January 27, 2015

A Tale of Two Comforters: Two Cranial Dutch Wives

A Tale of Two Comforters: Two Cranial Dutch Wives
Notes for a future post about the similarity between Amaterasu and Eve, "help-meets" from the Bible and the Kojiki, Book of Ancient Matters.

Nah, This is it folks. My best.

The biggest problem with drawing this parallel is that Amaterasu is worshipped whereas Eve, generally, is not.

However I think perhaps that Eve' is a prototype for Jesus, and that is why he was always calling himself "ab Adam" ("of Adam", usually translated as "the son of man"), because like Eve, and Amaterasu, he is something in made from the hearts of humans. He represents a cure for the cranial Dutch wife disease - sin - that we may suffer from (speaking for myself).

There are structural similarities between the Bible and the Kojiki particularly between Izanagi and Lilith, and less so - but more interestingly - between Amaterasu and Eve.

In the myth of Lilith (in the Alphabet of ben Sirach) Lilith was Adam's first wife, who refused to lie beneath him and left him. Adam complained to Elohim who sent three angels to try and bring her back. They fail.

In the Kojiki, Izanami was Izanagi's wife, and Susano's mother-in-a-sense. She left Izanagi and also left Susano crying bitterly. Susano complained to his God father Izanami that he could not meet his mother. But Izanami had already tried and failed to get her back himself.

The reason why Lilith could not come back from the Red Sea (which seems to function as a sort of underworld, as does the sea in later myths in the Kojiki) is because she had had sex with the demon of the underworld. (The underworld in the Nihonshoki is written "Yellow Spring.")

The reason why Izanami could not come back from the underworld is because she had eaten food of the underworld's hearth. "I have eaten at the hearth of YÖMÏ." (Unlike Lilith Izanami expresses a desire to return, and goes to discuss the possibility with the gods of Yellow-Spring)

Izanami kills a thousand humans or children a day, while Izanagi builds 1500 birthing houses.

100 of Lilith's children are killed a day, and in revenge Lilith goes out to kill human children and does so if they do not have an amulet bearing the names of the three saints sent to bring her back.

So, Lilith is a primal mother and killer of children who lives in the underworld who used to be married to Adam, who was "man and woman" and made in god's image.

Izanami is a primal mother and killer of people (the reference to birthing huts suggests children too) who lives in the underworld, who used to be married to god.

Importantly, with important ramifications, in both the Kojiki and the Bible a male hero finds a replacement for this primal female (Lilith? and Izanami) that he wanted. This is the bit in which I am most interested in

Adam wants a "help meet" "as before" (Lilith?) and finds it in Eve, who is made from a side (chamber) (not rib!) of Adam himself. He is overjoyed to see this flesh of his flesh, and eventually, makes babies with her, a part of himself.

Susano wants to meet Izanmi but instead goes off to meet his sister, Amaterasu (lit heaven shining) the Goddess of the Sun and the Mirror, which now stands in Ise Shrine, the most sacred of all Shinto symbols.

When Amaterasu hears the sound of her warrior god brother, Susono, coming, she
1) Does up her hair in a masculine way
2) Puts on male clothes and weapons
3) Shouts like a male
4) Stands next to the 'central well of heaven'
5) Stamp her feet till she sinks into the ground up to her thighs.
It was this latter detail (5), which all the Japanese interpreters shrug their shoulders at, which gave the game away. Amaterasu is no more no less than her mirror: the well at the centre of the heaven. The "well" is a reflective surface which Susano is overjoyed to see, and makes babies with, himself.

Amaterasu is a side of Susano, a reflected side, and replacement for Izami.

Eve is a side of Adam, and a replacement for Lilith.

Eve and Amaterasu are two comforters, 'help meets' provided for the heroes of creation myths.

Lilith and Izanami were the frightful, murderous, underworld women that these women replace.

Lilith may be associated with birds e.g. the "Night Howler" which is another translation of her name. One of the few possible (but now doubted) representations of her shows her with birds feet.

Izanami and Izanagi look to a bird for advice on how to mate in the Nihonshoki.

And, apart from inanimate things and Gods associated with the landscape, one god before giving birth to the fire god that killed her, Izanami gave birth to a bird: The heavenly bird vessel.

What is the significance of birds?

My guess is, that birds are one of the few other creatures that are monogamous, and so many creation myths start with couples, which is strange bearing in mind that monogamy
is probably fairly new.

Eve is said to be the origin of monogamy.

So, bearing in mind that Derrida argues that we continue to have a relationship with an aler ego, or "a side of ourselves" by "hearing ourselves speak", and in doing so create our sense of self, and that the motivation for doing this is 'auto-erotic,' i.e. cranial sexting with oneself creates the illusion of self (see Derrida's book "The Postcard"), and perhaps also the belief in a soul mate, then I would go for a fairly straightforward interpretation of the Kojiki's"bog lance" and the brine that drips off it, both lance and brine remain metaphors for penis and semen to this day afaik. Figuratively, self-love created the world. Or the world came into being when it started to 'love' itself. The first thing that "they" made was "Onogoro" - self stiffening - Island.

[The breach of the taboo or proscription (looking at Izanami's naked body, Adam and Eve seeing that they are naked) and the origin of death, and the covering of birth/sex with a parturition hut or fig leaf, takes place between the original partners (Izanami and Izanagi) rather than between Elohim and the original's replacement (Eve) but there are strong structural similarities between these 'two broken proscription myths'. ]

Interlinear Kojiki
Interlinear Bible

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Genesis, Self-Psychology and Lilith

Genesis, Self-Psychology and Lilith
Is there anything in Genesis that relates to self-psychology? I am looking out for
Creation through narrative or speech (Dennet, Bruner, Mead)
The need for an "other" (Mead, Bakhtin, Lacan, see Boszormenyi-Nagy for a summary of of the "ontic" necessity of an other for the generation of self
Scroll back to the beginning of the chapter from an introduction to the "ontic" necessity of intra-psychic others according to a psychologist
In addition to speech/voice the basic phenomenology of self as 'the visual field' (Mach), or the 'contradictory' - since it is also the world - 'self as place' found in Nishida.

Unlike Darwin's theory of evolution, scientific and borderline-scientific theories of the origins of self are (to my ears at least) pretty occult at the best of times. Are any of their elements to be found in the Bible's story of creation: Genesis?

The image above depicts the famous scene from Genesis - the Fall of man - as depicted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel.

As if it is not enough that Eve should be responsible by temptation, for the downfall of man, this representation shows the serpent too as a woman. This is representation is not short of proponents (see also these atmospheric photographs and this book), in part because God appears to have made women twice.

In the first book of Genesis God creates "adam" (or mankind, a general noun meaning humans, and pun on earth) all the while talking to himself, and pronouncing things good, where God refers to himself in the plural.

