureaucracy, causing envy, respect, curiosity, and sometimes hatred. (Judaism was the only monotheistic, if not monolithic, religion at the time.)
Romans glorified their polytheistic beliefs with images. They thought art could capture their spirit better than writing. Plus, the Roman male had a high regard for motherhood - the suckling she-wolf and Romulus and Remus. Women could get divorced; they took charge of their own lives, could own property and slaves (Hadrian, 117-138 AD), enter contracts, manage their own affairs. But then Cato became alarmed over the rights granted women. He warned that they might become masters.
After 400 years, the Romans ran out of ideas. The vortex would generate a new religion. A new paradigm was about to burst through. Images would become objects of revulsion, statues would be disfigured, and women would begin to lose ground.
The Romans seized Judea from the Macedonians and, in 43 BC, appointed Herod to oversee it. Herod rebuilt the Temple of Jerusalem (a 35 acre complex). The crowds that gathered there were a threat to the Roman occupation. In 4 BC, the Romans crucified 2000 Jews in Galilea for sedition, and left their corpses to rot as a warning to others. Many Jews started to question the direction their religion was going. They turned to a passage written by Isaiah in the 6th century BC: "For unto us a child is born, a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called…the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace. (Isa. 9:6)" The Book of Daniel reiterated the promise in 100 BC, except he said Yahweh would send a "Son of Man." Pressure built for a savior. And along came the faith healer, Jesus of Nazareth, and he began preaching on the shores of Galilee.
Jesus was educated as a Jew, but he herded his followers back across the corpus callosum to the right hemisphere. He asked them to acknowledge the value of right brain knowing, to contemplate with their rods instead of scrutinizing with their cones. He told them to use their left arms to ward off blows but never to ball their rights into fists to strike back. Jesus was cryptic and mysterious. He taught with aphorisms and parables. He was a poet. (217) In the tradition of Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos, Jesus was indifferent to power, riches, family connections, etc. He preferred the E version of Genesis over the J. He never referred to Eve's transgression. He spoke out against the hierarchical ordering of society. In his eyes, the poor, the disabled, and women were equal to the richest male slave owner. He pitched non-violence in response to aggression. No one had ever had the temerity to suggest such a thing. As Homer had stressed courage, Moses the Law, and Plato knowledge, Jesus stressed mercy and compassion. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and with thy mind…And the second is like unto this. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Jesus played down the prohibition of representative art, but he denounced scribes who pander to the law as hypocrites. He was insulting the learned Talmudic scholars who call themselves Pharisees. He drove the Pharisees to distraction. How could a Jew not be interested in the Law? He knew that excessive legalism empowered men, so He said He was the Truth and no person or document should stand between his followers and His Truth. (218) He urged his followers to abandon all their preconceived notions, to shed society's conventions to find the living knowledge that cannot be legislated.
Laws represent order and are among the most masculine manifestations of alphabet cultures. Laws force those compiling them to use language precisely. Jesus did not speak legalese, nor engage in rational debate. He prescribed no legal system; His was a ministry of the heart and soul. He used poetry to couch His pronouncements in visual and emotional aphorisms and parables people would understand and remember. Aphorisms, parables, and metaphor originate in the right brain. Money played no role in Jesus' life. He said possessions were irrelevant. Women were drawn to his ministry and he treated them with kindness and respect. He refused to recognize divorce, which served women. Essentially, Jesus' agenda of Love, Compassion, Free Will, and Non-violence was a feminine agenda "such as no Western religious leader had ever before espoused." (219)
None of Jesus' teachings were committed to writing during his lifetime. Jesus told people to memorize his sermons. (Nor did Buddha write anything down, nor Socrates, nor Pythagoras - though they all lived in a time of rapidly rising literacy. These extraordinary leaders shared the intuition that communication changes when it is written. Perhaps not surprisingly, these men all advocated near equality between the sexes, too.)
114. Jesus said, "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." (John 12:46) (219) Why didn't he demo his Godliness? Because He knew that faith (in-self, thus no dominant external authority. If there is a god Jesus, there is absolute external authority; therefore faith in self is precluded.) was the cornerstone of salvation/enlightenment. In exchange for faith in Him, Jesus said you'd inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. He prophesied the end of linear time. Time is the quintessential attribute of the left brain. All left hemisphere functions proceed temporally. Everyone knows his time, his life will end some day, but Jesus prophesied that ALL OF TIME, everyone's life, the entire temporal world was about to end. And the temporal world would be succeeded by Eternity, in which NOTHING would ever happen.
The alphabet's ability to reinforce the temporal sense made the Israelites and Greeks acutely aware of linear time. (The idea of an apocalypse first appeared in the visions of the prophet Ezekiel, c. 500 BC.)
But Jesus' apocalyptic vision contained a message of hope. There would be a Judgement Day - during which everyone would get his just desserts. So, theoretically, you could spend Eternity in heaven or hell, depending on what you do during your earthly existence.(221)
Death/Rebirth. Christ's birth marked the beginning of a new era. His death was a key morality tale: god killed by men. The creed that evolved from his life was based on the sayings and actions of an exceedingly wise teacher; his death, on the other hand, was construed as the death of a god. During his life, his feminine aphorisms extolled love, mercy, equality, and compassion; the events surrounding His death led to a masculine dogma glorifying pain, suffering, and obedience. It became a case of feminine creed and male doctrine alternating. What tilted the balance toward the masculine? The alphabet. The halo of light was replaced by a crown of thorns.
People doubted Jesus' authenticity when he was mistreated by the Romans. But 3 days later, when he was resurrected and metamorphosed into the deity Christ, his divine lineage was proved to his followers. He was the first human to survive death and return to life. …"in one unique historical moment, the cycle reversed, and a dead man came back to life." (223) Why did this story about a Jewish healer whose life was barely noted by first century historians so move a diverse populace? The need to retell themes. Fish. In both the Old Testament and the Iliad, the preferred sacrificial animals were goats, rams, lambs, and steers. No trout or salmon. Why no fish? (226) Or, why fish for Jesus? Peter, Anthony, James, and John earned their living as fishermen; His parables; He ate a piece of fish after his resurrection; his name, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior forms a acronym for the Greek word for fish, ichthys. Fish were the first symbol of Christianity, replaced only later by the cross. Why?
The time of Jesus' birth was filled with expectation and dread. Virtually all cultures projected their feats and yearnings out into the nighttime sky. Star-dots, connected, became star gods. The 12 configurations of the Zodiac appear to have been cataloged by the Neolithic astronomers. "Mazel tov" means "may your planet be favorable." Horoscopes controlled people in ancient times. Countries had official astronomers or astrologers. Given the belief in astrology's predictive ability, you can see why the sun passing through the house of Ares, the Ram, would excite people. At the time of Christ's coming the sun was about to move into a new house whose sign was Pisces, the fish. Augustus, who ruled from 27 BC to 14 AD outlawed astrology because of his concern for its subversive influence on his subjects.
Christianity arose out of the union of Hellenism and Judaism, the 2 most dominant influences in the Roman world. The Christ story resonated with the pagan Orphic/Dionysian myth - which the church didn't want to point out because it regarded paganism as a dangerous enemy. Christianity was, after Judaism, the second religion based on actual events. It's claim of uniqueness would have been seriously undermined if earlier mythological beliefs were connected to the utter singularity of the Christ event. Judaism (the Jews) and Orphism (the Greeks), alpha-bet or alpha-beta, were the spiritual parents of Western culture. Christianity bested both of its parents to become the major religion in the west. Christianity joined two seemingly incompatible elements, numinous rite and written word, mythology and history, mystery and law into one seamless creed. Each of the other contenders (Judaism and Orphism) contained insurmountable flaws that disqualified them. Judaism was constrained by the tradition of circumcision, and the requirement to follow the letter of a law designed for a different time and place. The Jews had the book, and it had immense authority and never changed, but it perpetuated exclusive elitism so could not be sold as a universal religion. And Orphism was the latest version of an ancient theme: a gentle young man-god died to redeem others sins. (In the catacombs of Rome, you can still see the drawings of the Orphists.) Orphisms major drawback was that it was an exclusive mystery religion. Membership was by invitation only and initiates were forbidden to tell outsiders what went on during secret rites. Its sacred book was a guarded secret - none has survived.
