Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 14: The physics of cultural evolution.

Cultural objects
Gravity (G) is relative to the mass of the
object and the energy (E) exerted against
The energy of the psyche obeys the laws of classical physics providing that this energy is viewed only as quantitative. Any qualitative view of psychic energy can only be understood through the application of psychology aligned with quantum physics (the psychophysical universe).

In the diagram, the object can be any cultural idea, observation, belief, or a linked set of such (cultural frame). Gravity is the force that contains the object and prevents its disintegration. In (a), enough energy is applied to the object to allow it to escape from its gravitational field and come into contact with objects outside of the confining effect of that field. In (b), the energy is insufficient for the object to escape and the only interactions that can take place are between parts of the object (such as variations and developments of the same idea or components of the same cultural frame). In (c), a cultural object has escaped its gravitational field and has come into contact with another cultural object in the same state. This results in free exchanges of energy while both objects still retain their individual identity. Each object is also able to contact other objects in the same state (where the energies, while of different intensities, are sufficient to overcome the local gravity field) and the result is a "cultural  mosaic" or constellation. Evolution can take place within this mosaic as the energy is manifested as adaptability and the different strengths of each idea contribute some immunity to destructive forces that could adversely effect one part of the mosaic that does not have that resistance. A biological correlate would be when, through breeding, one organism passes on resistance to some disease to its offspring where that resistance was not present in the other parent.

I drew (c) smaller than (a) and (b) to show that the mass of each object was not too great. If the mass of an object was extreme it would act like a black hole and smaller objects in its vicinity would be destroyed as soon as they crossed its event horizon and their mass would be added to the mass of the black hole and adopt all of its characteristics. Yet, a great number of these smaller objects exchanging information could, collectively, grow to a size far exceeding the larger objects shown above. For evolution to take place, however, each of the integral objects would have to retain their individual identity while exchanging information (energy) with each other and effecting a balance of combined energies. More importantly, though, they would also have to engage with yet more small objects sharing the same state otherwise entropy would ensue.
"The principle of equivalence is one proposition of practical importance in the theory of energy; the other proposition, necessary and complementary, is the principle of entropy. Transformations of energy are possible only as a result of differences in intensity. According to Carnot’s law, heat can be converted into work only by passing from a warmer to a colder body. But mechanical work is continually being converted into heat, which on account of its reduced intensity cannot be converted back into work. In this way a closed energic system gradually reduces its differences in intensity to an even temperature, whereby any further change is prohibited. ...
"Psychologically, we can see this process at work in the development of a lasting and relatively unchanging attitude. After violent oscillations at the beginning the opposites equalize one another, and gradually a new attitude develops, the final stability of which is the greater in proportion to the magnitude of the initial differences. The greater the tension between the pairs of opposites, the greater will be the energy that comes from them; and the greater the energy, the stronger will be its constellating, attracting power. This increased power of attraction corresponds to a wider range of constellated psychic material, and the further this range extends, the less chance is there of subsequent disturbances which might arise from friction with material not previously constellated. For this reason an attitude that has been formed out of a far-reaching process of equalization is an especially lasting one."
C. G. Jung, Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 8: Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche: On Psychic Energy (pp. 25-26). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
Diagram (b) is a closed system, and if it ceases to grow, diagram (c) also becomes a closed system. Entropy can only take place within a closed system.
"The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm which is not easily disturbed, or else a brokenness that can hardly be healed. Conversely, it is just these intense conflicts and their conflagration which are needed in order to produce valuable and lasting results. Since our experience is confined to relatively closed systems, we are never in a position to observe an absolute psychological entropy; but the more the psychological system is closed off, the more clearly is the phenomenon of entropy manifested. We see this particularly well in those mental disturbances which are characterized by intense seclusion from the environment. The so-called “dulling of affect” in dementia praecox or schizophrenia may well be understood as a phenomenon of entropy. The same applies to all those so-called degenerative phenomena which develop in psychological attitudes that permanently exclude all connection with the environment. Similarly, such voluntarily directed processes as directed thinking and directed feeling can be viewed as relatively closed psychological systems. These functions are based on the principle of the exclusion of the inappropriate, or unsuitable, which might bring about a deviation from the chosen path. The elements that “belong” are left to a process of mutual equalization, and meanwhile are protected from disturbing influences from outside. Thus after some time they reach their “probable” state, which shows its stability in, say, a “lasting” conviction or a “deeply ingrained” point of view, etc. How firmly such things are rooted can be tested by anyone who has attempted to dissolve such a structure, for instance to uproot a prejudice or change a habit of thought. In the history of nations these changes have cost rivers of blood. But in so far as absolute insulation is impossible (except, maybe, in pathological cases), the energic process continues as development, though, because of “loss by friction,” with lessening intensity and decreased potential.
"This way of looking at things has long been familiar. Everyone speaks of the “storms of youth” which yield to the “tranquillity of age.” We speak, too, of a “confirmed belief” after “battling with doubts,” of “relief from inner tension,” and so on. This is the involuntary energic standpoint shared by everyone. For the scientific psychologist, of course, it remains valueless so long as he feels no need to estimate psychological values, while for physiological psychology this problem does not arise at all."
ibid, (pp. 26-27).

In the evolutionary view, closed systems become subject to extinction. We can see this with Pre-Columbian civilizations which, cut off from the rest of the world, did not advance as fast as other civilizations and when met with a "Black Swan Event" through agricultural collapse or the arrival of Europeans carrying not only new disease but with conquest on their mind, these civilizations became extinct.

"Cultural heritage" is ultra-conservative and anti-evolutionary. Frequently, its policies are opposed, but to no avail, and by not recognizing the "stuckness" or the fact that it has shifted to its opposite (enantiodromia) and is actually destroying culture (which has to be ever-changing and adapting in order to survive at all), the opposition takes on the same characteristics and does not change, either. Any victory at all (if one is even possible) would be a Pyrrhic victory where both opposing forces are virtually destroyed.

