I live out in the country. Sometimes it’s lonely but as Osho says, we can embrace our aloneness, which I am doing more often. The drive to work is long, but on a clear winter night, I always stop to look up at the stars. The spring weather has finally arrived, and the flowering shrubs smell wonderful. This morning, I looked out my kitchen window, and within two minutes, saw a pair of dragonflies, a swallowtail butterfly, a cardinal, and other random (less beautiful or at least less memorable!) bugs flying around.
Part of why I decided to write Knomo Choicius was to meet new people and exchange ideas. I don’t think I had much hope that I would find anyone “LIKE MINDED,” since I often feel so weird, or as my mom says, eccentric. But maybe, I thought, just maybe there would be some people who found my ideas about the possible future of humanity interesting. Over the years, in my engineering society, I’ve met others who like to “shoot the breeze” on philosophical topics. There were several PhD’s (and quite a few with univeristy teaching experience) who were brave enough to entertain some wild ideas. There are a few chapters in Knomo that try to convey the spirit of these exchanges.
Here’s an excerpt from the book…..
The Origin of the Myth of the Son of the Goddess as Her Consort
2026 Earth Current Era
Gorka, Pearl, and Susan walked out of the door of the Glaucus Humanities Building.
“Time for drink!” said Gorka.
“Yep, it’s been a long week!” agreed Susan.
“How about that new bar over on Second and Wise?” suggested Pearl.
“Gimboling in the Wabe?” asked Gorka.
“Yeah, that’s it!” agreed Pearl. “Don’t you love the name?”
“Sure,” grinned Gorka. “Sounds like a good place for professors to shoot the breeze on a Friday afternoon.”
They walked along, joining the crowd of people getting an early start to the weekend.
“I was wondering,” said Pearl, the youngest member of the faculty amongst the three of them, “just who was this Glaucus, for whom our building was named.”
“Why are you suddenly wondering, after being here for two years?” teased Susan.
“I had a dream about some swallowtail butterflies. Turns out that our local genus, the yellow and black striped ones, are called Glaucus.”
“Why would a swallowtail butterfly be named after a Trojan warrior hero?” asked Susan, scratching her head.
“Same question I asked,” answered Pearl.
“Turns out Linnaeus decided to name
swallowtail species for Greek heros.”
“You have to find names somewhere!” said Gorka. “However, one might wonder why he didn’t save the Greek hero names for something more burly than butterflies.”
Susan laughed. “So Gorka, what about our Glaucus?”
“His family made their money in international shipping. They were Greek, following their ancient cultural heritage of the sea trade. He came to the U.S. to go to school, and he met the woman who was to become his wife. She was one of the founding members of our philosophy faculty. She thought the Humanities should be given more prominence at our campus.”
“Right. The state universities were founded for engineering and agriculture. Humanities, sciences and art came later,” added Susan.
“You know how it goes when you look something up on line,” said Pearl.
“Glaucus butterflies are not the only biological Glaucus.”
“Okay. Clue us in!” said Gorka.
“Turns out that there’s an animal called a Glaucus. It’s a nudiform mollusk, to be exact. That means it doesn’t have a shell.”
“Kind of like a slug?” asked Susan.
“Yeah, but it lives in the ocean, at the surface of the water, and spends most of its time clinging, upside down, to the surface layer of the water, and grazing on Portugese Man-O-Wars and the like. And oh, by the way, they’re less than an inch long.”
“So the Man-O-Wars don’t even notice them til it’s too late?” asked Gorka.
“I’m not sure, but apparently, either singly or en masse, they can consume an entire Man-O-War. But they don’t digest the stinging organs of the Man-O-War. They keep them to use as self protection.”
“Wow. Who would have thought of such a thing. Just goes to show that nature is really wild in so many ways,” said Susan.
“Yeah, and these creatures are an incredibly beautiful blue on top, silver on the bottom, and their arms and legs look like pentagonal fractal patterns.”
“So we have Dr. Mrs. Glaucus the American philosopher, Glaucus the
Trojan hero, Glaucus swallowtail butterflies, and Glaucus mollusks!” said Susan.
“Don’t forget Glaucus, the Greek god,” reminded Gorka.
“Here’s the bar,” said Susan, opening the door and holding it for the others. “Go get a table. I need call Michael to let him know where to meet us. Can you just order me whatever beer they have on special?”
“Sure, Susan,” Pearl said. “See you in a few.”