AV Gn 1:26 . And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

God then makes men *and women*

AV Gn 1:27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

The fact that "Adam" refers to man kind, including both men and women is reiterated at the beginning of Genesis Book 5

AV Gn 5:1-2 . ...In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

The use of Adam to refer to the species of humans of both sexes, and perhaps (it is not clear to me when if ever the change in usage takes place) also to a single person of male sex makes the text very confusing. Whether this is deliberate or not I do not know.

But in Book 2 the creation of the human is described again. Once again it is mentioned that adam (humans) are made from soil, but in addition to adam "the human" (which we have been told were man and woman) God feels sorry for Adam who has no goes on to create, from a different material, a different kind of being: Eve who is a
"help meet for him" AV
"helper as in front of him" (Interlinear translation of each word in the Hebrew.)

The fact that adam/"the human" is now referred to in the masculine may suggest "adam" now means (1) all the males of the human species, (2) one male, or (3) may still refer to mankind but in any event "Eve" (be she singular or plura) refers to a female of *some sort*.

The above phrase phrase as recently been the subject of focus of attention by feminist scholars since, rather than suggest a subordinate role, something at the very least an equal perhaps even a guide. The word "helper" (H. ozr) is to refers to God when he helps humans. The "as in front of him" (k-ngd-u) is interpreted to refer to a counterpart or even guide. The only two times that the exact same expression are used are to refer to the helper that God is about to create Eve.

It is not clear to me why the in front of him is prefixed by "as" in the interlinear text I am reading - is Eve some sort of apparition, that is "as" (if) in front of Adam but not really? Even without the prefix "as in," "front of him" is sometimes used to refer to some sort of apparition. E.g. When God appears to Joshua to tell him how to blow down the walls (by trumpet blast) he does so in the following manner:

AV Jsh 5:13 . And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man *over against him* (or "to front of him") with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, [Art] thou for us, or for our adversaries?

This man in front of him turns out to be an Angel or God, since God makes his appearance immediately afterwards.

In order to find this "helper in front of him" Adam is shown all the recently created creatures but finds none of them suitable. So God puts adam ('the human") to sleep and appears to make women for a second time.

Gn 2:21 . And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

This "rib" is to become Eve, but it is surely a mistranslation. The only other occurrences of a literal rib in the Old Testament use a different word (chmsh in 2 Samuel, 2:23, 3:27, 4:6, 10:10). The Hebrew word used for "rib" in Genesis is "tzlo" which means "side" or angle (at an angle), and similar words are used to refer to various sides and especially the side chambers of temples, particularly King Solomon's temple which had thirty "ribs" or side chambers. More recent feminist translations have therefore translated this as "one side" of Adam/adam.

That Women should be created twice explains why are two women in the above picture. According to a 9th century manuscript and other sources, Adam's first wife was created like himself from earth but refused to "lie under him", and left Adam to consort with demons. This first wife was called Lilith. Lilith makes, and kills, children with demons. She is thought to be a demon herself, which is perhaps why Michelangelo has represented the serpent as a woman, the human woman made from the earth, Lilith.

It is not clear to me that Eve describes a woman at all. Eve is described as
1) a "helper as before" adam
2) the wife of adam which at this point seems to refer to humans, so Eve may refer to the wife and "help as in front of" humans, made from one side or one side chamber.
3) The mother of all living (subsequent to the fall of adam)

Recapping - the myth is rife with self-speech (God narrates his every act) and creation through narration - let there be light. Women are created twice, once and once again from "one side" or "a side chamber" to be a "help as in front" of them.

When we think it seems to me our thoughts as resound around in the mind which, if interactionist / dialogical interpreters of linguistic meaning such as Mead and Bakhtin are right, contains a simulated other. To describe this the Meadian mind complete with an other that hears our language, I have used the metaphor of as 'a haunted sound box,' but I think that as a metaphor, "a side chamber" made into a "helper as in front of us" is at least as good.

While I can narrate myself and the world, to Eve or "reason" who Dawkins also personifies as a female, that which I narrate are only statements and hypotheses and never 'the centre' (Dennet, 1992) of anything, existent, nor in any absolute sense knowledge, and to think so might be described as a big mistake.

Bible software

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"Where is Everybody?", or "Why am I so Lonely?": Fermi's Paradox / the Drake Equation, Logocentrism and Gabriel Garcial Marquez

"Where is Everybody?", or "Why am I so Lonely?": Fermi's Paradox / the Drake Equation, Logocentrism and Gabriel Garcial Marquez
The Drake Equation is, supposedly, the mathematical response to Enrico Fermi's question "Where is everybody?" posed with regard to extraterrestrial life.

Apparently Fermi blurted out the question,"Where is everybody? in 1950" One of those many present writes "the result of his question was general laughter because of the strange fact that in spite of Fermi’s question coming from the clear blue, everybody around the table seemed to understand at once that he was talking about extraterrestrial life." Picture if you will, a group of white males sitting in a room after lunch. One of them blurts out "Where is everybody" and they know, the question refers to others that should be there: extra-terrestials. That is the context of the question.

The idea is that considering the vast number of planets even in our own galazy, it seems surprising that there are no UFOs, or at least more channels on the TV or radio, some of them alien. 11 years later another white male, Francis Drake formulated answer to Fermi's question in the following way: The Drake Equation (I am using capitals to denote superscripts)

N = R x Fp x Ne x Fl x Fi x Fc x L

N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which radio-communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone);
R = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy
Fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
Ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
Fl = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point
Fi = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations)
Fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space

Before I begin the solution to this equation, it is pertinent to consider holism and its relation to paradoxes in general. Holism is the notion that things seemingly distant, the macroscopic and the microscopic, the universe and a grain of sand, are in fact intimately related. This is no where more true than in the consideration of paradoxes. For example, as mentioned previously, how is that a cosmically insignificant life form, the human species ("an evolutionary blip away from goats," and bananas) should know the speed limit of the universe. This appears to be paradoxical. The solution provided by reframing the question. As argued previously, and by Ersnt Mach, the basic stuff of the universe is that which we can sense. Our fastest sense is that of vision. Hence, the paradox presented by Einstien's observations regarding light - coupled with our radical insignificance - can be rephrased as "Why can't we see anything faster than which we can see?" The paradox disappears.

This s one way of responding to the Fermi paradox: aliens are in the dark matter that has recently been found to make up most of the universe. This answer is not without persuasive power. Perhaps we are blind to all the aliens that swarm around us due to the fact that we are only able to percieve a small part of the manifold universe. The majority of the universe is dark. We may have only a the smallest fraction of a slit eyed view of its muchness. Aliens are in our midst but like bats, we are unable to see them. The realisation that our universe is the unverse of our very limited senses provides a specific theory to explain our seeming solitude.

While this specific theory is fairly persuasive, it invites the question as to why those aliens do not attempt to communicate with us in media that they may be unaware of. Now that we have become aware of dark matter, and dark energy, how long will it be before we attempt to perturb these realms to send out "Where is every body" messages?