This is of no concern, whatsoever, to the evil that created the conflict in the first place as it had no interest in either of the major cultural frames and was just using their opposition to achieve political/economic ends which can then be achieved through different means even though with greater difficulty.
" is precisely the paradox before us: conservation (i.e. “saving our cultural heritage”), on which the structure of the officialized heritage is based, is identified with resisting change, while change is the primary object of the socio-economic development embraced by a growing number of heritage professionals. And this paradox is not simply theoretical but poses a serious challenge to the future role of cultural heritage within society. On the international and national levels, the traditional forms and structures of heritage conservation (or “safeguarding” for intangible heritage) remain intact, with specially trained and officially qualified experts 1.) adopting universal criteria for significance and value; 2.) categorizing and studying the physical types; 3.) creating inventories of specific vessels of significance and value; 4.) establishing guidelines and codes of protection, and 5.) protecting the extant physical manifestations that are recognized as “authentic” or expressive of traditional values from transformatory change. Yet tolerance for and even encouragement of far-reaching change lies at the heart of the new development imperative. Indeed the idea of “heritage and development” is seen by its supporters not only as a necessary matter of social relevance for the heritage profession but—no less important—as a source of funding ambitious heritage initiatives at a time when governments are slashing their culture budgets and when traditional subventions from private and corporate philanthropy are harder than ever to find."
Neil Silberman, Changing Visions of Heritage Value What Role Should the Experts Play?
 We see here, the first stages of extinction.

John's Coydog Community page

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 13: Evil. (v)

Tetradrachm of Athens Circa 467-465 BC
photo: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.
Nationalism, itself, is an important cultural frame but how it is symbolized in the public mind is quite limited. The national bird of Greece is the Little Owl and that association dates back to early Classical Athens as it moved from tribalism to city state. the associations are numerous: not only was the bird to be commonly found in the area, but it became the bird of Athena the goddess of wisdom and to this day, and in most places, the owl is associated with wisdom. We also think of Athenian philosophers. The coin shown here is the archetypal type of Athens and it is rich in other symbolism: the laurel is a symbol of victory; the crescent (waning) moon was in that phase at the battle of Marathon in 490 BC. The main purpose of the tetradrachms of Athens was as Nommos, an official currency paid to outsiders in bulk sums; the clear identification of Athens served as a guarantee of weight and the fineness of the silver. These coins were very popular in the Greek world as Athenian silver from mines nearby was of very good quality and the weight of the coins also soon became a very popular standard. Greece consisted of many city states and each one carried its symbols on its coinage to clearly identify the source and to advertise its civic pride: Aegina had the sea turtle; Corinth had Pegasus. Larger states and confederations of cities also had their symbols such as the Boeotian shield. Colonies of Corinth far away, retained the Pegasus of the city for their coins.

This practice of the symbolism of a place continues today. Here, in Alberta, the provincial flower is the wild rose and Alberta licence plates carry the phrase "Wild Rose Country" Alberta's choice of provincial animal is a far lesser adopted symbol: the bighorn sheep. Perhaps wildness and the beauty of the rose is seen as more pertinent to our psyche than a sheep. This is, after all, cattle-country and the old west frowned on sheep farmers. So for the symbols to become popular they have to resonate with the popular mind and cannot be too contrived .

The misnomer of "cultural property", in its objects, lacks any clear symbolism and consists of an amorphous collection of almost everything whereas culture, itself, is highly symbolic. To counteract the lack of psychic connection and symbolism the state becomes imbued with a quasi religious symbolism that is most certainly contrived to serve its own needs and eliminate any problems from the people it claims to serve. This sort of behavior has a very long history:
"Mars presides over wars. To him, when they have determined to engage in battle, they commonly vow those things which they shall take in war. When they have conquered, they sacrifice whatever captured animals may have survived the conflict, and collect the other things into one place. In many states you may see piles of these things heaped up in their consecrated spots; nor does it often happen that any one, disregarding the sanctity of the case, dares either to secrete in his house things captured, or take away those deposited; and the most severe punishment, with torture, has been established for such a deed."
Julius Caesar, Gallic Wars, Book 6,18
In my opinion, this practice became adopted after Gaulish troops returned from the Mediterranean campaigns with a lot of gold and other booty. trained to warfare, and very wealthy, the commanders were now free only to compete with each other. The spoils of war produced enough for military expansion and the Druid judges realized that a likely end product of such expansion on a local level could result in tyranny and an end to their own, federational power. No leader could predict which tribe might eventually assume such power under a tyrant, but they had plenty of experience in seeing what had happened with such tyrants they had worked for in the Mediterranean. Syracuse, for example was quick to sell out other Sicilian cities to the Carthaginians for their own protection. As the Druid judges also controlled religious matters, the restrictions on the reuse of captured wealth took on a religious purpose.

The modern practice of repatriation of "cultural property" is an expression of this archetype: the objects are given a manufactured religious fervor; become "sacred" and are controlled by the state. No one is allowed to take anything home and even public access is very limited through museums sanctioned by the state and often dwarfing the individual through impressive architecture and restrictions of access and use. The largest collection of coin images I know of (270,505 to date) that can be freely used for educational purposes is brought to the public, not by any state museum or government but by a collectors coin company: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. (CNG). All of the coins they illustrate can (or have been) brought home by collectors around the world. Ironically, some of these same coins coins could be prevented from returning to where they were sold from by U.S. import restrictions in favour of countries that do not allow such free access, even to their own people, let alone the world in general. These concessions are granted in return for political/economic concessions, the identity and details of which are withheld from the American public by law. The greatest number and the most restrictive of these agreements came about when Hilary Clinton was Secretary of State and she took a very active role in their implementation, so I would not expect things to improve in the near future.

Archaeologists who depend on foreign excavation permits were supporters of these import restrictions and made their opinions known during the public comments process, but they were in the minority and about 80% of the responses were against such restrictions and mainly originated with collectors. Few of the public that had any stake in the outcome were interested at all in the issue and the government used the public response process merely to appear to be attentive to stakeholders but gave the issues no consideration whatsoever in any practical sense. All that was really important to them were the undisclosed concessions.

