Sunday, August 21, 2016

DANTE: LAKE OF ICE AND SATAN AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH; WHAT REALLY LIES AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH; VENTING INCREASES ANGER; FREUD: WE LOVE OUR SUFFERING

Colonel Salt Cave inside Sodom mountain, Israel

**
“On march the banners of the King of Hell,”
My Master said. “Toward us. Look straight ahead:
Can you make him out at the core of the frozen shell?”

. . . I stood now where the souls of the last class
(with fear my verses tell it) were covered wholly;
They shone below the ice like straws in glass.

Some lie stretched out; others are fixed in place
Upright, some on their heads, some on their soles;
Another, like a bow, bends foot to face.

When we had gone so far across the ice
That it pleased my Guide to show me the foul creature
Which once had worn the grace of Paradise,

He made me stop, and, stepping aside, he said:
“Now see the face of Dis! This is the place
Where you must arm your soul against all dread.”

. . . The Emperor of the Universe of Pain
Jutted his upper chest above the ice;
And I am closer in size to the great mountain

The Titans make around the central pit,
Than they to his arms. Now, starting from this part,
Imagine the whole that corresponds to it!

If he was once as beautiful as now
He is hideous, and still turned on his Maker,
Well may he be the source of every woe!

With what a sense of awe I saw his head
Towering above me! For it had three faces:
One was in front, and it was fiery red;

The other two, as weirdly wonderful,
Merged with it from the middle of each shoulder
To the point where all converged at the top of the skull;

The right was something between white and bile;
The left was about the color that one finds
On those who live along the banks of the Nile.

Under each head two wings rose terribly,
Their span proportioned to so gross a bird:
I never saw such sails upon the sea.

They were not feathers―their texture and their form
Were like a bat’s wings―and he beat them so
That three winds blew from him in one great storm:

It is these winds that freeze all Cocytus.
He wept from his six eyes, and down three chins
The tears ran mixed with bloody froth and pus.

In every mouth he worked a broken sinner
Between his rake-like teeth. Thus he kept three
In eternal pain at his eternal dinner.

For the one in front the biting seemed to play
No part at all compared to the ripping: at times
The whole skin of his back was flayed away.

“That soul that suffers most,” explained my Guide,
“is Judas Iscariot, he who kicks his legs
On the fiery chin and has his head inside.

Of the other two, who have their heads thrust forward,
The once who dangles down from the black face
Is Brutus: note how he writhes without a word.

And there, with the huge and sinewy arms, is the soul
Of Cassius.―But the night is coming on
And we must go, for we have seen the whole.”

~ Dante, Inferno, Canto 34 (excerpts), tr John Ciardi

 
Gustave Doré, Satan in the Lake of Ice. Doré doesn’t literally follow Dante’s description in every detail; we can only faintly make out the three faces, a perverse parallel to the Trinity, and the legs of Judas dangling from his mouth. This marvelous, husky Satan is almost amiable. Note the souls nearest Satan, vertical in the ice "like straws in glass."

Never mind the popular idea that the eternal fires would be hottest at the center of hell. According to Dante, Satan is imprisoned in a lake ice! A giant being with three faces and three sets of bat-like wings, he’s frozen in ice up to the upper chest.

Dante isn’t shy about literary invention, to put it mildly. He invents not just the Lake of Ice, but also a whole alternate ending of the Odyssey — note the astonishing Canto 26, the Ulysses Canto, where instead of returning to Ithaca Odysseus sails westward until he glimpses Mount Purgatory and is shipwrecked for the final time.

Dante wrote this description of Satan in the Lake of Ice at the center of the earth around the year 1310. Given that we are talking about the early fourteenth century, we should give Dante credit for knowing that the earth was a giant sphere — this is long before “Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” What was on the other side of the globe? Only the ocean, and the giant mountain of Purgatory, directly opposite Jerusalem.