It will be argued here that what the Drake equation is really measuring is not the number of 'intelligent life forms', but rather the number of life forms that are obsessed with transmitting and receiving signs. In other words, the Drake Equation expresses the probability of logocentric life forms.

Fi or fraction of planets with life that develop "intelligence" like Fc the proportion of intelligent life forms that form civilisations-transmit-signals, and the final number of theorised hits "N," the number of radio signals that we should be able to hear are all a function of the tendency to transmit and receive signs.

I t can easily be argued that ants, dolphins, swallows, beavers and leopards, and the vast array of 'aliens' which surround us, are intelligent but unlike us they don't have an obsession with transmitting signs. The Drake equation is first and formost an equation about the chances of another sign transmitting life form.

Since it is really an equation about the need to constantly transmit and receive signs) this has implications for the maths. What is it about this tendency to transmit, emit signs, and receive signs, that might make the final product "N" low?

1) Since the Drake equation is about the probability of sign-emitters, this raises media and encoding questions, and the "Humans are not listening properly(My emphasis. This listening is not literal but refers to the receipt and decoding of signs so note that even some of the solutions to Fermi's paradox are phrased in semiotic terms) hypothesis becomes more plausible.

2) "Fi" the number of life forms that are obsessed with transmitting and receiving signs simply is low. We can see that on earth. There is nothing "more evolved" about humans. All the '8.7 million' (BBC) currently present species have adapted to their environment enough to be able to survive here, so there is nothing more or less evolved about any of them. And of the many species, only one, or a subset of one of them -- Westerners -- seems really into transmitting and receiving signs. That makes the number very low. For all we know the universe is teeming with "animals" some which have been around for billions of years, but none have them have caught the signing bug - none have become addicted to the weird practice of sending and receiving signs. Perhaps signing is a really weird thing to be addicted to.

3) It has been postulated that "technological advance" (it is not clear to me what this is) leads to self-annihilation. The persuasive side of this argument is that technology gives rise to power, to the means of self-destruction. But technological power also increases the ability to prevent self-destruction -- that is the reason it evolves or is developed -- so this argument on its own is not convincing. Which leads me to
3a) Does "an obsession with signing' lead to self-annihilation? The obsession that humans have to continually make and receive signs, starting with hearing themselves talk (think), through beaming each other radio and television programs, until finally sending out radio signals in the absence of a listener are all much of a muchness. This tendency to sign may be related to a chronic, radical solitude (enter Marquez). I.e. we talk to ourselves, write novels, beam each other radio and TV, and signals into space because we are so very lonely. "Signing" may thus mean "Signing our loneliness," so the Drake equation may be about the probably of chronically lonely species. Does chronic loneliness tend towards self-annihilation? The possibility that logo-centric life forms do self-annihilate may be argued to be supported by the predictions of "Armageddon" promoted by the logo-centric "book" religions.

4) Another answer is more positive and simple. Life, or lumps of anything, that send signals due to their chronic loneliness are surely those that also formulate Drake equations - which mathematically model the extent to which they are alone if not lonely. If so, then the Drake equation, or the Fermi-paradox may itself be the "Great Filter" since, asking the question it provides the paradoxical, and yet self-defining - we are the lonely ones - stimulus, that causes these lonely signing life forms to examine themselves, realise their loneliness and stop signing, especially in the absence of a listener.

Márquez, G. G. (2003). One hundred years of solitude. Harper Collins. The end (spoiler). “He began to decipher the instant that he was living, deciphering it as he lived it, prophesying himself in the act of deciphering the last page of the parchments, as if he were looking into a speaking mirror...Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that [Macondo] would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment Aureliano . . . would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth."

The above image is copyright Danielle Futselaar, on the drake Equation wikipedia page, seems to me to symbolize the way in which the equation models not 'intelligence,' or 'civilisation' but 'blowing bubbles' - being caught up in a fantasy.

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Mach vs the Anthropic Principle

Mach vs the Anthropic Principle
For some time physicists have been perplexed by the purported fact that the "constants" of the universe seemed to have been "fine tuned" or fortuitously be "just right" for the development of conscious life. The name of this principle should therefore be "the conscious life principle," but since we are the only conscious life that we know of, the human or "Anthropic Principle" will do.

Physicists seem to disagree regarding how fortuitous it is that the universe should be "just right" for allowing human life to evolve. If any of the "physical constants" had been even slightly different, then there could have been no life, and importantly *no one to have seen, the universe at all*. For some, the latter consideration provides an answer to the conundrum. It is only because the universe did provide the circumstances necessary for the evolution of life that we are here saying "wasn't that fortunate! Aren't we lucky?!"

Nevertheless, this seems to suggest that there might have been, or indeed there are or were, other universes that did not provide the "just right" circumstances - and indeed some physicists argue this - otherwise it can seem very fortuitous that the one and only universe should happen to be the one with constants that are just right to allow us to exist. The fact that we needed to get lucky to be able to ask the question, "how lucky am I" does not in itself change the odds, just as a lottery winner is no more or less lucky whether she considers her odds before or after the lottery draw.

So did we get really really lucky? Is there a multiverse, with billions of dead unverses? Or was there a cosmic evolution of universes, eventually producing this one!? Or perhaps, is there a God, "fine tuning," after all?

Leaving aside questions as to how likely it is that a close relative of the fruit fly should be able to frame the constants of the universe, the first question we need to ask is what are these "constants"? Some say that there are 13, but concentrating on two two of the most famous -- the speed of light (c), and the Planck constant, the minimum amount of energy of a photo, or according to Susskind the size of the pixels (remember, the universe is in fact 2 dimensional the number of dimensions is another constant) of the universe -- we see that the fortuitousness of both of these "constants" disappears. It can be explained in another "batty" way.

If the the stuff of the universe is, as Mach argued, the sensations and particularly our visual sense, then it is far from surprising that the speed limit of the universe should be the speed of the media of the sense of vision, or that the "pixels" of the universe should be of the minimum energy of a particle of light. It should surprise us not even a little bit, because it is implied by what "the universe" is: the universe is a theory about our sensations. That we can not see faster than we can see, nor smaller than we can see are not fortuitous, but tautologies. I strongly suspect, and believe, that the other "constants," are the result of the limitations of our senses too.

Consciousness is not something that is fortuitous, it is the foundation from which which physics starts. It is physics that needs to be explained - how its constants derive from our limitations - rather than consciousness which is a, the, given.

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Culture, Tourism and the Self: Travels in name and space

Culture, Tourism and the Self: Travels in name and space
Yuji Nakanishi, professor of Tourism at Rikkyou University, points out that “Japanese tend to associate tourism with historical landmarks, but foreigners are interested in people’s lives and their lifestyles,” he said. “Places like the fish market were never really considered a tourist site until quite recently, so both sides are really confused (Tanikawa, 2009).”

