Thursday, January 18, 2018

Skies over Grimerica: Night skies and Star Myths for January, 2018



It's time for another edition of "Skies over Grimerica," in which I join hosts Darren and Graham of the Grimerica Show to discuss the phenomena visible in the skies overhead during the current month, including some of the constellations in the night sky for the month along with their connection to ancient myth.

Previous installments of this fairly recent feature have included the "Skies over Grimerica" segments for the months of November and December (recorded in those months during 2017). This latest show discusses the phenomena visible right now during the remainder of the month of January (2018), including the total lunar eclipse coming up at the next full moon (January 31), as well as some phenomena coming up in early February, including that month's cross-quarter day.

The above conversation was recorded on January 17, 2018.

As with previous iterations of this feature, we follow the general outline of discussing the moon, then the planets, then any special upcoming "stations of the year" (last month looking at winter solstice, and this month looking at the concept of "cross-quarter days"), then the constellations visible during the month (or at least some of them), associated myths from around the world, and some discussion of the possible meaning and message of those myths.

We went for quite a while during this month's conversation, both because we covered a lot of ground and also because we dove at some length into a few different aspects of celestial mechanics in response to questions about subjects such as the angle of the ecliptic plane along which the sun, moon and visible planets can be seen to rise (and how that angle changes based on the observer's latitude on planet earth), the concept of the celestial north pole and how its elevation in the night sky changes based on the observer's latitude on planet earth, and the fact that the visible planets are sometimes grouped more "tightly" in the sky from the perspective of observers on our planet and sometimes are more widely dispersed, due to their location in their respective orbital tracks (among other subjects).

We also went into the concept of umbras and penumbras in relation to solar eclipses and lunar eclipses, the use of gnomons and shadows for telling time during the day and for marking the sun's progress back and forth between the solstices as we progress through our annual orbit, and a little bit on the use of passage chambers aligned with the sun's rising or setting points during special days of the year such as the solstices, the equinoxes, or the cross-quarter days (this month looking at Cairn L at Loughcrew in Ireland, which is aligned with the sunrise for the upcoming February cross-quarter day).

For those not wishing or not able to devote the two hours and fourteen minutes required to absorb this full episode in one sitting, the following are some general time-markers between the above-named subjects on the menu:
  • The moon and the lunar eclipse discussion begins soon after the "formal start" of the show, which doesn't actually start until about the 0:05:00 minute mark.
  • Discussion of the visible planet locations for the month begins at about 0:34:30. That segment also gets into some deeper dives into some of the aspects of the celestial mechanics mentioned above.
  • Discussion of the concept of cross-quarter days in between the stations of the two solstices and two equinoxes begins at approximately 1:02:00 in the video.
  • Discussion of some of the constellations visible this month, and their relation to the story of the goddess Durga and Mahishasura (in some detail), begins at about 1:28:20 and continues to the end of the video.
Links to previous blog posts that go into areas related to some of the points of discussion from this months segment include:
I hope that you are enjoying the "Skies over Grimerica" segments, and that you can go out into the night sky to observe some of the glorious heavenly phenomena for yourself each month, if at all possible.

I'm convinced that the ancient myths of the world are speaking a heavenly language which uses the heavenly cycles to convey profound truths for our benefit and blessing. The more we can observe and understand those cycles, the better we can "hear" what the world's ancient wisdom is trying to say to us. 

"Transforming everyone and everything into commodities": arguments that museums should sell off their art expose the self-devouring rot at the heart of neoliberalism







































image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Here are two stories articulating different sides of a very important issue -- one with wide-ranging implications which go far beyond the world of art and museums and reach in fact into almost every aspect of society.

The first article is entitled "Art museums should sell works in storage to avoid raising admission fees," written by Michael O'Hare and published in the San Francisco Chronicle on January 10, 2018.

The second takes the opposite side of the debate from the arguments advanced by Mr. O'Hare. It is entitled "Museum's plan to sell off art crosses ethical boundaries," and it was written by Charles Desmarais and published in SFGate, which is the name of a web-based digital version of the Chronicle which was created when the internet started to become more popular with those looking for news. 

Mr. O'Hare's piece is actually a rebuttal to Mr. Desmarais' piece -- Mr. Desmarais argues that privatizing artwork (by selling pieces off to private buyers) is unethical, and Mr. O'Hare (a professor at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy) argues that Mr. Desmarais is mistaken and that selling art to collectors could enable museums to provide free admission, and that in the end, "money is what museums use to allow art to create its artistic value, which is people engaging with it."