The foreign states gained population support through these restrictions (so they also had (conveniently also for PR) to become public knowledge, and subsequent repatriations whereby such objects served the archetypal purpose of state controlled "booty" recaptured from previous symbolic enemies. Culture really has nothing to do with it, because culture resides in the heads of individual within the cultural frame of nationalism and actually has very few real symbols which are used to represent it.

John's Coydog Community page

Monday, 22 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 13: Evil. (iv)

The Koh-i-Noor diamond

top: 17th century Venetian cut
bottom: 19th century oval brilliant cut
commissioned by Prince Albert.
When I was in my early twenties I had a job at Birks Jewellery in downtown Calgary and one day an Indian gentleman came into the store looking for a diamond ring. I noticed that he was wearing a very impressive large sapphire ring and I said "Is that a Kashmir sapphire? He was pleased that I had recognized it and told me of its history. It had been in his family for more than two hundred years and two people had been killed over it. The Kashmir sapphire is very rare and many people would not even recognize it as a sapphire because of its misty, rather than clear appearance. Today that stone would be worth more than a million dollars. It is still the only Kashmir sapphire that I have seen. As a cultural object, it had some connections to its source, of course, but its main cultural content pertained to his family and the stories about it that he told.

The Koh-i-Noor diamond is believed to have been found in the 13th century and weighed 793 carats in the rough. In the seventeenth century it was wastefully cut by a Venetian cutter to 186 carats, and Prince Albert had it recut to a far more brilliant stone of 105.6 carats. We would call that cut today "an old oval cut" as the modern oval cut dates to 1957. It is now set in the Queen Mother's Crown (1937).

Famous gems not only move from place to place during history, but they often change their appearance as they do, becoming smaller but more beautiful with each cutting. They also gain cultural and historical significance with each change of possession. The rough stone bears no culture in its form as that is created by nature, but each cutting imparts some of the culture of the inventor of the cut. Stories about the stone's owners and their relationship to it are passed down through the spoken word and written histories, and these continue as long as the stone is used for something. However, it does gain other personal cultural significance to a few people who see it over the years when it becomes attached to a personally significant story.

With the Kashmir sapphire, it was the only one I has seen, but I learned about it working at Pearl Cross in St. Martin's Court, London when I was sixteen. At that time, at the top of the scale was the Kashmir sapphire and the bottom of the scale were the watery varieties of the Ceylon sapphire. Nowadays, at the bottom of the scale are the cheap, dark, sapphires which are cut on the wrong alignment of the crystal to make for larger stones. Usually, these have an unpleasant banding when seen from the top of the cut stone; are cut into long oval or marquee-cuts to take advantage of the crystal shape and add to the weight. You can see the colour divisions of a sapphire by dropping it into a glass of water. The best stones have the darker blue at the bottom of the cut and the clearer material (even white) at the top. Then the blue becomes very brilliant because of the refraction playing against the cut. Banding is fine when it can be seen from the side, but never from the top.

" allow the triumph of cultural isolates is to risk erasing the claims of several other identities but also the heterogeneous and multi-originary evolution of cultural practice itself."
The Koh-i-Noor Matters, but to Whom Exactly? 
Pramod K. Nayar, University of Hyderabad, India
Nationalism and its appropriation and repatriation of "cultural property" is the modern thief and insidious destroyer of natural cultural evolution which takes place within the minds of individuals

John's Coydog Community page

Friday, 19 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 13: Evil. (iii)

Driven pendulums resonance
(for explanation follow link)
animation: Geek3
I did not fully appreciate George Orwell's 1984 until I took a trip back to England after being away for 33 years: there, I watched a TV show one night about the evil of colonialism. It was delivered with the same fervor and rhetoric style I remembered from being taught about the good of colonialism at a north London school 38 years earlier. The school stood on the grounds of Cecil Rhodes' house and part of its facade with its four pillars was preserved just inside the entrance to the grounds. The school badge depicted these pillars and each pillar was supposed to represent a different human virtue. I don't remember what those virtues were, but I suspect that current popular opinion would not ascribe any of them to Rhodes.

The pendulum has swung to the opposite side now and we see another aspect of nationalist "cultural heritage" with various repatriations of antiquities back to the modern nations now occupying the territory of the culture from which they were last found. So a Greek painted pot that was originally sold to someone in Magna Graecia goes to Italy. The factory that originally produced such pots represented a cultural frame that believed very strongly in trade and export. Such factories not only existed in places like Athens and Corinth where shipments of pottery left for far-flung colonies all around the Mediterranean, but were also produced at these colonies. The fact of one of these pots sitting for sale in a Manhattan gallery perfectly preserves its original cultural frame.

Why did Greece become so great? You can understand that by looking at its mythology. Let's take a fairly specific example, Homer's Meleagros. He is already fairly syncretized by the time Homer wrote about him in the Iliad but when you look at him much later, as the Romanized Meleager in Ovid's Metamorphosis, his story is far more "fleshed out" and quite a number of deities have joined him on his adventure. It was not just pots that travelled widely in Greece, people did too. One of the main ethnic groups in ancient Greece were the Ionians who originally hailed from Asia Minor. Quite a number of culturally Greek Ionians also left Asia Minor at a later time as their homeland started to become annexed by Persia. Many went to join the Etruscans in northern Italy, and a number of these people were artisans. Their products also found their way through trade and gifting to the Celts along the Rhine and their designs evolved into early Celtic art. Along with the pots, ideas also travelled with the people, not just from within the Greek Culture but from very different ethnic groups lie the Egyptians: the Greek Hermes became syncretized with the Egyptian Thoth and became Hermes Trismegistus. He is the claimed author of the Emerald Tablet, an important work in European alchemy, although its earliest manuscript is an Arabic. Isaac Newton first translated a Latin version into English. Isaac Newton was an alchemist. Alchemy, besides, Hermetic alchemy, also took the form of Neoplatonic alchemy. Both influenced Wolfgang Pauli in physics (more Hermetic) and C. G. Jung in psychology (more Neoplatonic). Do you see where I am going with this? Greece, with its widespread ethnic groups, its colonialism, and its trade not only syncretized a wide variety of mythological elements, it also assimilated a wide variety of thought. It had to achieve greatness. Eventually, though, it declined because a new form of nationalism swept through the Mediterranean from Rome. But even Rome carried much of it along as Greece had impressed the Romans, too. Upper class Romans spoke to each other in Greek and not Latin, and much of their art was copied from the Greek although not very well and it soon went into decline. Rome became rather too regulated in all things and Mythos gave way to Logos.

