Friday, May 30, 2014


Philippe Jaroussky " The most beautiful baroque Arias"

Enjoy and die, enjoy again and resuscitate.


Fate has nothing to do with such human crimes


That’s a film from our time and our continent, from Ireland for sure but it could be from many other places in this world. The Celtic harp is the key to the story.

Like all testimonies of some past horror, after seeing it, after being told about it, no one can really say anything coherent about the drama they have just witnessed.

Did that girl who had been entrusted to a nunnery for her education and had fallen into some carnal attraction deserve the severe punishment of dying in labor because the nuns did not provide her with any medical help, or deserve the punishment of seeing her own child be adopted away for a big sum of money from some rich Americans, or deserve the revenge of these nuns who refuse fifty years later to give her any indication about her son, and even lie to this mother in her old age and her lifelong repentance?

If it were only one girl, we would say there was something wrong with her, but when there were always a dozen of girls in the same situation practically permanently in that nunnery, you can wonder what was wrong with this institution that could not educate these girls into some prudence and care about what they did. There sure was something wrong since they did not inform the girls of the danger of having sex on the wild side of the moon, and they did not provide the girls with any protection, of course not we are Catholic and we are in 1952, in other words in the Middle Ages, and we have to keep in mind the Catholic church, in spite of its recently promoted Pope, still advocates some hostility against any protection at all, and of course against abortion, which should never have to be performed if all precautions had been taken before, provided the teenagers were informed about these dangers and these protections.

Was that cultivated ignorance a way to keep a dozen of adoptable children in constant availability for the parents who were ready to provide the nunnery with a wealthy income? Was that nunnery a nursery of orphans to be sold to the highest bidders?

We have to keep in mind that contraception was liberated only twenty or thirty years after World War II in many western countries, and is still not common in many countries today, even when the law has made it legal. A shortage is so easily organized in this market economy.

So is it the fault of Ireland who was thinking of many other problems including a civil war and did not even thought of women’s rights? Is it the fault of the nuns who were totally engulfed in an ideology that made sex a sin and carnal desire a crime? Is it the fault of the Catholic church that was and still is in many ways tied up in some medieval beliefs? And is this Catholic church the only culprit in this world on that crime against humanity that uses sex to crush people down and keep them in some kind of mental slavery? Are other religions and fundamentalist ethics better on that subject?

We are confronted to a drama that happened in one situation but similar dramas happened in many other situations, orphanages or simple homelessness and neglect, and are still happening, including the abduction of millions of children every year, sold by their parents on not, ending up in global prostitution, which seems to be so profitable in the countries where it is economically accounted for and financially registered. Who is responsible if not the human mind that seems to just start being able today in wider and wider zones in the world to understand that individual freedom is the condition to individual success and that common success cannot be reached in any society when individuals are not free enough to excel.

That’s what this film made me sad about: history is going so slow at times. And yet I am not that sad after all because history seems to be going slightly faster in the present period than it used to go before 1945. And yet has the world changed really? And will it really ever reach a proper general and global level of acceptability?


Thursday, May 29, 2014


The book is essential but it did not reach completeness on the subject


Let’s be clear from the very start. This book is essential on the subject of slavery and the slave trade and it is worth all the time you may spend on it and around it because you will want to check a lot of information it contains. I will make a series of remark on the content and the matter of the book.

The first remark is that he does not spend time on what was before Islam in the world he is going to speak of, hence in Europe, Africa and Asia. He starts very clearly with the official date of the founding of Islam 622 CE and hardly anything before, apart from some detail on Muhammad before his migration to Medina. Slavery was a very common fact in the Roman Empire for one example, but also in most civilizations in the Middle East. Slavery is clearly codified in the Old Testament for one, and only one, example. The hypothesis is that slavery, or rather some type of dependent social organization or division of labor, was invented with the emergence of agriculture, starting after the Ice Age, when the water started to rise around 12,000 BCE. This slavery gave the community the mobility it needed to cope with that new form of social work and social organization.


In fact Segal should have discussed the real status of these early slaves knowing that anyway the social organization of the hunters-gatherers was not freedom really because there must have been a strict division of labor to take care of the children for three if not more years, and then hunting required some strict planning and coordination of all the hunters. Gathering was more relaxed as for an activity but there were a lot of predators, so gathering must have been organized collectively too, and any lack of work intensity or work efficiency might mean less to eat for the community. The concept of personal freedom did not exist really and the shift to the agricultural division of labor implied some kind of hierarchical organization and authority so that slavery might have been very slow to appear per se. The defensive or offensive war slavery was another thing. Military action was compulsory and prisoners became slaves, or were at least attached to the victors. But at the same time we have to consider the practice among American Indians, for example the Powhatans in what was going to become Virginia. The prisoners were used in two different ways: some became the ritualistic victims of some celebration, and some became the “slaves” of the families of the dead warriors. In fact they were integrated in the families. Both fates were accepted as normal. We have to keep in mind that human sacrifice was a normal fact in these old times in many forms, for example gladiators in Rome.

That’s what is missing in the book, a real historical perspective that would explain at the beginning of Islam that the practice of slavery all over the known world was so wide that Muhammad could not even think of going against it, just like Abraham did not reject having a son from his Arab slave servant.


The book though insists on the rejection of slavery by principle that Muhammad expressed along with some recommendation about treating slaves properly but we must keep in mind the harem was not invented by Muhammad, nor by Islam. Can we think Abraham was in love with his Arab slave servant? Of course not, at least not with the meaning we give to the word today, and anyway he had at least two women in his life, his wife and his Arab slave servant. The book is clear though about Muhammad recommending good treatment of slaves, manumission for slaves, miscegenation with slaves and the exoneration of Muslims from slavery. But the book also shows that this seems to be without any direct consequences, though he also gives several testimonies about the way slaves are treated and it comes to the simple idea that on their way from the catchment zone to their destination, hence in the hands of the merchants, conditions were squalid and inhuman, but when arrived in their owners’ homes they were then treated quite correctly, most of the time.

He insists on the fact that these slaves, a majority of whom were women (a clear difference with the transatlantic slave trade and slavery in America since in Mexico parity between men and women was only reached at the end of the 17th century) as home servants for women or concubines in the harem, as house servants for both women and men with the special case of eunuchs in the harem, and as outdoor servants for men. He also insists on the fact that many men were used as business employees by their owners. Slavery was mostly an urban phenomenon, with only a small portion of slaves used in plantations or on agricultural estates. There he is misguided about Spain and America. Spain had slaves under Islam of course, but the practice was kept after the Reconquista and the noble families had many slaves in Spain long before Christopher Columbus who himself was in Africa in 1483 and took part in the nascent slave trade from the west coast of Africa to Spain. We can even consider the Spaniards kept the in-coming routes from the Maghreb or along the coast. The book does not explore this problem. It is capital because in Mexico, Hispaniola and Cuba the Spanish noble families will move with their black slaves and slavery was an urban phenomenon too and dominant as such in Mexico. Even if slaves were imported later on to work on plantations, when the Native Americans on the various islands had been totally wiped out, Cortez himself in Mexico had a more positive view of this plantation industry and he was the first one to use water-power to work his first cane sugar mill, which sounds normal since in Europe water mills – and wind mills – had done all sorts of mechanical tasks since the 10th century on the advice and guidance of Benedictines. Segal reduces thus the vision of slavery in America exclusively to the English practice starting in 1619 and the arrival of the first African slaves in Virginia till the end of it in 1863-1865. That enables him not to study the role of the Spanish and French Catholic churches that more or less tolerated slavery without ever condoning it entirely and insisting on the religious rights of slaves and the religious duties of slave owners, which the protestant and Anglican churches did not do at all.