"A shop owner told me in an interview: ‘Tourists from China and Japan: here in the morning full of them, but they arrive, five minutes, and run away; they have their own schedule, take a picture and hurry; they don’t stay longer; they have ten minutes to see the church, twenty to see the museum, ten to go in another place.’ These tourists are seemingly not interested in cultural heritage but in collecting the icons of that culture." (Parmeggiani et al., 2010, p110)

Japanese tourists do different things. How should we make sense of them?

Japanese travel to places for symbols where they themselves provide the sights from the imagination or bodily via auto-photography, whereas Western tourists go places for sights which they interpret and narrate in their thoughts and words. The purpose in each case, of going all that way to experience otherness, is to return to an experience of self undiluted by other.

A few days ago in the village near our beach house, a rainy day, a group of Japanese tourists went from community centre to Buddhist temple, to road side shrine, collecting stamps as part of one of those uniquely Japanese "stamp rallies." No one came to the beach in front of our house. The panoramic view of inland sea, with gulls and fishing boats and its setting sun was of no interest to them. Likewise, this jaded old Westerner can not think of a more boring, more pointless tourism experience than a traipsing around a grey landscape collecting the blotchy red imprints left by a set of rubber stamps.

As Urry (2002) famously argues, Western tourism is about going to see something. This form of tourism has a very long tradition. The picture above left is from a stained glass window in Canterbury Cathedral, England (Wells, 2002, p127, Crown Copyright NMR), the destination of Medieval Christian pilgrimage. Wells, and more famously the anthropologist Victor Turner (Turner & Turner, 1995) have argued that there is a visual bias to Christian pilgrimage, or that the destination of Christian pilgrimage is a located image, such as stained glass, a sacred image or icon.

That the Japanese word for tourism, Kankou is often glossed as "seeing the sights" persuades us that Japanese tourist too are interested in going to see. In fact the would "Kankou" originates n the Tao-Te-Ching which argues that rulers should travel to other countries so as to gain information on how better to rule their own. The passage which introduces the word "kankou" is a recommendation not to travellers but to hosts to " indicate (shiimesu) the (high)lights of your country." Even on a literal reading, "Kankou" (Japanese tourism) is about going to places where things are explained (note 0).

The stamp rally has its origins in the proof of visitation required of Japanese pilgrims during the Tokugawa period (Graburn, 1983; Reader, 2005), but before that Japanese accumulated pieces of paper stamped with sacred symbols for more than one thousand years. The religious act of Shinto, far more than prayer, is a form of pilgrimage, shrine-visiting, mairi or moude, a movement of the worshipper. And at the shrine, before amulets and sacred stamped pieces of card were distributed symbols: first branches of trees and stones, later stamped pieces of paper. The destinations provided the names. The destinations were the named places, the "meisho". But did Japanese pilgrimage destinations provide the sights?

Not only in the stamp rally but in many forms of Japanese tourism is the sight strangely eschewed. I can remember my disappointment when taken to the the ancient seat of regional government at Dazaifu to find only an empty field. Japanese tourists visit castle towns, such as the most famous, Hagi, where there is NO CASTLE TO BE SEEN! They visit ruins ('of identity' see Hudson, 1999; Plutschow, 1981) such as that visited by Matsuo Basho, where there is NOTHING to be SEEN at all. Hudson, citing Plutschow (1981, p22) argues that, "Basho' choice of ato (ruin) was itself derived from the medieval Japanese tradition of travel diaries, wherein the significance of a place was determined by its history - its location in time, rather than by geography."

Traditionally shrines, the destination Japanese par excellence contained a prototypical meibutsu, the God-body (goshintai) of the shrine that might be a mirror, sword, jewel, or sacred stone but it was *forbidden to see this item*. The goshintai was situated symbolically . It was wrapped up in layer upon layer of cloth, box, inner shrine, out shrine and shrine walls (Hendry, 1995; Pilgrim, 1986; Bachnik & Quinn, 1994) partly to ensure that it was never seen at all. Shrines have the structure of an onion. The visitor may never become aware that there is anything at their centre, other than the fact that the visitor knows that something is there, symbolically. After all, shrines are the prototypical, great and famous, named place (meisho).

According to an informant, a Japanese tour guide, the vast majority of Japanese tourists visiting Ise Shrine today, visit the woods around the shrine, see at most its outer walls, and the souvenir shop, and the car park. Japanese tourists have thronged to Ise for centuries (especially inspired by stories of sacred symbols falling from the sky (fudaori), but without special appointment they do not see the shrine itself, much less the holy of hollies, the mirror of the sun goddess, the goshintai, prototypical named-thing (meibutsu) at its centre. Even those that do have special dispensation to enter the outer walls of Ise Shrine will be faced with that which Guichard-Anguis (2007) describes as the biggest difference between pilgrimage to Ise compared with that in Europe; the shrine building itself will have been rebuilt within the last twenty years. Even though Japanese are noted for their fondness of historical attractions, not only do they go to visit empty sites or 'ruins', the Japanese rebuild even the old sites and buildings anew. This is not just in the case of Ise Shrine but also in the case of Japanese homes, and Castles such as Osaka castle, as bewailed by XYZ.

The fact that sights are not so important as named significance may also explain the lack of attention to the maintenance of visual "authenticity," even in places such as Tokyo. Tomomitsu-Tomasson (2005) a research student in sociology, expresses her disappointment at arriving in Kyoto with a quote from Kerr's damning portrait of the dark side of Japan (2002).

“How must Kyoto appear to one who has never visited here? Passersby clad in kimono going to and fro along quiet narrow streets between temples, rows of houses with black wooden lattices, glimpsed over tiled roofs the mountains covered with cherry blossoms, streams trickling at one’s feet….the traveler’s expectations must be high – until the moment when he alights from the Bullet train. He leaves the station, catches his first sight of Kyoto Tower, and from there on it is all shattered dreams. Kyoto Hotel cuts off the view of the Higashiyama hills, and big signs on cheap clothing stores hide Mount Daimonji.Red; vending machines are lined up in front of the temples. It’s the same miserable scenery you see everywhere in Japan, and the same people oblivious to it all” (Professor Tayama Reishi direct quote) (Kerr 2001:164/65). in Tomomitsu-Tomasson (2005), p 4.

In my new home town of Yamaguchi I have written about how sad it is that less is done to maintain traditional urban architecture such as in Tatekouji Street, since it is this type of sight, that is the essence of a tourist attraction and destination. That Japanese are happy to visit Kyoto and Yamaguchi without demanding visual authenticity is again a result of their relative lack of interest in the visual dimension of tourist destinations.

Finally, it just seems to me that the Japanese are not so interested in views. The fact that I continue to live in an more recently purchases house with excellent views, or that I have a panoramic view from the window where I now write drives this home. I feel considerable empathy with the words of the Blondie song, "All I want is a room with a view," and seek to live in places which command a view. In Japan, however it is said that "high places attract smoke and stupid people," and while the high places may be elevated social positions, I think that it may also apply to the more literal interpretation. Perhaps part of my preference for views is my stupid desire to look down on things and other people.

