coromandal


πλάνης vagabond fever

A Plague, a Cure and Some Art: the Museum of Medical Sciences

A wandering star, a stranger in town, and a highly contagious plague are inextricably related in the minds of the ancients. In the western tradition, Greece and Rome, the universe was moral. Lives were defined, prescribed and ordered by the gods, the law, the state, and the family. Things outside of this bounded universe were treated with suspicion, a very human instinct.

Stars that moved in unrecognized patterns, and foreigners who wandered into town were unknown and from away and engendered caution and fear. They were named for their outsider status. Plagues were foreign too, they invaded the sanctity of the community and killed its members, and were named with the same words as the stars and drifters.

 The Stoics, believers in an interdependent cosmos, looked to the night sky to augur our predestined lives. Of particular interest to all these ancients was the stella erratica, or “errant star,” so called for its shifting location. (Our familiar constellations, by contrast, remain fixed in the firmament.) Romans borrowed a word from the Greeks to denote these celestial strays: planeta, or “planet.”

Derived from the verb “to wander,” the original Greek noun πλάνης was applied to more than just Mars and Saturn—in Euripides’s Bacchae, to take just one example, it refers to a “vagabond” who comes to town. Among the physicians of the ancient world, including Hippocrates himself, πλάνης could also mean “fever,” a pestilence that migrates from person to person. The Romans, of course, had their own words for disease—morbuspestis—but they adopted this astronomical language in their own medical writings too, using the Latin cognate. In one account, planeta refers to a fever with an “unrestrained onset.” In another, planetae are those illnesses that obey neither finite duration nor predictable prognosis.

Gore Viral, How We Got Our Language of Infectious Disease, By Charles McNamara, May 6, 2020



only fools become something

Image result for notes from the underground

Why do most people lead ‘lives of quiet desperation?’ Perhaps because: the extent of our despair is a measure of our degree of unused potential (School of Life). We must have an inbuilt sense of our potentials and that they’re being cheated, which for most people is most of the time. Mr D’s embittered narrator in Notes – below – says only fools become something and intelligent men conform themselves into characterlessness. Intelligent men somehow (do they allow it?) are subsumed; and fools somehow flourish. Desperate indeed.

I never even managed to become anything: neither wicked nor good, neither a scoundrel nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect. And now I am living out my life in my corner, taunting myself with the spiteful and utterly futile consolation that it is even impossible for an intelligent man seriously to become anything, and only fools become something. Yes, sir, an intelligent man of the nineteenth century must be and is morally obliged to be primarily a characterless being; and a man of character, an active figure—primarily a limited being.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground, previewing the early 21st century.



Cognitive Bias Codex
November 2, 2016, 2:22 am
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Diotima’s Ladder
October 7, 2016, 4:31 pm
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Why Socrates believed that sexual desire is the first step towards righteousness

Can sexual desire lead us to something that transcends the physical act? Socrates seemed to think so. In Plato’s Symposium, Socrates recalls the words of his apparent teacher of erotics, the priestess Diotima of Mantinea, who instructed him that lust was the first rung on a ladder leading upwards towards an appreciation of the form of beauty itself and, further, to morality and virtue.

Video by BBC Radio 4 and The Open University

Script: Nigel Warburton

Animator: Andrew Park

from Aeon magazine



pati, pashu, pasha

Image result for Beautiful Photos of Lord Shiva

Shiva’s flock is all living beings: gods, animal, human. Each of the three differ by role and level (in a hierarchy) but aspects of each are evident in each of the other two.

Pati are people in which the god element predominates. Pashu are people in which the animal element predominates. Pasha is the bond that connects all living things.

Pasha is the natural divine law to which all other human laws and conventions must bend. All morality hinges on the pasha which is the bond between god, human, animal and vegetable species.

Wherever the Shiva Dionysus cult spread the pasha respect for the animal and vegetable worlds can be seen.

“Rudra lives in forests and jungles. He is called Pashupati, Lord of the wild beasts.” (Shatapatha Brahmana, XII, 7, 3, 20.) Shiva’s flock comprises all living beings, including man. The difference between beasts, men and gods is only one of role and level in a continuous hierarchy. The various aspects of being are present in varying degrees in all forms of existence. No god is without animality, no animal without humanity, no man without a part of divinity. Three components are distinguishable in all men: pati, pashu and pasha. Those in whom the pati (master) element is dominant are the wise, who are close to the gods, understand the rules of divine activity and creation, and take part in it. Men in whom the animal element predominates are called pashu (cattle). The abstract element, pasha (bond or snare), expresses the unity and interdependence off all forms of life. Pasha, the bond is the body of laws connecting the various elements of matter and living being bound up in creation.