He opposes white slaves from Europe and black slaves from Africa. At the same time when white Christian Europeans were no longer available the Moslem world did very well without. It would be interesting to think of John Smith, the founder of Jamestown and Virginia who was a war slave when captured by the Ottomans before escaping and then becoming a contract-holder in the first expedition to Virginia in 1607. He never gave any real detail but the whole episode does not seem to be that dramatic to him, but essentially how could he be a militant for individual freedom when slavery was the good side of being made a prisoner in a war, when we know that these wars against the Ottomans were the scene of atrocious facts like the systematic impaling of prisoners on the European side by the famous Count Dracula, and probably quite a few more. We too often look at the past with our eyes and not with the eyes of an historian. What about the famous drawings by Goya on the Disasters of War? Not to speak of the Inquisition, both the older one against the Cathars, and the more recent one in Spain and then Mexico. People were still drawn, hanged, disemboweled and quartered in England at the beginning of the 17th century just before Bartholomew Fair as a public entertainment under the indirect but consenting auspices of the Saint Bartholomew Church next door. And the French kings kept the breaking wheel torture and execution up to 1789 when the French Revolution stopped it to replace it by the guillotine or mass drowning in the Rhone or the Loire..

In such a context I do not see how a majority of people, or even more than a few isolated voices could be heard speaking against such atrocities and slavery among them, especially when it was “humanely” performed like when in the Mali Empire the Charter of Kurukan Fuga in 1235 was devised by Moslem Sundiata after his victory over the animists Sossos, saying among other things that the slave owner owned the slave but not his bag, meaning the slave had some private territory, his bag.


In fact the book is becoming really fascinating when Segal starts studying how this practice changed little by little from a war custom according to which all prisoners are made slaves, or even some fake war raids with the only objective of making prisoners to turn them into slaves later on, to a systematic commerce and industry practiced by merchants who only saw a way for them to get rich fast, even if 50% of the captives died along the way. Then he studies the routes and the complicities they needed including in black Africa where some tribal chiefs protected their own tribes by selling away the members of other tribes. When we know the minority Tutsis were the dominant tribe over the majority Hutus in Rwanda in all those centuries when that slave trade developed in Eastern and Central Africa, we can understand that the potent force of these centuries of being the cattle of the dominant minority can still pervert the minds of the descendants of this exploited majority. That slave trade came to an end in Eastern Africa only late in the 19th century, if not in the first half of the 20th century.

The book is thus very clear on the routes and types of trades. Trans-Saharan from the sub-Saharan Sudan, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean, either to Morocco, or to Libya or to Egypt. Across the Red Sea to Arabia and beyond to the Middle East. Along the Eastern coast of Africa from Mombasa to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf and then Iran Iraq, Pakistan and India, at times even farther. The case of plantation slaves are rare but they are important in Zanzibar or on the coast where they cultivated cloves, among other exportable produces. The worst case in that trade was the eunuchs. European eunuchs were only deprived of their testicles, but African eunuchs were deprived of both their testicles and their penis, level with the abdomen castratian as they said. The death toll was extremely high though we do not have much data on the subject.


We can only have tentative evaluation of how many people were captured and ended up in slavery, with already a great difference between the two figures, an even greater difference if we can assess the targeted population before and after the raid, due to the death rate of the mostly collateral casualties of the catching in the surrounding population, immediately or delayed because of starvation and wounds; due to the heavy number of casualties in the transportation of the captives; due to the extremely high death rate of the total castration boys and young teenagers were submitted to; not to speak of the death toll because of the weather change when arriving at their destination. This very mortiferous and death-inflicting situation explains why there are so few descendants: they died like flies in many ways and their position was not favorable to procreation. Marriage was not an obligation in any way and most women were used as concubines, which implies that the children who could be born from such unions were not exactly always wanted and welcome.

The book becomes probably better when Segal speaks of the slow and long process to abolish this slave trade that has not yet been completely terminated. The English were those who did most to end that practice through negotiations, treaties and commercial pressure. They hesitated at first and managed to get the trade itself banned, a ban through which it was always easy for the slave traders to wiggle, before understanding they had to ban slavery itself. Internationally slavery was totally banned by the United Nations in 1948. But yet it survives even in Sudan where the partition of the country was supposed to put a stop to the enslaving of Southern Christians by Northern Moslems. We all know what is happening right now in Nigeria where several hundred girls have been kidnapped by Boko Haram to prevent their education and to sell them into slavery. On that level of modern forms of slavery, I will personally regret he does not have a word for the several hundred million Dalits in India. These are not even human cattle, since they are considered not human at all by the Hindus.

On the other hand the French were easily convinced that they had to get to a compromise. It is this compromise that explains today what happened in Mauritania after their independence. The white Arab or Berber Muslims systematically expelled the blacks from Mauritania, on the simple principle that made them consider Blacks as inferior. That was a case of ethnic cleansing that would not have happened if slavery had been banned and actually suppressed by the French colonists, which was not the case. French colonists often considered they did not have to do anything against traditional practices as long as they did not hamper their interests. It was the same principle that made them blind to excision that was considered as a custom they did not have to interfere with.


Altogether the book more or less estimates that the transatlantic slave trade cost about the same amount of victims and casualties as the slave trade towards the Moslem countries, though they say but did not insist on that the former lasted only three centuries whereas the latter lasted thirteen centuries, which means the former was a lot more intensive annually. Yet the book states but does not insist enough on the fact that in the 19th century, after the transatlantic slave trade was terminated, after slavery itself was finally abolished in French colonies and in the USA, the slave trade towards Moslem countries amplified tremendously leading in Eastern Africa and Central Africa to the absolute extermination by death or by deportation of entire villages, at times entire areas. But we have to keep in mind the battle is hardly finished. There are still many million slaves in the world and first of all the Dalits and all the sex slaves who are necessarily young with practices that vary from plain slavery to prostitution which is more a dependence of the prostitutes or hustlers on their pimps rather than sex slavery to their masters.

As a conclusion I could say the shortcomings of the book are the result of the very object it targets that locks him up in a historical period and a geographical zone that do not enable the capture of the subject from a global point of view, and particularly in an historical perspective that does not retrospectively project our own values and ideas onto the past. We cannot judge the inhumane practices of the previous centuries with the humane values of our own time. That kills the historical perspective we need to understand how humanity came to invent such evils and how the human kind has managed to get mostly out of them.



Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Sukhothai and Wat Si Chum revisiting the Past Lives of the Buddha, alias the Jatakas


We can consider this book from many different points and under many different lights.

