Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 19: GroupThink analysis and examples (i)

 GroupThink Model
© Irving Janis 1972.  Victims of GroupThink: A Psychological Study of Foreign-policy Decisions and Fiascoes
(click to enlarge)  

For the next few parts I will present an analysis with examples for each of the boxes in the flow chart above. While the chart is about GroupThink, the groups are not always organized and it is possible for one or more individuals to be working away from the direct influence of a large institutional group yet demonstrating certain influences from such groups. Only hierarchical and economic factors of the large group are absent with the individual or small group of followers. Additionally, a large group can exist with no formal group arrangement other than a shared philosophy and the transference of certain memes.

Box A: Decision Makers (Cohesive Group)

At the top of this hierarchy is UNESCO with its cultural property conventions framed within purely nationalistic advantages. None of these bestow any benefits to any cultural groups within the national borders that are contrary to the policies and attitudes of the government of that nation, even if the government is engaging in genocidal practices. Furthermore, while any convention has a date attached to it, it does not come into force in any country until it is ratified by that country and made subject to its laws. Such laws can also vary, country to country, for the same convention. This is not just in matters of punishments for violating these laws but sometimes the laws can change the application of the articles of the convention to better fit other existing laws. Cultural heritage protectionists almost always use the term "illicit" and refer to to the date of the convention, itself and not "illegal" and the date of its legal implementation. Of course, no one can be charged with an offence that was committed any time before the law existed that made such acts illegal. Such subterfuge, which is using the word "illicit" not in a legal sense but according to the mores of the group which might be very different from that of other groups, is the first rung on the ladder of a gradual increase in misleading and false information given in order to sway public opinion toward the groups ideals. These include memes and weasel phrases which have no real meaning or are just false. The psychology is always the same: dishonesty is used "for a greater good". Even forgery can be praised as it adversely effects the "enemy groups" of art and collectible dealers and collectors, themselves. In a very extreme case, one archaeologist publicly compared the activities of the Ancient Coins for Education (ACE) non-profit charitable organization which provides free ancient coins that are donated by dealers and collectors for schools and which awards prizes for student's historical essays to "drug-pushing". Yet, in the same breath, cultural heritage is said to belong to all people. As far as I can see, the reason for such condemnation is that donations to schools from coin dealers goes against the image of dealers that the group is trying to create in the mind of the public. While school museums are condemned, public museums are only attacked when parts of their collections have no chain of ownership that can be tracked back to before laws were in place prohibiting their export from the source country. In actual criminal law outside of police states it is up to the prosecution to prove guilt and not up to the defence to prove innocence. Innocence is presumed.

We also have to include evolution when thinking about UNESCO. It was founded with the stated belief in eugenics (Julian Huxley) and in a single world government. I have a personal interest in the former as I brought the problem of Alberta's eugenics law which justified the sexual sterilization of people with psychological problems, to the attention of Peter Lougheed, who, as the Premier of Alberta, eventually had that law overturned and its victims financially compensated. It was the largest compensation package ever paid out by the Alberta Government to its wronged citizens. Even though evolution never stands still, elements of former characteristics remain through those subsequent changes.

Below UNESCO comes a great number of local public institutions and academic organizations, and in the case of the latter, some "art-crimes" courses are created which further the aims of UNESCO and they use all of the techniques I have mentioned here.

Tomorrow, we move on to Box B in the chart


John's Coydog Community page

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 18: Fuzzy culture



Sometimes, life imitates art and after writing yesterday's post I saw a Google alert in my mailbox about UNESCO and the Strange Career of Multiculturalism in the LA Review of Books and after reading it remembered my favourite scene in Woody Allen's Annie Hall. Apparently, life sometimes is like that.

I titled this episode "Fuzzy culture" not just because of the boundless aspects of culture, but because of fuzzy logic where variables are weighted in various forms of artificial intelligence and elsewhere. The problem in AI, is that it is not artificial at all and really just reflects the opinions and viewpoint of the person writing the code. The results could well vary, person to person. When I built my first expert system, expert systems were part of AI, but in an expert system journal paper, it was suggested that expert systems should be removed from the category of AI because they worked (when Boolean) while AI did not work (at least if practically committed to its title). Boolean systems work because they are applied to things that do not change: Is/is not works very well in mechanistic systems and classical logic but not so well in social systems or in quantum physics and transdisciplinarity.