Susan took her place at the table, raised her glass and said “Cheers!” The other two responded. Then Gorka pointed out a detail of the art-work on the wall. “The Mad Hatter,” he said. “That’s why I’m an American.”
“What does that mean?” asked Pearl. “I’ve already gone over that in my mind. If my ancestors hadn’t come to America, ‘I’ wouldn’t exist.”
“Of course,” Gorka said. “Our specific ego forms are a result of a very large number of factors, an important one being whether our parents had a chance to meet.”
“That’s interesting,” Susan said. “The fact that we somehow can do the
thought experiment and imagine that our personal ego would still exist, even if our particular parents had never met… That is very interesting.”
“What do you mean?” asked Pearl.
“Well, doesn’t it point to the fact that some part of us thinks we are more than our genes and our culture? More than nature and nurture?”
Gorka looked at Susan, and smiled and nodded, while Pearl scratched her head. “What more could we be?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” said Susan, “but I do wonder about it. Could you pass the
Pearl pushed the basket of popcorn over towards Susan.
“So, Susan,” Gorka said, “you’re getting closer to your dream of going to space. How’s the project going?”
Susan sighed. “It’s going, but some aspects of it are making me feel like a hypocrite. My problem is that I fear the homo saps joining us on the satellite.”
“There are worse things than your type of hypocrisy,” Gorka reminded her.
“I know. My compassionate self wants the homo saps to decide to join us knomos. But I don’t want them in my back yard until they become knomos.”
“Susan, try to look at the bright side,” Pearl said. “We’ve had so many
interesting discussions. Idea after idea. Look how lonely most thinkers have been over the eons. We have a real community here in the history department, and you have another community with your Seeker friends.”
“We’ll never be able to count on the continuity of our real community until our ideas prevail across a wider range of society,” Susan grumbled.
“Well, let’s change the subject, then,” said Gorka. “Pass the peanuts, please!”
Susan did so, and then continued in a little more cheerful voice, “My capra hircus article is coming out in a new book next week.”
“You mean The Origin of the Myth of the Son as Consort of the Goddess in the
Domestication of Capra Hircus is getting a second publication?” Gorka asked, gulping in some air at the conclusion of his sentence.
Susan nodded. “All that research with the archeology department paid off. I think interdisciplinary work is starting to enter a new phase. It’s accepted now. Not just my book, of course. Others in other fields are setting examples of how productive it is.”
“Yes,” agreed Gorka. “There are now quite a few academics who have published bestsellers in fields that are considered ‘interdisciplinary work.’”
“Why do you sound so sarcastic?” Pearl asked.
“Well, as a historian, it seems a bit of a stretch to consider a collaboration of
anthropologists and archeologists as ‘interdisciplinary’ in a really meaningful way. There’s so much overlap in the questions they are trying to answer.”
“That may be the case, but I am still happy that my work has been well received,”
“So what was your exact thesis again?” asked Pearl. “You speculated that early
peoples’ religions experienced a big transformation, as large mammals neared
extinction, making it harder to bring them home for dinner.”
“Yes,” Susan agreed. “That’s the first part.”
“And then you figured out that the myth of the son as consort of the goddess must have originated when an injured pregnant caprine doe was captured and nursed back to health. Then, when her buck kid came to maturity the next year, they mated, thereby creating the foundation for the domestication of animals.”
“Yes, Pearl,” Susan said, nodding. “You have integrated the idea, now.” She smiled at Pearl, and then summarized the key point of her paper. “The doe goat was the first savior that our ancestors recognized in the changing world of the Neolithic.”
“And of course you’ll never be able to prove that this exact scenario created the idea of the offspring of the goddess becoming her consort,” Pearl said, her voice a little stronger now.
But Gorka had agreed. “It makes a lot more sense than interpreting the symbol of a human form mother taking her son as consort. That’s simply an incestuous
Michael pulled over a chair, and they redistributed themselves at the round table, to let him join in, Susan giving him a quick kiss. “Maybe that was part of the idea,” he said. “That the goddess was so powerful, she could flaunt the laws that applied to humans. It showed her power. Her son looked like her, and that was attractive to her.”
Gorka had sipped his beer, then offered “Maybe. But somehow the Eastern Orthodox Christians transformed the symbol into a depiction of Mother Mary with a miniature adult Jesus. If it had originally been showing an incestuous relationship, wouldn’t the symbol have been too toxic to transform?”
Susan took another sip of beer, and watched Pearl grab another handful of popcorn, while they mulled the transaction between the two men.