The human mind needs answers, and Dante formulated such answers as seemed reasonable to the educated people of his time and place. And hell, purgatory, and heaven were all actual places rather than “only” states of mind. We can psychologize Dante’s vision, but only to a degree. When he puts Satan at the center of the earth, it’s a literal Satan at the literal center of the earth.

The Lake of Ice is surprising, given that the Lake of Fire was the common assumption about hell, based on its mention the Book of Revelation. It’s hard to imagine that Dante didn’t know that particular verse. But, as with his heretical elevation of Beatrice to the status of a saint and his personal female savior, he had the courage to go against the established imagery. To be sure, we can always point to Dante’s symbolic meaning: Satan’s heart is closed to love, so it is symbolized by ice.

There is certainly fire imagery in the Inferno. The towers of Dis, the metropolis of hell, burn with eternal flame. A rain of fire is used to punish homosexuals. But more interesting by far are the inner flames of rage that burn within the wrathful — even though those eternally angry souls are presented as caked with mud “in a marshy flood,” rather than burning in fire. Thus they resemble the sullen (the depressed), who are sunk in a swamp, completely 

submerged in mud.  

 
(Jan van der Straet, also known as Stradanus or Stradano): Canto 8, The Wrathful. Dante the Pilgrim is leaning down, trying to identify one of the sinners.

Had Dante chosen to cast Satan into the Lake of Fire, there would be no originality. So he daringly went for the other extreme. In literary and psychological terms, it was the perfect move. In terms of what modern science knows about the center of the earth, however, it turns out that the Lake of Fire is a closer fit — minus the sinners. 


 A more traditional image of Satan, the City of Dis, and the fires of hell
 
WHAT REALLY LIES AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH

 
When I googled the subject a few years ago, the first item to show was a creationist website about hell. But the real story is a lot more interesting. Here is the most fascinating part: ~ “Earth has a powerful magnetic field, and that is all thanks to the partially molten core. The constant movement of molten iron creates an electrical current inside the planet, and that in turn generates a magnetic field that reaches far out into space.

The magnetic field helps to shield us from harmful solar radiation. If the core of the Earth wasn't the way it is, there would be no magnetic field, and we would have all sorts of problems to contend with.” ~

Not that I think any of my readers believe in heaven and hell, except right here on earth. But it turns out that what lies in the center of the earth, along with the story of how we came to find out about it, is fascinating — arguably more so than any mythology of the Underworld. Here is the rest of the article:

“Humans have been all over the Earth. We've conquered the lands, flown through the air and dived to the deepest trenches in the ocean. We've even been to the Moon. But we've never been to the planet’s core.

We haven’t even come close. The central point of the Earth is over 6,000 km down, and even the outermost part of the core is nearly 3,000 km below our feet. The deepest hole we've ever created on the surface is the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Russia, and it only goes down a pitiful 12.3 km.

All the familiar events on Earth also happen close to the surface. The lava that spews from volcanoes first melts just a few hundred kilometers down. Even diamonds, which need extreme heat and pressure to form, originate in rocks less than 500 km deep.

What's down below all that is shrouded in mystery. It seems unfathomable. And yet, we know a surprising amount about the core. We even have some idea about how it formed billions of years ago — all without a single physical sample. This is how the core was revealed.

One good way to start is to think about the mass of the Earth, says Simon Redfern of the University of Cambridge in the UK.

We can estimate Earth's mass by observing the effect of the planet's gravity on objects at the surface. It turns out that the mass of the Earth is 5.9 sextillion tons: that's 59 followed by 20 zeroes.

There's no sign of anything that massive at the surface.

"The density of the material at the Earth's surface is much lower than the average density of the whole Earth, so that tells us there's something much denser," says Redfern. "That's the first thing."

Essentially, most of the Earth's mass must be located towards the centre of the planet. The next step is to ask which heavy materials make up the core.

The answer here is that it's almost certainly made mostly of iron. The core is thought to be around 80% iron, though the exact figure is up for debate.