Orphism was very popular when Jesus was born. Judaism was the second largest evangelical group in the Empire. But neither could deliver a message that appealed to all levels of society. What was needed was an "all things to all men" religion. Enter Saul. Saul was a Hellenized Jew, as well as an exceptionally bright, literate, inquisitive, and god-intoxicated individual. Fearing for the Jewish soul of his son, Saul's father, a Pharisee, packed him off to a pharisaical high school, where Saul's quest for spiritual meaning and his passion for logic led him to become a jurisprudent exegesis of the Pharisees. He became a tireless advocate for the Pharisee viewpoint. Leaving Jerusalem, he beat the back roads for recruits to his legalistic interpretation of Judaism. There he met the Galilean faith healer, Jesus.
Soon after Jesus' crucifixion, Jewish insurgents rebelled against Roman law. As a result, Roman authorities became hostile toward any suspicious doctrine. The new sect about a resurrected man fell into the category of suspicious. Saul was present at the stoning of Stephen, one of Jesus' disciples. Then, Saul had the epiphany on the road that knocked him off his horse. While flat on his back, Christ appeared, hovering in mid-air, and said, "Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (Acts 26:14)(230) As a result, Saul changed his name to Paul and converted to Christianity.
Unlike Jesus, Paul wrote things down. Well, he dictated and others wrote it down. While Paul remained faithful to virtually all Jesus stood for, he veered off on the issues of women and images. Paul had had a wife but they'd split. He referred to love as "God is love; Christ is love." He tried to restrict women's power. Others, former slaves, rogues, criminals, could be qualified to have congregations, but not les femmes. The reason may have been the use of the written word. Paul understood that Christianity needed a sacred text if it was to survive; hence his Epistles (40-50 AD), the earliest text of the new religion.
In the early decades after Christ's Crucifixion, writers gleaned His sayings from first and second hand accounts. These unbound scrolls provided the info for the subsequent Gospels, "good news." But not one of Jesus' original disciples wrote a Gospel. The Gospel writers weren't historians, they were inspired, nameless evangelists. Perhaps Jesus, like Pythagoras, Socrates, the Buddha, and Lao-tzu before Him, would have been dismayed by the scribes taking over. Luke and Matthew wrote 70 years after the events they described. The first 3 Gospels were written by men who had learned to look at things Paul's way. None of the Gospels report anything about Jesus between the ages of 12 and 30. Why? What's more, none contain important knowledge about His last few days. Paul, who inspired/influenced the others, glorified suffering, claiming that it must precede joy. He had a dark view of human nature. "As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one." (Rom. 3:10) (233) The religion that Paul shaped contained written and oral traditions. The oral was about love and nurturing, the written more often about suffering and death. Paul was responsible for this; in this sense we might say he "invented" the religion called Christianity. But it wasn't Christ speaking.
Paul was brilliant, disciplined, resolute, and doctrinaire. Grasping the enormity of the Resurrection, he single-handedly enlarged Christ's religion to embrace the world. First, he overcame the problem raised by Jesus being a Jew, circumcision, etc. Basically, he blasted the rock on which Judaism rested. In place of the Law and circumcision, he substituted faith and the promise of an afterlife. He assuaged humankind's most terrifying fear, death, by promising resurrection - based on Jesus' Resurrection.
He also converted the Jewish idea of the "chosen people" to "chosen people and inclusivity." If you chose, you became the chosen people. Absolution at the door. Paul passionately believed that the end of the world was imminent.
127. In his scheme, women were minimized because procreation was a non-issue in the face of the Apocalypse. Also, when Paul converted Yahweh into a nuclear family with Jesus being the son of God, and also a God, himself, he added the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was a replacement for the Mother. Father, Son, Holy Ghost, all masculine. Outside the trinity, granted only a minor supporting role, was the real, mortal mother.
Paul also offered an alternative to the stiff Roman state religion. Paul offered a personal, mystical, universal religion, a "catholic" religion. ("Catholic" means universal.) If the parents of Christianity were Judaism and Orphism, Paul was the mid-wife.
Patriarch/Heretics. (Ch.24; 237) The Orthodox and the Gnostics broke over the issue of the written record, whether the Gospels contained all the relevant info about Christianity. The Gnostics said Jesus had given some secret knowledge to his disciples – that was not for general consumption. It was a case of orality versus literacy.
In the 4th century AD, the Gnostics hid their Gospels in a jug near Nag Hammadi (upper Nile). They were right to do so for the Orthodox destroyed all their other records. The Gnostic Gospels were discovered in 1945. The early Christians were sloppy. Paul formed the Orthodox school to tighten it up. Paul understood: KISS. He and his people also set out to put the Gnostics out of business. Paul created the bishops to deal with the day to day activities of the church leading up to the Apocalypse and Second Coming. The bishops were exclusively male. It was Jesus, the Apostles (plus Paul, but excluding Mary Magdalene), a bishop appointed by each apostle, and further bishops appointed by the bishops, to succeed each bishop. The Pope was the Bishop of Rome. He functioned as Christ's vicar on earth. By 200, the Orthodox bishops had relegated women to the back of the church, and eliminated all images or references to the Goddess from the New Testament.
The Gnostics prided themselves in their lack of distinction between male and female, rich and poor, educated and unlettered. They wanted an egalitarian religion that conformed to Jesus' teachings. Early Gnostics called their meetings Agape, or "Love Feast." Participants gave one another "Kisses of Peace." This stuff scandalized the Orthodox. The Orthodox championed the J version of creation that made Adam master and Eve the contrite helpmate, and the Gnostics subscribed to the E version in which the Creator made ALL men and women in its image.
The Orthodox banned dancing, the Gnostics danced as a spiritual exercise. The Orthodox held that a man died and came back to life. They also held that the Crucifixion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ were symbolic events. They were incredulous that the Orthodox took these accounts literally, that they took the written scriptures as divine reality. They referred to Orthodoxy as the "faith of fools," and pointed out the obvious contradictions, such as how Jesus, the God, could have suffered. Whereas the Orthodox viewed the Gospels as history with a moral, the Gnostics viewed them as myths with meaning.
133. The ultimate achievement of Gnosis was to have insight of such crystalline clarity that one became a Christ. The Orthodox derided this as arrogant. The Gnostics believed Christ's message was 2-tiered: the Gospels for the simple, and the second tier, secret rituals, for the initiated. In 313, the Roman emperor, Constantine declared Christianity to be the state religion and chose the Orthodox to run the church. With the army's help, they sent the Jews and (few) Buddhists packing, ordered all Gnostic Gospels burned (367), and declared themselves the Patriarchs of the Church. Subsequent Orthodox leaders declared their own people saints and branded Gnostics as heretics. It was a turning point in Western Civilization, this conflict between words and images. "Ortho-doxy" means "straight thinking" and "Gnosis" means intuitive knowing. Throughout history, the group that arms itself with a book beats the group that depends on oral teaching.
The charismatic Marcion (120-140) condemned the proliferation of written Gospels, proposed paring them down, and discarded the Old Testament. He disliked the wrathful Yahweh. Marcion didn't insist on celibacy, nor did he ban images. Women flocked to him. For the next 1700 years, Christians would be taught the Orthodox version of the New Testament. Edited by mostly unknown scholars in AD 367, compiled from documents written 30-110 years after Jesus died, by no one who was present at "the Christ event," and composed by unknown authors in Greek - that Jesus never spoke, it has held up as the true record of the Christ story.
135. The first big Orthodox theoretician to oppose the Gnostics was Origen (185?-254?) Origen said Jesus wouldn't have reserved salvation for the spiritually advanced. Like Paul, he said the Church must be kept simple and accessible to all. Origen advocated the renunciation of sexual urges and martyrdom as the ultimate acts of Free Will. Deny sex and embrace death. (243) Origen castrated himself, went naked, slept on bare ground, and subjected himself to the cold. Because the Church didn't agree that the individual should have Free Will (because it wanted to oversee the thoughts and actions of the laity), it axed poor old Origen, declaring his teachings "anathema."