First it is the presentation of an extremely important archaeological site, stamped as essential human heritage by UNESCO. The book gives all the possible archaeological details that can be known on how it was discovered and how it was saved and then valorized. It is difficult because many people set foot and entered in that temple of Wat Si Chum and apparently some things may have been displaced and quite a few were misinterpreted. The immense treasure of this site is a passage and staircase within the wall itself that goes from the entrance to the top of the present building (we will regret the second passage on the other side of the main door was walled in because of its poor state of repair). The ceiling of this passage and staircase is decorated with plaques that are engraved with the famous jatakas, one inscription identifying the jataka and an illustration of the jataka itself.

Up to very recently it was believed by archaeologists that these engraved plaques had been moved there from another temple where they were on display and visible, whereas in this corridor they are invisible since the corridor has no light. This volume rejects this idea for two reasons. First of all the plaques are included in the masonry so that it was impossible for them to be added afterwards. They are sealed in by the masonry itself. The second reason is a misunderstanding of these jatakas and their illustrations. To illustrate them like that, or in any other way, is in itself an act of piety, fervor and merit. Such an act does not require public recognition but is in itself valid for the author of the act, of the illustration, in his/her own mind. Since there is no reason to believe all the slabs and their illustrations were produced by one person, we obviously have then a collective project of a community that is performing an act of respect that requires a lot of mental concentration and meditation, hence that brings a lot of merit.

In fact we could even consider that setting them up for the public might be a negative vanity: to show one’s merit building and in a way to boast about it. Of course such illustrations can be produced to be set up in a temple for the illumination and inspiration of the community in full light. But such a public exhibition requires a totally personal reception of them: each monk in the temple receives the messages from these jatakas personally, in his own mind. Even a collective reception with a mantra or the recitation of the verse or verses attached to a particular jataka is not building a collective awareness but a collection of personal and individual awareness in each member of the assembly. There is no communion in other words but a samsara is built by the bringing together of individual finite mental acts.

The corridor and staircase then becomes some kind of path that you have to climb to go to the top. Each one who is going up the passage to the top can stop at each slab and, knowing what is on it, evoke in his mind’s eyes that only needs mental light to see the jataka itself represented there and even retell it in his mind, either the verse or verses attached to it or the whole jataka or a shorter version as is done in the Dhammapada. These jatakas are a canonical book of Theravada Buddhism and knowing the five hundred odd stories is just a must for any Buddhist and that knowledge added to the going through the whole passage is like performing in oneself the very many lives of the Buddha that led him to becoming the Buddha. Going up the corridor and passage is thus a mental trip to purification and meditation. I am afraid the desire for some archaeologists to consider nothing exists if it is not exhibited in public is a misunderstanding of Buddhism itself which is an inner voyage and not a public one. What we see is hardly what counts in Buddhism, or we are speaking of what we see in our own minds.

The second interest of the book is the historical exploration of the context that made this temple be constructed. So we find out a lot about the historical importance of the city of Sukhothai, the old capital of Thailand. This temple then becomes a monument to Thai history. It reveals the fact that in these centuries (thirteenth and/or fourteenth centuries). At that time the Thai kingdom was central in South East Asia but also in the Indian Ocean, central because of the commerce it enabled and controlled in all directions and with all neighboring countries particularly Myanmar, Cambodia and China, but also and essentially with Sri Lanka and Theravada Buddhism that spread in South East Asia thanks to the Mon people today situated on both sides of the border between Myanmar and Thailand. It is also in this period and area that a new writing system was introduced for Thai replacing the Khmer system used up to then. There is a lot of discussion about this capital turning point in the cultural identity of the country invented and introduced by Ram Khamhaeng at the end of the 13th century.

Actually it is surprising that in this book no allusion is done to that debate about the Ram Khamhaeng Inscription and this first entirely Thai writing system is only alluded to as “old Thai script.” We have to keep in mind that in those centuries the connection with Sri Lanka was constant and direct. It is no surprise then that many temples were built and that in this particular temple the jatakas were illustrated in a very special way. This temple is a Mondop that had a Wihan in front of it, the Mondop being an enclosed place with the statue of a sitting Buddha, partly visible from the Wihan due to the vast vertical opening in the front side of the Mondop. The Mondop was for small numbers of monks coming to meditate and eventually evoke the teachings of the Buddha, whereas the Wihan was more for a vaster congregation assembled for some ritualistic activities. On this point too the book seems to be slightly deficient. What kind of rites and rituals were performed and set up in these two structures? There is no really detailed answer.

I will of course note here the touristic value of the book and the monument, but this touristic dimension is absolutely secondary in what can interest us in this site.

The last and probably most important side of the book is the listing of all the stones, properly numbered and identified with a full description of what is still visible on the stones and what we can deduct was on the stones, both illustrations and inscriptions. The second half of the book gives such listings and descriptions and it also provides the various jatakas as they come on the stones, I mean the stories themselves in full version.

These stories have been compared to La Fontaine’s Fables, hence indirectly to Aesop’s fables. This was coming from a French man who had a rather limited cultural scope. Never mind who. The stories are always telling particular events in a particular situation in which the Bhodisatta (Buddha in becoming) is confronted to events and people who require his knowledge and wisdom to find a solution. These stories are not written for children but for an adult and normal Buddhist audience. Their main dimension is that they are moral lessons given to their audience who is supposed to follow the example of this Bhodisatta.

This very fact gives to these stories a dimension that has been neglected. It is in no way a defense and illustration of the reincarnation so firmly established in Brahmanism or Hinduism. Buddhism rejects this idea in itself. If a person does not have a self (anatta) because that person is constantly changing (anicca) which is the basis of the constant cyclical birth-life-death-rebirth (dukkha), that person cannot in anyway be reincarnated. How could this person be reincarnated into another body if he/she is no soul, no self, no permanent and essential component that could transmigrate from one dead body to a live one?

But these stories reveal how improving your life, getting onto the “octuple” way, the eightfold way to enlightenment and nibbana, is possible by reflecting on and getting inspired by what the Buddha himself would have done in such situations, would have done to become the Buddha. One is not born Buddha, one becomes Buddha. One does not receive in any way Buddha-ism from come superior being or authority, but one conquers Buddha-ism with one’s own work and effort, meditation and mental cultivation of control over the mind and the body by the mind itself.

Now when we read these stories that become parables we can try to imagine what they meant to people in the 13th or 14th centuries, when there were no cars, no TVs, no telephones, smart or otherwise, no computers, etc. We can then try to imagine what these stories invented most of them by Buddha and his followers before the Christian Era can mean to us, can bring us. What kind of enlightenment, what kind of metta and upekkha can we get out of them? Because that is the essential element in life: we have to love everyone and everything around us because everyone and everything is alive and we have to love life. There are many ways of loving but without love nothing can happen that has any value. Metta I said. But Upekkha is just as important because we have to build some kind of serenity in our own minds and with the people around us and their minds. Without that serenity we cannot love the world and we cannot love people and we cannot improve ourselves and liberate ourselves from the enslaving impulses, passions, feelings and even emotions that pervade our existence.

