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civilization and barbarism

"Just following orders"

"Just following orders"

Spoiler alert: do not watch the above clip if you have not seen the film Breaker Morant yet. Instead, go watch it as soon as you can possibly find a way to do so.

Foreword note: Let me state at the outset that, while the essay below primarily deals with the responsibilities of the individual, on the larger scale I believe that war in itself is a criminal act under the concept of natural universal law except in the very limited cases in which it is undertaken in self-defense to stop an ongoing act of invasion or killing, just as individually using force against someone else is only justified to when one's own person or home is actually attacked, and only until the aggressor stops (you cannot keep going after that, or you become the aggressor). Further, it is not self-defense if you are actually invading or taking the land of another people and they offer resistance: it is proper to use force against someone who breaks into your home at night, and the person breaking in cannot claim to be acting in accordance with natural law if that person points to your legitimate use of force and calls it aggression and calls their subsequent actions "self-defense." The idea that individuals can violate natural law when acting in groups or on behalf of a "country" or other entity is a form of mind control.

When I was a young cadet at West Point, we received countless classes in a variety of subjects related to the standards of morality and honor expected of an officer, including numerous classes devoted to one particular subject: the absolute duty of an officer to refuse to carry out an unlawful order.

Ask any of my classmates and they will attest to the fact that this particular subject was stressed over and over, and to the fact that the film which we would watch almost every time this subject was going to be discussed was Breaker Morant (released in March of 1980). I believe I can safely say without exaggeration that my classmates and I were shown Breaker Morant at least five times in its entirety in conjunction with classes on and discussions about the topic of unlawful orders, and probably closer to ten or even twelve times during our four years at the Academy.

Fortunately, Breaker Morant is an outstanding film, and anyone who has not seen it should do himself or herself a favor and go watch it immediately. I think the first time I saw it I did not understand a word that anyone said in the movie (Australian being a very difficult language when first encountered by non-native speakers) but after seeing it so many times I can probably recite the entire movie from memory.

The point of showing Breaker Morant to young future officers was that in the film (which is based on true events which took place during the horrendous Boer War, 1899 - 1902) young lieutenants and captains are given orders that Boer prisoners caught wearing British uniforms are to be shot, an order which Lieutenant Morant carries out. Although one of the most powerful issues explored in the film is the fact that the junior officers who carried out the orders were court martialled while the high-ranking British officers who actually issued those orders are never tried and were not even made available to provide testimony despite the requests of the defense lawyer, the consuming focus of all our "honor classes" on this subject was

the clear and unequivocal teaching that an officer must never obey an unlawful order, and that if an officer commits an unlawful act, saying "I was just following orders" is no excuse.

In one sense, it might be said that Breaker Morant was not the best choice of films to use to try to hammer this point home: after all, Lieutenant Morant (played brilliantly by the inimitable Edward Woodward, leading an outstanding cast), Lieutenant Handcock, and Lieutenant Witton are extremely sympathetic characters who are clearly being railroaded in a gross miscarriage of justice, and as noted above the film is really about the treachery of the British high command in leaving young officers to swing in the wind for political reasons. While the shooting of prisoners who are no longer enemy combatants is clearly a crime, deliberately withholding material evidence from the defense in a capital murder trial is of course also a crime which could also have been profitably discussed in those classes (it never was), and in fact the entire Boer War can be argued to have been a criminal undertaking by the British Empire, in which a populace which wanted to remain independent and had every right to remain independent was forcibly brought to its knees in order to annex their country (using brutal tactics including concentration camps). 

On the other hand, the use of that particular film can be seen to have been an outstanding choice, in that it explores the subject of "unlawful orders" in great depth and with considerable dexterity, and powerfully dramatizes the tremendous pressures which threaten to sweep the individual off of his or her moral foundations, especially when he or she is caught up in a society which is actually being run by leaders who themselves are in gross violation of natural universal law. The irony of the events dramatized in the movie, and an irony of which the participants themselves are fully aware, is that they are being tried for murder by a system which continually demonstrates that it does not uphold the very laws that it is trying them for breaking.

While it may seem that the subject of Breaker Morant is rather far removed from the "ordinary experience" of those of us who are not exposed to the rather extreme situations Lieutenants Morant, Handcock, and Witton had to face, the subject of unlawful orders is actually incredibly relevant to all of our daily lives, and to the subjects discussed in this blog.

First, the subject has direct application to the discussion in the previous post regarding the use of the atom bomb to kill noncombatants at Hiroshima and then Nagasaki, exactly sixty-nine years ago. As that post revealed, the majority of high-ranking officers in the armed forces of the United States, all of whom had endured years of bitter fighting, believed that the use of those weapons was wrong, including the seniormost officer on active duty during the war, Admiral William D. Leahy, the Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, who stated unequivocally that dropping the bomb was barbaric and unethical.

Many of them expressed the belief that the use of the atom bombs was not necessary to convince Japan to surrender, and several of them stated that even if it was determined that their use was necessary, they could have been dropped on an uninhabited area as a demonstration of their power, with one stating that if they were to be dropped on a built-up area, civilians could have been warned some weeks in advance in order to allow them to leave before the bombs were dropped.

However, the question remains: if so many of these high-ranking officers opposed the use of the atomic bomb, and if the seniormost officer in the armed forces felt that it was actually ethically wrong and barbaric to use it, then how is it that they allowed it to be dropped? The answer is that there is a very strong tradition of civilian control of the military, and that these high-ranking officers were obeying the orders of the civilian commander-in-chief. They caused these orders to be carried out not just once, on August the sixth against Hiroshima, but again a second time on August the ninth, against Nagasaki.

That these officers believed it was their duty to carry out orders with which they strongly disagreed is quite clear from several of the quotations cited in the previous post.

General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold (West Point Class of 1907), the commander of the US Army Air Corps, stated publicly within days of the bombing that he felt the use of the atom bomb had been unnecessary. His deputy, General Ira C. Eaker, stated that:

Arnold's view was that it was unnecessary. He said that he knew the Japanese wanted peace. There were political implications in the decision and Arnold did not feel it was the military's job to question it.

There are several important points in that quotation: Arnold knew that Japan was already looking to surrender. He therefore concluded that militarily, further attacks were no longer necessary. He realized that there were apparently political reasons, but believed that there were no longer military reasons to do so. If one knows that one's opponent wants to stop the fighting, then continuing to attack (for instance, in order to push for "unconditional surrender") is no longer self-defense, but actual aggression (this situation can be argued to be directly analogous to the shooting of prisoners after they have surrendered). Further, the quotation, from someone who knew General Arnold well, indicates that Arnold believed it was not his place to question orders from the civilian politicians, although he clearly had strong misgivings about this fact.