There is no morality other than that of respecting the pasha, or bond, meaning the interdependence of the animal world, the divine and ourselves, and of realizing the place we occupy in the overall plan of the divine work, the affinities which bind us to the animal and vegetable species and the responsibilities which are implicated thereby. Pasha may be defined as the natural law, which is divine law. All other moral law is only social convention, which can have no value on a universal level. All true morality must confirm to these basic laws on which creation is founded. Social conventions established by human laws have nothing to do with religion. Wherever the influence of the Shiva-Dionysus cult has spread, great importance is given to the animal and vegetable world. The aspect of religious history seems often to have escaped the modern scholars of the ancient world.

Gods of Love and Esctasy, The Traditions of Shiva and Dionysus, Alain Danielou



human civil and natural rights
July 17, 2016, 1:29 pm
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Charlotte Temple

Human rights preclude the rights of animals, plants, the earth etc. Civil rights are political and preclude anything that is not a part of that narrow civic definition. Natural rights encompass all of these including the human and civil; but they make the human position smaller and enlarge the rights of the earth.

“We must go beyond the arrogance of human rights. We must go beyond the ignorance of civil rights. We must step into the reality of natural rights because all of the natural world has a right to existence and we are only a small part of it. There can be no trade-off.”

– John Trudell



muscles
July 3, 2016, 2:28 pm
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[Icelandic Women Dancing]

The way to god not through the mind or the spirit, not meditation; but by ritual dance, and by yoga too?

Ritual dances provide a religious experience that seems more satisfying and convincing than any other . . . It is with their muscles that humans most easily obtain knowledge of the divine.

Aldous Huxley



this image in witchcraft

Elizabeth Insogna, 2008



know your witches

Western Alps: worker of magic, lurid orgies

Germany: flying witches, always a woman, wicked, lone female, wicked thoughts, satanic, dangerous, insatiable, commanding.

England: blood compact with the Devil, marked bodily, enchanter using charms, ointments and effigies.

The continent: hand walker, rode hyenas, attended forest bacchanals, stole babies and penises, extended pregnancies.

Scandanavia and Scotland: flying witches

Massachusetts: general mischief involving cattle, letters, hay and beer, witty and could either be diminutive or strong.

Witchy qualities / adjectives are established by clergy and authorities who were terribly threatened. Each adjective is a restatement – and a mask – of a root female quality that challenged the authority’s power. The root qualities are perennial through centuries: joy, curiosity, yearning, abandon etc.

What exactly was a witch? Any seventeenth-century New Englander could have told you. As workers of magic, witches and wizards extend as far back as recorded history. The witch as Salem conceived her materialized in the thirteenth century, when sorcery and heresy moved closer together. She came into her own with the Inquisition, as a popular myth yielded to a popular madness. The western Alps introduced her to lurid orgies. Germany launched her into the air. As the magician molted into the witch, she also became predominately female, inherently more wicked and more susceptible to satanic overtures. An influential fifteenth-century text compressed a shelf of classical sources to make its point: “When a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil.” As is often the case with questions of women and power, elucidations here verged on the paranormal. Though weak willed, women could emerge as dangerously, insatiably commanding.

The English witch made the trip to North America largely intact. She signed her agreement with the Devil in blood, bore a mark on her body for her compact, and enchanted by way of charms, ointments, and poppets, doll-like effigies. Continental witches had more fun. They walked on their hands. They made pregnancies last for three years. They rode hyenas to bacchanals deep in the forest. They stole babies and penises. The Massachusetts witch disordered the barn and the kitchen. She seldom flew to illicit meetings, more common in Scandinavia and Scotland. Instead, she divined the contents of an unopened letter, spun suspiciously fine linen, survived falls down stairs, tipped hay from wagons, enchanted beer, or caused cattle to leap four feet off the ground. Witches could be muttering, contentious malcontents or inexplicably strong and unaccountably smart. They could commit the capital offense of having more wit than their neighbors, as a minister said of the third Massachusetts woman hanged for witchcraft, in 1656.

Matters were murkier when it came to the wily figure with six thousand years of experience, the master of disguise who could cause things to appear and disappear, who knew your secrets and could make you believe things of yourself that were not true. He turned up in New England as a hybrid monkey, man, and rooster, or as a fast-moving turtle. Even Cotton Mather was unsure what language he spoke. He was a pervasive presence, however: the air pulsed with his minions. Typically in Massachusetts, he wore a high-crowned hat, as he had in an earlier Swedish invasion, which Mather documented in his 1689 book. Mather did not mention the brightly colored scarf that the Devil wound around his hat. Like the Swedish devil’s gartered stockings or red beard, it never turned up in New England.

The Witches of Salem, Diabolical doings in a Puritan village, BY STACY SCHIFF



moral measure
May 21, 2016, 12:56 pm
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