So why the pendulum swing away from colonialism? It is a religious phenomenon: repentance. After riding rough-shod over the natives, guilt sets in and with it regret and repentance. You can see the same attitudes with the televangelist who gets caught with a sixteen year old girl in a motel room, and then goes through this tear-filled public repentance, and yet even more money floods in from his followers.

Evolution, which cares for nothing but survival, handles war and invasion in an interesting way: when people returned from battles with the spoils of war, cultural objects of the people who had been previously demonized by the military leaders interest and influence everyone back home. Slowly, the people who made these things seem less "barbaric" and alien. A demand arises from this interest and, after the war, people from the defeated country start exporting more of the same; and even travel to the once conquering country to start new lives. After some more time has gone by, the cultures start to blend in some ways and remain the same in others. This lessens the likelihood of future wars. Meanwhile, the once invaded country has take up certain characteristic of the invading force, perhaps in government structures, architecture, even language changes. The world gradually becomes more cosmopolitan. Only religious fervor and the pendulum swing of repentance and its reversion back to an imagined past keeps the pendulum swinging widely. In Jungian psychology, this pendulum swing is called enantiodromia and I quoted Jung about this in part 9.iii. It is marked by fanaticism, more war and cultural destruction.

If you look at the pedulum animation at the top of the page, and read the linked explanation you will see that the degree of force on the pendulum is what makes it swing wider. Picture this in an economic and societal analogy: if the pendulum swings too far in one direction or the other, you can  get what here is called a "Dragon King"  which is strongly  related to a "Black Swan Event", but you do not see it very clearly in the animation. what you first have to do is to picture yourself and the animation moving forward together in another dimension: that of time. Now you can see that pendulum swing as a wave travelling forward in time. At each moment the pendulum is in a different position and it keeps going in that direction until there is an enantiodromia and it turns to the opposite direction. If the time is moving fast, the changes are just too dramatic  to be stable with the wide-swing pendulum and time must slow down to compensate. Very little, if any, cultural evolution can take place except over a very long time, and you have a situation like a war between equally matched forces that goes on with little chance of a favorable outcome for either side, just more death and destruction. However, if the force is only slight, as in the other two pendulums, there is a gradual evolution and a self-righting system that does things carefully and avoids conflict altogether. But this diagram just shows one pendulum and even though it might be behaving like a wave, it appears more like a particle and we don't get it.

There are many pendulums in our cultural and societal analogy. each pendulum standing for a different aspect of the whole. See what happens in the following video: the pendulums adopt a clear wave pattern and quite often form into opposing forces and then patterns that do and do not appear as waves at from certain perspectives (you have to imagine some of those angles, but you can pause the video at various places to see the many patterns). Failure to look at the situation in a holistic manner; to become a victim of the "cultural heritage" neurosis "wide swing of the pendulum" only changes conflict from one form to another, but more importantly, it perpetuates conflict and slows adaptation and evolution. It can sometimes even result in extinction. Think deeply about these matters, you never know where it might take you.

I'll be back on Monday with more in this series. Have a fun weekend, go to the park, but don't fall off the swing.

John's Coydog Community page

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 13: Evil. (ii)

Celtic Plastic-Style sword pommel

Prototypical to the later developments in
British early Celtic art, this pommel was
made by a craftsman trained in a central
European workshop (Bavaria to Bohemia)
and is the only certain example of Paul
Jacobsthal's Plastic-Style made in Britain.
Taking the continental triskle motif, it
transforms it into a fully three-dimensional
space and creates different motifs according
to the viewpoint of the observer. It is thus
the earliest example of oblique anamorphosis
in the world and also the prototype of the
British trumpet-motif .
In the concluding paper of Archaeology Under Dictatorship: The Faustian Bargain of Archaeology Under Dictatorship, Bettina Arnold explains (p.207f) the emergence of the interest in the Celts in post-war Germany: they had served no function for Nazi propaganda. Paul Jacobsthal was a German Jew who had escaped to England in 1935 after being dismissed from the chair of archaeology at the University of Marburg by the new Hitler government. Contrary to what is stated in his Wikipedia biography, Jacobsthal first became interested in Celtic art in 1921 when he saw the gold foil coverings of the Attic cup from the Klein Aspergle chieftain's grave. At that time, the decoration on this foil was not recognized as Celtic but Jacobsthal was an art historian who specialized in Greek art and there were also other objects in the grave bearing similar motifs and from northern Italy that were certainly not typical of Greek art, but nevertheless had some connections. He joint-published two papers on northern imports of Greek art in 1929 and 1933 but:
 "The other problem, Celtic art, was more difficult: I soon realized that most of the finds, though known for fifty years, had never been examined and illustrated with the care they deserve. For years I travelled to many European museums, handled and photographed the objects, much helped by a friend whose name, but for hateful reasons, would appear on the title of the book." (Early Celtic Art, Oxford,1944, vi.)
For a theory as to who this unnamed friend was, see (the online): Sally Crawford, Paul Jacobsthal's Early Celtic Art, his anonymous co-author, and National Socialism: new evidence from the archives (Antiquity 85, 129–141).