The specific details of the debate have to do with the question of whether or not museums should sell artwork that is not on display -- but the principle involved has to do with the question of public domain and private domain, which is one of the central issues in economics and public policy and which has fired contentious debate and disagreement for hundreds of years.

Mr. O'Hare (the professor who argues for sale of artwork to private collectors) makes an interesting point by saying that "admission to art museums should be free for many good reasons," and then argues that if museums could sell "stuff in the basement that has no prospect of ever being displayed," they could endow free admission forever.

This point gets us towards the heart of the issue. Mr. O'Hare is absolutely right that admission to art museums should be free -- and he is also right that in order to make that happen, something else will have to replace the source of funds that is currently coming from admission fees. However, it is a logical fallacy to argue that because admission should be free for many good and cogent reasons we should therefore sell pieces of artwork to collectors, thereby privatizing that art. 

It would actually be much more logically coherent to argue that admission should be free to art museums because artwork because artwork in museums is a public asset -- and that therefore admission to art museums should be publicly funded! Mr. O'Hare apparently fails to perceive that the very reason admission to art museums should be free is that such artwork belongs to everybody, and not just to a few. Therefore, privatizing it is absolutely contradictory to the "many good reasons" that the public should be given the greatest access to the art that is in the public domain. 

Mr. O'Hare's statement that "admission to art museums should be free for many good reasons" shows that he instinctively understands that artwork should be categorized as being part of "the commons" -- belonging to everybody, and not just to a few. Therefore, selling it off to private collectors takes it out of the commons and represents the privatization of the public domain. 

The privatization of the public domain is one of the constant jiu-jitsu moves executed by proponents of of neoliberalism no matter the situation. 

Neoliberalism is a modern term that has been given to the latest incarnation of a world-devouring economic philosophy that argues that the resources given by nature (or the gods) should not belong to the public but are best privatized -- a path that threatens (in the words of Professor Claudia von Werlhof in her essay "Globalization and Neoliberal Policies: Are there Alternatives to Plundering the Earth, Making War, and Destroying the Planet?") to "turn everything on earth into commodities [ . . . ] to transform everyone and everything into commodities, including life itself."

In his essential book J is for Junk Economics: A guide to reality in an age of deception, Professor Michael Hudson defines "The Commons" (an economic term) as, 
Public assets (land, water, mineral rights, airwaves and other public infrastructure). As natural monopolies, they are best administered in society's long-term interest via government or a community, not monopolized by rentiers as the ultimate takeover objective of finance capital. 60.
I would argue that art museums fall into this category of public infrastructure which should be administered in society's long-term interest via government. The spurious counterargument that will inevitably be forwarded by those who never saw a public asset they didn't want to privatize will be that "if museums aren't making enough money to stay open, then nobody will get to see any of their art (and therefore they should sell some of it, in order to at least be able to display the remainder)." 

This is in fact the explicit argument that Mr. O'Hare makes in his article, in almost those exact words. He writes: "Money is how museums have staff, galleries, programs and lighting."

But it is wrong to assume that anything that is a public good must "make enough money" on its own to provide that good. The common defense of the nation is a public good, but we don't insist that the army and the navy and the air force fund themselves with bake sales (or by selling off tanks or airplanes that they are not currently using to private citizens who can put them to better use). Do we insist that in order for defense to benefit the public, it must turn enough of a profit to pay for itself? The very question is ludicrous. But this is the very same argument that proponents of neoliberalism constantly deploy in order to lobby for the privatization of the infrastructure, from education to healthcare.

If anyone thinks about it carefully for a few minutes, it should be clear that the exact same issue at the heart of the seemingly "academic" debate over the sale (or "deaccession") of certain pieces of art in museums is also at the heart of the entire "net neutrality" debate in the united states, in which the proponents of greater privatization are arguing that "the internet is not a utility" and that in order for the internet infrastructure in the united states to stay up with the rest of the world, it must not be viewed as a "utility" (like other utilities such as the electrical grid or the water supply) but should instead be privatized without restraint.

As Professor Michael Hudson argues in many different places, the classical economists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were fairly well united in their opinion that providing the elements of the public infrastructure for subsidized (and therefore artificially low) prices -- or, ideally, even for "free" -- will benefit the society as a whole by making it less expensive for everyone to do business, hire employees, move goods to market, and otherwise transact commerce. If roads, bridges, electricity, water, and even "less obvious" components of the infrastructure such as education and healthcare, could be made available to everyone by the government, then the cost of business will be lower and men and women will be able to create businesses that they otherwise would not be able to create. 