Another indication of the same sentiment is the account in the previously-linked series of quotations from high-ranking military leaders who opposed the bombing of General Carl "Tooey" Spaatz (West Point Class of 1914), the commander of US Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific at the time of Hiroshima. He suggested dropping the bomb over the water to demonstrate its power without dropping it on civilians, and was so upset when he was told he was (in his words) "supposed to go out there and blow off the whole south end of the Japanese Islands" that he insisted on having the order in writing, saying: "I would not drop an atomic bomb on verbal orders -- they had to be written."

He later wrote: "The dropping of the atomic bomb was done by a military man under military orders. We're supposed to carry out orders and not question them." Obviously, General Spaatz was still very upset about this decision, and was explaining his reasoning for carrying out an order with which he deeply disagreed.

By the time my class went through West Point, new classes had been implemented (at some point in time) which emphasized the exact opposite: that an officer is never supposed to carry out unlawful orders and in fact has a duty to refuse to do so.

This subject relates directly to the arguments put forward by nineteenth century abolitionist, lawyer, and philosopher Lysander Spooner (1808 - 1887). He argued that an artificial law (that is to say, a "man-made law") which violates natural law is in fact an illegal law and hence no law at all, and that all men and women have a duty to refuse to honor an illegal law. He made this argument quite forcibly prior to the American Civil War (so-called, although it was not actually a "civil war" in that one side was not trying to take over the government of the nation, but rather to leave the nation), in which he argued that the Fugitive Slave Act was an illegal law in that it demanded upon penalty of imprisonment that people turn in runaway slaves, and Spooner argued that the holding of men and women as property (as slaves) was a gross violation of natural law.

Notice that he did not argue that men and women had to obey the Fugitive Slave Act, since it had been signed into law, until they were able to overturn the law through the due process of legislative action: he argued that the so-called "law" was illegal and hence no law at all. He further argued that those who argue that people are required to uphold an illegal law until it was overturned through legislative action are actually arguing for tyranny, because under that view a law is binding just because someone says it is, even if that law is illegal (such as laws enforcing slavery). In A Defence for Fugitive Slaves against the Acts of Congress of February 12, 1793, and September 18, 1850, Spooner argues that the Fugitive Slave Acts are unconstitutional (it can be demonstrated that Spooner sees the boundaries of the constitutional protections of individual liberty as co-located with the boundaries of natural law 'sprotections of individual liberty), and then goes on to say:

An unconstitutional statute is no law, in the view of the constitution. It is void [. . .]. If this doctrine were not true, [. . .] congress may authorize whomsoever they please, to ravish women, and butcher children, at pleasure, and the people have no right to resist them. 27.

By the word "ravish," it should be obvious, Spooner is describing what we would today term "rape." By offering such extreme examples as laws which would permit the raping of women and the butchering of children, Spooner was demonstrating the untenability of the position of those who argue that men and women must obey "laws" the moment they are placed on the books by a legislative body, regardless of whether or not those so-called laws violate natural universal law.

Clearly, in Spooner's eyes, even a military officer would not be required to obey the orders of the president, if that president ordered something that was clearly a violation of natural universal law (such as the employment of atomic weapons against noncombatant women and children). We could rephrase this argument as follows: "An order from a president which violates natural law carries no force of law -- it is void. If this doctrine were not true, the president could order whatever arbitrary injustice he wanted, and military officers would have no right to oppose him."

While the discussion above clearly applies to the duty of those in militaries to refuse to obey unlawful orders, Spooner argued with great moral clarity that this duty applies equally to citizens during peacetime, and particularly with regard to participation on juries. Spooner advocated a position known as "jury nullification," in which he argued that a member of a jury has an obligation to oppose a law which violates natural law or which is unconstitutional (in his eyes, they were very nearly the same thing, since he saw the US Constitution as being largely premised upon natural law, and rejected its authority in any places where it was used to support violations of natural law, such as in its toleration of the institution of slavery).

In a sense, one could argue that Spooner's position on jury nullification is very analogous to the teaching of the Breaker Morant classes I received at West Point, in that Spooner argues that a jury member had a right and even a duty to refuse to obey the instructions of a judge regarding the enforcement of an unlawful statute.

In a trial by jury, after all the arguments have been presented, the judge typically issues instructions to the jury which state that the jury has an obligation to determine whether or not the defendant has violated the law as it is written and as it has been explained by the presiding judge: they must not try to rule on whether or not the law itself is right or wrong. See for example the discussion of "instructions to the jury" on this web page of the American Bar Association, which declares that:

The judge will point out that his or her instructions contain the interpretation of the relevant laws that govern the case, and that jurors are required to adhere to these laws in making their decision, regardless of what the jurors believe the law is or ought to be. In short, the jurors determine the facts and reach a verdict, within the guidelines of the law as determined by the judge.

In other words, it is up to the judge to tell them the law, and for them to accept it and not question it, but only to determine whether or not the law was broken. But Spooner strenuously objects to this interpretation of the role of the juror: he argues that the juror is the last and most important obstacle to the imposition of arbitrary and tyrannical law. By the exact same arguments cited above, the position articulated by the American Bar Association, that the juror has no right to decide if a law is valid, could and would be interpreted to mean that a juror must vote to lock a defendant away if the law said that walking about in one's house without a shirt on was punishable by imprisonment, if the evidence presented proved that the defendant did so, regardless of the fact that such a law would be quite against natural universal law, not to mention the Fourth Amendment and various other parts of the Bill of Rights.

The arguments of the American Bar Association and the instructions they outline for the judge to give to the jury are equivalent to telling officers in the military that they must not judge whether or not an order is illegal: their duty is simply to carry it out.

In An Essay on the Trial by Jury (1852), Spooner says that such a teaching would be tantamount to tyranny, in that it would obligate men and women to uphold criminal laws. He writes of juries:

It is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge of the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of, such laws.
Unless such be the right and duty of jurors, it is plain that, instead of juries being a "palladium of liberty" -- a barrier against the tyranny and oppression of the government -- they are really mere tools in its hands, for carrying into execution any injustice and oppression it may desire to have executed. [page 1, italics in the original].

Under the doctrine of jury nullification, juries could decide not to send someone to prison for life under the "three strikes" law for the crime of stealing a piece of pizza, or they could decide not to take away someone's liberty for possessing a plant which is "legal" to possess in one state and "illegal" in another. This position does not mean that Spooner is arguing that juries can simply decide what laws they "like" or don't like: note carefully that he argues that jurors have a duty to hold invalid those laws which are unjust or oppressive, which is to say those which violate natural universal law. The doctrine of jury nullification no more means that jurors don't have to uphold valid laws than the classes we received at West Point taught us that we didn't have to obey lawful orders (they absolutely taught that we did have to obey lawful orders). The classes taught us that we had a duty to resist unlawful orders, and Spooner is arguing that jurors have a duty to nullify unjust laws (those which can be demonstrated to violate the higher law of natural universal law).