In the LARB article we see many problems with various "cultural heritage" policies because not only is culture's "fuzziness" not recognized but policies and fuzziness are contrary to each other. We think of the saying: "A camel is a horse designed by a committee."

The ethnocentric/nationalist ideas of culture are not only academically circling the drain but they allow and propagate quite a number of injustices to various cultural frames and the compromises that are made, at best, only please the group who is making them. Sometimes. no one is pleased at all. Even cultural frames can have various embedded attitudes that can vary and the spread of cultural influences is also very fuzzy, as you see in the article:

"Clifford Geertz redefined culture as the web of signs and signifiers (or “twitches, winks, fake-winks,” and “burlesqued winks”) that envelop and entangle us. Writing in 1986, George Marcus and James Clifford argued that culture was a set of political strategies inseparable from the contexts in which they are deployed, therefore implicating anthropologists in the very “cultures” they seek to explain. By 1991, sociologist Janet Abu-Lughod was questioning whether scholars could use the word “culture” rigorously at all without being implicated in a politics that exoticized non-Western others. In his influential Modernity at Large (1996), Arjun Appadurai asserted that the adjectival form “cultural” remained useful but that the countable noun, “culture/cultures,” should be rejected as a dangerous reification."
Janet Abu-Lughod's statement, while applied to "non-Western others" could be expanded to include some situations within the west and within multiple cultural frames at that. We also have many problems with the differences between living cultural frames and the cultural frames now extinct in their original form but continuing in their influences within groups and individuals. As culture is an evolutionary process, fixing it with policies also destroys it to a greater or lesser degree and the motives of policy makers and those who support them are frequently self-serving. Sometimes, the very opposite result to its ideals is what results.


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Monday, 29 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 17: Objectivity

Skala Sykamias, Lesvos island, Greece.    photo: Ggia
Sometimes, the media can be very obliging. Last Thursday's episode discussed a number of photos of fakes that I had seen in an article about looting in Syria. The article said that the "articles had not been evaluated as to their authenticity" So much for journalistic fact-checking and due diligence. Perhaps the journalist suspected they were fakes but thought "If I get that confirmed, I do not have a story. So, on Sunday, I was looking through that day's issue of Explorator where I came across two articles featuring Syria’s antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim. The first was from The Art Newspaper and the second was from Herald Scotland.

In the first article, Abdulkarim says "that while 7,000 objects have been seized by authorities in Syria since 2013, the proportion of fakes has risen from 30% to closer to 70%, both inside the country and in neighbouring Lebanon." there is not a word about this situation in the second article but he says “All people who buy should understand that if they collect objects supplied by Isis they are helping terrorism.” The article also speaks of "subsistence looting" and says:
 “Islamic State or Isis did not start the looting. They came across a pre-existing situation and institutionalised it,” says Dr Amr Al-Azm of Shawnee University when we spoke in April . “At first there was a casual arrangement to loot whereby Isis applied an obscure Islamic tax of 20 per cent payable to the Caliphate’s treasury but since the beginning of 2015 this has been formalised. Now you now have to have a licence issued by the archaeological administration office with punishments if you are caught digging an area where you are not allowed. Isis are knowledgeable about the value of the antiquities, they check the Internet and we suspect some are archaeologists.”
"Subsistence looting" is perhaps not a very good term as looting also includes raising money to secure the means to escape from an oppressive regime. There are vast numbers of Syrian refugees who are fleeing to Europe in boats and we can recall a similar situation with the Vietnamese "boat people" when Saigon fell to North Vietnam. I knew a young woman who escaped with her family from Saigon at that time, but she was part of an extremely wealthy and prominent Saigon family who was lifted out by a U.S. military helicopter. Over the next several years, she sent money back to other relatives who wanted to leave and a large percentage of that money went to bribes to officials to "look the other way". That did not include the costs of the passage out of Vietnam, it just provided the opportunity to negotiate for such passage. She adapted to her new life very well, but it was far from the usual refugee situation: she no longer had her own chauffeur and servants. She told me that her aunt had to learn how to tie shoe laces because the servants had dressed her and she showed me a painting of her grandfather wearing his dragon robe and holding his jade sceptre. Her family had originally been part of the Anamese Mandarate at Huế. Her mother had run the family factory in Saigon and her father had been an officer in the South Vietnamese army. Refugees can come from any level of society, but they all have to pay to escape in one way or another. Her family, too, had to live in a U.S. internment camp for a long time, before they came to Calgary as immigrants.