It was dangerous enough, in Nazi Germany, to have an interest in the German past that excluded Aryan propaganda, but to assist a Jew to do the same would have certainly had grievous consequences for Paul Jacobsthal's German friend. What was very risky for Jacobsthal's friend became a safe haven for postwar German archaeologists.

Bettina Arnold also explains how Celtic studies furthered the aims of the European Union as it was a culture that spanned many of its countries. Britain later  saw a strong adverse opinion to the very idea of a unified Celtic culture and it does not take great genius to understand why. It arguments against such a culture were blatantly contrived by restricting the definition of a culture (but only that one) to exclude Britain from ever having been Celtic at all. The existence of actual existing Celtic languages within Britain not withstanding. The only reason that current mainstream British archaeology is still slightly soft on the issue of "Celtoskepticism" and struggles to find a few redeeming features for it is that so many of its adherents and those who believed  differently but still went along with it out of fear, still have jobs, status and influence.

In my case, I had no cause to be either brave or fearful as I was working away in relative isolation on Celtic coinage and its art and iconography in western Canada and none of the British archaeologists with whom I was in correspondence felt the need to mention the situation at all. When I first went on line and started a website with my articles and the Coriosolite Expert system, I got a number of emails from Ireland thanking me. I found this rather odd because while there were connections, in the iconography of the coins, to Ireland, the tone of the thank-you's were far more effusive than I thought was warranted. They did not go into any details, presumably because they thought such would not be needed. For me, current politics had no bearing, whatsoever, on the past I was studying, and genetically, even, I have only a very tenuous connection to the Celts at all.

This brings us back to the Nazi's and to C. G. Jung's pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic comments he made during Hitler's time:
"Jung was a man of his times, typical of the Northern Swiss culture, a region that remained neutral yet was sympathetic to the Nazis. But as early as 1934 he realized that he may have overstepped the mark. “I have fallen afoul of contemporary history,” he wrote. Yet he persisted. Many years later, in 1947, Jung invited Gershom Scholem, a well-known Israeli scholar of Jewish mysticism, to lecture at the annual Eranos Conference in Ascona, Switzerland. Aware of the rumors that Jung had sympathized with the Nazis, Scholem asked the highly respected Rabbi Leo Baeck for advice. Baeck had visited Zürich shortly after being released from the concentration camp at Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, where he had been one of the camp’s spiritual leaders. At that time he had refused Jung’s invitation to visit him at home. Jung was insistent and came to Baeck’s hotel where they talked for two hours. Defending his stance, Jung spoke of the wartime conditions in which it had not been clear how long the Nazis would be in power, that things might get better, and that to survive it was best to play along with them. Then Jung said, “Well, I slipped up.” It was the closest he ever came to an admission of guilt. This satisfied Baeck and they parted as colleagues. Having heard this story, Scholem accepted Jung’s invitation and stayed two weeks at his house."
Arthur I. Miller, 137: Jung, Pauli, and the Pursuit of a Scientific Obsession (pp. 180-181). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.
A well-known saying, apparently wrongly attributed to Edmund Burke, the Irish statesman, but in the spirit of something he did write is: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I will be back with the next section on this topic tomorrow.

John's Coydog Community page

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 13: Evil. (i)

Joseph Stalin in 1934 
"Dictators have long realized the ideological importance of the past and have sought to wield archaeology as a political tool. There are numerous examples of this, and they have been well described and analyzed: German archaeology under Hitler, for instance, or the Soviet-style archaeology that formed under Stalin. In each case, the past was deliberately and systematically manipulated. Sometimes the material record itself was distorted or destroyed (as has also occurred in recent years in the Balkans and Middle East). but more often archaeological concepts and theoretical positions were appropriated, some being privileged over others. As it advances under totalitarian dictatorship, this process—the official, often legislated promotion of one version of the past to the exclusion of others—may be disastrous for archaeology, and for some archaeologists it becomes deadly. Stalin murdered or enslaved eighty-five percent of Russian archaeologists between 1930 and 1934."
Michael L. Galaty and Charles Watkinson, The Practice of Archaeology under Dictatorship, in: Archaeology Under Dictatorship (eds, Galaty and Watkinson), Springer, 2006, p. 2. [in-line refs. to all statements removed]

Detail from "Ectoplasm", Bill Donovan, New York, watercolour and ink on paper (in my collection: gift from the artist, 2009)

"If not controlled and manipulated, the past is always one of the biggest enemies of any totalitarian ideology. The plot was divided into three phases: 1) seduction, 2) temptation, and 3) "we've got you!" phase. The hook was to publish enthusiastic news about the successes of Polish archaeologists and subsequently to identify the most gifted among those who took the bait, as the competitive exam to enter the faculty of archaeology was extremely demanding. Quickly arrived the second phase of the plot: the temptation. Graduates were offered a perspective to achieve their dreams, to plan professional careers and to reach a relatively prestigious social status. Initially it seemed great but finally it turned out not be free of charge. The more one progressed in research, the more difficult was to secure funds. The first "glass ceiling" appeared. To get through it seemed simple - a member of the Communist Party (often a faculty member) would suggest: "Why won't you join the Communist Party? It is not a big deal really and, after all, you owed it to our Party, which already helped you so much." This is when the third "we've got you!" phase materialized. It was the crucial moment that the regime counted on a lot. Sometimes the plot was successful, but in majority of situations it didn't produce the wished effects."
Andrzej Boguszewski (Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives) The massive corruption of clever minds, TAG2010: 32nd annual meeting of the Theoretical Archaeology Group, Bristol, 17th-19th Dec 2010: Archaeology under communism: political dimensions of archaeology.
All of the above can stand on their own. No commentary is needed.

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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 12: Nationalism as religion.

U.N. Headquarters, Manhattan

"Nationalism, as the guiding frame of meaning of the nation, a process of imaginary construction of of society, can be also seen as religion, a secular religion that worships icons ..., engages in its own rituals and ceremonies, complete with its liturgical texts and hymns..." 
Yannis Hamilakis, The Nation and its Ruins: Antiquity, Archaeology and National Imagination in Greece, Oxford, 2007, p.16.