That does not mean impulses have to be negated, passions have to be rejected, feelings have to be destroyed and emotions have to be diabolized. Without impulses, particularly the sexual impulse, there would be no descent to our species. Without passions, particularly love, there would be no metta and no humane communion with the world. Without feelings there would be no possible real communication and understanding: one does not understand with rational arguments but with the inspiration that comes from feelings and intuition. Without emotions the world would be dry as a rock and indigestible: we have to be constantly impressed by the world into emotional states that have to be valorized and controlled. There is no shame in being moved by what we see and in crying or laughing at what we try to do and witness.

The last point to be mentioned here is quite obvious. The illustrations and images of the book are in themselves a tremendous voyage into time and space. We can learn how to dream with them and that dream will lead you thousands of miles away and centuries back into the past, which will enable us then to travel centuries into the future and dream this time a world that could be so much better if only half of this Buddhist wisdom were to come true.

Maybe the book, by wanting to be objective misses that last point and treats Buddhism as if it were an animal that has to be dissected, hence killed first. Buddhism can only be understood when we feel the emotions metta and upekkha bring into our minds.


Friday, May 16, 2014


Il n'y a de bouddhisme que mental car c'est dans notre mentalisme que se trouve notre libération.


Approche imagée en noir et blanc en BD type manga japonais, originellement japonais. La traduction d’Anne Mallevay est correcte et prudente pour les concepts bouddhistes qu’elle traduit pour la plupart. Par exemple elle ne traduit pas systématiquement « dukkha » par « souffrance » mais par le réaliste « l’insatisfaction ou souffrance ». Une originalité cependant en dernière page avec l’expression « tout à chacun » qui est pour moi « tout un chacun ». Le français a parfois des originalités dialectales qu’hélas il ne reconnaît que rarement. Académie Française oblige !

La biographie de Bouddha est la version traditionnelle, et pas celle de B.R. Ambedkhar plus socialement réaliste. Son départ comme moine est lié à sa seule découverte de la « souffrance » sous la forme d’un vieux mendiant, d’un malade incurable, d’un homme mort et de ses proches le pleurant. Le livre dont les images sont concrètes grimpe aussitôt au niveau des concepts, la vieillesse, la maladie, la mort. Et la quatrième rencontre est celle d’un moine  et la décision vient pour Bouddha de le devenir à son tour.

Ce sont les quatre rencontres  associées aux quatre portes de sa ville natale, respectivement est, sud, ouest, nord. Cet arrangement des choses dans la géographie cardinale est un héritage culturel plus qu’autre chose et n’a de sens que pour qui croit à ces choses comme étant symboliques, l’est du lever du soleil et du début du savoir, le sud du zénith et de la force puissante de la maladie, l’ouest du coucher du soleil et de la mort, le nord jamais atteint par le soleil est la décision de sortir de la voie solaire pour entrer dans la voie de la méditation, de la nibbana, de la sortie du cycle de la samsara, cycle associé lui au soleil. Ce symbolisme n’était probablement pas celui qu’on aurait vu il y a vingt-six siècles. Lecteur moderne égale interprétation moderne et je dois dire que le soleil de la vie est plutôt réduit à pas de vie du tout ou pas beaucoup de vie, le zénith de midi étant rien d’autre que la maladie à son sommet, juste avant la mort. La symbolique des quatre dragons cardinaux de la civilisation orientale ne transparait pas pour un lecteur occidental.

Le reste n’est qu’une fidèle suite d’épisodes qui mènent le livre à exposer les concepts fondamentaux du bouddhisme. Je ne vais pas les reprendre. Je vais seulement souligner quelques points originaux du bouddhisme japonais et chinois, le grand véhicule, Mahayana. Etant plutôt moi-même de référence Theravada, le petit véhicule, j’ai regretté la non-mention du Dhammapada bien que certaines citations des dires du Bouddha semblent tirées de cet ouvrage canonique. C’est la première difficulté du livre : les citations ne sont pas toujours référencées et la plupart du temps ne le sont que génériquement par un titre de sermon.

La samsara, cette totalité de tout ce qui a une existence matérielle réelle ou virtuelle (on oublie souvent le virtuel), physique ou mentale est bien montrée comme un tout mettant ensemble d’innombrables paramètres et facteurs. Mais le livre contient alors une insistance particulière sur une « causalité » interne alors que pour moi il n’y a qu’un ensemble qui, arrivant à un certain niveau de maturité ou de développement, par ailleurs jamais final, voit l’émergence d’un phénomène nouveau transformationnel du tout. Ce concept d’émergence et non de causalité est selon moi plus conforme à la vision du Bouddha.

Cela se retrouve dans la présentation des trois concepts fondamentaux : anicca ou impermanence, dukkha ou non-satisfaction, et anatta ou impersonnalité. L’ordre donné dans le livre est dukkha-anicca-anatta, et il est associé à la causalité proposée par ailleurs. Il semblerait alors que ce soit l’insatisfaction qui sous-tende l’impermanence alors même que l’impermanence est un principe de base de la samsara. Tout n’est que changement et de là émerge le principe de non-satisfaction qui est plutôt celui de la satisfaction recherchée, trouvée, perdue donc d’un cycle de non-satisfaction-satisfaction-non-satisfaction, dukkha-sukha-dukkha. La logique linguistique aurait voulu que le Bouddha utilise le négatif asukha pour la non-satisfaction, comme dans d’innombrables autres cas de négatif faisant le pendant d’un positif, mais il a préféré une autre morphologie de dérivation négative, dukkha.

Cela tient à quelque chose que le livre ne dit pas : c’est presque toujours la valeur négative qui est la valeur de base et le positif est construit par la négation du négatif et la logique canonique aurait alors voulu que le Bouddha utilise adukkha pour la satisfaction. Cela est fondamental car pour le couple sukha-dukkha le Bouddha préfère deux mots non reliés par préfixe négatif car la samsara naturelle dans laquelle nous vivons porte les deux, alors que dès qu’on parle de qualité morale la forme naturelle est la qualité négative et la qualité positive nécessite la négation de cette qualité négative, donc un effort humain, donc un choix de ne pas suivre la voie de la dégradation, du cycle qui mène à la mort.

De cette même impermanence dont nous parlions précédemment émerge l’impersonnalité. L’homme n’étant qu’impermanence il ne saurait avoir un moi, une essence, un être permanent, une personnalité unique et stable.

Cette présentation dans le livre a une autre conséquence. L’accent fort est mis sur des ensembles de règles ou normes qui trop souvent se réduisent à un mot qui en devient fétichisé car il devient invariable, donc permanent et non évolutif. C’est vrai des huit souffrances, quatre de la vie et quatre sociales. De même les huit principes justes qui se réduisent tous à ce mot « juste » sans qu’il soit précisé, et cela constitue le « noble sentier octuple » qui mène à la nibbana, au nirvana en sanskrit, à l’éveil. Le livre insiste sur l’objectif d’atteindre la nibbana pendant la vie réelle alors que le canon insiste que la chemin octuple et la nibbana permettent d’échapper au cycle samsarique naissance-mort-renaissance. La renaissance n’étant pas une réincarnation mais le fait d’avoir à revivre une autre vie car la nibbana n’avait pas été atteinte dans la première vie. Cela impliquerait que l’individu aurait un être  qui se réincarner dans un autre individu, ce que refuse le Bouddha. C’est une question ouverte pour le bouddhisme theravada. Le bouddhisme mahayana la règle en posant l’après de la mort comme étant une non-question. On sait que cela devient la question centrale du bouddhisme tibétain avec son Dalai Lama, et surtout son Livre de la Mort, le célèbre Bardo Thodol.