There are multiple layers to any refugee situation and it presents great difficulties for any country who gives them sanctuary. At the top of the scale are professional people and others who will contribute greatly to the economy of such a country and at the bottom of the scale are violent criminals who see a refugee situation as an opportunity to escape arrest. Every level of society is included. But what also happens is a transmission of culture and a greater understanding of different societies within any population. This understanding also aids in the prevention of future wars. One of the unusual features of ancient Celtic culture was fosterage. Celtic culture was far more localized than what we are used to today and below national, tribal and civic levels were family or clan affiliations and in Gaul, all were split into two factions with Druid (judges) representation at each level. Fosterage, where sons were always raise by a foster father and also the "private" issuing of coins cemented allegiances and lessened the likelihood of warfare in a society where status was determined by the size of your private army or membership in the Druid elite.

I very much enjoy the benefits of multiculturalism here. Our Mayor is Islamic although the population of the city is only 5.2% Islamic. He is also the world's most popular mayor; a couple of blocks away from where I live I can buy (according to what they advertise, and they might well be right) Calgary's best Vietnamese subs. When I needed a very ancient Chinese poem translated, two Chinese men worked very hard (with much debate) to provide that for me as a favour. One had been in the country for a very long time, the other was a recent immigrant. Now, I cannot experience anything of ancient Greek culture at any museum here, I can experience modern Greek food, music and even dancing, but if I want to see some ancient Greek coins I can see quite a good selection at  a friend's coin shop, including many from Syria. Syrian coins were very common when I started collecting Greek coins at the age of 13. I'll be 67 in another month. Many of those coins had left Syria hundreds of years ago. So the next time you are enjoying a cup of Vietnamese iced coffee, think about the strange circumstances of what made that available to you; if you track it all back you will encounter more than just one war and one other culture. There is a lot of history in that cup.

A meme is a phrase that passes from person to person like a virus. Often completely untrue, the only cure for it is to look at it critically. We see people who say that "cultural heritage belongs to everyone" and then seek to restrict peoples access to it, often by supplying false or misleading information in a deliberate manner because they, too, are infected by the virus and it has taken over their consciousness. You are experiencing what might be described as a "intellectual zombie". There is no real life in the statement and it actually does not really mean anything. Culture can only be primarily received as a thought. Multiculturalism is an accumulation of many such thoughts and their material consequences and it reduces the "strangeness" of different cultures and promotes global understanding. thus anyone who would seek to restrict such transmissions is either evil or has been infected by collections of memes. In the latter case they are not thinking at all. The Dalai Lama promotes understanding and good will between Tibetan and Chinese people. Many people know this. Fewer people know that he is also very interested (and active) in quantum physics, especially in the subject of mind/matter.

This brings us back to objectivity: We have the subject (you) and the object (what you are looking at), but in quantum physics, you cannot separate the two:
"Our story begins in 1967 AD, when a young graduate student arrived at the University of California, Berkeley, to study physics. He had studied quantum theory and was impressed with its insistence that the observer could not be taken out of theory, as was the case in classical physics. In practice, however, he found that the interpretation of Schrödinger’s wave function as probability amplitudes allowed physicists to simply substitute probability orbitals for independent objects and still leave themselves out of the theory. He decided to propose a Ph.D. thesis that would allow him to study himself doing the experiment in order to address this deficiency. The experiment he chose was the spectral classification of promethium....
"After presenting the self-inclusion idea at his oral examination, the thesis was rejected. Our candidate was furious and considered leaving the program. One of his thesis advisors, Nobel Laureate Charles Towns, intervened, and a compromise was reached. The student was to split the thesis into a conventional experiment on the spectrum of promethium and write whatever he wanted on the object-subject integration theme in an appendix, which would not be formally evaluated. In addition, he was to read a standard text on quantum theory and report on his agreement and acceptance of the theory described to the department chair. After that, the standard thesis was finished in record time. His feeling of being a sellout was mollified by his ability to record a picture of his breakthrough insight in the annals of a permanent institution."
The Physical Foundation of Consciousness by Wolfgang Baer, Ph.D., in: Brain, Mind, Cosmos: The Nature of Our Existence and the Universe (Contributions from Notable Scientists and Philosophers), ed., Deepak Chopra, 2013, (Kindle Locations 174-189).
Reality consists of not just what you are looking at, but also the fact and interactions of you looking at it. To deny that is to deny that you, too, are part of reality.