In this view of nationalism, the only division from any other religion is the word "secular", but we have entered a time in which the parameters of its definitions are starting to break down: we cannot define a religion as the belief in a god as two of the top five religions in the world (Chinese folk religion and Buddhism) do not focus on any god. In the primary definition of secular: denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis, the word religious, denoting that which binds, can be equally given to all religions and nationalism alike. This leaves spiritual which means: of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. In the microcosm, quantum physics has proven that there are forces at play that can be called neither material or physical: the double-slit experiment violates classical logic merely by saying that an electron can be a wave or not a wave (a particle); both A and non-A. But also, with any interaction we have with the electron, it continues being whichever one we decided at the outset: being treated as a particle, it continues to be a particle and does not suddenly change to a wave, and vice versa. It has also been proven that paired particles each with opposite spins will appear to communicate their state with each other instantly even though being light years apart, so if one particle is made to spin right, its partner will then spin left at that very moment. This violates Einstein's relativity. In the macrocosm, both Stephen Hawking and Saint Augustine (354-430 AD) agree that time, itself, came into being with the creation of the universe. However, Stephen Hawking is an atheist. Although having its origins in both religious philosophy and alchemy, the Unus Mundus has recently become of great interest to both psychologists and quantum physicists where it is now referred to as the psychophysical universe and its basis is the participatory nature of the observer.

But coming down from such lofty heights, we only need observe the behaviour of nationalists so see that it is no different, whatsoever, from that of religionists. Hamilakis after talking more about its rituals and the transformation of material archaeological remains into symbols of belief  and ideology goes on to say:
"This dynamism gives it some of its enormous power and resilience, and at the same time warns us against any simplistic academic treatment. Rather than seeing it as exclusively a state affair, a top-down construction imposed upon the people by state bureaucrats and intellectuals, I am arguing for its simultaneous construction both from below and and from above. Nor should it be assumed that I am constructing here and image of an Orwellian nightmare which sees nationalist domination everywhere, with no opportunities for resistance. As will be shown elsewhere in this book, there are several instances where nationalistic ideologies in fact fuel, empower, and and incite resistance against the state or other power mechanisms, and in several cases social agents have been successful in negating and defeating the dominant authorities" (p. 17f ).
The key term here is "social agents", that is that the bottom-up movement consists of groups of people who share an opposing view and their numbers are instrumental in change. The base idea, in any single case, could have originated with an individual or it might have been through the coalescing of a group dynamic into an idea in an evolutionary fashion, but it has no power within the realm of the individual: it is a group action in reality.

Culture, on the other hand, is something that the individual expresses and as it consists of multiple cultural frames there will be no two individuals who have exactly the same culture and the groups are formed through overlapping areas of cultural expression. these, in turn, can produce changes in nationalism. Nationalism, however, can produce no change in culture as culture is an ever changing evolutionary pattern that is fulfilled only by individuals through various "quantum leaps" from psychic material in their own heads.

The empowerment supplies groupthink as a substitute for original idea and when this is adopted and expressed as "what I think" (or as an unthinking meme posing as such) it can generate the necessary brain chemicals to produce pleasure. This then acts somewhat like an evolutionary change except that it cannot, then, adapt to any new condition: it continues only in a mechanistic way and a person, if they did  experience a subsequent mental quantum leap, would in that same instant, remove themselves from the group and become a fully cognizant individual again.

"Cultural heritage" is thus a false term as it really only is an expression of nationalism and this is very apparent as it is only framed within the nation as an indivisible body. In each case, we have to decide whether it is an honest error in reason or merely a PR psychological trap to capture individuals and turn them into another member of the collective. Its real action actually halts culture and connects culture to static symbols which cannot change. It thus destroys culture in a very real sense. It becomes thus an enantiodromia.

The pattern of the combined top-down, bottom up nationalistic process is the seal of Solomon where the triangle with its base at the bottom is the social agency and the triangle with its base at the top is the causation of the state. The hexagon in the middle is the static state (shared cultural frames) where influences from both exist in an unchanging harmony which does not evolve. To change it back to a religious symbol is just to substitute state for heaven and social agency for earth. In nature, when bubbles are pressed together and all forces from all directions stop movement you get, in section, the stable hexagon. This is quite different from the structure of the yijing where the Yin and Yang lines are in a constant state of movement and interaction and represent (among many other things) the ever-changing nature of culture. Any change in the internal nature of the hexagram must come about, first, from an individual (whether it be from a genius altruistic individual or a powerful dictator) and a new stable state will then result which will continue until the next dramatic change. Culture, however, is always in a state of steady change.

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Monday, 15 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 11: Nationalist appropriation and destruction of cultural history.

top: Parthenon in 1821 (Edward Dodwell); bottom: in 2004 (uncertain - cropped) 