Une imprécision au bord de l’erreur se glisse cependant dans ce livre. Le bouddhisme a disparu en Inde parce qu’il a été interdit. Les bouddhistes ont pu alors survivre au Sri Lanka et à partir de là dans le Sud Est asiatique car ils avaient pris gîte dans l’île sur l’injonction de l’empereur Asoka pour transcrire les enseignements du Bouddha en ce qui est devenu le canon. Les bouddhistes survivront au Tibet où ils ont intégré la culture et religion Bon et leur culte de la mort, en même temps que leur langue. Ce dernier mouvement a été une expulsion pure et simple. L’hindouisme est issu directement du brahmanisme et non d’une fusion avec le bouddhisme qui lui aussi est issu directement du brahmanisme mais dans un mouvement de critique fondamentale. La vision édulcorée proposée ici permet de ne citer que les castes humaines de l’hindouisme et de ne pas parler de la caste non-humaine des Dalits posée, y compris encore aujourd’hui, comme incontournable par l’hindouisme.

Une introduction au bouddhisme intéressante mais ne mettant pas l’accent fort sur le concept de citta/mana pour lequel le français n’a pas de mot qui puisse convenir sinon états mentaux/mentalisme, bien que ceux-ci sont trop abstraits. Il n’est alors pas clairement dit quel principe et quel potentiel de l’homme pris par la réalité samsarique et par le trio anicca/dukkha/anatta peut par ses propres moyens s’en libérer et l’en libérer. Il faut cette puissance de ce que les anglais appellent la « mind », une construction virtuelle du cerveau confronté au monde sensoriel réel qui permet à ce cerveau de saisir et interpréter le monde que les cinq sens physiques réels saisissent. Le sixième sens noté une fois seulement dans le livre n’est pas explicité : c’est ce méta-sens des « états mentaux » et du « mentalisme », de la « mind » qui permet cette libération bien que dans le Dhammapada le Bouddha pose que cette « mind » peut être totalement asservie et dévoyée par la samsara et l’attachement qu’un individu peut développer pour les choses matérielles et les plaisirs, et là le mot, le concept bouddhiste de « tanha » ne sont jamais cités mais seulement évoqués de façon connexe.

Intéressant donc, mais comme une introduction à ne pas prendre pour la vérité finale d’une philosophie qui considère qu’il n’y a de toute façon rien de final.


Thursday, May 08, 2014


Appelez les pompiers . . .

LE MONDE 07 mai 2014
L’anglais du troisième sexe : « Ze went to hir bedroom » 

Appelez les pompiers (hommes et femmes en parité), il y a le feu (un feu de flammes, parité respectée) à la Maison Blanche (dommage la présidence est sexiste pour le président qui ainsi rétablit la parité)

La folie du genre s'en prend au sexe des mots. . . aux USA bien sûr. Le sexe des mots c'est comme le sexe des anges, indéterminé mais pas pour les z-obsédés du sexe américains

Voilà bien du pain sur la planche des LGBT. 

Espérons que Taubira pourra régler cela par une loi. Mais en français ça va être coton avec "il y a", "il pleut", "il neige", "il pleut il fait soleil c'est la fête à la grenouille", ou à la cagouille si vous préférez. 

L"extrêmisme est toujours une folie. Le Front de Gauche pourrait s'intéresser à la chose. Mélenchon pourrait dire des choses fortes. 

Pourquoi une grenouille devrait-elle être féminine et une cagouille aussi en occitan de Bordeaux alors que l'escargot bien français est masculin, comme le crapaud d'ailleurs. 

Et que dire du vin, de la frite et du ketchup: une vraie orgie sexuelle sur l'assiette du mangeur fast food, et d'une mangeuse fast food aussi. 

J'en rissole encore du plaisir d'une éjaculation précoce (pour un homme bien sûr) et d'une émasculation linguistique (pour un homme à ;nouveau) alors que l'eunuque qui est mâle sans l'être plus à subi une castration au ras du ventre et n'a plus qu'un trou pour pouvoir décharger son pipi, tient masculin.

Vive le neutre français par indéfférentiation de genre, comme en allemand d'ailleurs: la fenêtre = das Fenster, la table = der Tisch,  etc. 

J'imagine qu'Hitler aurait pu faire cela en même temps que la réforme de l'orthographe. Il a bien supprimé der Friseur, si d'ailleurs cela s'écrivait comme cela.
Je l'aimerait beaucoup avec un "z".

That's good bread on the board of the LGBT. 

Hopefully Taubira can adjust it by law. But in French it will be cotton with "there", "it's raining", "snowing", "it's raining it's sunny it's party to the frog," or hotrod if you prefer. 

The "extremism is always madness. The Left Front might be interested in the thing. Mélenchon could say strong things. 

Why a frog should it be feminine and a hotrod also Occitan Bordeaux while many French snail is male, like the toad elsewhere. 

And what about the wine, fries and ketchup: a real sexual orgy on the plate of eating fast food, and eating a fast food too. 

I have the pleasure of rissole premature ejaculation (for a man of course) and a linguistic emasculation (for a man, again) while the eunuch who is male without being more castrated close to the stomach and has only one hole to unload his pee, holding male. 

Long live the neutral French indéfférentiation by gender, as German also: window = das Fenster, table = der Tisch, etc.. 

I imagine that Hitler could have done this at the same time that the spelling reform. It has deleted der Friseur, if indeed it was written like that. I would very much like with a "z".

Gobekli Tepe: homme stylisé non pas en pagne comme le veulent les intégristes de l’archéologie, mais le nombril, le pénis et les testicules bien en vue, et les mains en embuscades.

Monday, May 05, 2014


The book has tremendously aged though it is still good reading


The book is old in the field it is considering. The last twenty years have completely transformed our vision of what happened in the world after the end of the Ice Age, or even after the small icy episode between 10,800 and 9,600 BC. The concept of Neolithic revolution invented in the 1920s by the extreme Marxist V. Gordon Childe is today completely outdated and considered more and more as a perversion of history. Even the concept of prehistory based on the only consideration of the existence of writing systems is falling apart because that concept would mean Africa started having a history when in the 19th century, if not 20th century European colonists started writing African languages that were absolutely and only oral in spite of thirteen centuries of Arab and Moslem influence.

This book was salvational in many ways at the time of its publication. It asserted the historical participation of Black Africa as far back as the birth of the Egyptian civilization. It insists on the leading role it played in some periods and it tries to find out in what periods there existed contact between Black Africa and the Americas. We cannot of course reproach the author with what he could not know in 1976. He could not know Gobekli Tepe, the surrounding settlements, the Natufian villages, etc., all going back to 12,000 years BC which is more than 6,000 or 7,000 years before the Egyptian civilization and 9,000 before the invention of the first known writing system in the Middle East, the Sumerian writing system too often identified as the Akkadian cuneiform writing system because the scribes were Akkadian speaking a Semitic language though the language was Sumerian, a synthetic-analytical language, probably post-agglutinative. Something like 100,000 years part in linguistic phylogeny.