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Friday, 26 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 16: Acausality



We are going to have to deal with some weird stuff in this episode so I have included the above video in an attempt to make it just a little bit less weird. Now you could just read what I have to say here, but...

In yesterday's episode, we were talking about looting and ISIS and various knee-jerk reactions about banning collecting while keeping much "cultural property" away from any personal interactions with the individuals who, allegedly, it belongs to. In the episode before that I presented a model of cultural transmission that depended on such personal interactions and how culture either avoids or does not avoid the effect of entropy and how it must constantly change by gaining new elements or run a very real danger of becoming extinct. In an entirely neurotic fashion, people who are promoting a truth as they see it are resorting to lies to get there. This is enantiodromia. All of that did not require us to leave the world of classical physics. Everything was very cause and effect and mechanical like clockwork.

Nothing represents the "cultural heritage" neurosis better than Lord Renfrew's statement "Collectors are the real looters". In this model, if there were no collectors then no one would be raiding archaeological sites to find stuff to sell them. In the same manner, child abuse could be easily prevented through absolute and global birth control. But ignoring human extinction as any sensible method to use. Is Renfrew's statement even right? Actually, it is not. because quite a number of metal antiquities had been excavated, recorded, and then sent off to the melting pots to profit on the metal. This activity took place in the nineteenth century and earlier and was not restricted to just gold objects. Copper alloys also received the same treatment. You can go back to Iron Age Hengistbury where cupelation hearths were used to extract silver from cultural objects such as Coriosolite coins with rich cultural iconography to make Durotriges coins with far less richer iconography. It is very difficult to find anything that has no economic value: we pay for water, for gravel, and even sometimes for clean air. When a very profitable market dries up, a less profitable one takes its place and balances the bottom lines by doing more of it. Instead of selling one object to the collector to get $10 a dozen are sold to the scrap dealer to get the same amount. When silver prices were high, I saw lots of Victorian and even some Georgian silver being melted down for the silver, Not to mention coins of an even earlier date. I have bought worn William III and Charles II five shilling pieces from a box of scrap silver awaiting the melting pot and long ago, I bought an Elizabeth 1st gold half pound for scrap value as it had a hole in it.

I have also made it clear (hopefully) that "cultural property" regulations are made by people who care nothing at all for the subject but know that those who do will willingly sacrifice other things, and it is those other things that are really desired. "So, here's the deal: we will send you back all that cultural junk that is coming into our country from yours, and in return, you won't start to regulate our Monsanto operations in your country too heavily, Oh! and by the way, don't breathe a word of your side of the deal as our public might get upset about all that genetic engineering stuff. We wouldn't want to lose any votes for our side in the next election, right?"

Now, ask yourself if there was no objections, anywhere, to ISIS destroying cultural monuments and selling off cultural objects (the value of which has been found to be orders of magnitude less than what was  believed at first) would they be doing that at all? Is it really a religious issue or is religion something that can get mass-support. We know for a fact that there were really economic motives for the Crusades, but the common foot soldier would have been less likely to sacrifice his life for the sake of the wealthy traders than for a good chance to enter Heaven. Mark Twain is reported to have said "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes".

We have both a positive and negative situation with ISIS and cultural property preservationists. We cannot fully believe either side because they lie a lot and have motives other than what is presented. Does one cause the other? If so, which one is the "real looter". Perhaps we have a Schrodinger's cat sort of situation instead. Each side is simultaneously cause and not cause. The situations emerge, acausally, through potentialities.

Let's take what Jim Al-Khalili says about the double slit experiments and the process of photo synthesis in the video: a photon leaves the sun and hits a leaf. Deep inside that leaf there is a molecule that transforms the energy of that photon to the work that the plant needs to prosper, but the photon does not know the route to that molecule and thus would have to explore all potential avenues and bounce off various barriers along the way. Unfortunately, it would lose too much of its energy in this process to do the plant much good when it finally arrives at the molecule. So what it does is to act like a wave and this wave permeates everywhere, setting up all sorts of interference patterns without losing energy as it does so. When one part of this probability wave touches that molecule, pop! it becomes a fully charged photon again and the plant gets the goods.