The main evidence for this is the huge amount of iron in the universe around us. It is one of the ten most common elements in our galaxy, and is frequently found in meteorites.

Given how much there is of it, iron is much less common at the surface of the Earth than we might expect. So the theory is that when Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago, a lot of iron worked its way down to the core.

That's where most of the mass is, and it's where most of the iron must be too. Iron is a relatively dense element under normal conditions, and under the extreme pressure at the Earth's core it would be crushed to an even higher density, so an iron core would account for all that missing mass.

But wait a minute. How did that iron get down there in the first place?

The iron must have somehow gravitated — literally — towards the centre of the Earth. But it's not immediately obvious how.

Most of the rest of the Earth is made up of rocks called silicates, and molten iron struggles to travel through them. Rather like how water on a greasy surface forms droplets, the iron clings to itself in little reservoirs, refusing to spread out and flow.

A possible solution was discovered in 2013 by Wendy Mao of Stanford University in California and her colleagues. They wondered what happened when the iron and silicate were both exposed to extreme pressure, as happens deep in the earth.

By pinching both substances extremely tightly using diamonds, they were able to force molten iron through silicate.

The pressure actually changes the properties of how iron interacts with the silicate," says Mao. "At higher pressures a 'melt network' is formed."

This suggests the iron was gradually squeezed down through the rocks of the Earth over millions of years, until it reached the core.

At this point you might be wondering how we know the size of the core. What makes scientists think it begins 3000 km down? There's a one-word answer: seismology.

When an earthquake happens, it sends shockwaves throughout the planet. Seismologists record these vibrations. It's as if we hit one side of the planet with a gigantic hammer, and listened on the other side for the noise.

"There was a Chilean earthquake in the 1960s that generated a huge amount of data," says Redfern. "All the seismic stations dotted all over the Earth recorded the arrival of the tremors from that earthquake."

Depending on the route those vibrations take, they pass through different bits of the Earth, and this affects how they "sound" at the other end.

Early in the history of seismology, it was realized that some vibrations were going missing. These "S-waves" were expected to show up on one side of the Earth after originating on the other, but there was no sign of them.

The reason for this was simple. S-waves can only reverberate through solid material, and can't make it through liquid.

They must have come up against something molten in the centre of the Earth. By mapping the S-waves' paths, it turned out that rocks became liquid around 3000km down.

That suggested the entire core was molten. But seismology had another surprise in store.

In the 1930s, a Danish seismologist named Inge Lehmann noticed that another kind of waves, called P-waves, unexpectedly travelled through the core and could be detected on the other side of the planet.

She came up with a surprising explanation: the core is divided into two layers. The "inner" core, which begins around 5,000km down, was actually solid. It was only the "outer" core above it that was molten.

Lehmann's idea was eventually confirmed in 1970, when more sensitive seismographs found that P-waves really were traveling through the core and, in some cases, being deflected off it at angles. Sure enough, they still ended up on the other side of the planet.

It's not just earthquakes that sent useful shockwaves through the Earth. In fact, seismology owes a lot of its success to the development of nuclear weapons.

A nuclear detonation also creates waves in the ground, so nations use seismology to listen out for weapons tests. During the Cold War this was seen as hugely important, so seismologists like Lehmann got a lot of encouragement.

Rival countries found out about each other's nuclear capabilities and along the way we learned more and more about the core of the Earth.

We can now draw a rough picture of the Earth's structure. There is a molten outer core, which begins roughly halfway to the planet's centre, and within it is the solid inner core with a diameter of 1,220 km.

How hot is it inside? In 2013 a team of French researchers produced the best estimate to date. They subjected pure iron to pressures a little over half that at the core, and extrapolated from there. They concluded that the melting point of pure iron at core temperatures is around 6,230 °C. The presence of other materials would bring the core's melting point down a bit, to around 6,000 °C. But that's still as hot as the surface of the Sun.