"... the changes that the site had undergone were phenomenal. The visual impression of the Acropolis in the pre-Independence era, partly preserved through drawings and engravings of the period must have been stunning and totally unfamiliar to present-day eyes: it was a palimpsest of human activity, and a monumental legacy of the attraction and multiple meanings of the site for diverse groups and people; ... there were traces of post-classical activity, with the most prominent the Ottoman mosque inside the the Parthenon (with its minaret which survived until 1843), the houses and other buildings for the garrison stationed on it, and the the remnants of the western occupation of Athens, with the most impressive being the highly visible medieval tower at the Propylaia.
"Most of these buildings were destroyed in the decades following the foundation of the state, with the medieval tower surviving until the mid-1870s. The demolitions and clearings which were started by the team set up by Klenze were continued by the Athens Archaeological Society, which together with the State Archaeological Service were the two bodies responsible for most of the archaeological activity at the time. The destruction of virtually all post-classical buildings was a ritual purification of the site from what were seen as remnants of 'barbarism' and the material manifestations of the occupation of Greece by foreign invaders."
Yannis Hamilakis, The Nation and its Ruins: Antiquity, Archaeology and National Imagination in Greece, Oxford, 2007, p. 88 (footnotes and refs. removed).
It was not just Ottoman remains that were destroyed in Athens: A decree in 1837 was made to stop the continuous destruction of Byzantine antiquities and in an 1843 decree, churches and other recent buildings were protected. Yet, in an earlier time the closest cultural connections the people were with the Christian remains and the earlier classical remains were seen as "works of the 'Hellenes', people who were seen as distinctive an different from the contemporary ones, living in another time, the mythical time of the Hellenes." (ibid. p. 67). Hamilakis points out that the latter categorization was promoted by the Church at the time. Fortunately, those remains were not swept away but tolerated. We can imagine a situation whereby culture D removes all traces of earlier cultures A, B, and C, and then are conquered by culture E who then removes all traces of culture D. In current times, modern societies condemn less modern societies for doing the same things the modern societies used to do in their earlier stages of development. This sort of thing is not restricted to the actions of religious fundamentalists like ISIS or the Taliban, but also to China with its developing industrialization and the resulting pollution. I can remember London when the buildings were black from soot, and in 1969 I saw in Los Angeles, a vapor trail from a jet plane where the pollution had changed it into a multi-coloured "oil-slick" in the sky. This is not "ancient history".

Athenian plated coin of the emergency issue of 406/5 BC
photo: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.

Athens is the capital and largest city in Greece, but in the ancient Greek world, its economic and political dominance started in 480 BC with the Persian War and ended at the close of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). Some people could have seen it start and finish.

But the Greek world was
Silver coin of Syracuse, Sicily, 405-400 BC
photo: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.
much larger than the area Greece now occupies and after the decline of Athens, Syracuse, in Sicily became the "capital" of the Greek world. It boasted the largest population of any classical city: about half a million people (not that much smaller than Athens is now). Syracuse is the city where Archimedes leaped from his bath shouting "Eureka!" It attracted artists and intellectuals from all over the Greek world, and under Dionysios I (who issued the coin illustrated) resisted the power of the Carthaginians who had their eyes on the city. Of course, such coins as illustrated above are now claimed as the "cultural property" of Italy. Sicily became part of Italy in 1861.

The Fountain of Arethusa in Syracuse
photo: Giovanni Dall'Orto
The artist, Kimon of Syracuse chose his design well for the coin illustrated above: the head is that of the goddess Arethusa who, according to myth,fled from her home in Arcadia (Peloponnesus) under the sea to emerge as the fountain of Arethusa in Syracuse. You will also notice the proximity of later buildings and the spring  was arranged in its current semi-circular shape in 1847, utilizing part of the Spanish bulwark that had surrounded it since 1540. The cultural continuum is preserved.

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Friday, 12 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 10: Collective "cultural heritage" and individual cultural evolution (v).

American WW2 poster
Yesterday, I linked to an article in Discover about how the human brain is shrinking, but one exception is with "Americans of European and African descent from colonial times up to the late 20th century". While genetic mixing make make up some of the phenomenon, there are many other places where this also happens but the U.S. was the only one where the brain size is increasing. The answer, then, lies more in an ability to adapt to new conditions. America, after the revolution expressed its independence with the phrase "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", but although that phrase is imprinted on the minds of all Americans we also have to consider what lies behind the words. In speaking of a 17th century alchemist, Jung said:
For Böhme a “high deep blue” mixed with green signifies “Liberty,” that is, the inner “Kingdom of Glory” of the reborn soul.
C. G. Jung, Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 9 (Part 1): Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious: 009 (Kindle Locations 5872-5873). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
This is the psychic result in the minds of those partaking in any successful revolution, but again, there have been many successful revolutions which do not seem to have resulted in brains becoming larger. When we include the word "life", though, and take it past the fact of its physical existence we can start to zero in on the causes of this anomaly:
"Life proceeds, as it were, by making use of natural physical and chemical conditions as a means to its own existence. The living body is a machine for converting the energies it uses into other dynamic manifestations that are their equivalents. We cannot say that physical energy is transformed into life, only that its transformation is the expression of life."
C. G. Jung, Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 8: Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche: 008 (pp. 41-42). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
Where the U.S. was different was that it had combined a revolutionary attitude with the fact of being in a relatively new and undeveloped country. The "pioneer spirit" exists, too, in Canada, but Canada experienced no revolution and remains part of the British Commonwealth. These two factors, in my opinion, combined to form "The American Dream" which embodied the idea of a meritocracy. Unfortunately, meritocracy has been poorly interpreted (for example in choosing intelligence as the main component and in applying Social Darwinism). It has also been poorly executed (so poorly that the title and theme of the linked article blames the very idea of meritocracy more than the failure to implement it).

All of these problems come about through groupthink but evolution has its core with the individual, and that brings us to the final component: happiness. When you succeed in something, you become happy. The brain rewards survival activities with feelings of pleasure. We have to be careful, though, that we do not develop an addictive personality where the happy feeling of success is too bound to the specific activity which caused it which then results in a constant repetition of that same activity (when that happens, the brain reduces the pleasure chemicals and the addict tries to compensate by doing even more of the same thing in the hope of regaining that one-time "high"). The brain is not just rewarding success, it is rewarding originality: the more good ideas you get, the better is the chance for your personal survival. Biological natural evolution rides on the back of individual evolution because those who survive better  live longer to produce more offspring and also attract mates. Any attempt to socialize this phenomenon inevitably runs into problems as is outlined in criticisms to Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. When things get really bad, there is a shift toward socialism which then starts to turn evolution toward a local need for a lack of originality. Remember, evolution is all about adaptation and survival in an environment. It is not a change to some envisioned ideal state of superiority in all things. The shark is a perfect model of successful evolution. Its tiny brain is concerned only with two things: eating and breeding and it has no need of innovation. Perhaps it has evolved to the point where it does not need to even feel pleasure. Is that where we want to go?