The book is thus essential. The author insists on and explores the role Semitic Egyptians, Semitic Phoenicians, Black Nubians (he does not specify their languages), Black West Sudanese (he does speak of their languages and quotes essentially Bambara, Malinke and Peul). Most of the languages spoken by these Black populations were of the synthetic-analytical type known as Bantu languages, though Peul is slightly different. In that perspective he insists on the Mali or Mandigo Empire founded in 1234 by Sundiata. He does not specify it was after the defeat of the Sosso animists who used to be enslaved in the previous Moslem society and had rebelled and conquered power over these Moslems. The creation of the Mali Empire is the final success of Islam in this region which will bring the famous Kurukan Fuga Charter in 1240 or just after, legalizing the existence of slavery (that could not concern Moslems) that was re-imposed onto the animists. This Charter was only rediscovered in 2004. But the author ignores completely the problem of slavery in Africa and particularly the slave trade from Black Africa to the Arab and Moslem world in those centuries. In other words Black Africa provided slaves in exchange for Arab goods, like tobacco if the author is right.

The book reopens the history of Black Africa but it does not consider some essential elements like slavery, slave trade and slave markets, not to speak of Islam and the direct consequences it had on Black Africa.

Van Sertima explores and gives all the evidence he can find about three contact periods.

The first one is between 800 and 700 BC, during the 25th dynasty of the Egyptian Pharaonic civilization. At that time the Blacks from Nubia had managed to reunify the two Upper and Lower Egypts and to get the Assyrians away for a time. They needed metals to develop their war power in front of the Assyrians. The Semitic Phoenicians mastered the metallurgy technology like the Assyrians (all of these speaking Indo-European languages at the time and conquering the Semitic peoples, like the Jews among others). But Egypt was metal-poor and they asked the Phoenicians to use their sailing abilities to look for metal beyond the Mediterranean, going west. The soldiers provided by the Black Pharaohs were Blacks from Nubia.

Van Sertima asserts that the sudden development of the Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica was due to this contact established in Mexico. It would have been these Egyptians, Nubians and Phoenicians who would have brought to America the technology to build step pyramids, and many other things including some seeds. These merchants would have been behind the development of the cult of Quetzalcoatl, at least the black version of it, though the author does not explain why there was a mongoloid version up in Peru. He states that the Olmecs were developed at the time but he does not specify in what fields and how, except an allusion to agricultural development but with no precision whatsoever. The Olmecs were only on the receiving side. And the myth of the departure of Quetzalcoatl is typical: it is when these merchants finally left. Without saying so, the author implies that the Maya writing system using what he calls hieroglyphs, and some are supposed to be similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs, is in fact inspired from the Egyptian writing system. The strange thing is that Phoenicians had managed to develop an alphabet from that of Semitic languages at the time by adding vowels to the Semitic consonants. We even could think that they may have been able to use the old Sumerian writing system that was invented for commerce and that was still used at the time. Why the old Egyptian writing system, and not the more advanced ones present on the Rosetta stone for example, we do not know, I mean the author does not consider the question. As for seeing some similitude between the old Egyptian hieroglyphs and the Maya very pictorial representations, it seems to me slightly farfetched. The fact that the sun is represented by a circle in both systems is in no way a proof because the sun is round as everyone knows, even for small children who draw the sun. It is not even a “human” universal. It is a plain fact and if we used Can Sertima’s kind of reasoning the letter “O” would be a representation of the sun.

The most important thing is of course the discovery of the gigantic Negroid heads in Olmec country from La Venta onward. One at least of these Negroid heads is designed to be an altar, including with a special “speaking device” to make it some kind of prophesying divine voice or mouthpiece. He gives an interesting set of figures. In Tlatilco in a pre-classic Olmec cemetery he says 13.5% of skeletons were pure Negroid whereas in the later classic period only 4.5% of them were still pure Negroid. The conclusion is correct: the Blacks who arrived then were males and they at once intermarried with local women. That means that in a few generation’s time the black minority became genetically integrated. DNA would be necessary to determine the proportion of Black genes in the total population, probably outreaching to everyone.

He more or less endorses that these Black Egyptians and their Phoenician sailors would have brought to America the ferment of their development with: massive organization of labor (I would prefer speaking of division of labor and it would be necessary to clearly say the Olmecs were agriculturalists though the book does not say at what level: more about it later); a trade network; ceremonial centers and pyramids; colossal sculptures; relief carving; wall painting; orientation of structures (towards sun, moon and stars); gods and religious symbolism; obsession with Underworld; representation of foreign racial types; hieroglyphic writing and scribes; seals and rings; use of iron; and even some more, particularly mummification of the dead and burial procedures with food, slaves, animals, wives, etc.

The great problem here is of course the non-exploration of the level of civilization reached by the Olmecs before this contact, and the mistake that was absolutely common in 1976: the belief in the Neolithic agricultural revolution entirely proved false as I have said before and will discuss in more detail later

The other contact periods are twenty centuries later and come from the Mali Empire.

1310-1311 and the Mandigo Journey, when Abubakari II (1307-1311), the emperor of Mali, abdicates from his throne to go on a journey from which he will never come back. The journey was a sea voyage to the west starting of course from the west coast of Africa.

Then 1462-1492 and the Songhay traders from the same African west coast.

In spite of the Olmec development asserted before these contacts with Muslim Mali would have been necessary to provide America with the cotton seeds needed to produce the American hybrids that appeared then. It would have brought bananas, a seedless fruit that can only be reproduced by transplanting the root stocks after division, hence these traders would have brought banana root stocks, preferably dried out after division and before transplantation. They would have brought what the author calls gourds which are of various types, including the bottle ones used as vessels for various liquids or activities, including music. It would have brought yams that can reproduce easily by cutting up one plant and planting the pieces. Finally it could have brought tobacco that is attributed to the Arabs, at least when considering its propagation in Black Africa.

We wonder then what the Americans had to live on before. Even the beans are considered only in the light of one particular type that was imported from Africa to the Americas.

The point is that the mention of some purely American plants is short and partial. He speaks of pumpkins (but not of many other squash), of maize (without explaining how it was genetically produced since it cannot reproduce itself naturally), and that’s all. We were expecting some mention of tomatoes, chili peppers and other peppers in that line, potatoes in the form we know or as Ocas known as Indian potatoes and coming from Peru, etc. In other words the agricultural vision of America is so deficient that these Indians seem to be deeply primitive if not barbaric. They had an agriculture. They did not wait for anyone to bring it. They had had their Neolithic agricultural evolution with the plants that were at their disposal, and there were many.

It is not enough to say that two words look alike to conclude they are connected. Popular etymology is famous about that and we should all know that a Tower of London’s Beefeater is a man who eats beef and that’s why he is dressed mostly in red. Unluckily the real origin is the French word “buffetier” that simply means “butler” and here he was the man who was receiving food and drinks for the King.