Einstein had a problem with the active role of the observer in processes and said that just because he did not look at the moon at some moment, it did not mean that the moon did not exist at that time. We get a little spooked about being part of the creation of the universe; about taking an necessary role in what happens to particles. Perhaps we are placing too much importance on the word "observer" and are getting a bit too psychologically inflated by it all. What happens to to the human observer in the double slit experiment is also happening inside the leaf. We do know that, left alone with no one watching them, plants continue to grow. Either that, or they instantly get bigger anytime someone looks at them. But we also know that plants were around a long time before we came into existence (unless we are also magically creating fossils too). All in all, it seems far more likely that the plant is also an observer.

But, you say, when a detection device is set up in the double slit experiment, it also seems to act like an observer, but the detection device is not alive is it? The answer to that is "No, but we are". The plant has built this molecule over aeons through evolution, but we have evolved to a point where we actually can build things, for ourselves, and at will. We are not alone in this, even crows use tools when they need to:



While we have an advantage in having fingers and opposable thumbs, my very clever coyote hybrid cannot do anything as complicated as that crow did and we must wonder if the crow had our fingers and thumbs instead of just claws and a beak whether it would start building all sorts of things after more generations of accumulated knowledge. Perhaps we should look at sentience as something not just in present time, but as something also manifested during the evolutionary process. The plant then has evolutionary sentience. It can make tools, it just takes many generations to realize that potential. Because of this, the plant is also an observer. We make the detection device that stops the photon, but when we switch off the power, it is no longer really a detection device because part of that device is the electricity that is running through it. We make that electricity, too.

So let's replace the word "observer" with "active receptor". A non-active receptor like the screen at the back of the double slit experiment does nothing but stop the electron as a particle, but where it hits is dependent on the wave property. We are, or have, active receptors just like the plant. It is just that our active receptors are quite a bit freed from the time restraints of evolution and can be used through the will of an individual, whenever, rather than just as a species with a combination of evolutionary features and accumulated knowledge and the ability to communicate that knowledge to others. We have all that evolutionary and learning stuff, too, but we have gone just a bit further.

This brings us to the current Big Mystery in quantum physics: consciousness. Is not the photon exhibiting some sort of consciousness with quantum entanglement? Einstein was right. it is spooky. The photon in the plant has to act as a wave to get to the active receptor in time. Perhaps we should think about particles and waves evolving in a similar way to organic life, but it is just that this sort of evolution would have taken place in an infinitesimal amount of time (by our perception) sometime around the time of the Big Bang. Our words are inadequate to explain this properly. A non active receptor does not have to be alive, but an observer does and it is the observer that creates the active receptor, whether through evolution, in the case of our eyes that we use in the double slit experiment, or in our ears that hears the beep from the active receptor we have deliberately built.

Perhaps we should stop thinking about life in a purely organic form, and start thinking about life as an integral part of the universe that has been here from the start and has evolved organic forms which allows it to experience itself better. In other words, it is, indeed, a psychophysical universe and it always has been. We cannot find the cause of life within its products, but we might understand the products as being acausal manifestations of life. And that, too, will explain the acausal manifestations of cultural monuments being destroyed by ISIS. It's all about potentialities.

Have a spooky weekend.


John's Coydog Community page

Thursday, 25 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 15: Inauthentic

Pacatian (248-249) Photo: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.
The forgery shown on the right is among my favorites of the work of Becker: it is overstruck (and double struck on the obverse) on a genuine coin (probably Marcus Aurelius) and subsequently "aged" by the forger. A novice collector could be forgiven for thinking it was a real Roman coin. No small wonder it sold for $575 when its estimate was only $150. Another Becker from the same obverse die but not overstruck on a genuine Roman coin fetched only $220. A real Pacatian, however, does not come cheap, even if it has a hole in it.