The human being evolved to be most successful as individuals within small extended family groups, and the larger human groups become; the larger and the more remote their governments become; the larger the submission to various collective "ism's", then the less intelligent, ambitious, innovative and happy we become in those environments.

I will be back on Monday with a new topic in this series. Have a happy weekend.

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Thursday, 11 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 10: Collective "cultural heritage" and individual cultural evolution (iv).

My thinking about these topics has been greatly aided through reading about Symptom-Symbol Transformation (SST) in Remo F. Roth,  Return of the World Soul: Wolfgang Pauli, C.G. Jung and the Challenge of Psychophysical Reality, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. While primarily used in therapy (linked page in German), Roth also explains how it might be used in more universal applications within the concept of the Unus Mundus.

In this section it is important to understand evolution as a system of adaptions to new realities. The idea of devolution gives credit to Neo-Darwinism which presupposes an ideal state to which evolution moves. We can actually quite easily evolve to a state of being where we would really not want to be. In fact, we seem (as a species) to be heading in that direction right now because of our (recent) move toward a smaller brain size. There are a number of theories that have been put forward for why this is happening but I feel that these are expressions of the blind men and an elephant parable. My American readers will happy to note that one study in the linked smaller brain size article revealed an example of the opposite:
"When anthropologist Richard Jantz of the University of Tennessee measured the craniums of Americans of European and African descent from colonial times up to the late 20th century, he found that brain volume was once again moving upward."
It did not say if American politicians' craniums were included in the study (sorry, I couldn't resist). I will offer my own interpretation of this anomaly tomorrow.

Collective "cultural heritage" is most often applied in a nationalistic manner (UNESCO, for example), but it is also marked by  great degree of fervor that is indistinguishable from religious fervor. Let us treat "cultural heritage" as a symptom and then look for the underlying symbol which will also reveal a very surprising example of the same thing: "cultural heritage" in its commonest application treats people as collectives bound by the state far more than even ethnic groups within a state (such people cannot, individually, obtain any rights through the various UNESCO conventions). What belongs to an ethnic group, belongs to the state. At the very bottom of the pile is the individual who is represented only within certain state-defined "stakeholders" representatives in any negotiations. Whether such people's opinions are actually taken into consideration or whether they are included to provide an apparency of such is a subject that has caused a considerable amount of discussion. I do know for a fact that the U.S. public's input and opinions about all of the recent U.S. State Department's Memoranda of Understanding (MoU's) with various countries concerning the import restrictions on ancient coins has been rejected in the final decisions to pass such MoU's despite overwhelming opposition from the public. The only public opinions which were followed came from those in academia, sometimes giving a "prepackaged" response. Nearly all of the responses, of course, were from individually motivated representatives of various cultural frames (i.e. stakeholders).

Another currently visible collective espousing "cultural heritage" is ISIS which takes the more obvious religious stance in the subject and bases its destruction of archaeological sites on its theories about iconoclasm  from the Islamic texts about worshiping graven images. Yet both groups are the same in that they reduce the free will of individuals in their interpretation of cultural matters to an overarching ideology. Both groups act with religious fervor but only ISIS cites that source. UNESCO-styled "cultural heritage" proponents offer up individuals as identical members of a state-controlled collective: "the public". They also appoint their group as overseers. Their (unconscious) religious fervor is exhibited by their moralistic terminology especially in the usage of the word "illicit". In Illicit heritage management in Austria? Raimund Karl says:
"For instance, a love affair may very well be illicit; that is, frowned upon by society because it is ‘immoral’; but perfectly legal; that is, not prohibited by any law. Calling something ‘illicit’ means ‘(some) people think it should not be done’, rather than ‘society has decreed by law that it must not be done’. And that is how we archaeologists like to use it when we talk about ‘illicit excavations’: excavations that ‘we archaeologists think should not be done’, rather than such that ‘the law says must not be done'.
Ray is very familiar with the religious and neurotic aspects of some of his peers as can be clearly seen in his paper on archaeologist's hoarding: Every sherd is sacred: compulsive hoarding in archaeology.

By taking the symptoms and transforming them into symbols we come closer to the root problem: both ISIS and the archaeological "cultural heritage" lobby are fighting a religious war and fanning each other's flames. It does us no good to ask who started it as each side will, like quarreling children, point to the other. But as a group of opposing energies united by the symbol matters will certainly escalate. Each benefits from this war, ideologically, and both gets lots of press through its sensationalism. They need each other to survive.

Scapegoating is another feature of this war: ISIS can point to people who are "falling from Grace" as it were and the archaeological  "cultural heritage" proponents can blame collectors for any looting (looting is always a phenomenon during wars). There is a recent, classic, example of the "scientific evidence-free" nature of reporting of the latter in Blood & Gold: Children Dying As Egypt's Treasures Are Looted . Its author, Owen Jarus being a Canadian freelance journalist who specializes in "Heritage" and archaeological reporting.

When you get such opposing forces both apparently surviving in a conflict it is a sign that the conflict is other that what it seems to be. I this case the conflict expresses a desire for power of the group over the individual and this is the base symbol. The conflict, on both sides, is really a political/economic power struggle.

The problem remains unsolvable (unless a third party come along to establish real power (like the parent or teacher who says "I don't care who started it...") because it only mimics any evolutionary process and can only result in its extinction for both sides. The reason being is that evolution is always energized through individual expression and without that as its source does not happen. I don't like to use the phrase "natural selection" as that opens up a can of worms noticed at first, statistically, by Wolfgang Pauli who envisioned some other force at play which later became part of epigenetics. I think "happenstance" is a better  word as it describes the phenomenon without assigning cause and some phenomena are acausal, anyway.

Heikegani crab (Heikeopsis japonica) photo: RD 77

My favorite example of this are some Japanese crabs that have a variable pattern of their surface shell structure: the Heikegani or "Samurai crab", which had been once assigned as an example of selective breeding, but more likely is an example of synchronicity where the archetypal Samurai face is an acausal creation of the Unus Mundus. But you would probably have to read Roth's book to understand how that can happen.

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