Others (243): Valentinus (100-160AD)
Valentinianism was a major Gnostic movement. He felt that all humankind was the conjugal offspring of the masculine mind (nous) and the feminine wisdom (epinoia). The Valentinians believed the fall in the garden of Eden referred to man's fall into consciousness - which caused him to lose touch with the divine.
a Carthaginian lawyer, an Orthodox hater of women, but he also abhorred the way bishoprics were bought and sold by the Church. He denounced Orthodoxy and became Christianity's first Protestant.
137. Augustine (247)
Augustine of Hippo (354-430) was prolific writer, Augustine sought to reconcile the existence of evil with the benevolence of God. He concluded that Free Will was the demon. Mortals were so corrupt that they'd choose evil if given the chance. Adam and Eve rendered mankind incapable of self-government. All mortals were morally incompetent. He also initiated the concept of Original Sin. Now original sin was interesting. The Buddhists had the idea of karma but they say you can choose to live righteously without outside help. Augustine said you could only be saved by the Church. Mind you, Jesus never mentioned original sin, nor did he equate sexuality with sinfulness. Augustine was the dark genius of imperial Christianity, the ideology of the church-state alliance, and the fabricator of the medieval mentality. Next to Paul, he did more to shape Christianity than any other human being. He advocated torture. Jesus taught that the means justify the ends; Augustine condoned the ends justifying the means. He said women were morally weaker than men, as well as temptresses. What Jesus initiated, Augustine altered. The principle proponents of Orthodoxy - Paul, Origen, Tertullian, Jerome, and Augustine - all denigrated sex and women.
Reason/Madness (Ch. 25; P. 252)
Christianity has done a lot for Western Civilization over the past 2000 years. (Interesting that we were so base that a confused, fragmented, self-serving institution like Christianity was all we had to guide us. What does this say about mankind?) But in the early years, it also introduced mankind to some horrific new practices, the first being group suicide. At the beginning of the second century, masses gave up their lives out of loyalty to cherished convictions and abstract concepts. Martyr is the Greek word for witness. There is no record of preliterate people choosing martyrdom for the sake of beliefs. But the Jews and Greeks, literate people, did. They both consistently defended their ideals to the death. But it was usually for the defense of home and hearth. Until the Christian martyrs, there does not occur anywhere in the recorded history of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, Greece, India, of China a single instance of a large number of people accepting torture and death rather than forswear their belief in an ethereal concept.
How did the early Christians override their circuit breakers, their hard wiring?
139. It started with the Jewish revolt against the Romans, causing what might be called the Emperor's Vietnam. On 3 separate occasions, 66, 113, and 132AD, Romans killed as many as 1.5 million Jews. Plus, when Rome was forced to reinforce its ranks in Judea, it was the death knell of Roman invincibility. After all, the Jews had enjoyed a privileged position in Rome.
Christians were viewed as "depraved," a "deadly superstition" (Tacitus), "morbid and misguided exhibitionists" (Marcus Aurelius), atheistic pacifists who refused to acknowledge Roman deities, serve in the military, or honor the emperor. Like the Jews, Christians had adopted the idea that living in truth was the supreme aspiration in life. (Means over ends.) Hence, their piety. The madness (Caligula, Nero, Hadrian, and the murder of Christians) occurred during Rome's Golden Age of letters. Although the dispute was ostensibly between the divinity of Christ and the genius of Jupiter, Dionysus the killer of men, the leader of human sacrifice, was behind it. What had been fantastical in Greece became real in the Roman coliseum. The interesting thing was that Christians participated willingly: "…may I attain to Jesus Christ" (Ignatius, pg. 255) Plus, the Church understood that martyrs increased their following. As Tertullian said, "the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church." And Christianity outlived Rome. NB. By the time of Christ, book publishing had hit new highs. The Library of Alexandria had 532,000 books, and private libraries became as normal as baths. Christianity was the first alphabet-based religion to spread in a population that was already alphabet-literate. (We need to consider "how" this worked.) The sacred book (Paul's sacred book) was the seed. The interesting thing is that Christianity, whose premise was anti-intellectual and anti-rational arose during the acme of social rationalism, or left brain activity.
(History is not the result of conflicting precepts, as we like to assume. Rather, it's like evolution: a lot of variations are tried but only a few survive, and very few survive for long. It's not a case of clear causes. As with Mandela, luck, or fate, or circumstances too subtle and complicated for man to perceive play a big part in it. We need to be able to record and quantify everything everyone thinks and does in order to really understand what happened and why. It's the species genome project. What does self-understanding have to do with species understanding? Do self, then other.)
Okay, the point is, reason and madness progress hand in hand, like partners in a 3-legged race. In the 2nd century AD, the alphabet was in use in every Mediterranean country except Egypt - where women enjoyed the greatest equality. But then, with the rise of demotic shorthand based on the syllabary principle, Clement of Alexandria, the Coptic Christian cleric, vowed to destroy women's rights.
After Christianity became Rome's state religion, Church fathers ordered the destruction of images. (Ah, the destruction of images. Is it all based on the destruction of the distracting - as in impossibly seductive and, at the same time, terrifyingly mysterious - image of female genitals?) It was said at the time that if you knocked the nose off a statue, you destroyed the powers of the idol. (How did they get from images of genitals to all images? Are images, like children, representations of - and therefore not to be confused with - the original? It's the competition between forms of representation, the word versus the image. If you allow the censorship of pornography, you get the censorship of all images. Word had to oppose picture because pictures were too powerful. They distracted from reason, the logic of the written word. It was an effort to deny our natural selves, whom some deemed dangerous, in favor of reason - which ultimately proved at least as dangerous as our natural selves. Men were the original makers of representations. We focused on things that made us either anxious or secure. The image of women's genitals did both, so we copied them. The images made us disruptive. Cunt pics are disturbing to men. The alphabet was the "skip-a-step" counter, a form of frigidity which enhanced communication while reducing disrupting passions. The more anxious advocated pure language, the less anxious pure image making. Why not the equal combo? Because individuals can't walk the razor's edge. We gravitate to black/white, either/or, as opposed to and, and, and. And, and, and requires true self-understanding and personal integration. Neither the left nor right brainers want that middle ground. Is it because they're so pre-occupied with "the other guy" that they can't see "us"? How about a new religion that celebrates both, each in its place and a place for the balance of the two? Isn't each individual, in fact, a participant in a 3-legged race? After all, we are different genders, we're not hermaphroditic.) Moses declared ALL images subversive because he wanted the left brain functions to dominate and in order for it to dominate the right brain function of perceiving and interpreting images had to be atrophied. When the spoken words of Jesus were transcribed, women were reduced to second class citizens.
Hypatia (415 AD) Woman mathematician, Neoplatonist philosopher in Alexandria, leading advocate of Orphic creed; modest, beautiful, and eloquent; she embodied the union of wisdom and science. Cyril, Alexandria's Christian patriarch had a group of Nitrian monks ambush her, strip her, spread her legs, and scrape the bones from her flesh with oyster shells. Then, they tore her corpse apart. So much for our capacity for consolidation of the male and female in one person!
Illiteracy/Celibacy - 500-1000 AD (Ch. 26; P. 261)
"Take pity on those in need; be kind, generous,
and humble…Spare him who yields, whatever
wrong he has done you…Be manly and gay. Hold
women in respect and love; this increases a young
man's honor. Be constant - that is manhood's part. Short his praise who betrays honest love."
– Wolfram von Eschenbach's Chivalric Code
The sacking of Rome occurred in 410 AD. The city becomes a burned out shell in which mangy, rabid dogs outnumber people. Chaos reigns for the next 500 years.
At the end of the chaos, the scene is completely changed. Semi-isolated cities and towns have replaced the hegemony of Rome. Commerce is all but non-existent; travel is dangerous. There has been a near total breakdown of civil authority. People speak a polyglot of immature vernaculars instead of Greek or Latin. The Church has become the dominant institution. Red is for nobility; black for the Church. The Dark Ages were dark for one reason: Literacy failed to take root in secular culture. Only the Church preserved the written word. For 500 years no king or nobleman could read. Lampblack illiteracy descended over Europe and life became, in Thomas Hobbs words, "nasty, brutish, and short."