Why do Japanese go to these symbolically significant named-places places, rather to interpret visual sites?

It seems to me that the answer can be found in theories of the Western, and Japanese self.

Here I should have a long introduction to (cross cultural psychology)
Origins in Triandis' Hofestede' collectivism
Markus and Kitayama turn around
Heine rejection of the need for self regard
Oyserman/Takano/Yamagishi attacks on collectivism
Hong YY and more so, Nisbett/Masuda cognitive turn
Kim and Non-Linguistic thought, and in her second paper on that topic on self expression, the non-linguistic self

And then ask what, phenomenologically is the self in the West and Japan like? What is it like to have an independent self? What is felt to be self? What is felt to be not self? How can one have a "interdependent self" what does hat feel like? What phenomena are felt to be self in that situation?

And then me (ha!)

For the Westerner, the self is the self narrative. Tourists of the MacCannelian or Cullerian kind visit and play ethnographer or semiologist (MacCannell, 1976; Culler, 1988) regarding the sights that they see. The Western tourists provides the narrative because they are narrative and the sight is the otherness which they attempt to interpret. To these tourists the things that they see are signs but they are signs which have the structure of an alibi (Culler, 1988; Barthes,1972), signing off to a meaning which the tourist, in their phonetic inner narrative, provides. The Western tourists may take of photo of the sight, or better still purchase a photo upon the reverse of which she will narrate herself in this location. The Western tourist goes to see and say. Like ethnologists or anthropologists they use the phenomenological technique of bracketing away preconceptions (the more other unusual, opaque to the interpretations that they have to hand that a sight is the more that task is performed for them) and then they make pronouncement upon the sights that they see. This transcendental meditation employed by Western Anthropologists and Tourists alike, can be described in the following way,

From this new transcendental standpoint Husserl maintained that the manifold stream of contingent world-objects could be perceived in a new way, giving 'a new kind of experience: transcendental experience'. The transcendental ego because a 'disinterested onlooker' whose only motive is neutrally to describe 'what he sees, purely as seen, as what is seen and seen in such and such a manner' (Rayment-Pickard, 2003)

Japanese tourists on the other hand do not go to provide symbols about sights, but to provide sights or images regarding symbolic locations. The symbolic sites visited by Japanese tourists, the named places, the named things, do not have the structure of the alibi (see Hansen, 1993) but are the signs themselves. That Japanese tourists go to places with literary, historical, named significant, that they vistic symbolic geographies as been ascribed (as all things Japanese always are) to their "groupism," and also, in the face of Westernisation, to their nostalgic desire to return to their historical routes, to their self. This latter interpretation hits the mark I think because the Japanese self is a space (Kanjin; Hamaguchi, 1997) , a primordial space (Nishida 1993; Watsuji 1979; see Mochizuki, 2006) a mirror (Kurozumi). When the self is a space, then the concept of travel presents inherent difficulties. How can space travel? I argue that the Japanese tourists' interest in historical, literary, or otherwise famous named-places, and named-things is because it is not the place but the name that they are visiting. The Japanese travel to places precisely because they are "encrusted with renown," (Culler); and are all the more happy if as at shrines, or ruins, their is nothing to see because it is in the space of their mind that they provide the images to go with the otherness of the symbols that they are visiting. Indeed in a sense they do see that holy of holies, the mirror of the sun goddess in the internal space that is the Japanese mind.

Lacan argues that the self is at the presumed intersection of linguistic self signification -self narration, and visual self reflection, mirrorings and imagingings. Neither the symbolic nor the imaginary can say or see itself. The word can not enunciate the enunciated even in time since it is always delayed, defered (Derrida, 1998), never the person that it was what the attempt was started. Husserl's "living present" is always already gone. Likewise, the minds eye is unable to see itself. It requires the admixture of an other, the image of oneself, the name of oneself for each to enable the self to wrap around upon itself and self itself into self hood. This admixture is to be kept to a minimum. The self image in the West is external, when identified a sign of vanity or 'narcissism'. The word or symbol in Japan is external, and when internalised an impurity of mind (See Kim, 2002).

In either case, these essential impurities or 'supplements,' which are both required to complete and are additional to self(Derrida, 1998) are washed away in the experience of tourism when the Western and Japanese tourist meets the other as image or symbol respectively. The transcendental meditation for the Japanese tourist, at the British Museum, at the Named Place ruin of a famous castle, at the walls of Ise Shrine, becomes a interested visualiser of the place hidden in time, behind those walls. Souzou ga fukuramu. Images spring to mind. And even as the "Kankou" they shut their eyes to the world (Hitomi wo Tojiru) and call to mind the glory of the place they are visiting and in that experience, see themselves as the visual space, place or soul, that they believe themselves to be.

If either the Western tourist leaves something of himself it narratival. He signs a guest book. He narrates himself on a postcard (postcards are not sold for writing upon in Japan but only as packs, as symbolic souvenirs).

The Japanese tourist on the other hand provides the images, not just in her own mind, but also in the form of auto-photography so central to the tourism experience in Japan.

These differences have important implications for the tourist industries catering to Western and Japanese tourists.

When serving Japanese tourists it is important to provide the names, the narrative the guidebooks (which Japanese tourists themselves prepare in relative abundance), the words. They must also be provided the opportunity to provide images: above all to to imagine, and also to photograph themselves. Tourist destinations that do not have words related to them (iware no nai) are not of interest. Japanese tourist travel all the way to the lake district in the North of England, ignoring the beauty of the Powys hills completely, because the former have no literature - no words associated with them. They avoid the markets of London concentrating on the British museum and tower since the latter are redolent with renown. Japanese tourism providers need to counter the ocular turn of contemporary tourism theory and as the Japanese policy paper at the start of the ”tourism-oriented country" advocates a return to the original meaning of Kankou, or rather the provision of Kankou, which is not merely in the gaze directed, but in the of indication of facts, of nominal, symbolic entities.

"When promoting tourism it is therefore essential to return to this [etymological] origin of tourism, and create revolution in the very notion of tourism. The origin of tourism is not just looking at famous places and scenery, or seeing the sights, in regard to the the things that the local population feel happy about, to the things that the inhabitants of a certain land feel proud of and "indicating these highlights." (note 1)

Those especially in Japan however, who are catering to Western tourists should be aware that a place does not need to have a name for the Western tourist to want to visit it. In fact it helps if (other than the "markers" to find it) the destination is un-named "authentic" since the Western visitor provides the words. He is the words that he provides. These ethnographic, phenomenological tourists want to narrate, pronounce, theorise (what I am now doing) about the things that they see and in so doing they (I make myself shiver) have a transcendental experience of who they are, the words that drift across the universe of 'exterior' visual phenomena. Give us a view, any view, something to speak about, a picture and postcard, a picture postcard, above all give us something to see and some means by which they can narrate and we will be happy. There are such opportunities in every Japanese village not only the famous ones. Western tourist go to see spaces and places, and there is (or should be) much more for them to see. Alas at present, or until recently, the Japanese presume that their visitors are also Japanese and "indicate the highlights" (Kankou) or show the Named-places only. Very recently, there is a trend to promote regional tourism resources which do not have a name, this geographical tourism (shock!) had to be given a neologism "jitabi," since the very concept of simply going to see a place was alien to the Japanese.