The modern neoliberal counterargument will often concede that lower infrastructure costs are indeed beneficial, but that privatization and "competition" will provide it at a lower cost than "government." But this is another fallacy, because (as the definition of "The Commons" given by Professor Hudson  cited above states) the very things that fall into the category of "commons" are natural monopolies (such as the power grid or the water works or the road network). These are not improved by competition, but tend to become tollbooths when privatized, making them more expensive and making business more costly and less competitive. 

Obviously, not everything is a natural monopoly. Some things are improved with competition. It's good to have many restaurants competing to make burritos. Burritos are not a natural monopoly, and if there are many restaurants making burritos and competing to provide the best burrito at the lowest cost, that usually works out well for the consumer of burritos. But you cannot apply that same principle to public assets and natural monopolies, such as the road freeway system (although some extremists, including many libertarians, would like to try).

I would argue that the world's ancient wisdom contained in the myths, scriptures and sacred stories given to the human race can provide valuable insight into this pressing question of modern policy. Those things described in Professor Hudson's discussion of "The Commons" (above) can be understood as public assets because they can be seen to fit into the category of the gifts from the gods (or, for those who prefer, "gifts of nature"). The argument that the gifts of nature should not be privatized was made explicit by the first economics professor at the Wharton School (the first business school in the united states), Simon Patten, to whom Professor Hudson often makes reference. In an essay entitled "Another view of the ethics of land tenure," published in 1891, Professor Patten argued that certain things are bounties of nature, and that it is ethically wrong for some privileged few to try to privatize those gifts of nature at the expense of everyone else.

Note that in Mr. Desmarais' argument against the sale of artwork, he explicitly makes the exact same argument -- that such privatization of public assets is an ethical failure.

That artistic talent is a gift of the gods is quite clear from the numerous ancient myths in which a human artist pits his work or her work against a god or goddess -- usually the god or goddess responsible for giving out that particular type of talent to mortal men and women -- a contest which always ends in disaster for the presumptuous human who arrogantly fails to acknowledge that his or her talent is derived from the gods in the first place. We see this pattern, for example, in the famous contest of weaving, when the presumptuous Arachne declares that her own talent is superior to that of the goddess Athena, thus forgetting the very source of her own talent, which comes from the goddess herself. And there are many other ancient myths from around the world which reinforce this same message. 

From these ancient myths we can see that artistic talent is a gift from the gods, and that it is an actual ethical or moral failure to deny that fact and thus invert the proper order of things.

And yet this same inversion is exactly what neoliberalism enshrines as its central tenet. Neoliberalism declares that those things that are the gifts of the gods do not in fact properly belong to everyone but can and should be privatized for the benefit of just a few (at the expense of everyone else).

I believe that this argument over museums and artwork provides an extremely illuminating example of the ethical folly of neoliberalism. The arguments used to defend the (erroneous) position that privatizing public assets is actually best for everyone can often fool people -- but when it comes to art in public museums, those arguments fall flat. Just about everyone perceives that there is something inherently wrong with the idea of selling museum artwork in order to keep the lights on in museums, in what is supposedly the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet. Even the author who argues that it should be done tries to defend the idea by appealing to the (intuitively obvious) notion that admission to art museums should be free. 

Selling off such artwork is a very pure example of a problem that is actually going on all around us, albeit in less-recognizable form. It is the privatization for the benefit of the few of what are actually the gifts of the gods to all men and women. 



For previous posts which discuss this same subject, see also:


Sunday, January 14, 2018

The urgent and ongoing importance of the message and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


























image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929.

One of the central messages that Dr. King emphasized was the necessity of waking up and staying awake.

In an address to the graduating students of Oberlin College in 1965, entitled "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," he declared, "There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution." 

In this context, he brings up the story of Rip Van Winkle, who slept for twenty years and woke up to find the picture of the king of England outside the local pub replaced by a likeness of George Washington. Then he proclaims that the revolution that was taking place today is "a social revolution, sweeping away an old order and bringing in a new," sweeping away an old order of colonialism, slavery, and racial segregation and replacing it with a new vision of freedom and human dignity.

Then he tells the young men and women of the class of 1965 that, "The great challenge facing every individual graduating today is to remain awake through this social revolution."

Those words are given all the more poignancy because, as everyone knows, Martin Luther King was brutally and treacherously murdered less than three years after the date of that speech.

For decades, the world was told that a lone gunman, probably motivated by racism, was responsible for the killing of Martin Luther King in April of 1968. However, due to the tireless efforts of researchers including human rights lawyer William Pepper in conjunction with the King family, it has now been shown beyond reasonable doubt that the official story foisted upon the public regarding the murder of Dr. King was a deliberate fabrication and that he was actually assassinated as part of a carefully-coordinated plot overseen by powerful elements of the national security apparatus controlled by forces opposed to that new vision of freedom and human dignity that was sweeping the world.