We now see that we do not need to find ourselves in the rather extreme circumstances of risking arrest for refusing to tell the whereabouts of a fugitive slave, or fighting a guerrilla war on the high veldt at the turn of the century (the last century), or facing orders to drop an atomic bomb, in order to think about the importance of refusing to enforce an unlawful order, and to apply the teaching that we each have a duty to refuse to carry out illegal orders.

We should hope that, had we faced those extreme situations, we would not have turned in a runaway slave (even though the law said we could go to jail if we did not), and we would not have shot prisoners after they surrendered (even though our superior officers had told us that this was now the official policy), and we would not have acquiesced to the decision to use the atom bomb (even though we received unequivocal orders to do so). But, even if we never are put to such a drastic test, there will be times in each of our lives (perhaps on jury duty, perhaps in some other capacity) when, in Spooner's words, we must be "a barrier against the tyranny and oppression of the government" rather than "a mere tool in its hands for carrying into execution any injustice and oppression it may desire to have executed."

Afterword:  If you read the evidence in my latest book, The Undying Stars, regarding aspects of world history which are not well known (and which in fact have been carefully covered up) and the mechanisms of mind control (including literalist religious dogmas but also political structures and hierarchies) which have been used by a relatively small number of people in positions of power to influence the majority of people (who generally know natural law more or less innately) to permit atrocious violations of natural law, you will understand that the above discussion is not a departure from the normal subject matter discussed on this blog, but is instead actually quite central to it. Some discussion of the connections can also be found in this interview.

Make your plans to attend the Eternal Knowledge Festival at Atherstone!

If you have the ability to do so, you should strongly consider making your plans to attend the upcoming Eternal Knowledge Festival for 2014, which will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 4th through July 6th, at the Purley Chase Conference Centre, Atherstone, Warwickshire.

The Eternal Knowledge Festival is hosted and organized by Lucy Wyatt and Gary Evans.  

Lucy Wyatt should be familiar to regular readers of this blog: her work on the shamanic roots of civilization were very influential in the formation of my own understanding and analysis as I began to wrestle with the question of why the ancient sacred scriptures and traditions around the world so consistently manifest a common pattern of celestial allegory. Previous blog posts discussing her important work include: 
Lucy's interview on Red Ice Creations from March of 2012 can be found in two parts here: part one and part two (Red Ice membership required to access their extensive archive: highly recommended and well worth the subscription!). 

Gary Evans is an explorer and a speaker, and provides public relations to increase the awareness of the work of several alternative researchers and authors.  His own interview on the Red Ice Creations site, with Lana Lokteff on Radio 3Fourteen, can be found here (again, membership required but well worth it).

In addition to the opportunity to meet and talk with Lucy Wyatt and Gary Evans, participants in the Eternal Knowledge Festival will have the opportunity to attend talks and workshops presented by many insightful thinkers and philosophers and authors and explorers on a wide range of subjects, including:
Unfortunately, I personally will not be able to attend this year's Eternal Knowledge Festival, but as you can see it promises to be an exciting time.

If it is at all possible, everyone who is interested in these important topics should try to make plans to be there!

The Warriors and the Ten Thousand

Many people are aware that the classic 1979 film The Warriors (based on the 1965 book by Sol Yurick) has deliberate and overt parallels to the famous "march of The Ten Thousand," the account of an army of Greek mercenaries who were isolated in the middle of the Persian empire and had to "bop their way back" to friendly territory.  I myself still vividly remember having this fact and all the parallels explained to my seventh grade Latin class by our outstanding Latin language and classical history teacher, only a couple of years after the movie hit the box office.

In the movie, every gang in the city sends a delegation of nine representatives, none of them (in theory) armed, to a big "conclave" in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.  There, Cyrus -- the leader of the biggest gang in the city (the Gramercy Riffs) -- delivers his famous speech (part 1 -- part 2 -- part 3), in which he dramatically points out to the assembled "soldiers" that the various gangs, if they would only stop fighting against each other, far outnumber the police and anyone else who might stand in their way.

However, when Cyrus is treacherously shot by the leader of a gang calling themselves "The Rogues," who promptly frames the Warriors for the murder, the Warriors find themselves isolated in the middle of unfriendly territory, with every gang in the city (especially the Riffs) out to get them.

This plotline very closely parallels the situation faced by the Greek band of ten thousand hoplites who had ventured into the heart of Persia behind the popular Persian prince Cyrus, the son of Darius II, to face his older brother (the new King of Persia) in battle in an attempt to seize the throne. Cyrus was killed in the Battle of Cunaxa in 401 BC, and the Greeks were isolated, deep in enemy territory, outnumbered by enormous armies and with hundreds of miles of hostile territory between them and their homeland, all of it occupied by various tribes who would oppose their passage through, in addition to the armies of the King who had killed Cyrus and scattered his other troops.

In addition, one of the generals of the King treacherously captured and killed the leading Greek generals immediately after the battle, and so one of the Greek warriors -- the Athenian Xenophon, who was probably about 26 or 27 years old -- was elected to be the new leader (by his own account) and successfully brought them to safety (see the map below showing their route).

Xenophon's account of the expedition and its desperate aftermath, which was called the Anabasis in Greek and which is sometimes called The Persian Expedition in English (the Greek word itself means "A Journey up from the Sea"), makes clear that the Greek warriors were extremely able fighters, possessed of deep traditions and admirable discipline, and with solid tactics that made them more than the match of whomever they faced, as long as they kept their wits about them and did not give in to fear or panic.

They also display throughout the entire ordeal a deep faith in the gods and in the propriety of their own behavior, and a belief that if they acted uprightly rather than treacherously, the gods would be on their side rather than on the side of their enemies, who did act treacherously and murderously.

And, while the movie version contains the memorable speech given by Cyrus, complete with rhetorical flourishes, the speeches recorded in Xenophon's ancient account of the march of the Ten Thousand take second place to no one for their stirring articulation of the ideals of the proud and free Greek soldiers, who may be cut off, isolated, and outnumbered, but who would rather fight like free men than throw themselves on the mercy of the Persians.