Finally the above theoretical position resolves the problem how tourists can be going in search of authenticity (MacCannell, 1986) even in blatantly inauthentic "post tourism" (Urry, 2002) sites: on tour we bring ourselves to confront the other of the self, we find our self in maximal authenticity.

Bibliography created using Zotero
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Culler, J. D. (1988). Framing the sign. Univ. of Oklahoma Pr.
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Rayment-Pickard, H. (2003). Impossible God: Derrida’s theology. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Graburn, N. H. H. (1983). To pray, pay and play: the cultural structure of Japanese domestic tourism. Université de droit, d’économie et des sciences, Centre des hautes études touristiques.
Guichard-Anguis, S. (2009). The Culture of Travel (tabi no bunka) and Japanese Tourism. In A. Guichard-Anguis, O. Moon, & M. R. del Alisal (Eds.), Japanese Tourism and Travel Culture (1st ed., pp. 1–18). Routledge.
Kerr, A. (2002). Dogs and Demons: Tales from the Dark Side of Japan. Hill and Wang.
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Mach, E. (1897). Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations. (C. M. Williams, Trans.). The Open court publishing company. Retrieved from www.archive.org/details/contributionsto00machgoog
Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. (2003) "Creating a Country which is Good to Live in and Good to Visit." www.kantei.go.jp/jp/singi/kanko/kettei/030424/houkoku.html#I
Mochizuki, T. (2006). Climate and Ethics: Ethical Implications of Watsuji Tetsuro’s Concepts:‘ Climate’ and‘ Climaticity’. Philosophia Osaka, 1, 43–55. Retrieved from ir.library.osaka-u.ac.jp/metadb/up/LIBPHILOO/po_01_043.pdf
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Nishida, K. (1993). Last Writings: Nothingness and the Religious Worldview. University of Hawaii Press.
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note o
The [relevant passage] of the Tao Te Ching reads "*Indicating* [Shimesu, Kanagmiru] the lights of the country are good to use as hospitality for a king". where country mean the localities of contemporary China, and "lights" [highlights] refer to the superior or special things of that locality. (my translation, my emphasis, and my comments in brackets).

note 1
観光立国の推進に当たっては、まずはこうした「観光の原点」に立ち返ること、つまり「観光」概念の革新が必要になる。観光の原点は、ただ単に名所や風景などの「光を見る」ことだけではなく、一つの地域に住む人々がその地に住むことに誇りをもつことができ、幸せを感じられることによって、その地域が「光を示す」ことにある。 「国の光を観る」 −観光の原点−
note 2
I think that the primordial space of the Japanese self (Nishida's ba), or the "climate" (Wasuji's fudo) can best be understood from a Western perspective as the "Field of Vision" (Mach, 1897). The visual field pictured in Mach's self portrait is usually seen, if existing at all, as being a form of barrier ("veil" "tain" or "hymen") between self and the world. To the Japanese this field, this primordial space, however, is the pure experience of self (Nishida, Zen no kenkyuu), as self-inseparable-from-spatial-other. This Japanese self is however separate from the world of symbols but, Japanese need the admixture of symbol, the name, their own name, for the Japanese child to believe that the their body houses this ephemeral mirror. In Japan it is precisely the linguistic which is public (Nakashima, 1997) and space, place and vision which as private as it gets. Taking a balanced view, neither images nor language are more private than the other, both requiring an other to have meaning, but it took Westerners almost two millenia to realise that language is meaningless if private (Wittgenstein, 1973).

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Elipsoid Edgeless Universe: Enough Already

Elipsoid Edgeless Universe: Enough Already

Maybe it was because I had been reading Nietzsche (e.g. 1889) since I was 14, that when my high-school physics teacher told me that nothing could go faster than the speed of light, I suspected something was amiss. It was less the very fact that the universe should have a speed limit, a little fishy in itself, but that we, humans, should have sense apparatus to detect that which travels at the this speed limit seemed utterly absurd as discussed before.

Echoing Nietzsche, Dawkins says "The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies." But Dawkins uses our insignificance to reject the anthropic principle, "We are so insignificant that I can't believe the whole universe exists for our benefit." Dawkins seems to have missed the possibility that "the universe" is not "for our benefit" but that the universe is human, as we once were.

Ernst Mach (1897) suggested that that the stuff of the universe is our sensations particularly our visual field. He tended to draw his visual field with one eye shut. I have superimposed two of his visual field drawings above.

As mentioned before there has been recent theoretical research that suggests that the universe is flat: the holographic principle and there is currently experimental research under way at the Fermi Lab in the USA to test whether we are living in a hologram, and three dimensionality is an emergent property. If it should be discovered that the universe is in fact two dimensional, or perhaps made up of two two dimensional planes (my prediction), then how else are we going to explain this other than by appealing to a Machian, or Buddhist, sensationalism in the sense of a "consciousness only" theory?

Upon consideration of the Fermi experiment, I also took time to Google "oval universe" and find that there is research to show that the universe is ellipsoid! Physicists are puzzled (Cea, 2014)!

Mach was not entirely accurate in his drawings of his visual field. Not only should there be two noses, but also the visual field, or at least mine, is wider than it is tall. It is an ellipsoid. It also has no edge (Hartle & Hawking, 1983; Hartle, Hawking, & Hertog, 2008).

Cea, P. (2014). The Ellipsoidal Universe in the Planck Satellite Era. arXiv:1401.5627 [astro-Ph, Physics:gr-Qc]. Retrieved from arxiv.org/abs/1401.5627

Hartle, J. B., & Hawking, S. W. (1983). Wave function of the universe. Physical Review D, 28(12), 2960. Retrieved from journals.aps.org/prd/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevD.28.2960 Hartle, J. B., Hawking, S. W., & Hertog, T. (2008). No-boundary measure of the universe. Physical Review Letters, 100(20), 201301. Retrieved from journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.100.201301
Mach, E. (1897). Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations. (C. M. Williams, Trans.). The Open court publishing company. Retrieved from www.archive.org/details/contributionsto00machgoog
Nietzsche, F. (1889). Twilight of the Idols. Wordsworth Classics.

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The Holographic Principle: Game, Set, Mach

The Holographic Principle: Game, Set, Mach
Mach, and the Buddhists are right.