In addition to clever forgeries of ancient objects, there are the not-so-clever forgeries and cheap tourist goods where (if not marked as copies) it is debatable whether even the term "fake" is not giving them too much credit. All of these are on a sliding scale and it is difficult to know where to draw the lines. Quite often, a copy can pass as genuine if one is not paying much attention and does not expect to see a copy. This has happened to me and to a number of other people I know. If such had been shown with the question "is this genuine?" then a closer examination would be made and the answer would be "No". It's amazing what can pass if you are not paying attention. It can work the other way, too. I once bought an advertised forgery because I knew that it was actually genuine. Sadly, that sort of thing happens only rarely. In that case, the auction cataloguer did not read a reference correctly as he was expecting so to see something different. This phenomena is part of human nature: bad car accidents can happen close to home; many WW II dispatch motorcyclists had fatal accidents, not when they were new to the job, but after very many missions and expert hang glider pilots have been known to forget to attach their harness before they jumped off the hill. If you are bored, or in a rush, mistakes can easily happen.

A recent trick of peddlers of dodgy antiquities is to claim that they were looted, but you really have to wonder about the media when such looting stories get passed on as news. Was there even any attempt to fact-check because it was thought that the story had to be true? Were the things understood by the reporters to be fake, but ignored in favour of a controversial story? We can only guess. Here is a good example where the media is conveniently unsure but where it would have been child's play to discover the reality. Take a look at a genuine example of the same subject from the Zuegma Mosiac Museum in Turkey. Then take a look at some (better quality than the fake) modern mosaics.

If you follow the CBS slideshow you can see more tourist copies/fakes where the origins of the copied items vary. The faked silver dekadrachm of Athens, for example, has no Syrian connection at all. the genuine examples are only found in Turkey and appear to be part of  a special Athenian issue for a payment there. They are not found in Greece or Syria. It is no coincidence that the "smuggler" Omar is from Turkey. It is really too bad that that the CBS article offers no public comments.

Pieter Brugel the Elder
Parable of the blind leading the blind
One Guardian article gave me quite a chuckle for a number of reasons: Looted in Syria – and sold in London: the British antiques shops dealing in artefacts smuggled by Isis
There is an old saying that whatever you are looking for, you can find it in London. Mark Altaweel of the UCL Institute of Archaeology went wandering around looking for things in London and found them. Had I been looking for the same things when I wandered around London shops in the first half of the sixties, I would have found the same. I actually remember seeing some of the things he saw, but I was looking for other things. Of course, when I was doing that it was long before those conflicts and also before the 1970 UNESCO convention about illicit antiquities. I did look around London shops, again, in 1999, but was really disappointed to discover that there is far less available to buy, now, and far fewer shops.

He also says, ‘Antiquities shouldn’t be bought and sold in private collections’ and there is a picture of him examining things that the public never gets to see in their own collection. I have come to the opinion that it far harder to stop collectors from showing you examples from their collections. I try to keep it to a minimum, myself and mostly just post images and details of such things to my blog. I did make a presentation to my daughter's school once, though. The kids seemed to enjoy that. I do try to avoid showing too much, though, Some people are just too polite to say "Enough!":



There is problem in being associated with a museum and then saying that there should be no private collections. If you removed everything from museums that had been bequeathed  by collectors, most museums would be almost empty and there are some museums that contain nothing but what was once a private collection.

After admitting that they knew "the near east specialist" the Guardian triumphantly reveals "A Syrian coin from around 500 BC, which may have been looted by Isis, and was listed for sale on eBay." the same coin is illustrated in another article (by the Daily Mail, this time and with the Ebay listing and another coin of the same city.), but the comments are not moderated and collectors soon reveal that these are fairly common coins and have been bought and sold for a very long time. Long before ISIS, long before UNESCO, long before the great-grandparents of anyone reading this was even born. If you want one, I saw one today listed for $45, there are probably more available. It is really only relatively recently that find spots have been recorded and such common coins have even been photographed on dealer's lists.

The Guardian, with their "near east specialist" dominating the article not only does not identify the city of the coin as Apameia, but says it is around 500 B.C.

It is not only that a number of antiquities are inauthentic, pretty well all anti- collecting "cultural heritage" disciples are too. I do allow for some ignorance, though. Still, they do provide a chuckle or two.



John's Coydog Community page

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
it. 
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.
"...here 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.



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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.


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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.

"...to 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


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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.


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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.


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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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