Gorka then added “I think that if the original symbol had been of an incestuous
relationship, it would have been completely suppressed in the Christian tradition. Where were Eve’s daughters in Genesis?”
Pearl agreed. “You have a good point. In ancient times, among humans, pretty
much only the Egyptians thought incest was good.”
Gorka laughed. “Good point! And then, even the Egyptians only allowed sibling spouses for the royalty. And the royal stock eventually declined because of it!”
Susan took yet another sip of beer and started shelling a few peanuts. “Yeah, I bet the humanization of the savior goat was later. And you’re probably right Pearl. By then, civilizations had multilevel hierarchies, and a powerful goddess image flaunting human laws would reinforce the power of the king, her servant, on Earth.”
It was Michael’s turn to agree. “Rules are for the weak. History shows that the powerful have always done what they wanted.”
Pearl glared at Michael. “But in prehistory, humans changed that! The powerful were constrained for thousands of years. Then, Sargon showed up.”
“Pearl, one person can’t change everything,” reminded Gorka.
“Yes, Gorka. I know. There were precursor events leading to Sargon’s conquest. But that doesn’t change the fact that for thousands of years, the weak managed to work together to constrain the powerful.”
Gorka smiled in his mature relaxed way, and side stepped back to the original
discussion. “Getting back to Susan’s point now. Freud and many others had
speculated for years on the origins of the incest taboo, and as far as archeologists and anthropologists could figure out, it far predated agriculture of any kind.”
“That’s right!” said Michael.
“What’s right?” asked Gorka.
“Freud thought that the incest taboo originally came from an uprising of the young against the alpha male and his couple of beta honchos. He speculated that the young got tired of watching the alpha have sex with all the cute females, and carried out a violent overthrow.”
“Really? Are you making this up?” asked Pearl.
“Of course not. I’m a psychologist. Why would I make something up about Freud? Read Totem and Taboo. It’s all spelled out.”
“I’ll put it on my list!”
“The bottom line, according to Freud, was that after the murder of the alpha, his
replacement was forced to abandon his hereditary and muscle enforced nearly solitary and special right to the females.”
“What does that have to do with the incest taboo?”
“I’ll spell it out!” smiled Michael. “The new alpha had to agree to avoid having sex with his daughters. Since pretty much only the alpha and beta males got to have sex, pretty much all the younger generation were daughters of the alpha and the betas.”
“Oh. So the new alpha was one of the old betas….”
“You’re catching on Pearl! There had to be some compromise at first. But Freud
speculated that this became the first law where the weak imposed their will on the strong.”
“That!” announced Pearl, “is very interesting. So really, the incest taboo was against fathers having sex with their daughters. It originally wasn’t against sisters and brothers. So the Egyptians weren’t going against the original taboo. Interesting.”
“Dudley Young, and other anthropologists, later wrote about the sister brother thing. How marrying from outside of the group built complex social structures that increased the chances of survival in tough times.”
“Well you apparently do have wide ranging interests, Michael. I guess that’s why Susan is in love with you.” Pearl grinned at Michael.
Michael rolled his eyes at the ceiling, then grinned back at Pearl.
“No,” Susan said.
“No what? You’re not in love with me?”
“No, it has nothing to do with that!” She blew him an air kiss. “No has to do with the earlier conversation. The original version of the myth of the mother taking her own son as consort must not relate to a human relationship.”
“Well, I do hope you still believe what you published in the article, Susan,” said Pearl.
“I think it’s ok to continue to question my conclusions, even after I’ve published!” Susan announced, and raised her glass to her own intellectual integrity.
“Good point, Susan. Good point. Better be open minded than certain,” Gorka said.
Susan continued her explanation. “To be holy way back then, it had to be realistic, and to be realistic, it had to be some non-human animal. First of all, because humans felt weak, so a human would not have been the first choice to be deified. Secondly, as you just noted, in human society, only the males took their daughters as sexual partners. Unless he was an alpha or beta, a woman taking her son to father her offspring was revolutionary. The wild ancestor of the modern domesticated goat is the most likely candidate for the origin of the feminine godhead.”
Gorka laughed. “That is pretty much the same way you explained it the last time!”
“Well, there’s some shade of different understanding now. I have greater confidence in what I am saying.”
“You do think out of the box, Susan,” Gorka acknowledged. “I’m sure you’ll be able to find new collaborators in the anthropology department.”
Michael nodded. “Her next article will be ‘The Origin of Feminism in the Myth of the Horned Mother Goddess.’”
Susan grinned. “At least the title of that one will be a little shorter.