So, naturally, women flourished, and poets, bards, jugglers, and troubadours sang their praises. From out of the blackness came the Age of Chivalry, in which the highest aspiration was to serve and protect "the fair sex." Despite the chaos, women enjoyed equality during the Dark Ages (hey, men needed them). King Arthur myth of the "round table." "He who is a perfect lover is always obedient and quickly and gladly does his mistress' pleasure…" Chretien de Troyes' story of Sir Lancelot. Courteous was the order of the day. The Grail myths, about the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper and which held His blood at His Crucifixion. (Female, the cup. In Sumerian times the libation chalice, often in the shape of a vulva, was one of the most sacred votive objects of the Goddess; Her priests used it to pour offerings to her.) Christian culture lost interest in both the round table and grail myths after the Medieval Age passed. During the Dark Ages, the Grail replaced the fish as Christianity's most potent symbol. The male obsession with the lost cup reveals a reorientation to the female among the illiterate. Sin, guilt, and suffering were tempered with increased respect for birth and womanhood, leading to Marianism. Mary played a crucial role in Jesus' birth and death. The Parthenon of Athena was rededicated to Mary in 600 AD. The four great cathedrals of France are all called Notre Dam.
Like Yahweh before Him, Jesus was a God-with-no-face. His image was omitted. People had to know him through the linear written word. (No mention of color in the Gospels, reinforcing left-brain dominance.) Mary, on the other hand, became known through her image. (But, Mary was a virgin; no cunt shots for her.) (Man has always gone from "We're lost!" to reactive resistance and violence. We need to learn to go from "We're lost!" to proactive acceptance and peacefulness.) People, usually ignorant shepherds and unlettered peasant girls, also reported visions of Mary (a phenomena that had been absent for the first 400 years of Christianity). The more ignorant a person was, the more likely the Church was to confirm their vision. Mind you, there were no sightings of the Father, Holy Ghost, and only rarely of the Son. Perhaps the Church reasoned, "Give the illiterate Mary to keep them in line, but draw the line with the males."
148. At the beginning of the Dark Ages, secular art had all but vanished. But the Church needed art as people became illiterate. So Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) declared the Second Commandment null and void. "Painting can do for the illiterate what writing does for those who can read." In 787, the Church revised Gregory's edict, however, saying the clergy got to choose painters' subjects and methods. The first painting commissioned was of the Pope receiving the symbols of his station from Mary. Thereafter, the Jesus of Catholic art was either a baby or dead, cared for by His mum. As in, birth and death were the province of the Goddess, Mary. So, we had the guys up front of the altar, and the images of Mary and the saints behind it. The guys denied Mary attributes possessed by previous Goddesses, such as fertility. Recalling Yahweh's dictum that "to name is to control," the men named Mary honorific Queen of Heaven, as opposed to Queen of Earth. She was the Mother of God, never God the Mother. She was the virgin mother, thus separating sex from procreation. The Black Virgin came into being because black is the one color missing from the spectrum. Man is light and woman is black. The words matter, matrix, and mother all come from the root, materia, which means "substance." Earth is substance, and sunlight its antipode. The black loam lining the banks of the Nile; the statue of Artemis at Ephesus was black. So, matter is female? Also, Mary's name, Maria, means water. Info on the devil (269). Red is the female color, the atavistic sexual tripwire for men - Dionysus and the Serpant, the Devil all were red. Also, they had horns, the female schematic. Cloven hooves: pigs sacred to Goddess; hooves look like sex organs, the "vulva sign." The devil, by using symbols previously associated with the Goddess, became a foil for Mary during the Medieval Period. The Church played on men's fear of women and their rising status with this thinly camouflaged transsexual, diabolical Goddess.
Women played a central role in religious life in the Medieval Period. Priest celibacy evaporated. The Church became tolerant of heresy, rarely punishing witches or heretics. Extreme asceticism was associated with the fringe.
In the 6th century, young Benedict of Nursia was jilted. He dropped out, going to live on the hills outside Rome. He struggled mightily with his memories of sex, such that he threw himself into thorns, briers, and nettles and scratched himself badly. When he started attracting others, he formed the Benedictine Order, 529 AD. (270) Large numbers of males; energy; suppression; equals (free) workforce. "Idleness is the enemy of the soul." Therefore, six hours of labor each day. Nothing like it had ever occurred before. Julius Caesar's story about the man who walked from Poland to Spain without seeing direct sunlight in 1st century, and how the monastic movement was responsible for the deforestation of Europe. In many areas, in the absence of secular authority, monasteries assumed the paternal role. It became a good idea for a family to have a member in a monastery, nunnery, or "double monastery." Many of these people were committed as babies and, therefore, couldn't keep their vows. For the lower class, the Church's meritocracy allowed a leg up. Also, you could learn to read, which had power by itself. The price for acquiring literacy was celibacy; how's that for a quid pro quo?!? Of course, the vast majority, especially the leaders, wasn't celibate, though they demanded it of the initiates. Thus, the best people didn't procreate (or didn't take responsibility for the babies they produced), prolonging the Dark Ages.
The 4 defining aspects of monastic life - time, speech, laughter, and hair - underscore the left-brain's dominance in the monastic movement. The Fourth Commandment sacralized the sequential nature of time. The monasteries went further and created the most characteristic feature of Western culture (leading to Culture), repeatable, linked segments of time. It was the Christian monasteries that first fragmented the day into hours and minutes by spacing prayers at precisely punctuated intervals. Midnight matins and 3 AM lauds summoned the monks. The first cog and gear clock that divided hours into minutes was installed at the Monastery at St. Albans in 1348. It was used to call monks to prayer. Plus, the vow of silence - combined with reading and writing - shut down the right brain (why am I doing it?!?). Plus, no eye contact, and no laughing. Plus, no hair/sexuality. The "wimple" hid the nun's hair. Monasticism did more to undermine women than anything else. The males went away or abused women. "Cleaning ladies" had no rights. It was the beginning of children who did not know their fathers. Brigand bastards like Arthur, Gawain, Roland, and William the Conqueror had to make due without fathers. Prostitution and bastardy subverted public morality.
Things changed after the Fall of Rome, 410 AD. By the 6th century, Christianity had fractured into an eastern Orthodox of Byzantium, and a western Catholic Church in Rome. The schism led to the Great Schism of 1054. While Western Europe languished in the Dark Ages, Byzantium continued the literary and artistic traditions inherited from Greece and Rome. In the 8th century, the iconoclasts set out to destroy all images. The iconoclasts, image-destroyers, became roving bands that killed art lovers, among other things. They ran out of gas in about 797. A year later, in 800, Charlemagne, the most powerful monarch in Europe, was crowned King of the hastily cobbled together Holy Roman Empire, and it was the beginning of the end of the Dark Ages. He established poorhouses, hired artists, had his daughters screw around and stay home, portrayed the priests as hostage keepers of the society who kept the secret of writing, and instituted educational reforms - started secular schools. But he couldn't learn to read. So he ordered that writing be improved. The Carolingian Reforms, instituted 1200 years ago, made literacy easier and, in fact, still stand. Meanwhile, the Muslims were about to appear at the eastern end of the Mediterranean.
Muslin Veils/Muslim Words. (Ch. 27; P. 278)
In many ways, Arab history is the reverse of that of the west between Christ's birth and 1000 AD. About 500 AD, when the West was losing literacy, the East was gaining it. Mohammed was born in 569. He became a devoted family man, remaining monogamous for 26 years - very rare for the founder of a religious tradition. Goddess veneration was a very old Arab custom. Mohammed traveled; saw the Jews and Gnostic Christians. He saw that both groups enjoyed cohesiveness due to the written word. One night, in 610, he had an epiphany in which he was suddenly able to read and write. Islam means "surrender;" Muslim means "one who surrenders." Women were equal in Allah's eyes. Still, Mohammed anathematized imagery. Now, the prophet is said to have done no writing. Others wrote his words down. The Koran. Mohammed died in 632. Thereafter, the Koran moved from the periphery to the center of the new Islam and reading became paramount. In 651, all texts were destroyed and a new scroll adopted. Thus entered patriarchy and began the decline of women. In 786, Harun ar-Rashid ascended to the caliphate. He was the Charlemagne of the Islamic world. For the next 500 years, learning of all kinds, wisdom as well as science, had a magic carpet ride. But they developed a second sacred book to follow the Koran, and it became like the Jewish Torah (which followed the Talmud), used for adjudication. And, slowly, women were reduced. The veiling of women, perceived by the right brain; the sequestration of women in harems ("forbidden"); segregation of women from men; the denial of education for women; shopping disallowed; up to practice that women should only leave their house three times - when they marry and move to husband's, when their parents die, and when they die.