When, after the Battle of Cunaxa is over and Cyrus has been killed, the King sends his heralds (led by a Greek named Phalinus who is working for the King) to the Greek army and demands that they surrender their arms and appear at the court, to obtain whatever favor they could get from the King,  the reply recorded by Xenophon given by Theopompus the Athenian is timeless:
As you see, Phalinus, the only things of value which we have at present are our arms and our courage.  So long as we keep our arms we fancy that we can make good use of our courage; but if we surrender our arms we shall lose our lives as well.  So do not imagine that we are going to surrender to you our only valuables.  On the contrary, with their aid we shall fight for what you value, too.  [page 105 of the Penguin edition (translation by Rex Warner, first published in 1949)].
Phalinus, trying to persuade the Greeks to lay down their arms, gives them various reasons to do so. The leader of the Greeks, Clearchus, gives Phalinus their final answer:
Well, then, so much for your advice.  Now you can take back our answer, which is that we consider that, if it is a case of becoming friends with the King, we shall be more valuable friends if we retain our arms than if we surrender them to someone else; and if it is a case of fighting, we shall fight better if we retain our arms than if they are in someone else's possession.  106.
Thus should free people always reply to tyrants and their persuasive counselors -- not with malice or ill intent, but with dignity and the willingness to stand on the natural-law right of men and women to defend their persons and freedom against violence from any quarter, howsoever cloaked in the garb of supposed worldly authority.  The ancient Greeks knew their rights and the difference between freedom and slavery, and thus were able to make such a reply.  In the intervening centuries some people have forgotten those rights and differences, while others have malevolently done whatever they could to obfuscate these simple and anciently-established principles.

The names in the ancient account closely parallel those in the movie.  Cyrus, of course, has the same name in both epics.  Xenophon's account paints Cyrus as an admirable, brave, and generous leader, and one who admires the Greeks for their ferocious dedication to their freedom.  At one point before the fateful Battle of Cunaxa, he addresses the Greeks:
Soldiers of the Greeks, I am not leading you into battle with me because I am short of native troops.  No, the reason why I sought your help was that I considered you to be more efficient and formidable than great numbers of natives.  I want you, then, to show yourselves worthy of the freedom which you have won and which I think you happy in possessing.  You can be sure that I would rather have that freedom than all I possess, and much more. [. . .] 82.
Clearchus, who is treacherously murdered by the King's general Tissaphernes after the battle is over, is no doubt Cleon in the movie, the leader of the delegation of nine Warriors to the conclave in the Bronx, who is fingered by the leader of the Rogues and is surrounded and beaten down by a mass of hostile Gramercy Riffs.

Xenophon himself is no doubt Swan (note the linguistic similarity of the two names), who is elected "war chief" by the rest of the Warriors after a tense standoff with the powerful fighter Ajax, in a scene that has some parallels with the episode in the Persian Expedition in which Xenophon offers himself as the new leader after the murder of the Greek generals.  In that scene, Xenophon says that all the captains of the Greek army wanted Xenophon to be their leader, except for one Apollonides, who opposed Xenophon and started complaining about all their difficulties.

Apollonides does not play any significant role in the rest of the Anabasis, but Ajax is actually one of the most memorable characters in the film, because although he is sullen about not being elected to be the new war chief, he is actually happy as long as he is given opportunities to fight, and approaches every one of the film's "battle scenes" with a grim sort of joy, and he is unstoppable until he falls into a trap set by the police and is hauled away in cuffs.

In the film, the Warriors have to get back to Coney Island, and Swan articulates the sentiment that once they see the ocean, they figure they're home.  In the Anabasis, there is an unforgettable moment when the embattled Greeks, who have fought their way through tribe after tribe, across range after range, crest the summit of Mount Thekes and catch a glimpse of the sea for the first time:
They came to the mountain on the fifth day, the name of the mountain being Thekes.  When the men in front reached the summit and caught sight of the sea there was great shouting.  Xenophon and the rearguard heard it and thought that there were some more enemies attacking in the front, since there were natives of the country they had ravaged following them up behind, and the rearguard had killed some of them and made prisoners of others in an ambush, and captured about twenty raw ox-hide shields, with the hair on.  However, when the shouting got louder and drew nearer, and those who were constantly going forward started running towards the men in front who kept on shouting, and the more there were of them the more shouting there was, it looked then as though this was something of considerable importance.  So Xenophon mounted his horse and, taking Lycus and the cavalry with him, rode forward to give support, and, quite soon, they heard the soldiers shouting out 'The sea! The sea!' and passing word down the column.  Then certainly they all began to run, the rearguard and all, and drove on the baggage animals and the horses at full speed; and when they had all got to the top, the soldiers, with tears in their eyes, embraced each other and their generals and captains.  In a moment, at somebody or other's suggestion, they collected stones and made a great pile of them. 211.
In George Cawkwell's introduction to Rex Warner's translation of the Persian Expedition, that Oxford professor (and native of New Zealand) begins by saying:
Every schoolboy used to know how ten thousand Greeks found themselves in the heart of the Persian empire a thousand miles from Greece, with half their leaders arrested by the Persians, and with a Persian army at hand, and how Xenophon the Athenian took charge and brought them safely home over rivers and mountains, through terrible winter and equally terrible barbarian foes, and it was a dull schoolboy indeed who did not thrill at the sound heard one day by Xenophon from the rear of the column as he laboured up yet another mountain against, as he thought, yet another hostile tribe -- 'The sea, the sea.'  9.
Sadly, it is safe to say that most schoolchildren can now go from kindergarten through graduate school without learning the story of the ten thousand Greeks, and the thrilling sound heard one day by Xenophon, "The sea, the sea."  Even George Cawkwell's phrasing makes it clear that when he himself wrote those words, in 1972, it was no longer the case that every student would as a matter of course learn the story.

That cultural amnesia is most unfortunate -- and characteristic of much else that we have forgotten about the ancients.  The march of the Ten Thousand has plenty to teach us today about courage against seemingly impossible odds, and about devotion to freedom, of faith in the wisdom of standing for the natural rights of mankind against tyranny, of faith in that which is divine, and revulsion for those who are willing to treat other men as gods instead.

Cyrus himself said he was envious of the freedom which the Greeks had won for themselves -- a freedom which we in fact are still heirs to.  Let's not forget that, no matter how far away from the sea we may seem to be at the moment.

Exposing the for-profit prison industry -- of orcas

Blackfish (2013) is a powerful and deeply disturbing documentary about the amazing whales known as orcas or killer whales, and the story of orcas in captivity.

The documentary centers around the life of a captive male orca named Tilikum, who was taken from the wild at a young age and turned into a performance whale.  The film explores the impact that decades of captivity and confinement have on the whale, and the tragic consequences.

The story of the capture of killer whales in the wild is heartbreaking, especially when the film documents the extraordinary loyalty and affection that orcas demonstrate within their family units (pods).  The scenes of the capture of baby orcas shown during the film is particularly disturbing in light of the descriptions given by Howard Garrett, an orca researcher and the co-founder and director of the Orca Network (bio on this page), beginning at about the 24:00 mark into the film (he can also be seen in the trailer clip above at about 1:09).  He explains:
They live in these big families.  And they have lifespans very similar to human lifespans.  The females can live to about a hundred, maybe more; males to about fifty or sixty.  But -- the adult offspring never leave their mother's side.  
Each community has a completely different set of behaviors.  Each has a complete repertoire of vocalizations -- with no overlap.  You could call them 'languages.'  The scientific community is reluctant to say any other animal but humans uses languages, but -- there's every indication that they use languages. 
Note that these aspects of orca society correlate very strongly with scientific research discussed in this earlier blog post entitled "Dolphins and Consciousness," in which dolphins appear to call to one another using specific "names" -- indicating that dolphins are aware of the individual identities of other dolphins, and that they are aware of their own identity as well.