The fact that this nefarious plot continues to be downplayed by the major news media (especially during news coverage discussing the importance of Dr. King's life and work on the observation of his birthday every year) and that the wider public is largely unaware of the criminal conspiracy behind the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968 is all the evidence we need to determine that the problems that he spoke against in the 1950s and 1960s are still very much with us today and that the subject of the life and death of Martin Luther King is not an issue of a bygone era but a very real and dramatic issue of critical importance to everyone alive today.

A civil trial held in the state of Tennessee concluded in December of 1999 that the government of the united states was guilty of carrying out a conspiracy resulting in the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

You can read the full details, along with extensive transcripts, in the 772-page book entitled The Plot to Kill King, by attorney William Pepper. 

You can also hear William Pepper discuss this case, and the significance of the life and cause of Martin Luther King, in numerous interviews such as this one and this one (with journalists outside of the "mainstream" outlets). You can also read this article, first published in January of 2016, by Dr. Asad Ismi entitled "Who Killed Martin Luther King? The Cover-up of the Century."

The fact that the absolutely explosive result of that 1999 civil trial which found the government guilty of the wrongful death of Dr. King remains largely unknown to this day is all the evidence that anyone needs in order to conclude without doubt that the "news" media in its current state does not exist to inform the public of the truth. 

On the contrary, it exists to keep the public asleep.

It exists to keep the public asleep to the existence of powerful elements who are opposed to the vision of freedom and human dignity that Martin Luther King proclaimed and that his life stood for. Elements which are opposed to the end of the old order of colonialism, slavery, and racial segregation and which are dedicated to preserving that old order. 

Elements that are very real and very powerful, as evidenced by their ability not only to orchestrate the complex criminal conspiracy to murder Dr. Martin Luther King, but also to cover up that murder at the time of its execution and to keep it covered up for the following fifty years -- including the eighteen years which have elapsed since the civil trial in which overwhelming evidence emerged which conclusively demonstrates the existence of such a conspiracy.

When Dr. King began his efforts, he and the brave individuals who worked and marched with him were protesting for civil rights and against legally-enforced segregation and disenfranchisement in the united states. However, as his speeches make clear, he saw this initial battle as being inseparable from the cause of human rights world-wide, and he explicitly stated that the end of legally-enforced segregation was not the ultimate goal but rather true equality of opportunity for all people, regardless of skin color or ethnicity, and the abolition of the causes of poverty for all people. 

You can read his statements on this subject in a speech delivered in May of 1964 entitled "The World's March Towards Human Rights," in which he calls for a unified effort of people regardless of skin color to make a "massive assault upon slums, inferior education, inadequate medical care: the entire culture of poverty." 

And in a 1962 address to the Negro Leadership Conference on Africa he declared the connection between the forces of segregation in this country and the forces of colonialism and exploitation in other countries, saying that, "Colonialism and segregation are nearly synonymous; they are legitimate first cousins because their common end is economic exploitation, political domination, and the debasing of human personality."

Today, these aspects of Dr. King's message are largely glossed over or even completely obscured by the same elements that work to keep the general population of men and women unaware of the criminal conspiracy that plotted to kill him and who then not only did so but kept that conspiracy suppressed using various forms of propaganda and "public relations" for fifty years. Economic exploitation, political domination, and the debasing of human personality have not abated in the fifty years since Dr. King's death -- in fact, they have in many ways accelerated dramatically.

As Martin Luther King told that graduating class of Oberlin College in 1965, "the great challenge facing every individual today is to remain awake."








Thursday, January 11, 2018

Dual-horizon myths, "End Times" prophecy, and the Abomination of Desolation



Above is a new video I've just published, entitled "Dual-horizon myths, 'End Times' Prophecy, and the Abomination of Desolation."

It discusses a special category of celestial myths in which the events in the story or scriptural passage incorporates and juxtaposes the rising of one constellation with the setting of another constellation.

To illustrate this concept, the video examines the stories of
  • The goddess Durga and the destructive demon MahishAsura, from ancient India
  • Perseus and the Gorgons, from ancient Greece
  • The sacrifice of Iphigenia, from ancient Greece, and
  • The casting out of Adam and Eve and the Serpent, from the book of Genesis
All of the above episodes, according to my analysis, can be shown to employ "dual-horizon action" in which the rising of one constellation (or set of constellations) is linked to the setting of another constellation (or set of constellations).

The video then proceeds to examine the evidence that the prophetic passages found in the scriptural texts of Daniel chapters 11 and 12, Matthew chapters 24 and 25, and Mark chapter 13 may be employing the same sort of "dual-horizon" metaphors.