Islam split into Shiites (like Gnostics) and Sunnis (like Orthodox); Sunnis restrict women the most. Genital mutilation. Still estrogen, no relief…aghhh. Selling Africans as slaves. Mind you, none of this shit came from Mohammed. He was a fair, loving man. The mutilation is practiced among the more literate, the Sunnis. But the Muslims weren't as bad as the Europeans in their treatment of women.
Mystic/Scholastic (Ch. 28; P. 292)
Many Christians expected the blast of Gabriel's horn on New Year's Eve, 1000; the Millenarians anticipated Judgement Day. But it wasn't the end of Time that was coming, it was the end of illiteracy. After the fall of Rome, 410 AD, secular learning declined dramatically. Priests spoke Latin; the Romance languages were born during the Dark Ages of illiteracy. Then, there was the advent of paper, in Italy in the 12th century. Then, the Crusades (beginning in 1096) tore down barriers between learned Islam and ignorant Christendom. During the Holy Wars, the West gained access to their precious archives. As writing increased, so did interest in Greek and Latin and Hebrew. In the 11th and 12th centuries, debates began and a new open-mindedness occurred. Between 1000 and 1300, the High Middle Ages, feminine values from orality were on an equal basis with male values from literacy. Few witches or heretics were accused. Saint Francis of Assisi, 1209, founded his order based on gentleness, poverty, and spirituality. There were also women mystics (294). In general, men accepted women doing and knowing. Then a group of highly educated men in the Church determined to take women's gains back from them. They focused on sex and literacy. First, Pope Gregory VII insisted that priests renounce their wives and children. Then, he insisted that all the men learn to read and write. It was the death sentence for those women and children thus abandoned. Damian was one of the period's most fanatical reformers. He held that women were "images" and images, and not words, were the work of the devil. Abelard and Heloise (c. 1100). Double monasteries were shut down. Despite all this, women continued to thrive. Anti-clericalism was on the rise. Catharism, a movement of the lower classes, sought to return to the foundations of Christianity. Albigensianism originated in Bulgaria. Like the Gnostics, they formed non-hierarchical communities. The orthodox Christians destroyed both groups and their literature. The Albigensians based their creed on Jesus' sermon on the mount: Love your enemies; help your neighbors, never swear, keep the peace, and refrain from violence. Albigensianism flourished where women were the strongest. The suppression began with Pope Innocent III in 1208: “Kill them all. God will know his own.”
Generally, the Papacy had tolerated deviations within Dark Age Christendom since the fall of Rome. In 946, Leo IX said excommunication should be the most severe punishment for heresy. Despite this, the Crusade against the Albigensian became the first time a governing group carried out mass genocide against its own kinsmen because of a disagreement about abstract ideology.
There was a time when a government killing its own people was unthinkable. The Roman persecution of the Christians was an example, but the Romans were half-hearted about it. Approximately 3,000 Christians were martyred. It was nothing compared to the Albigensian campaign 900 years later. "The war was one of immense savagery…the worst humiliations were heaped upon women… Queen Eleanor of Aquitane's kingdom was dissolved into dust and ashes, and with it the feminine culture of the South, and the "free spirit of the troubadours."
Enlisting Northern European nobility, the church sent its crusaders into the tranquil, vine-covered Dordogne Valley. "Kill them all and let God sort them out," a papal legate is supposed to have said. (301)
At the same time Pope Innocent III was perpetuating atrocities against women and free thinkers in the south of France, he was conferring official status on the University of Paris. The next Pope, Gregory IX (1227-1241), set in motion the machinery for the Inquisition. The Church sanctioned torturing accused heretics to obtain confessions, a practice that went against whatever law codes there were in the Dark Ages. The men responsible for promoting literacy in medieval society were the same ones who reintroduced the rack and thumbscrew.
The last of the Albigensians fell in 1229. And the Inquisition set up court in Toulouse - while the same men were laying the cornerstone for the University of Toulouse (to commemorate their victory). Only males were admitted to the university. Women weren't allowed to learn the language of religion, science, or philosophy.
As a result of the murders of females, the Catholic schools for supine handmaidens became shamanic midwives, birthing a new way of knowing that would one day become known as "science." Science eventually undermined religion.
The High Middle Ages bubbled with lusty freedom, passionate debate, and individual industry. During the communal age of feudalism, artists hadn't signed their work because they didn't think of themselves as individuals. But with literacy, the common folk began to think of themselves as persons. Literacy encouraged enlightened self-interest - peasant uprisings, workers revolts, demands for more representational governments. In1215, the Magna Carta was the result of a literate peerage breathing down the ermine collar.
Scholasticism, the hubristic doctrine of faith and logic, feminine and masculine, right and left, emerged as dominant philosophy. Many thought it would ultimately prove the existence of God. Its antipode, Mysticism, claimed that knowledge of the divine could be attained only through spiritual union with God. The lives and thoughts of Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) and Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) epitomized these opposite philosophies. Hildegard wrote of her visions, synthesizing the individual and the cosmos, soul and nature. She saw the earth as round, viewed men and women as equal, and came to be viewed as a sage and prophetess. Her success led people to believe that the Era of Women might be dawning.
With the Inquisition and the Albigensian Crusade, the Church had forfeited the moral high ground. Canon Law, entrapped in male literacy, lost its soul. It was Hildegard's right brain again the Church's ecclesiastical lawyers' left-brains. Thomas Aquinas represented the incisive logic of the left. A Dominican, he studied under Albert the Great, one of the age's great minds. At this time, the Spanish Muslim, Averroes (1126-1198) was pitching the equality of the sexes. Averroes was the original medieval Humanist. Averroes' thinking guided Maimonides (1135-1204) whose "Guide for the Perplexed" attempted to square Aristotle with the Old Testament. The Church was alarmed by Averroes and Maimonides and sent Aquinas to debate them. He convinced his superiors to embrace Aristotle; thus was Scholasticism born.
Aquinas brought the pagan philosopher into the Christian fold. It was said Aquinas had the most incisive mind since Aristotle. By arguing for the existence of God, he produced a defense of his faith tailored to his time. He advocated Free Will, believing that evil flowed from ignorance rather than malice. He rode the razor's edge, arguing that the Pope was infallible at the same time he was diminishing the role of the Church. Aquinas spent most of his time writing. In 1545, the Council of Trent placed his Summa Theologica on the altar alongside the Bible. He was made a Saint in 1323. Only one problem: He vilified women. He said women we lesser than men, out of Adam's rib. He swallowed the pseudo-scientific misogyny of Aristotle. He really dumped on women, saying they didn't possess souls. His quill, inkpot, and alphabet tricked his left brain and right hand.
Reason in the form of Scholasticism became the enemy of faith. It led to the recovery of alphabet literacy by the secular population. For a time, the female and the male, left and right brain, came into balance, but then the Church reasserted control and the culture's left hemisphere hypertrophied.
Humanist/Egoist - 1300-1500 It started with the 100 Years War between England and France. Hunter-killer values were everywhere in ascendance. The poor became prey for another Horseman of the Apocalypse: Plague. Striking 3 times, it reduced the population of Europe by a third. "All fall down." The Age of Chivalry was one of the plague's victims. Knight became synonymous with thug. The Church became the political arm of the French monarchy, with the Vatican moving from Rome to Avignon, where it remained until 1377. No one anticipated that the Renaissance was right around the corner. (310)
The Plague led to the tangible wealth of the deceased, to excess capital, which in turn with the help of Gutenberg's printing press (1454), led to expanded literacy. Erasmus said the printing press was "the greatest of all inventions." No society had ever had to contend with so much literacy so fast, the cause of the Renaissance's agony, as well as its ecstasy.