Several scenes in Blackfish seem to demonstrate the same thing in killer whales -- only instead of the cries of joy and recognition which were recorded in the dolphin study, these orcas are seen issuing plaintive cries of bereavement and grief when their children or their mothers are taken from them.

The behavior of the orcas when being rounded up for capture indicates highly intelligent awareness and even levels of tactics which seem to indicate conscious thought -- and to indicate that the whales had learned from previous encounters with humans and formed plans that might be effective based on what they had seen before (Herman Melville described the same sort of deliberate tactical planning in Moby Dick):

Blackfish also centers its focus on the tragic loss of life of two young trainers when Tilikum deliberately seizes them and drags them under the waters of the tank -- incidents which took place at two different theme parks in two different countries, twenty years apart.  Another young person was apparently killed  when he snuck into the park and stayed overnight, and decided to enter Tilikum's tank.  It also focuses on the horrible death of another young trainer in a similar incident with a killer whale at a park in the Canary Islands, as well as other non-fatal attacks which are shown in horrifying video footage.  

The poignant reflections of former trainers who participated in performances with those whales and who now regret the treatment of these intelligent mammals by the theme-park industry is juxtaposed with callous and blatantly false statements and court testimony from the theme park's corporate representatives and executives, who are seen changing their story several times to try to cover up the systemic problems inherent in keeping orcas in captivity for decades and making them perform for handfuls of fish.  One of the park's representatives goes so far as to speak for the deceased trainer and say that if she were speaking today she would insist that the attack was her fault.

Blackfish is an important film on many levels.  

The film's ability to convey the absolutely eye-opening information about the sentience and level of individual care and affection which seems to characterize the relationships that these majestic animals form with one another is a tremendous achievement in and of itself.  

The bravery of the former trainers (and former whale-hunters) who told their stories, and who were big enough to admit in front of perhaps hundreds of thousands of people that what they did in the past, which at the time they thought was right, they now see as being wrong, is also profoundly moving.  

The expose of the cruelty of an industry which places animals in captivity for its own profit, and which forces the most intelligent of those animals to perform for audiences, and then tries to argue that the life these sentient beings have is better than what they would have in the wild, should ignite a firestorm of outrage and lead to people demanding change, as well as a lot of self-reflection as to how we (each of us) could ignore and even support such inhumanity without so much as a second thought.

But the film raises questions that go even beyond these.  The more we reflect on it, the more doors it seems to open onto other aspects of modern life which should elicit some soul-searching.  

The film's up-close profile of orcas might cause us to examine our whole relationship with animals, and the world-view which sees their exploitation for entertainment or a host of other purposes as completely acceptable simply because of their position in the "food chain."  For other posts which touch on some of these issues, see here and here.

The evidence presented in the film of callous attempts by corporate representatives to cover-up and sugar-coat the full truth surrounding the tragic deaths of the young trainers who were working for their company "on the front lines" (so to speak) invokes uncomfortable parallels with other hierarchical structures in which those at the top display little or no loyalty to those at the bottom of the pyramid.  The company's willingness to blame the trainers who lost their lives, saying it was their mistake alone and in no way indicates any kind of a systemic problem, is despicable -- but it is sadly not unfamiliar.  Readers of Tom Wolfe's classic nonfiction examination of the test pilot programs of the 1950s and 1960s, The Right Stuff, will find the automatic institutional blame of the deceased victim to be eerily familiar (and more recent examples could be mentioned, but viewers of Blackfish can probably come up with several on their own).

Finally, for all of us who have enjoyed killer whale shows -- either as children growing up or as parents taking our children to see them -- the film causes some very uncomfortable reactions.  Those shows cannot be all bad, can they?  There is something very magical about the interaction of human beings with wild animals, especially wild animals who are as beautiful and intelligent as orcas (or dolphins, or elephants).  But the revelation that these shows are built on a foundation of absolute imprisonment and exploitation of those majestic creatures is unavoidable after watching Blackfish.  

The cognitive dissonance that this realization generates should cause us to question what else in our world we accept uncritically -- hypnotized perhaps by the glamorous costumes, the thrilling music, the grandiose spectacle -- but which is actually built upon a foundation of absolute imprisonment and exploitation?

Who has the right to spray silver iodide on his or her neighbors?

Here is a link to a post on this blog published in July of this year, urging readers to do their own due diligence on the possible existence of "geoengineering," just as this blog urges doing "due diligence" on any subject that might have a serious impact on their lives.

For many years, the suggestion of the possibility that the long-lasting trails of visible clouds etched across the sky by high-flying aircraft might be deliberately sprayed from those aircraft was viciously derided as a "conspiracy theory."

Those who believed that these trails, which many of us have seen on different days, sometimes criss-crossing one another so vigorously that they leave clouds that eventually grow to blanket the entire sky, are the result of the deliberate spraying of chemicals often refer to them as "chemtrails." The word "chemtrails" is a take-off on the word "contrails," which itself is a contraction of the words "condensation trails," and which refers to the simple condensation of water vapor in the exhaust of aircraft engines, leaving brief trails behind a high-flying aircraft under certain atmospheric conditions.

True contrails do not stay in the sky for hours after the aircraft goes by -- in fact, they usually remain visible for only a few seconds, and an observer can watch the back of the contrail line disappearing just about as fast as the aircraft is moving at the front end of the line.

However, those who dismiss the notion that trails such as those pictured in the image above could be the result of the deliberate spraying of chemicals refuse to call them "chemtrails."  Instead, they refer to the very idea of "chemtrails" as a "conspiracy theory," and say that this phenomenon simply represents "persistent contrails."  For example, here is a screenshot of the Wikipedia entry which will come up in the US if you search Wikipedia for the word "chemtrails" -- it is not even an entry on "chemtrails" but is instead entitled "Chemtrail conspiracy theory":

Although Wikipedia disingenuously purports to be a neutral source of information, the term "conspiracy theory" is a very loaded phrase, and its use here is clearly an attempt to prejudice the reader against the possibility that these persistent clouds produced by aircraft could be anything nefarious.  The use of this phrase suggests that anyone who entertains such a possibility is simply "paranoid," looking for conspiracies where none exist.  The entry insists in calling these aircraft trails "persistent contrails," and in the first paragraph declares: "This theory is not accepted by the scientific community, which states that they are just normal contrails, as there is no scientific evidence supporting the chemtrail theory."