A bit like a toasty jacket potato, Earth's core has stayed warm thanks to heat retained from the formation of the planet. It also gets heat from friction as denser materials shift around, as well as from the decay of radioactive elements. Still, it is cooling by about 100 °C every billion years.

Knowing the temperature is useful, because it affects the speed at which vibrations travel through the core. That is handy, because there is something odd about the vibrations.

P-waves travel unexpectedly slowly as they go through the inner core – slower than they would if it was made of pure iron.

"Wave velocities that the seismologists measure in earthquakes and whatnot are significantly lower [than] anything that we measure in an experiment or calculate on a computer," says Vočadlo. "Nobody as yet knows why that is.”

That suggests there is another material in the mix.

It could well be another metal, nickel. But scientists have estimated how seismic waves would travel through an iron-nickel alloy, and it doesn't quite fit the readings either.

Vočadlo and her colleagues are now considering whether there might be other elements down there too, like sulphur and silicon. So far, no-one has been able to come up with a theory for the inner core's composition that satisfies everyone. It's a Cinderella problem: no shoe will quite fit.

She says the secret might lie in the fact that the inner core is nearly at its melting point. As a result, the precise properties of the materials might be different from what they would be if they were safely solid.

That could explain why the seismic waves pass through more slowly than expected.

Earth has a powerful magnetic field, and that is all thanks to the partially molten core. The constant movement of molten iron creates an electrical current inside the planet, and that in turn generates a magnetic field that reaches far out into space.

The magnetic field helps to shield us from harmful solar radiation.

None of us will ever set eyes on the core, but it's good to know it's there.

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150814-what-is-at-the-centre-of-earth


 
And here is more stunning research news:

~ “Put simply, the Earth’s solid inner core spins eastward at an incredibly fast pace, while the molten outer core rotates the other way, but much slower.

Though scientists previously discovered that Earth’s inner core spins faster than the planet itself, the recent study is the first to find a connection between the two sections.

In May 2013, two Nature Geoscience studies indicated that the inner core of solid iron may be softer than previously thought. Its rotational speed can actually fluctuate over time. Research published a month earlier suggested that the core runs much hotter than previously measured, estimating the center’s temperature to be 6,000 degrees Celsius (about 10,800 degrees Fahrenheit), or roughly as hot as the surface of the sun.” ~

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/earths-core-spins-direction-eastward-westward_n_3941183.html



THE MYTH OF CATHARSIS: VENTING INCREASES ANGER, NEGATIVITY
 
~ “Decades of research have shown that venting, far from releasing anger, actually makes it worse. The fact that venting actually increases rather than reduces anger indicates that Freud’s cathartic model is misguided. A more modern theory of anger, the cognitive neoassociation model, proposes that people associate violent, aggressive actions with angry thoughts (Bushman, 2002). Thus, aggressively styled behavior, such as hitting things, or ranting (basically saying nasty things about someone and wishing them ill) maintain a person’s attention on angry thoughts, rather than dissipating the anger. Venting and ranting effectively keep angry feelings in memory and increase rumination about the offending event.

Martin et al. performed an experiment to test the emotional impact of using rant sites. They found that reading another person’s rants online for five minutes had a negative effect on mood. Additionally, they asked participants to spend five minutes writing a rant of their own. As expected, after ranting, participants felt decreased happiness and increased anger.

These findings about ranting accord with previous research that showed that supposedly “venting” anger through such actions as hitting pillows or whatever actually increase anger levels, and, more troublingly, increase subsequent aggressive behavior as well. For example, one study (Bushman, 2002) found that doing nothing at all for two minutes was actually effective in reducing anger, whereas punching a sand bag for as long as one wanted while thinking of an offending person increased anger towards that person. Furthermore, when given an opportunity to punish another person in a game by blasting them with noise, people who had previously “vented” their fury on a punching bag were more aggressive (gave louder and longer blasts) than those who had done nothing to vent their anger.