Following from an analysis of what happens when a object travels through the event horizon of a black hole, its is mathematically demonstrable that the size of the black hole increases in proportion to the square of the mass of the object rather than the cube. The information contained within the mass is spread out on the surface of the black hole indicating that black holes -- and indeed the whole universe -- is in some sense two dimensional. Leonard Susskind claims that like black holes, the universe (including "this room") is two dimensional only appearing three dimensional, like a hologram.

From the wikipedia page (see end)
"The holographic principle states that the entropy of ordinary mass (not just black holes) is also proportional to surface area and not volume; that volume itself is illusory and the universe is really a hologram which is isomorphic to the information "inscribed" on the surface of its boundary.[10]

This is very strange. How can this be? Is there any reasonable, rational way in which the two dimensionality of the universe can be explained? Did the 'big bang' take place between massive plates of dark matter? Bearing in mind the limitations of our sensory apparatus, the discovery of added dimensions seems more, rationally plausible than the realisation that the universe is of fewer dimensions than previously thought - only two spacial dimensions, plus time. Something very strange is going on.

But this "strangeness" of the universe discovered by the latest physics theorists is not a first. Einstein theorised that the speed of light is a cosmic speed limit. That the cosmic speed limit should be the speed of our fastest sense seems very fortuitous for an organism whose fastest sense organ depends on the movement of the same.

Even without reading Nietzsche, or Mach, the discoveries that universe is limited by the speed of light, and two dimensional "like a picture" must suggest that there is another more simple, all-too-human, explanation: the "real world," of science is just a theory, words, signs, maths, about human experience.

This is the situation proposed by Ernst Mach, who influenced Einstein profoundly. The development of his theory of relativity was inspired by Mach, as he himself admitted in letters, but with regard to a human, experiential explanation for his 'speed limit', he kept his cards to his chest. Einstein admitted that the theory of relativity was influenced by Hume (another sensation-alist) and Mach, but he did not let the 'sensational' cat out of the bag: if, as Mach suggests, the universe is nothing more than a theory about our sensations (some call them "qualia," Mach used the term, "visual field") then what is implied?

What can we say about our visual field? Surprising little. The 'qualia" that my visual field seems to comprise are unnameable. From consideration of the colour blind, "red" is the agreement that I have with others, not the suchness that I experience.

My visual field is that Jamesian "blooming buzzing thing" or the "chaos" (mu) of Buddhists. Its properties are beyond a ken horizon, that is to say, partly in the Scottish vernacular, in plain sight and beyond my ken.

Westerners have tended to believe that the visual experience, the visual field, is merely a "veil" behind which is a rational universe of "things in themselves." If the fundamental stuff of the universe is this - we can all see it - circle of light, inside our heads, minds, or pressed up against our noses then there are implications,

Contra Buddhist, I think that we can say a little (very little) about our sensations. One is that it is bright, light. And hence Einstein's realization.

Another is that our visual field is made up of two dimensional information superimposed. At least one Buddhist philosopher (Nishida, see Heisig) is purported to say that pure experience is three dimensional. This is not my experience. If I return to the purity of my experience all I have is a big round mirror of brightness made up of of the presumed juxtaposition of two circles of light.

If sensation, the visual field, is the stuff of the universe, then is it surprising that, against all reason, the universe is two dimensional?

If the "universe," the Konigsbergian "real world" is nothing more than a theory about this visual field then it should surprise no one that the universe turns out to be in, improved, theory and in fact, two dimensional.

Game, set, Mach!

Top image from the wikipedia page on the Holographic Principle
Leonard Susskind on the Holographic Principle (see second half for claims that the universe is 2D)
Bottom two images are of his "visual field" by Ernst Mach.

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Mouse, Einstien and Moustein

Mouse, Einstien and Moustein
A long time ago I read a book by Nietzsche in which he expressed what I would call an argument from humility regarding the nature of human truth.

We live on a planet which is infinitesimally small, and we came into existence but a blip in the life of earth ago, and share half of our DNA with bananas, and about 75% with mice.

And yet these mice claim to know the speed limit of the universe. Quite by coincidence, the fastest speed of the universe happens to be the speed of the fastest sense of these mice. How likely is that?

Einstein was influenced by Ernst Mach who argued that the stuff of the universe is the perceptions that we have. The speed limit that Einstein found was that of the perceived universe, the universe as experienced and understood by, and in, our minds.

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God, Narcissus and the Post-Human

God, Narcissus and the Post-Human
When considering the similarities between Genesis and theories of self-psychologists, "Was God a Narcissist?" is a question that springs to mind (left panel above, adapted from Blake).

The psychoanalytic tradition of Freud and Lacan argue that there are stages in the development of the self the first of which is "narcissistic". The child first 'finds' or rather mistakes, and creates, itself as self objects such as its mirror reflection, they argue. Freud sticks with the Greek myth and suggests this is motivated by narcissistic self-love. Lacan (1977) argues that we need to mis-recognise ourselves in our mirror image in order to achieve motor coordination.

Both Lacan and Freud then suggest that the this dyad is, and must be supplemented by a third term, the superego or Other. If not in Freud, then explicitly in Lacan, the supplementary other is linguistic. Rather that toil in the hell of fragmentary dyads where we are dependent upon reflecting surfaces and the faces of others in whom our nascent self is reflected, we learn to narrate ourselves, to echo ourselves, and in this narrative is life (Hebrew, "Eve").

Incidently, in a deconstruction of the tradition of Freud and Lacan, Brenkman (1976) points out that the negative view of image (as shown by Narcissus' stupidity in the central panel above) and more positive view of lingustic mirrors, is shared by the myth of Narcissus where Narcissus is complimented by a linguistic mirror in the form of the loving, living Echo (middle panel right, appears' in the myth only as an echo of Narcissus' words). In ancient Greece there was no wedding.

I have not been able to see any clear indication that the biblical Eve has anything linguistic about her, yet, other than references to Derrida's theory of signs, but it does seem clear that the creation in Genesis takes place in two stages.

God creates humans , as man and woman from earth who he calls Adam:

AV Gn 5:2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

And then God creates for them a supplementary Eve, "a helper, like as one before", out of their "one side (chamber)".

So there are two stages, in the Bible too. There are humans (adam) #1 who do not have a helper. And there are humans (adam #2), that are now wedded to Eve ("life"), their "helper-as-before-them".

And it is also seems clear to me that the Biblical version of the first of these stages, adam #1, is very visual.

Gn 1:26-27 . And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

The word used for image (Hebrew tzlm) seems to reserved *for visual images*. It is later used to describe all those "graven images" that God hates and destroys.

So does Genesis describe God making a mistake of the type described by Freud and Lacan? Did Elohim make a graven image of himself: adam #1? Did God have a beard!?

I suggest not, and a different type of image. The right hand pane above (used without permission) is adapted from an adaptation of Ernst Mach's visual field, by Professor Robert Pepperell: "The view of the self as part of the world, iPad painting
2011 (After Ernst Mach)"
and rounded later version "As Seen' (After Mach), iPad drawing, 2012."