The Renaissance began in the mid-1500s, a century after the printing press. Commissions to create art (followed the 4th century's dictum to destroy pagan art.) A thousand years later, the Church paid artists to recreate the lost legacy of classical art. "Renaissance" means "rebirth."It led to Humanism. "To you is given a body more graceful than other animals, to you powers of apt and various movements, to you most sharp and delicate senses, to you wit, reason, memory like an immortal God." - Leon Battista Alberti The cult of the individual was a triumph for the left brain and for egoism.
Humanism should have been called "Masculinism." Sculpture glorifies rape, struggle, and death. Michelangelo's Pieta undermined the Great Goddess; she had lost the power to resurrect man. Benvenuto Cellini's Perseus shows a male hero on steroids who has dispatched the uppity woman shaman. Perspective is the illusion of depth on a flat surface. Non-literate people frequently can't see it. We fail to realize that in order to read, we focus our eyes slightly in front of the page. It's necessary to do the same thing to see the illusion of perspective. Thus, non-literate people sometimes miss it. We all assume God has the perspectivist point of view, looking down on his realm. People in non-alphabetic traditions believe the deity is both of and in the world, that He isn't on the cloud, She IS the cloud.
Humanism, Masculinism, led to demands for rights; guilds sprang up, parliament came into being; universities became independent of the Church; a prosperous middle class emerged; women's rights showed signs of resuscitation. Only the Church suffered, with the Protestant secession. The family had traditionally held society together. Men and women began to look alike. Their union hardened women and softened men, leading to "Common Sense." Couples had the benefit of both left-brain logic and right-brain intuition. (The wise figure in mythology was often a hermaphrodite - Tiresias, the blind seer.) Humans are "social praditors," all hunt together. But, because of protracted childhoods, the human women had to stay home. Hence, a phenomenon unique to our species: all-male hunting parties. It became the template for all subsequent male projects, the ultimate purpose of which was to kill. Thus, hunting parties led to armies, and armies to the killing of other people. The balance is provided by hanging out with women. When we didn't, we lost the common sense, the holistic and simultaneous grasp of multiple divergent determinants. Men and women together allow each other to "hear oneself think." When men talk to each other, they're vertical, whereas when they talk with women, they're often horizontal, touching one another. Men learned to consult their mates before falling asleep, where their right brains could work on the problem - allow them to transcend divergent problems? When women are excluded from male deliberations, a real, deadly bias intrudes. Thus, the problem with the exclusion of women and celibacy in the Church. Hence, Renaissance Popes sustained folly. (318) And, thus, the Reformation. The combination of increased literacy and exclusion of women was deadly because it resulted in a left-brain explosion to the exclusion of any balancing right brain intuition.
"Printing was the Reformation; Gutenberg made Luther possible."
- Will Durant
The word Protestant means "one who protests." (323)
There have been four reformations in Western history. The first one erupted in the Sinai 3800 years ago, 1800 years before Christ, when the desert people revolted against Egyptian polytheism, and led to the first alphabetic book, the Old Testament, and, in turn, to denouncing the goddesses, declaring images profane, and the circumscription of women's rights. The second occurred 2000 years later, about 200 AD when Christians rejected the polytheistic state religion of Rome. The Christians extolled simplicity, modesty, and righteousness, drawing their strength from another book, the New Testament. Again, Goddess worship was demonized, images were destroyed, and women's rights conscribed. Seven hundred years later, the third occurred in Arabia, where Mohamed proclaimed a new moral order based on a written text written by a male God, the Koran, or Quran. And, again, representational images were outlawed, women's freedom curtailed, and images of goddesses toppled. In all three, men suppressed women based on their books. The fourth took place in the middle of the Renaissance, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 refutations to the door. Reading, as opposed to the content, sparked the fourth Reformation. The Church was exposed for refusing to allow everyone to read the sacred book. Copies of the New Testament were chained to monastery desks. Luther said no one had the right to come between the individual and God: "Every man is his own priest." It was the age-old question of internal versus external authority. Luther repudiated church ritual, icons, etc. It was the age-old battle between the word and the image and, again, left-brain values prevailed. In 1328, William Ockham urged leniency for differences in religious opinion. The first step was to wrest the written word away from the Church. One thing the Reformation did was point out what Jesus didn't say, i.e. He never mentioned Original Sin or Eve's transgression. He never advocated burning people at the stake. He did not proscribe images. Two personalities:
Martin Luther brought the Church to its knees with his pen. (326) Luther replaced the infallibility of the Pope with the infallibility of the written word, the holy text of the New Testament. But he ignored the essence of the Gospels, the merciful and loving Jesus. Luther was convinced of the evil in each person. He wanted to abandon the teaching of logic and philosophy. "Reason is the greatest enemy of faith…" His anti-intellectualism shocked the intellectual Humanists. Luther didn't hold women in high regard and he especially disliked learned women. He also disliked nature. He jettisoned the devotion to Mary. While damning the Inquisition at first, he later came to encourage far worse measures. He also advocated the destruction of art. Artists fled.
John Calvin, 1509, gave a manifesto, organization, and backbone to Scottish Presbyterians, French Huguenots, English Puritans, Scandinavian Protestants, and American Pilgrims. His Institutes of Christian Religion (1536) became the most influential book of the Reformation. In it, he preached the centrality of the Scriptures. Calvin was deeply pessimistic about the human capacity for altruism and cooperation. He also accepted Augustine's idea of Original Sin. He said only a few would be saved. And, he proscribed images, including the crucifix, called women tainted, and took a hard, masculine edge, with intolerance. Though not original, he stalled the Humanist movement and delayed the Enlightenment. "The best is not to be born; one should mourn and weep at births and rejoice at funerals." The major difference between Calvin and Luther was that Calvin believed in a male elite. He named Geneva his ideal City of God, and made it the most repressive police state in history. Catholicism was declared a heresy. Women were burned at the stake. Jacque Gruet, a Humanist, was tortured for 30 days, then nailed to a stake and beheaded. Calvin was a first class prick.
175. The Church was pushed to clerical reform. Catholics were taught the contents of the scriptures. And, again, literacy expanded. The Jesuits founded schools, but didn't accept women.
The left-brain is the seat of logic, cause and effect thinking. The idea that one thing follows another is the basis of linear cause and effect thinking. Reading reinforces a chain-link tessellation of events occurring in linear time. Cultures with a sudden rise in literacy embrace predestination. Calvin: Protestant ethic; hard work; maybe heaven. Despite the fact that Jesus overwhelmingly accentuated the values of the right brain. There are zero murders, banishments, burnings, or imprisonments. Luther and Calvin were fucked psyches. Luther's father beat him. Calvin, a very private person, lost his Mum when he was young. The harsh patriarchy that surrounded these men were very severe and dictatorial. No joy, love, mercy, laughter, or beauty was allowed. Calvin even prohibited women from Baptism. Why did people accept the nonsense? The printing press led to the Reformation's rigid and repressive self-discipline.
Faith/Hate "To so many evils has religion persuaded men." -Lucretius A reign of terror raged for 150 years beginning in the late 1400s. "Religious Wars." Anabaptists, peasants against baptism, advocated tolerance and nonviolence. The Reformation leaders denounced them and dictated that they should be killed on the spot. They later continued on as Amish, Quakers, and Menonites. In 1524, peasants refused to pay taxes and revolted. They set out to kill clergy who wouldn't denounce the Church. 130,000 people died, 10,000 executed, 50,000 homeless. Then, it was all followed by the 30 years War (1618-1648), with Lutherans and Calvinists killing each other, Protestants and Catholics killing each other, and a third of Germany's population being annihilated. It took a century for the German economy to recover. Then, in 1483, the Spanish Inquisition began against the conversos (Jews). These marranos, or swine were killed mercilessly. The "strappado" was used to dislocate girls' shoulders. The tortures were presented as an "auto de fe," an act of faith. 40,000 were eventually burned at the stake (by the end, in 1801). Jews were expelled from Spain. And, just then, Columbus sailed and ended up bringing enormous wealth to Spain. He was probably a Jew, too. After the Jews, they turned on the Muslims, and then the 3 million Spanish Moors. Columbus discovered the matriarchy of American Indians. What followed was the greatest case of genocide in human history. There had been 80 million people in the Americas in 1492. Within 300 years, the explorers, conquistadors, colonists, settlers, and pioneers had exterminated the majority of them, to the point where there are now only about 10 million. The Europeans set out to destroy every vestige of these cultures. And missionaries taught them the alphabet. The Europeans carried a gun in one hand and a book in the other. The process of literacy overcame the content of the book.