Well, that settles it -- if the "scientific community" (whoever they are) has not found any "scientific evidence," then anyone who believes that these trails could be the result of chemical spraying must be a "conspiracy theorist" who deliberately ignores Science.  Notice that this sweeping assertion that "no scientific evidence" supports the "chemtrail theory" is completely un-footnoted; the reader may assume from this confident declaration that "the scientific community" has been hard at work examining the evidence, and conducting tests, to find out if there is anything to support this theory, but no such experiments are described and no such evidence is offered.  This statement is completely worthless -- in fact, it is quite possibly dishonest, which makes it worse than worthless, and reflects somewhat poorly on the standards and impartiality of Wikipedia as a source.

Just eleven days before the screenshot of the above Wikipedia entry was taken, the Sacramento Bee published an astonishing article entitled "Cloud seeding, no longer magical thinking, is poised for use this winter."  The article informs us that "cloud seeding," which consists of the spraying of silver iodide from aircraft or from ground-based aerosol sprayers, was "once considered fringe science" but has "now entered the mainstream" and is practiced all the time in California!

In fact, quotations from people whose careers appear to involve the routine practice of such spraying make it sound like cloud seeding has been going on for years, and has gotten so advanced that it is far more efficient than it was back in "the old days" of cloud seeding!  One Jeff Tilley, whose job title is "director of weather modification"(!) for the Lake Tahoe Basin and eastern Sierra Nevada, tells us: "The message is starting to sink in that this is a cost-effective tool.  The technology is better; we understand how to do cloud seeding much better.  And because we understand how to do it more effectively, it's definitely taken more seriously."

Somebody better call Wikipedia -- apparently someone has some "scientific evidence" about spraying chemical compounds from aircraft, and their evidence shows that we're getting "better" at doing it!  There's so much evidence that it is going on, in fact, that people have careers as "directors of weather modification," although you'd never suspect that if you read the Wikipedia article above. 

The quotations from the article do not really give any context to the words "better" and "more effectively" --  presumably these words are comparisons to past versions of cloud seeding, and if so then it means that these programs have been going on for some time, just like all those "chemtrail conspiracy theorists" were alleging.

Another quotation later in the article comes from an individual who is a civil engineer at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and who "manages the utility's cloud-seeding program."  This is astonishing.  For years the suggestion that aircraft are spraying chemicals into the sky has been derided as the province of conspiracy theorists who obstinately ignore the settled opinion of the unanimous "scientific community" (whoever they are), and now we discover that a municipal utility district in the capital of the country's most-populous state has the job of managing a cloud-seeding program?

The article is accompanied by a drawing of an aircraft spraying lines of silver iodide particles into the air (see here).  Apparently, the planes launch this silver iodide using propane (not something I'd want to have on an airplane with me in large quantities).  Below that is a map of California, showing the areas that this practice is going on.  

Most of the regions being sprayed are indeed lined up west of the Sierra Nevadas, which jives with the assertion in the article (and the drawing insert) that the spraying is intended to produce snowfall, increasing the snowpack in the mountains, the runoff from which feeds the water reservoirs and rivers that water the entire state.  

However, there are two large conspicuous regions shown on the map along the Central Coast beginning in Monterey and stretching all the way down to the area north of Los Angeles which are also being sprayed.  I happen to live, raise my family, and grow my garden right underneath one of these ominous grey blobs designated as "cloud-seeding projects" on that map, and I can assure the reader that there is no snowfall being "seeded" by the spraying over the sunny coastlines of Monterey, Santa Barbara, or San Luis Obispo!  

This in and of itself casts serious doubt on the possibility that this article is being completely candid and truthful in its statements.  That, and the fact that the article treats the spraying of silver iodide as (yawn) something that's been going on for a long time and not as a revelation that completely contradicts the dominant storyline that anyone who suggests that airplanes spray chemicals into the sky is a quack and a conspiracy theorist, show that this article is not being completely forthcoming.

Of course, the article does not directly state that this "cloud-seeding" program has anything to do with the chemtrails that one sees in the sky.  Its diagram shows a little turbo-prop plane dispensing the silver iodide, not a big jet like the ones that appear to be responsible for the chemtrailing, but that diagram is just a drawing, not a photograph -- we don't really know what kind of aircraft they are using because the article never says.  Furthermore, if these "cloud-seeding" programs that are now admitting to spraying silver iodide are not the same programs that are leaving the chemtrails shown in the photograph above, then this only leads to the question, what else is being sprayed from those other aircraft and leaving those other trails?

But what kind of airplane or airplanes are being used is not the point -- the point is that this article declares that silver iodide is being sprayed from planes, and that it has been going on for some time (long enough for people to have careers with titles such as "manager of the cloud-seeding program" and "director of weather modification").  In fact, it has been going on long enough for some of those career weather modifiers and cloud-seeding program managers to be able to declare that the technology has gotten "much better," and that they are now modifying the weather "more effectively" than ever before. 

This admission brings us, at last, to the real point: who on earth believes that they have the right to spray silver iodide in massive quantities over the people (and animals, and food crops) of California?

Who cares how "effective" or beneficial the outcome of this spraying is supposed to be -- does anyone think they have the right to spray chemicals over their neighbor?  Do I have the right to spray chemicals over my neighbor's house if I believe that doing so is "good for him" (or good for the collective)?  Do I have the right to sneak into his house and put chemicals in his food if I think that they are good for him?  If so, is it OK to lie about it if my neighbor asks me if I am sneaking around putting chemicals into his air or onto his food, and call him a kook and a conspiracy theorist for even suggesting the idea (even though I am, in fact, sending such chemicals his way)?

To ask the question is to answer it -- an individual does not have the right to spray his neighbors with chemicals, or to put chemicals into his neighbor's food.  Saying that those chemicals are "good for him" or "good for all of us" does not change that.  It is a violation of my neighbor's innate rights as a man or a woman -- and as such it is a form of violence.  It is a deliberate disregard for natural law (those certain unalienable Rights with which all Men and Women are endowed by their Creator -- see below).

The question then arises, does a government (whether it is a municipality or a state or any other government) somehow get the right to spray chemicals on people, even if we admit that individuals may not spray chemicals on one another?  The answer is a resounding no.  One does not get the right to violate the natural law and do violence to another man or woman (let alone a large number of men and women) just because one says he is now part of a "government."  

he authors of the Declaration of Independence were very clear on this point in 1776.  The second paragraph of that declaration begin with these magnificent and famous words:
We hold these Truths to be self evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed [. . .] 
These lines assert that governments are never rightly instituted to trample upon the Creator-endowed rights of Men and Women -- they are only instituted to secure those Rights.  The Declaration of Independence unequivocally rejects the idea that the just Powers of any instituted government can include the violation of the unalienable Rights.  