This is also, I think, the self that Nishida, at the end of phenomenological process of bracketing off all that can be doubted, describes as being "absolutely contradictory self," self as place, self as geography, self as "earth." I think we have found adam #1, the proto and post human. But where is he?

As I was flicking around the bible for examples of "image" and "likeness," I came across this quote from the book of Isaiah, where God's dislike of visual images is being stated again, together with the reason.

AV Isa 40:18-22 . To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.He that [is] so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree [that] will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, [that] shall not be moved.
Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?
[It is] he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof [are] as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

The bit I especially like is the last bit.

"[It is] he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof [are] as grasshoppers"

The "circle" has been argued to imply that the Biblical earth is round, but I think that Isaiah (and Blake. Mach, and Pepperell too) was talking about a different circle.

I think that it is important to note that the circle is not 'in my head.' Or at least to be very wary of saying so. I can look at myself, and my head, in a mirror on the other other side of my room. I am one of the grasshoppers.

There is some suggestion (McDermott, 1996) that proto-humans, or paleolithic ones, had a first person view of self such as that portrayed in the picture above right.

Something else other than what I consider to be "me" seems emphasised when looking at the view with both eyes open. I do not have two noses.

Brenkman, John. "Narcissus in the Text." The Georgia Review 30.2 (1976): 293-327.
Lacan, J. (1977). The mirror stage. Écrits: A selection, 1-7.
McDermott, L. R. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275. Retrieved from www.ucmo.edu/art/facstaff/documents/Self-Representationin...
Pepperell, R. (2003). The Posthuman Condition: Consciousness Beyond the Brain, 3ª.

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The Death of Absalom

The Death of Absalom

After reading Nathan's parable to David, I read about King David's life and it struck me as being surprisingly mythic.

David rose to fame by killing Goliath a giant "man of the in-between" איש הביניים by sinking a stone into this giant's forehead, and chopping off his head.

In order to escape being killed David put an "idol" in his bed with a wig of goats hair. (I have not idea what this is about but it is connected, and mythic).

David becomes king and eventually has a son called Absalom who grows 200 shekels, or more than 2Kg, in weight of hair every year (2 Sam 14:26). A second giant, in the space of one lifetime! Absalom rebelled against his father, having sex with this father's wives who, a little unfairly it seemed at first, are put under house arrest until death, entombed.

Absalom was eventually defeated in the battle of Ephraim's Wood where his massive head of hair is caught in the branches of a tree, and there, strung out, he was killed (much to the consternation of his father) by lances.

I was struck by this mention of hair since unusual uses of hair, including tying people down by their hair, is often mentioned in the mythology of Japan (see Hair in the Kojiki).

But what could it mean? Absolutely nothing? Do you know any giant "men in between," with no head? Or anyone with a *lot* of hair? Well, I am completely bald, but I was cycling along a road thinking about it this (the road was not wooded, but it could have been) when I realised that I did know someone with a lot of hair - so much it can blot out the sky!

He is someone who I love but I had, have, almost killed. He has no head. And here he is pictured above. He is bit difficult to see but he is big, and has a lot hair. I only get the very slightest glimpse of him very occasionally, usually while cycling or running. Sometimes I wonder if he still there at all but, will there be a time?

The above is an example of why myth is good. If you tell it straight, it does not hit you with such intensity.

Dying strung out on a 'tree' and killed with lances is like another biblical hero, son, and relative, incidentally(?).

I think that David's wives, or concubines, should be let out now.

Adapted from Road by geodesic, on Flickr

Eliot, Thomas Stearns. "The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Prufrock and other observations. New York: AA Knopf (1917). www.bartleby.com/198/1.html


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The Lonely Noses

The Lonely Noses
My visual field as I teach, contains my ghostly nose, far too large, doubled, abject and ignored. And all the while I dream that someone else might see it, be seeing it, with me.

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Venus, Selfie, The World

Venus, Selfie, The World
The oldest depiction of the human form is perhaps the Venus in the The Salle du Fond, the deepest of the Chauvet Cave chambers, discovered in 1994, thought to date to approximately 30,000 years ago. As argued by Jean Clottes, this "Venus" shows proportions typical of Venus figurines from the palaeolithic period (see bottom row of black and white images).

If so, then as argued by Dr. McDermott (1996), the picture may be a "selfie", or auto-portraiture. The image may have large hips and thighs and feet trailing away to nothing due to the perspective of a drawing from a first person view. But why has this Venus been incorporated into the pictures of animals on either side? Was this an attempt to conceal cave-man porn?

At a stretch, the way in which the Venus is also a view of animals, in that it has been incorporated into the drawings of animals (added later) at either side, it may be argued to be representing the philosophical claim found in Enrst Mach (1897) and Nishida that first-person views are, in extremis, of both self and the world. Nishida calls “pure experience” the “radically contradictory self,” since it is both self and the world. Mach (1902) writes "Not the things, the bodies, but colours, sounds, pressures, times (what we usually call sensations) are the true elements of the world [and presumably, as sensations of “me” the first person also]." [my addition] Nietzsche once wrote, I believe, that wherever you point (hora!) one can only point at oneself.

I hear that there are other Venus type friezes in amongst the legs of animals in caves in Rocaux as well, it might be expressing the same intuition: the identify of world and self. But why is there a connection between world and female self? Could the self, the world be female!?

In this connection, recently I came across the following Aztec creation myth from www.crystalinks.com/aztecreation.html

Quetzalcoatl, the light one, and Tezcatlipoca, the dark one, looked down from their place in the sky and saw only water below. A gigantic goddess floated upon the waters, eating everything with her many mouths.

The two gods saw that whatever they created was eaten by this monster. They knew they must stop her, so they transformed themselves into two huge serpents and descended into the water. One of them grabbed the goddess by the arms while the other grabbed her around the legs, and before she could resist they pulled until she broke apart.

Her head and shoulders became the earth and the lower part of her body the sky.

The other gods were angry at what the two had done and decided, as compensation for her dismemberment, to allow her to provide the necessities for people to survive; so from her hair they created trees, grass, and flowers; caves, fountains, and wells from her eyes; rivers from her mouth; hills and valleys from her nose; and mountains from her shoulders.

Still the goddess was often unhappy and the people could hear her crying in the night. They knew she wept because of her thirst for human blood, and that she would not provide food from the soil until she drank.

So the gift of human hearts is given her. She who provides sustenance for human lives demands human lives for her own sustenance. So it has always been; so it will ever be.

Thanks to David B. (and CP a little) for the inspiration for the above post.

Upper Image from
Lower image from
but perhaps originally from Jean Clottes, 'Return to Chauvet Cave'

Mach, E. (1897). Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations. (C. M. Williams, Trans.). The Open court publishing company. Retrieved from www.archive.org/details/contributionsto00machgoog
McDermott, L. R. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275. Retrieved from www.ucmo.edu/art/facstaff/documents/Self-Representationin...

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