In 1509, Henry VIII ascended to the throne of England. The printing press had been brought to England in 1476. A Catholic, Henry railed against Luther. But the Church wouldn't allow Henry to get an heir. So, in 1532, he broke with the Vatican and formed the Church of England. He gave the Church's land to his nobles. When the peasants got pisses, he unleashed his own reign of terror. Sir Thomas Moore, a Humanist, refused to sign the Acts of Succession and was beheaded. And he, Henry, too, insisted the Church of England divest itself of its imagery and devotion to Mary. Then, when Henry died, his daughter, "Bloody Mary," instituted a Catholic reign of terror. The whole thing puttered out in 1649, when Charles I was beheaded by Oliver Cromwell. The same was going on in France, the Protestants against the Catholics. Sunday, August 24, 1572: Bloody Sunday; Saint Bartholomew's Day; the Catholics slaughtered the Protestants in Paris. Italy had one, too. In Holland, the reign lasted nearly a century.
Then, in the late 1600s, the country that gave the world the Chivalric Code, the Magna Carta, Parliament, Milton, Donne, Shakespeare, and was the most democratic, reestablished the trade in human cargo, enslaving Africans to sell them in the West. No printing presses in Africa. The more literacy there was, the more violence there was.
"Schizophrenia may be a necessary consequence of literacy."
- Marhall McLuhan
All spiritual traditions develop exercises and rituals to alter every day consciousness to transcend an individual's feelings of alienation and reconnect (religare) that person to "the source." The inner peace generated enables the person to see himself as part of the matrix of a grander entity, and to intuit connections to all other living things. The insight engenders wisdom and compassion, the two attributes that characterize every prominent ancient religious leader.
So, what are we to make of the leaders who claim they have access to "the truth," and then murder those who disagree with them? The Reformation (1517-1648) saw neighbor murder neighbor. The most technologically advanced society on earth suffered a left-hemispheric epileptic fit. Why?
The savage Mongols tolerated all religions. Now we come to the last, breath taking horror, the torture, mutilation, and incinerating of untold women between 1460 and the early 1600s. It began in the glory days of the Renaissance. It was the ballooning of the left hemisphere's hunter-killer attributes. "The Old Testament's Yahweh commanded, 'Ye shall suffer no witch to live.'" (365)
Men have always feared women's power. Early Christians didn't sanction witch-hunts. The dark ages honored "shamanic women." In 800, Charlemagne made killing witches a capital crime. In 1173, Pope Gregory IX forbade the Inquisition from prosecuting witches. In the Middle Ages, the Church called flying witches a hallucination. Yet, 300 years later, if you denied witches could fly, the Church accused you of aiding sorcery. In 1484, the Church said witchcraft posed a threat to Christiandom. In 1485, 41 women were burned in Italy. The printing press proved a tool of oppression. "The Hammer of Witches," 1487, said, "All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable…wherefore, for the sake of fulfilling their lust, they consort even with devils." Details of chase and torture, pgs. 368-9. Montaigne: "It is rating our conjectures highly to roast people alive for them."
In earlier times, people acknowledged the skills of female shamans. Paracelsus (1493-1541) said he had "learned from the sorceresses all that he knew." Plus, the witches followed "Wicca," the goddess worship. So, the spasm of misogyny. The Salem Witch Trials were in 1692 (the first printing press having arrived in Cambridge in 1638). Hysteria (from hystera, meaning womb) was attributed to women, yet the witch-hunts were an example of male hysteria - "testicularia" would be more like it. The English Puritans conducted the worse witch hunt between 1645 and 1647, with 200 witches dispatched. In Wurzberg, 41 girls, 7-11, were killed between 1623 and 1631. "There is no other incident in all recorded history in which a community was seized with a psychosis so extreme that it tortured and killed its own children." Over 100,000 women were exterminated. The last witch was killed in Poland in 1782. Sex crimes increased, while rape trials declined. It was a deviants' field day.
To the printing press, rising literacy rates, and religious wars must be added the syncrony of linear, dispassionate, rational, abstract, and cerebral science. When did science come of age? Rene Descartes, 1629, raised doubt against the Church's faith. Cogito ergo sum! Rather than continuing nature as a whole, he broke it down into its parts with mathematical precision. In doing so, he advanced reductionist and mechanical thinking. Science provided people with an alternative explanation to that espoused by religion. But unfortunately, science didn't like women either. Evolving from the all-male priesthood, the early scientific community allowed no women and, in fact, treated nature as its enemy. Francis Bacon ("Novum Organum") used witch-hunt metaphors to describe how scientists should force nature to relinquish its secrets. Copernicus replaced Mother Earth with Father Sun. Science dismissed spirituality, distained ethics and philosophy, and allied itself with the hunter-killers, the military. Science was born of individuals, then co-opted by the male church, universities, and military. The true scientists were excluded.
In sum, literacy is a stimulant to human progress, but it has the potential to produce undesirable side effects. Every society that has acquired literacy has become violently self-destructive a short time afterwards. This madness has been associated with misogyny.
Positive/Negative - 1648-1899 (378) Isaac Newton (1642-1727) epitomized the rise of reason and madness. In the Enlightenment, it was concluded that anything that couldn't be comprehended by reason was "other," secondary, not nameable, less than real. Under this "Natural Law," women were viewed as inferior to men. It was a new version of patriarchy, from the church to the scientists. Newton said every effect had a cause. The Age of Miracles evolved into the age of the Majestic Clockwork. The idea of the dispassionate creator led to the spiritual black hole called "Scientific Materialism." Newton's mechanics killed free will. In 1859, Darwin's ideas upset the church's that God created man above the other animals. Herbert Spencer's "survival of the fittest" reaffirmed the Alpha Male idea. Then, we had the Industrial Revolution. Coal was discovered as a fuel in the mid-1700s. By 1725, science had surpassed religion as the chief influence shaping European culture. Coal…heat energy… steam engine…POWER! Wealth to the controllers. Exploitation of children. Further decline in status of women. Production replaced land as the primary source of wealth. Men raped Mother Nature. Yet, slowly, women began to pull themselves up. In 1830, London was a literary Mecca and a third of its published writers were women.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, there were 2 camps of intellectuals, the Enlightenment reason folks and the Romantic feeling folks. (381) Two innovations assisted the right brain people, photography and the electromagnetic field. Together, they elevated the importance of images over words.
Two stories: The family photo album replaced the family Bible in importance. Photography liberated artists from the goal of representational art. Artists went on to Impressionism, Pointillism, Cubism, and Fauvism. Art increasingly intuited the shape of the future. The visionary artist is the first person in culture to see the world in a new way.
As the 1800s passed, people got more and more information from images. Political cartoons.
Faraday's electromagnetic field or "cosmic web" led to the discovery of the dynamo. It was essentially feminine in nature. The heart is the countervailing polar opposite force, positive and negative. The idea did a lot to make men see women as their complements. Benjamin Lee Whorf, the 20th century linguist, said the language we learn shapes the universe we conceive. If a culture's words describe a causal, linear, mechanistic world, that's what we make –a more masculine world. If, on the other hand, inventions force language to describe a more feminine world, feminine status and values are buoyed. Democritus divided reality into atoms and the void; man investigated "things;" a masculine bias emerged. Faraday countered Democritus.