He easily compares Arabic words and Bambara (or other West African languages) words and then Maya (and other Mesoamerican or northern American languages) words. He does not specify that Arabic is a Semitic language based on consonantal roots meaning that words are purely discursive and cannot in anyway be cut up in syllables, as the author does. On the other hand Bambara or Malinke are Bantu languages based on word semantic classes that can go through declensions or conjugations and yet do not seem to have developed syntactic cases or at least a full set of them. Yet these languages work a lot on concatenation that sets the specifier after the main “noun” if it is a noun. The examples he gives about Maya show that it is probably a synthetic analytical language too but having reached a more complex syntax since they build compounds with the specifier in front of the specified main “noun.”

In Malinke the “werewolf” (the man who is an animal predator) is a nama-koro in which “nama” is a wiseman, and “koro” is a “hyena” and thus this “werewolf” a “hyena wise man”. We note we have a simple concatenation in which the two elements could be connected by a BE copula, if it existed in the 15th century, or by any spatial preposition that would express the connection from the main term first to the specifier second. Let me give an example in modern Lingala:

“mondele makasi” is the concatenation of “mondele that means “a European” and “makasi” that means “power” or “force.” We could have a BE copula but it is not the most common way, or we could have a spatial preposition and say “mondele na makasi” and this construction is common. But the simple concatenation is the most common way. Translating would be misleading since it would produce: “Europeans are strong” or “Europeans have power.” The second is all the more pregnant because the use of the preposition “na” before the predicative element of the copula BE produces a relation equivalent to the copula HAVE. What is important here is the direction N1 à N2.

Now if we consider the Nahuatl word for “werewolf” we get “coyotli-naual” composed of “coyotli” for “coyote” and “naual” meaning “wise man” from the root “na-“ meaning “knowledge” or anything connected to knowledge and intelligence, including magic. By the way the author declares this root absent in Nahuatl in spite of its presence in the name of the language, (the language of) those who know, those who have the knowledge. This is a small but revealing contradiction in the book. Pocahontas is from a tribe whose name means exactly the same thing: “Powhatan” and the similitude of “pow” with the English “power” does not imply at all any connection even though the meaning is the same. We can observe in “coyotli-naual” that the order of the elements produces a compound: N2 à N1, the specified main term second and preceded by the specifier. This is the standard composition order in Germanic languages for examples. Languages that build their compounds in the other direction like French will generally use a prepositional element to connect the two items: “moulin-à-café” (coffee grinder), “livre-de-classe” (school book) etc.

It is common when two languages are in contact that one borrows words from the other (we are not talking of the English case in which two languages were so much in contact that they creolized one another (Anglo-Saxon and Norman French) to produce a third one. But when two languages of different level of syntactic and morphological organizations borrow words there are special rules that would imply the passage from one language to the other. In oral languages for example the borrowed word would change completely its pronunciation and eventually its spelling and writing if the borrowing language is written. Otherwise the syntax and morphology of the borrowing language is imposed onto the borrowed element. It is the case here, if “coyotli-naual” is originally borrowed: shift from pure concatenation to composition.

But in fact this neglect of the linguistic logic of such phenomena comes from a systematic translative procedure from Egypt, the Arab world or Western Africa to America. Quetzacoatl, who would deserve a lot more than this side remark is a typical case. The author reduces the association of the snake and the bird to Egyptian symbols and to a mythological fight between an eagle, or a hawk, and a snake, the snake being Seth and the Falcon being Horus. But, first that’s late in Egyptian mythology, and second I could not find anywhere a Seth identified as a snake. The Encyclopædia Britannica says: “Seth was represented as a composite figure, with a canine body, slanting eyes, square-tipped ears, tufted (in later representations, forked) tail, and a long, curved, pointed snout; various animals (including aardvark, antelope, ass, camel, fennec, greyhound, jackal, jerboa, long-snouted mouse, okapi, oryx, and pig) have been suggested as the basis for his form.” The fight between an eagle and a snake localized on the east coast of Mexico probably has no Egyptian root. I found one drastic serpent in Evolution of the Dragon, by G. Elliot Smith, [1919],


When the development of the story of the Destruction of Mankind necessitated the finding of a human sacrifice and drove the Great Mother to homicide, this side of her character was symbolized by identifying her with a man-slaying lion and the venomous uræus-serpent.
She had previously been represented by such beneficent food-providing and life-sustaining creatures as the cow, the sow, and the gazelle (antelope or deer): but when she developed into a malevolent creature and became the destroyer of mankind it was appropriate that she should assume the form of such man-destroyers as the lion and the cobra.
[…] The identification of the destroying-goddess with the moon, "the Eye of the Sun-god," prepared the way for the rationalization of her character as a uræus-serpent spitting venom and the sun's Eye spitting fire at the Sun-god's enemies. Such was the goddess of Buto in Lower Egypt, whose uræus-symbol was worn on the king's forehead, and was misinterpreted by the Greeks as not merely a symbolic "eye," but an actual median eye upon the king's or the god's forehead.
[…] But the uræus was not merely the goddess who destroyed the king's enemies and the emblem of his kingship: in course of time the Cobra became identified with the ruler himself and the dead king, who was the god Osiris. When this happened the snake acquired the god's reputation of being the controller of water.

But Seth cannot be seen as that serpent since Seth is the treacherous brother of Osiris.

In the same way the calendar with twelve months is not at all the original calendar of the Middle East. The original one was lunar and had thirteen months, just the same way as the Zodiac was divided into thirteen signs and not twelve. The one that should be added is Ophiuchus, the Serpent Holder that was still present in Europe, for example, in the thirteenth century and beyond: it was present with the other twelve on the outside walls of the Abbey Church of Issoire in France built in the 12th century, for one example. Native Americans, particularly Mesoamericans and South Americans, Mayas, Aztecs, Olmecs, Incas, etc, who worshipped the sun naturally had a solar calendar with twelve months. The shift from the lunar calendar to the solar calendar in the Middle East and Egypt is relatively recent. The author does not seem to know this fact. It is also a shift from the dominant female element in the divine world to the dominant male world. This is codified in old Mesopotamian mythology on the Sumerian tablets or in the oldest Vedas: the victory of Ninurta over the treacherous Anzu and the victory of Indra over Vrtra, of the male god over the female ancient mother-goddess take some demented size. But all that has little to do with Quetzalcoatl that comes from a completely different tradition. Quetzalcoatl cannot be compared to the dragon of this Sumerian and vedic traditions, nor with the defeat of the great mother.

Van Sertima has the tendency to simply compare the surface of things and to draw final conclusion from some resemblance that can easily be questioned anyway. He started with words and he moved to representations of gods. We cannot see man working in his fight to survive and develop. The world is totally meachanical and we cannot know how this or that human phenomenon has been developed by man himself.