The idea, then, that a government can be in any way justified by spraying chemicals on its citizens (and their livestock, and their food crops) is completely false.  There is also the little phrase at the end of the quoted passage above about the "Consent of the Governed," which is a bit difficult to argue in the case of the spraying that apparently has been going on for years over California, since this program has been a big fat secret and anyone who suggests that it is taking place is marginalized and labeled a conspiracy theorist who doesn't care about the settled opinion of the "scientific community."

The proper response to this blatant, callous, massive, deceptive, and long-running policy of violating the rights of the men and women of California should be outrage.  Outrage similar to the outrage that many people demonstrated during the Vietnam War.  Outrage similar to the outrage that many people in various parts of the US demonstrated when legislators recently threatened to pass laws taking away their right to bear arms (which would also be an illegal violation of natural law and the unalienable Right to protect one's own Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness).  

Has anyone been demonstrating any such outrage over the revelation that they are being deliberately and routinely sprayed with silver iodide (and who knows what other chemicals)?  There does not seem to be much evidence of it, for some reason.

Many people in California spend a lot of time and extra expense shopping for and purchasing organic foods, because they are suspicious of chemicals being routinely sprayed on their foods.  They may even spend a lot of time and effort and some extra expense growing their own foods in their own gardens.  Many of them would be outraged if they were told they could not eat organic food any more, or if the government insisted on spraying chemicals over their organic food before they took it home to consume it.  But they don't seem to be upset about having silver iodide (and who knows what else) sprayed over themselves and their food on a routine basis.  

Many people in California also avoid tobacco products such as cigarettes, because they fear the chemicals with which the tobacco is usually treated, and the idea of inhaling substances which may be harmful to their bodies and their health.  They pass laws against smoking in places that young children might be forced to breath in the chemicals and smoke that might be harmful to their young bodies.  Many of them would be outraged if they were told that someone was going to come into their homes and their cars and their children's schools and preschools and daycares, and smoke big cigars and cheap cigarettes and fling the ashes all over their gardens.  But they don't seem to be upset about having silver iodide (and who knows what else) sprayed over their homes and their gardens and their places of business (and their surf spots).

Many people in California spend a lot of time worrying about global warming, or climate change, or how much carbon their cars are emitting, or how much environmental impact their lightbulbs are having, and they seek to limit the impact they and their "carbon footprint" are having on our incredibly beautiful planet, the planet that will have to sustain the lives of their children and their children's children and all of the amazingly diverse life forms with which we share our planet earth.

They would be outraged if they were told that, while they were spending extra money to buy hybrid vehicles and low-impact lightbulbs and going out of their way in a thousand different ways every day in order to stop global warming or climate change or the pollution of the air and the forests and the rivers and the oceans, airplanes were being flown over huge portions of the state and dumping silver iodide (and who knows what else) over the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Nevada and the foothills and the forests and the valleys, and which certainly has an impact on the climate, because it is deliberately designed to have an impact on the climate.  But there doesn't seem to be an overwhelming number of people worrying about the airplanes spraying at this time (Wikipedia doesn't even seem to be aware that it is going on).

The photograph at the top of this page was taken in one of the coastal regions south of Monterey which are shown to be areas with "cloud-seeding programs."  So were the other photographs below.  The fact that aircraft spraying substances that leave these kinds of chemtrails in an area prominently identified in the Sacramento Bee as having a "cloud-seeding program" suggests that the spraying described in the article and the chemtrails shown in the photographs might be related.  But so far, we do not have any official admission that chemtrails are the product of these deliberate weather modification programs.

We do, however, now have official admission that silver iodide spraying from airborne aircraft for the purpose of weather modification (geoengineering) is taking place.  This activity is unconscionable.  It is even more unconscionable that this activity has been going on in secret for so long, and that anyone who suggested the possibility that such spraying was taking place was branded a conspiracy theorist.  

All people everywhere should be outraged, even though the article only says it is happening in California, and the map only shows some parts of California as being part of the spraying program (the population centers of San Francisco and Los Angeles are notable free of such programs, according to the map).  Those who have been writing about and documenting chemtrails and geoengineering for many years have shown evidence that this deliberate clandestine spraying is taking place in many other parts of the US, and in many other parts of the world.  

The truths articulated in the Declaration of Independence are timeless truths.  They do not go in and out of style -- they outline rights that are inherent to all men and women, in all times and in all places.  The massive, deliberate, secret, program of spraying (and the accompanying campaign to marginalize anyone who points it out and to label them as an unscientific quack) is a clear demonstration that governments which are supposed to be instituted to secure those rights and to derive their just powers from the consent of the people are not doing so: that in fact they are trampling on those rights instead of protecting those rights.  

If they think they have the right to spray chemicals on people, in secret, while denying it and slandering those who point it out, what else do they think they have the right to get away with?

Those who are aware of this ongoing conspiracy must give them notice that they are in violation, and that they must stop it.  

Danny Wilten and the Orion Nebula

Above is an example of the astounding analysis by Danny Wilten, in which he demonstrates incredible correspondences between Michelangelo's famous Creation of Adam fresco and the imagery of the Orion Nebula taken by the Hubble Telescope in 2006 (link to the video).

This particular video shows how the patterns of darkness in the Hubble image have unmistakeable parallels to the patterns of shadows and outlines in Michelangelo's masterpiece.  Here is a link to a file of that 2006 Hubble image of the Orion Nebula on Wikimedia Commons, where it was a candidate for "Picture of the Year" in 2006.  The description of that image at the site explains:
In one of the most detailed astronomical images ever produced, NASA/ESA's Hubble Space Telescope captured an unprecedented look at the Orion Nebula. This extensive study took 105 Hubble orbits to complete. All imaging instruments aboard the telescope were used simultaneously to study Orion. The Advanced Camera mosaic covers approximately the apparent angular size of the full moon.
After watching Danny Wilten's video, it is quite clear that the patterns of light and dark in this amazing nebula correspond to the shadows and outlines of many of the personalities depicted in Michelangelo's fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which was painted in 1511 or 1512.  For example, the shadows that make up the woman's face below the crook of the left arm are quite distinctive, and in fact can be easily made out in the Hubble image linked above at the Wikimedia Commons site.  Below is a screen shot from the 8:54 mark in the video above, showing a zoomed-in detail of this portion of the Orion Nebula:

The correspondences to the detail in the fresco are unbelievable.  The woman's face in the image above is located directly below the word "in" along the top of the video frame, looking towards the left of the screen.  Watching the video will make the connection quite clear.

Since the Hubble Telescope did not exist when Michelangelo painted his fresco (and in fact, as far as we know, the first telescope would not be invented until 1608 in the Netherlands), what can possibly explain these uncanny parallels between a piece of art completed in the early 1500s and a high-resolution mosaic created by the Hubble Telescope during the course of 105 orbits in early 2006?