The fact that venting actually increases rather than reduces anger indicates that Freud’s cathartic model is misguided. A more modern theory of anger, the cognitive neoassociation model, proposes that people associate violent, aggressive actions with angry thoughts (Bushman, 2002). Thus, aggressively styled behavior, such as hitting things, or ranting (basically saying nasty things about someone and wishing them ill) maintain a person’s attention on angry thoughts, rather than dissipating the anger. Venting and ranting effectively keep angry feelings in memory and increase rumination about the offending event.

Ranting may be an indulgence that weakens one’s ability to cope effectively with one’s emotions. In summary, doing nothing at all is a more effective way of dealing with anger compared to hitting a pillow, or posting rants on the internet. Perhaps better yet though would be to learn to use one’s anger constructively rather than mindlessly trying to blow it off as if one was a human pressure cooker.” ~

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unique-everybody-else/201303/internet-ranting-and-the-myth-catharsis?tr=MostViewedTh


Buddhism has some interesting suggestions on anger management. As I understand it, you don't suppress, but you don't express either — you witness and watch it pass. Of course there are legitimate grievances as well as just an ego reaction, and those grievances can be calmly discussed. Self-control and not raising one’s voice — in the era of Trump, that can seem like a lost cause, I know.

Expressing anger by shouting hate-filled statements is not “healthy self-expression.” Verbalizing anger creates more anger. Calming down, deliberately softening one’s voice and especially one’s rhetoric, allows wisdom to enter.

I'm reminded of a very successful man who came from a poor Italian-American family. He said, “I owe everything  I have achieved in life to my resolution, early on, never to raise my voice.”

For me “enlightenment” happened not through Buddhist practice (though I'm all for it — whatever works), but through realizing that I strengthen whatever it is that I “practice” doing, i.e. do it again and again so it becomes effortless and automatic. It grew to a huge problem with delusional thoughts like “I am a total failure.” I got so skillful at entering depression, eventually it was less than a minute from the thought to spiraling down the whole sequence of negative automatic thoughts. I could become depressed at will, whenever I wanted to disengage from having to cope with the world and just brood over the past catastrophes and wounds of my life. A terrible habit — but it took just one moment of insight to achieve a perception shift that closed that door forever (at first, would you believe it, I missed being depressed).

I have some knowledge of neuroscience (only as compared to the average person), and it's been helpful in this way: there are many competing neural pathways which can be weakened or strengthened by habitual activation. When people talk about the "higher self," that phrase can actually be translated as the activation of certain pathways. We have SOME degree of control over which pathways will become dominant (that's why I define myself as an agnostic on free will -- though I agree that we don't control our moment-to-moment motivation, and motivation is critical here, and attaining complete clarity about self-destructiveness versus productivity and being of some use). Again, in lay terms, if we “practice being emotionally strong,” we get stronger; if we practice having meltdowns, we get better and better at having meltdowns. I come from a family of strong women — something I've always been acutely aware of, a burden at times — and it was easy for me to step into that pattern when I saw it was needed — like Claudia, I always knew that, far from being hopeless and helpless, I was at core a very strong person — or else I risked wasting whatever life remained on "practicing being depressed" (I got excellent at being depressed! hey, no mediocre mild depression for me!)

A quick clarification: this is not about letting out an automatic curse when you stub your toe or spill coffee. It’s about aggressively ranting in response to complex problems. “Ranting may be an indulgence that weakens one’s ability to cope effectively with one’s emotions” — yes, because practice makes perfect. When we habitually activate certain neural pathways, it becomes easier and easier to access those pathways, and they become dominant.

Thus, one can become stuck in anger as one “practices” angry outbursts that only amplify anger — they don't diminish it. Just as people don't seem to realize that a depressed person is seeking to amplify the sadness, and is not interested in “cheering up”, so a chronically angry person keeps escalating the anger, whether consciously or not. Having experienced even some child abuse creates a special proneness to this. 