This linguistic shortcoming is so common that we could consider the author just followed the main trend in his days. Even still in 2011, the author Charles C. Mann writes in National Geographic a basic article on Gobekli Tepe and he falls in the trap. Many anthropologists and archaeologists fall in that trap because they have no linguistic training and they do not understand how the human mind works. In spite of all, and in spite of Sally McBrearty Charles C. Mann questions the Neolithic Revolution and yet speaks as if it did exist and as if there was before and after and as if that was a short fast systematic radical change that occurred only in the Levant and the Fertile Crescent to spread afterwards to the rest of the world. This is so absurd that we wonder who was in 2011 the editor in chief of National Geographic to let such a ridiculous idea go through, especially with Gobekli Tepe and what Klaus Schmidt, the archaeologist responsible for this site, says: “ I think what we are learning is that civilization is a product of the human mind.” And Mann reduces that to religion of course, to the assertion that Gobekli Tepe is the oldest construction of the type, is the first human construction of the type, is the unique human construction of the type and of that age, hence is the center of the Neolithic transformation in the whole world.

There is no mind without a language. The mind is a construct based on the brain, the nervous system and the sensori-motor system and that mind cannot construct itself without language. Human articulated language is a collateral side-effect of the respiratory, articulatory and neural-neuronal mutations that enabled Homo Sapiens to be a fast long-distance bipedal runner (his only chance to survive).

The brain works in such a way that any item is identified as a pattern or set of patterns, then recognized as such and this process finds in the mind the tool it needs to name it. This implies a mental picture of the item and the first stage of a concept, of conceptualization.

Homo Sapiens could never have survived if he had not been able to develop that conceptualization. Consequently man is able to observe the world and build a conceptualized model of it in his mind. That leads to science. Consequently man is able to experiment and conceptualize the projects and the results of this experimentation. That leads to inventions, discoveries, development. Consequently man is able to speculate on what he sees. That leads to art, philosophy, religion. The three go together. It is vain to pretend observation, experimentation and speculation come in a certain logical or even hierarchical order. The three develop together in the mind.

There would have been no migrations within Africa and then out of Africa without this mind and these three levels of conceptualization. To migrate they had to know the sky, the stars, the moon, the sun, etc. To survive, and then migrate, they had to control fire, to invent hunting techniques and weapons, to invent fishing and to invent numerous tools.

When we come to agriculture after the Ice Age we do not understand that man had to go through a very long process of mental work to invent agriculture and that it probably started before the Ice Age, but it definitely became something basic after the Ice Age, that is to say when the ice was receding and melting, when water was liberated in the rivers and rising in the ocean, when the climate finally changed and that invention of agriculture happened in many places in the world: West Africa and the Niger river, Middle East and Levant and its two main Tigris and Euphrates rivers, India and the two main Ganges and Indus rivers, Yunnan and its three main Yangtze, Mekong and Salween rivers, Mexico and New Mexico and its many rivers, among others the Rio Grande, not to speak of the Mississippi or the Amazon River. And there might have been other places where big rivers existed. Each zone developed its own agriculture based on some cereals. What I am interested in here is Mexico and the basic plants they used in their agricultural transition. Some are simple like: pumpkins and other squashes, tomatoes, beans, chili pepper, potatoes and ocas, grapefruit, avocadoes, etc. That Tobacco was in this batch or not does not matter.

But the only one I did not list here is the essential one because it is going to explain how this agriculture can develop mentally.

Maize, from Arawak mahiz, is unique because it is the only cultivated cereal that cannot reproduce itself by itself. It needs corn shucking and then the grains have to be plucked by hand or with a machine but always by man. How did the Indians managed to produce this cereal that cannot reproduce naturally?

First you must observe and come to the identification of seeds and the power of these seeds: to produce a new plant. You must observe germination and you must invent cultivation. You have to learn how to till the land before sowing, then you sow, then you water, then you weed, then you take care of the plants, etc. Homo Sapiens does not know anything about that. He has to observe and conceptualize these things and he has to experiment to find out that the cultivated result is better than the wild result, both product and output. And yet he has to observe pollination and understand the important value of it. Then by accident he may have planted the seeds of different types of the same plant together and by accident produced the pollination of one by the other and many of these hybridizations may have produced the maize we know. What we don’t understand is that each step of this line of conduct takes generations and generations of human intelligence. It takes a lot of time, not one or two centuries but millennia.

The Mesoamerican Indians who produced this man-made cereal must have spent millennia to develop it little by little, year after year or should I say century after century. I do not refer to mutations here but to a practical way to experiment and to produce these mutations by the simple – and only – way they had at their disposal, hybridization, though they new nothing of it. And they had to observe it, experiment on it and speculate about it to get to the plant we know today.

So Van Sertima has it both right in the intention and false in the implementation. He misses the point. He wants to over-prove the role of Black Africans but he forgets that over-proving proves nothing and that any human phenomenon is necessarily dialectical. There is no progress coming from something imposed onto you. You need to be ready to integrate and develop what is brought to you, hence you need to have reached a high level of development to be able to integrate anything productively. And at the same time you cannot integrate something new from outside if you do not provide this outsider with something that is new for him. In fact the process Van Sertima presents is more a colonizing process than a real human collaborative process.

There are thousands of other elements that should be discussed but then I would be beyond reason. My conclusions here are going to be simple.

Gobekli Tepe has completely transformed our vision of the emergence of Homo Sapiens and modern humanity.

We cannot understand that emergence without taking into account what the human mind is. Development was first of all mental and that mental dimension could not exist without language. Hence we have to consider everything in the light of mental processes and linguistic tools, limitations and potentials.

If we keep in mind the observe-experiment-speculate line or direction as being a threefold and yet unified stance and vision we may understand that there is no development possible without the three of them at the same time. Maybe not in every human but in every community.

We come here to the necessary division of labor that is indispensable for humanity to survive at first (children have to be taken care of for five years) and to develop afterwards. Gobekli Tepe shows that without a division of labor, some being craftsmen with special skills, some being visionary people who are designing and managing the building of the structure, some being the providers of these, providers of water and food, providers of raw material like stone, providers of manpower when necessary, the project would never have existed and lasted nearly two thousand years.

This project needed a special economy to be viable: agriculture is contained in the project as a necessity not under that name but under the simple need to produce more per worker in order to take care of those who did not produce food and had to be fed.

This implies a power structure and no one can say if it existed before or if it was invented during the construction. But please do not make Mann’s mistake. This is the first structure of the type we have found. There is no reason to think it is the only one in the world. Do we know what happened in Asia with the people of the second migration that produced on the basis of a second articulation language all the isolating languages of Asia? We hardly know the original civilization of Tibet before the Buddhists who were kicked out of India invaded it and colonized it. The civilization at stake is the Bon civilization and religion. What do we know about it except that they were a human blood drinking civilization, like the Olmecs and a few others in America in those very distant times? The least we can say is that we know little about Tibet around 4,000 or 5,000 BC, not to speak of 10,000 BC, escept that it must have been entirely covered with ice. And what about Yunnan? And what about Mongolia?

It is tempting to be vain enough to clamor we have found the original point of human emergence, the Garden of Eden of humanity. We are still living on old Sumerian, Zoroastrian, Biblical, Quranic, Hindu and even Buddhist illusions, though the Buddha always said that the origin point is not important, what is important is the point we are targeting with our mind, it is nibbana. Let’s target the balanced development of humanity and every member of it.


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