Photographs increase the image-recognition skills of the right brain of both sexes.This factor, in turn, reinforces a cultural interest in art, myth, nature, nurture, and poetry. Since the invention of writing, 5000 years ago, women have been unable to challenge the patriarchy. The first women's movement to call for an end of patriarchy emerged in the late 19th century in England and the US. In all the major European languages, articles have a gender. But not in English. Misogyny was rooted in those languages. English was also different in that it has only one second person singular pronoun, you. No intimacy or sexual definitions. English fosters democracy, from which the Suffragettes sprang. Photography and electromagnetism allowed suffragism to begin when it did.
189. John Stuart Mill (1869) called for the end of Patriarchy ("The Subjection of Women"). In 1872, Susan B. Anthony pulled the lever. In 1855, Nietzsche declared, "God is dead." In 1873, Phil Remington invented the typewriter. In 1877, Edison created the moving picture camera. Movies!
Id/Superego - 1900-1945 (393) Freud's "Interpretation of Dreams" came out in 1900. The Id controls the will. We're not wholly rational, no matter how we'd like to think we are. Plus, the Unconscious has wisdom. Max Planck ragged discontinuity - which began to uncouple cause and effect, linear sequence, etc. Charlie Chaplin poked fun at the left-brain. Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity posited that at fast speeds, reality doesn't obey Newton's laws.
Sequence is a vital component of speech, as well as the crux of alphabetic written languages. If, in reality, sequence is assumed, we got a problem with the very structure of communication. (Other characters who played supporting roles - 394---) Bohr said the decisions of the investigator influenced the outcome of his experiment. Hence, subjectivity must be coupled with objectivity. Bohr also concluded that everything is interconnected. Also, opposites are not either/or, but both/and. Jung's synchronicity; foreknowledge of the world (the "Collective Unconscious").
The view that all this was somehow weird led to Dadaism and Surrealism, semiotics (the study of the nature of language). ***Words constrain our imaginations. Language is the invisible hand that structures thought. In the late 1800s, C. S. Pierce and Ferdinand de Saussure founded semiotics. Then, Wittgenstein called language a "cage." He said language is so limited that it is inadequate for conveying the nature of reality - "What can be shown cannot be said." He also challenged the linear thinking necessary for logic and writing. (He retired from philosophy at the height of his career and became a hospital orderly.) Later, Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf proposed that the language we learn as children shapes our ability to imagine the world. Clearly, these men observed, something is wrong with the dominant paradigm that has ruled so long.***
At the same time, we had 2 world wars, economic depression, the cold war, and countless ethnic conflicts. Cherchez the newspapers. It's been 500 years since Gutenberg's printing press. Nationalism led to mass slaughter. Writing made us chauvinists. The process of book writing introduced a bias into the content written. Yet, still, the vote for women in 1920 (1936 in England). Protestantism softened. Women wore lipstick.The Communist Manifesto was more masculine BS, about the further division of labor - left-brain stuff. Communism severely suppresses women. An economic theory by a dead white male became the latest religion. The Germans forsook their faith in God and transferred it to der fuhrer. Hitler used radio, and the extremely literate Germans were powerless to resist. Radio was the first mass experience of "electronic implosion" (M. McLuhan), the reversal of the entire direction and meaning of literate Western Civilization. If they'd read his speeches, they wouldn't have fallen under his spell. Hitler blasted the Germans with booming, spoken words; it was too much for them. (In this sense, Hitler was a visionary artist, anticipating the future.) He also duped them with spectacles and icons. He personally chose the swastika, and hired professionals to stage his rallies. He seduced the Germans into suspending their rational and moral faculties. Fascism and Communism were essentially atheistic religions. In Russia, literacy supplanted orality; in Germany, orality upended literacy. No wonder they were such enemies! "Fireside chats." Churchill's talks. The dictators feared the short-wave radio above all else.
WWII was the end of the Mechanical Age. With the bomb, the atomic age began and, with it, heralding the end of patriarchy, the return of the Goddess, and the triumph of image over written words.
Page/Screen - 1945-2000 (407)
Existentialism emerged after WWII. In 1939, TV came in. "We must once again accept and harmonize the perceptual biases of both (the left and right brain) and understand that for thousands of years the left hemisphere has suppressed the qualitative judgement of the right, and the human personality has suffered for it." - Marshall McLuhan and Bruce Powers , 1993, The Global Village, p.4
WWII exposed mankind's horrible nature. At end of the war, the combining of two “feminine” influences, photography and electromagnetism (TV - 1939). Reading started to decline and pattern recognition skills improved. “The retina's cones need bright light to scan a static page of print, TV brings the eye's rods into play.” Rods see best in lowered light and can detect the slightest movements. So, left hemisphere became less dominant and right became more involved in perception. Before TV, alphabetic print had exploded Western culture into hard-edged shards of individualistic shrapnel. From the solitary pursuits of reading and writing, we came together into “one vast electronic global village.”
“The electroencephalogram (EEG) brain wave patterns of someone reading a book are very different from those of the same person watching TV. So fundamentally different, in fact, that there is little deviation in those patterns even when the content of the book of TV program is varied....Watching TV and meditating generate the identical slow alpha and theta waves. These EEG patterns denote a passive, receptive, and contemplative state of mind. Reading a book in contrast generates beta waves; the kind that appear whenever a person is concentrating on a task. Task oriented beta waves activate the hunter/killer side of the brain, whereas alpha and theta waves activate the gatherer/nurturer side. Perhaps Western civilization has for too long been stuck in a beta mode due to literacy. “For all their value, abstract science, linear words, and sequential equations have brought man to the brink of extinction.”
The first pic of the Earth from space came in 1968. No great literature since 1945 has come close to the impact of that '68 photo. Ergo, influence of written word declining as influence of images increases. Feminist Movement started by first generation of TV. Hippies schmooze and gentle; traditional authority hard-edged and violent. Flowers in rifle barrels. “The victory of TV images over printed words was so sudden that society had little time to adjust. The bulwarks of written-word-based authority were repudiated. “Don't trust anyone over 30.” ADD and dyslexia due to decline of left-brain dominance? Library attendance down, museum attendance way up. Books with pics way up. Literacy is declining, but IQ is NOT. Pre-literate cultures were more peaceful than literate cultures. Play, a right brain activity suffered with literacy, but has made a return with TV. (Sports: linear, slow baseball down, multi-faceted action football, etc. up.) “Icon”, “adoring,” “worshipful,” “sirens,” “sorcerers,” “enchantresses,” the word “Goddess” no longer forbidden. Much more myth, romance. A healthy distrust of ends oriented people, businessmen, politicians, etc., protects us from being seduced by their words (ads and speeches). “Logos,” the word, has been contracted into Logo, the icon. It's the Magic Kingdom (right brain) versus the Dark Kingdom (left brain). While books took five centuries to permeate world culture, TV penetrated it to the same extent in only five decades.
A culture's first contact with the alphabet drives it mad. Hunter-killer values thrust to the fore, and nationalism, imperialism, and bloody religious revolutions follow. TV promotes multi-cultural tribalism and subverts nationalism...To spell means to arrange letters so that they form words. But it also means to be in possession of, or to cast a spell. The alphabet's 3800-year spell has prevented those who use it from recognizing the price exacted.
Linearity, sequence, abstraction and analysis are the mental processes associated with spelling. They're also representative of left-brain's most basic functions – language, logic, causality, and math computation. The left-brain also does hunting and killing, mysogeny, harsh patriarchy, and a distruct of images that often leads to an orgy of anti-art frenzies. Literacy reinforces left brain dominance.
Women have suffered in alphabet cultures in part because they were also hooked into language. And the more left brain bias they took on, the worse their intuition became. Effectively, their left brain teamed up with their culture against their right brain – a Cadmean pincer movement. Also, women often weren't allowed to read, which held them in second-class status.
Learning an alphabet and how to spell affects a child's brain because the mental processes effect every assumption, interpretation, and response the child has and ever will have. Alphabets are not fun or loving. They lead to repressed sexual urges, perversion, fetishism, and males' obsession to control women
The solution is to develop BOTH the left and right sides of the brain, to balance the alphabet bias, literacy, with iconic information, imagery.
The left-brain essential energy is masculine. And it's doing us in.