 
*

But Freud did give us some important insights that changed our ways of understanding forever.

FREUD: WE LOVE OUR OWN SUFFERING

 
“It was through attention to the unconscious that Freud made his major discoveries, the most important being that from birth to death we are, every last one of us, divided against ourselves. We both want to grow up and don’t want to grow up; hunger for sexual pleasure, dread sexual pleasure; hate our own aggressions — our anger, our cruelty, our humiliations — yet these are derived from the grievances we are least willing to part with. The hope of achieving an integrated self is a vain one as we are equally divided about our own suffering; we do in fact love it and want — nay, intend — never to relinquish it. What Freud found most difficult to cure in his patients, Phillips tells us, “was their (mostly unconscious) wish not to be cured.”

[Freud] shows us how and why we bury the facts of our lives, and how, through the language of psychoanalysis, we can both retrieve these facts and describe them in a different way.” One of these ways has to do with the fantasy-ridden longing to see ourselves in a heroic (self-justifying?) light. “But heroism,” Phillips continues, “was another cultural ideal that would look different after psychoanalysis.” Freud would realize “that the idea of heroism was an attempted self-cure for our flagrant vulnerability.”

The best one can hope for in analysis is reconciliation, not cure. But oh! that reconciliation. What a gift it is.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/books/review/becoming-freud-by-adam-phillips.html?mabReward=RI%3A6&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&region=CColumn&module=Recommendation&src=rechp&WT.nav=RecEngine&_r=1

Oriana:

So true! I loved my depression, but at least I knew that I did. I sought to increase sadness (a pretty universal symptom of depression); I didn’t want to relinquish it; I didn’t want to relinquish the grievances that sustained it. The breakthrough came only when I became ashamed of being depressed and finally decided to be done with the brooding and the crying fits — because it was too late in life not to be happy and to waste what little time was left. “It’s too late in life for depression” — that insight put a sudden end to my self-destructive behavior.

Now and then I hate having to cope, but — what is the alternative? Sitting on a park bench talking to myself, as in Blue Jasmine? That was only one step beyond what I was doing behind the closed doors of my study or in the privacy of my car (it’s my great good luck not to have had an accident when driving while crying, and I mean crying vehemently).

“You can practice falling apart — or you can practice being strong.” And as we know, practice makes perfect.

“We long to see ourselves as heroic” — this can be a saving factor. In the end — I hate to confess how late in life — I chose to perceive myself as almost heroic rather than victimized. Or, to put it more simply, to practice being strong and capable of coping.

Actually something of this sort happened once before in my life — during the time that I became more and more committed to poetry. I semi-understood that seeking my “real self” was simply not important. Even romance was suddenly and wonderfully not that important. What I looked like, how I dressed — not that important. What counted was my poems — the quality of my poems.

Discovering my vocation was the best therapy, and the only kind I needed. At first I was sure that I’d be a always be a poet and never run out of inspiration. That turned out to be a false belief. I felt I was a total failure and did slide into depression. Eventually I had an insight that ended the depression — and I also broadened my self definition to “writer.” And again, what counted was not my personality type but the quality of my writing. 


 Bosch: The Ascent of the Blessed. The nudity — the soul is tends to be nude in art — but without genitals. But why are the angels almost always dressed? Note the strange globe at the top, with the entrance to heaven — it has a ceramic look.

THE LOSS OF THE VOICE OF GOD AND THE RISE OF INTROSPECTION

 
“Two developments in the history of the Bible are deeply related, and not merely coincidental. One is the lamentation of the loss of the experience of hearing God’s voice. The other is the rise of the language of introspection: an interiorized subjective dialogue with oneself.

In our own time, we are acculturated from infancy on, to understand our mental life as a narratized interior mind-space in which we introspect in a ceaseless conversation with “ourselves.” Our ancestors, however, were acculturated to understand their mental life in terms of obedient responses to auditory prompts, which they projected outwards as the external voice of God. Although these “bicameral” people could think and act, they had no awareness of choices or of choosing — or of awareness itself.