The evidence from the texts themselves appears to be compelling in pointing to the conclusion that these prophecies are describing the heavenly cycles of rising and setting, as well as the seasonal cycles of shortening and lengthening days, all of which are used by the world's ancient wisdom found in the myths and sacred stories to convey profound truths about the interplay of the material realm and the Other Realm (or realms) beyond the material.

This evidence adds to the already-overwhelming (and, I would argue, conclusive) pile of evidence which argues that the ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories of humanity -- from virtually every culture and every inhabited continent and island -- are speaking a celestial language, and an esoteric language, founded upon the heavenly cycles of the earth, the sun, the moon, the visible planets, and the stars and constellations.

It also points to the conclusion that these prophecies are not intended to be understood literally, and that they do not describe literal future events in terrestrial history, any more than other narratives found in the Biblical scriptures (or any other ancient myths from other cultures) are describing literal events in supposed past terrestrial history.

If you are interested in the evidence that connects the world's myths with the stars, I hope that you will have an opportunity to watch this video, and to share it with others who might find it helpful. While somewhat lengthy, at 54 minutes and 15 seconds, it covers a significant amount of evidence and "Star Myth theory." 

In fact, there are plenty of other celestial metaphors in the Daniel 11-12, Matthew 24-25, and Mark 13 texts that are applicable to this discussion that I had to leave out of the video for purposes of brevity! But I believe that the evidence presented should be more than enough to establish the connection to the heavenly cycles.

Once again, I would like to make clear that all of this discussion should by no means be interpreted aan argument that the ancient myths, including those contained in the Biblical scriptures as well as those from other cultures around the world, are somehow "not true." I am convinced that they contain profound truths, and that those truths are not dependent upon their being "literal and historical" in nature.

In fact, during the video, I mention the quotations from Alvin Boyd Kuhn which I have quoted many times in other previous posts, that these sacred stories are "a thousand times more precious as myths than as alleged history" (Lost Light, page 24) and that:

Bible stories [ . . . ] are a record, under pictorial forms, of that which is ever occurring as a reality of the present in all lives. They mean nothing as outward events; but they mean everything as picturizations of that which is our living experience at all times. The actors are not old kings, priests and warriors; the one actor, in every portrayal, in every scene, is the human soul. The Bible is the drama of our history here and now; and it is not apprehended in its full force and applicability until every reader discerns himself [or herself] to be the central figure in it! The Bible is about the mystery of human life. Instead of relating to the incidents of a remote epoch in temporal history, it deals with the reality of the living present in the life of every soul on earth (The Stable and the Manger, page 4).

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A conversation with Matt Belair


above: Part 1 of the video interview

Big thank you to author, athlete and coach Matt Belair of Zen Athlete and the Master Mind, Body & Spirit podcast for having me over to a wide-ranging conversation that is now up on YouTube in two  video segments.

Those two video segments can be seen by following the links below:

Part 1 (run-time is 2 hours) 

Part 2 (run-time is 8 minutes and 55 seconds)

Those videos are also embedded on this page, with Part 1 at the top of the page and Part 2 at the bottom of the page.

Because it was a video interview, I took the opportunity to show some visual charts and diagrams to help illustrate the concepts.

While some of the myths and explanations may be familiar to those who have seen or heard other interviews, there is also some material which you might not have heard me discuss before -- and, most importantly, every interviewer has different interests and different places that he or she wants to go during the conversation, so I'm sure you'll agree that this conversation with Matt Belair will bring out some different angles that have not been discussed in other videos or podcasts.

Also, special welcome to anyone visiting this site for the first time after learning about it from this interview with Matt! I hope you will take the time to explore the world of the ancient mythology that forms a precious inheritance for each culture on our planet and which preserves profound wisdom for our benefit and blessing. I am convinced that we can hear their message more readily when we listen to them in the language that they are actually speaking -- and I am equally convinced that the language they are speaking is an esoteric language and a metaphorical language, and that it is a celestial language, one that is built upon the heavenly cycles and motions of the sun, the moon, the visible planets, and the stars.

My primary website at starmythworld.com contains links to dozens of videos, myth discussions, previous podcasts, and other material -- and the blog itself is fully searchable and now numbers over 1,000 entries.

Below are a few helpful links to previous posts containing further discussion on some of the subjects that came up during this interview with Matt, including:

I hope that you will enjoy this conversation with Matt Belair, and if this is your first time visiting this site, I hope that you will stop by often!

You can subscribe to Matt's YouTube channel here, and you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here, if you would like to be notified when a new video is posted in either of those places.

This video interview was recorded on December 21st, 2017.

below: Part 2 of the video interview