In 1976, Julian Jaynes proposed that that as recently as 3,000 years ago, human beings were non-introspective. Jaynes claimed that one could trace this cultural transformation over the course of a scant millennium by analyzing the literature of the Hebrew Scriptures (“Old Testament,” OT). This book tests Jaynes’s assertions by examining the OT text in Hebrew, as seen through the lens of the Documentary Hypothesis and modern critical historical scholarship.

Did the writers of the oldest biblical texts have words in their cultural lexicon to correspond to our words such as “mind” or “imagination” or “belief?" Or do the translations into English that employ such mentalistic words (such as the King James Bible) tell us more about the minds of the translators than the minds of the biblical authors?

In sharp contrast to the early OT texts, the later texts of the OT display a lexicon of profound interiority. The writers have become acculturated to experience their mental life as a rich introspective consciousness, full of internal mind-talk and “narratization,” and perceiving their own actions as the result, not of obedience to an external voice, but of self-authorized, internal decisions.”

~ “The Minds of the Bible” by Rabbi James Cohn, book description on Amazon


 
I continue to be fascinated by the question we wanted to ask already during the first year of religion lessons — and one daring little boy did in fact ask — “How come god speaks so much in the bible stories, but then he stops speaking? How come he doesn’t speak to us?” As I’ve related before, the nun smiled sadly and, after a suspenseful silence, replied with a disappointing generality: “Times were different then.”

But times really WERE different then. The archaic human mentality was so vastly different from ours that we can never quite enter it. Some thinkers valiantly keep trying. Among them is the Hebrew scholar Richard Elliott Friedman. In “The Disappearance of God,” he traces the gradual disappearance of the highly active, talkative god of the Torah to the hidden, silent god of the last books of the Hebrew Bible.

Rabbi James Cohn goes a step farther as he analyzes the Hebrew text from the early books onward. Influenced by the “bicameral mind” theory of Julian Jaynes, Cohn suggests that the early biblical figures commonly “heard voices,” including the voice of god. Or rather, that is how they interpreted their experience. They apparently lacked “mentalistic” words, the language of introspection. They acted in obedience to what modern psychiatry would label as “command hallucinations.” Those would later be confined to a small group of people known as the prophets; by our standards, those prophets often appear to be psychotic.

Is that too extreme an interpretation? Currently we have nothing more plausible. “Times were different then.” Cultural evolution happens. Could it affect brain function itself? If we gain a new word, and the concept that goes with it, can that word change the way we think and act? Apparently so.


 
Salar de Uyuni, salt flats in Bolivia, under water 

 
SUMMER SQUASH AND PECTIN (known to be healing in inflammatory intestinal disorders, and now linked to protection against diabetes)

~ “We tend to think about squashes, both summer and winter, as starchy vegetables. This thinking is correct, since about 85-90% of the total calories in squashes (as a group) come from carbohydrate, and about half of this carbohydrate is starch-like in composition and composed of polysaccharides. But we also tend to think about polysaccharides as stagnant storage forms for starch that cannot do much for us in terms of unique health benefits. Here our thinking is way off target! Recent research has shown that the polysaccharides in summer squash include an unusual amount of pectin—a specially structured polysaccharide that often include special chains of D-galacturonic acid called homogalacturonan. It's this unique polysaccharide composition in summer squash that is being linked in repeated animal studies to protection against diabetes and better regulation of insulin. We expect to see future studies on humans confirming these same types of benefits from consumption of 

summer squash.” ~


ending on beauty

Let me not mar that perfect Dream
By an auroral stain
But so adjust my daily Night
That it will come again.

Not when we know, the Power accosts —
The Garment of Surprise
Was all our timid Mother wore
At Home — in Paradise.


~ Dickinson #1335

Frederic Edwin Church: River of Light, 1877


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