Danny Wilten discussed this and other profound questions during a recent interview on Red Ice Radio with host Henrik Palmgren, who is (in my opinion and that of many others) one of the best and most insightful interviewers alive today.   The first hour of that interview is available to all for free (and is embedded below), and the second hour (also very worthwhile) is available to Red Ice subscribers.

At about 31 minutes into that first hour, Henrik explores the possible explanations for this incredible connection between art and nebula:
HENRIK PALMGREN: Again, I want to go back to the idea of how we explain this.  There's a few different possibilities.  As far as I know, as you said, then, Danny, the Orion Nebula is something that you can't see with the naked eye.  Obviously, you can see the stars of the Orion constellation, but -- if you want to try to explain it there are a few different possibilities and I want to get your take on this.  I mean, either we're looking at ancient technology, and there can be very, very old -- this could literally be a telescope, maybe even more advanced than that -- something happened, major catastrophe, we're smacked back into, you know, kind of a prehistoric state, and we have to do it all over again, and then eventually we develop technology, develop telescopes, and it's now at this point again where we can kind of confirm, if you will, the imagery.  That's one take on it.  Another one is that someone has given the knowledge to some of us humans in the past -- or it's completely subconscious: the Muse, if you will, of these artists have given the imagery to them, for some reason, because this, well, there's a drive here, something important with it, and we're simply tapping into the importance of it.  Or, maybe the fourth option would be that, in the past, people actually went on hallucinogenic trips, and they actually visited, if you will, the area, in spirit if nothing else, and managed to see how it looks, pretty much, and thereby being able to pull it out -- what do you think, when you're looking at all this stuff, Danny?
DANNY WILTON:   Well, based on the evidence that I have found, I would probably go with the last two that you just mentioned there.  I would probably go with either that it was a subconscious thing, or maybe they used plants [. . .]
This exchange illustrates the "due diligence" process of considering all the reasonable possible explanations for a set of data, and it is something discussed in many previous blog posts (for example, there are many possible explanations for geological phenomena that we see on the earth today -- it is important to consider all the possible explanations, and consider each one fairly, examining the strengths and weaknesses of each explanation with respect to the evidence in question; see here and here and here for some previous discussions).

Note that all of the above explanations which Henrik offered have some merit.  There is abundant evidence that ancient mankind possessed extremely sophisticated awareness of the earth, the solar system, and the starry heavens -- including evidence which suggests that they were aware of bodies in the solar system (such as Jupiter's moons) not visible without a telescope.  There is plenty of evidence suggesting the possibility of ancient advanced technology.  See for example discussions here and here and here.

Henrik's second suggestion, that mankind was "given" this knowledge by someone else (perhaps suggesting the possibility of ancient alien contact) has some connections with the topics of other previous posts, such as this one and this one.

The possibility that our consciousness is somehow connected to a sort of "universal consciousness," which Danny Wilten indicates is one of the possibilities that he prefers and which in fact he explores at greater length in his e-book on the subject (which I also highly recommend) ties in with the important and ancient issue of the macrocosm-microcosm, discussed in many other previous posts such as this one and this one.

Finally, Henrik's fourth possibility, that mankind in the past was able to tap into advanced knowledge through some form of "hallucinogenic trips" actually has extensive evidence in the important subject of shamanism (see here, here, and here for instance) and in the connection to the Pyramid Texts and the possibility that the pharaohs of ancient Egypt were taking just such "hallucinogenic trips" as discussed by Professor Jeremy Naydler.  There is also the possible mushroom connection between ancient civilizations and higher consciousness.

There are other possibilities, of course, which should be considered before reaching conclusions on the remarkable evidence presented by Danny Wilten.  One that we might consider is the possibility that NASA is tricking us -- that the Hubble image of the Orion Nebula was purposely created to mimic the fresco of the Creation of Adam!  This seems like a pretty far-out suggestion, but it would be a possible explanation.  We would have to try to consider what possible motive NASA could have for such a deception.  It is also pretty difficult to maintain in light of the numerous other incredible connections in other pieces of art that Danny Wilten examines in his book -- connections that are literally breathtaking.  If the Creation of Adam were the only piece of art that matched the Orion Nebula, then we could entertain the possibility that some NASA scientists were having some fun at our expense, but because Mr. Wilten shows conclusive connections to so many other pieces of art (some also quite famous masterpieces), this possibility becomes very difficult to maintain.

Also, in order to argue that NASA tricked us with that image, we would also have to maintain that satellite imagery of the Nile delta has been altered to fit the Orion Nebula as well, as Mr. Wilten also demonstrates amazing correspondences there as well.  Is it possible that both Google and NASA are part of a larger conspiracy to create imagery corresponding to the Orion Nebula?  That seems difficult to believe, and one of the four suggestions put forward by Henrik Palmgren above seem to be more likely.

The second two of his four suggestions (which Mr. Wilten also indicate are his favorites of the four) also seem to be more likely in light of the fact that the Orion Nebula and the many pieces of art that he examines (including Creation of Adam) appear to have strong connections to the cross-section of the human brain, complete with cerebrum, cerebellum, medulla oblongata, and pineal gland!  Here again, the correspondences are quite compelling -- in fact, Mr. Wilten discusses the fact that neurosurgeons and other doctors have already reached the startling conclusion that the Creation of Adam depicts the structures of the human brain!

All of this appears to mesh with the Hermetic dictum of "as above, so below," as Danny Wilten points out in his book and in the interview.  It also resonates quite strongly with the teachings of Santos Bonacci discussed in previous posts.

The correspondences that Danny Wilten has discovered, without a doubt, contain tremendous significance.  We should all be grateful to him for his work and his analysis, and wish him the best in his ongoing endeavors.

The discovery of the Nag Hammadi library

It was sometime in December of 1945 when three brothers, fellahin from the village of al-Qasr (see detailed map below) unearthed an ancient jar at the foot of the cliffs of the Jabal al-Tarif west of the village of Hamrah Dun.  Although they could not know it at the time, it was a discovery of enormous import.

The jar contained texts written on papyrus and bound into codex form, and the contents of those codices turned out to be texts that were most likely declared to be heretical in the fourth century AD and were thus buried to escape detection and destruction -- destruction that was so thorough that the teachings in these texts were almost completely eradicated and could only be pieced together by inference from writings by those who were on the side of those ordering their destruction and who were denouncing the doctrines that were preserved in the codices inside this ancient jar.

The discovery, then, opened a window onto a part of the ancient world that had been sealed off for centuries, an imperfect window to be sure, but since all the other windows onto that view had been deliberately smashed and bricked over (so to speak), it was an important window indeed.

These texts would come to be called the "Nag Hammadi library," and they would take a rather circuitous path to publication and translation, but they are now available to the public (since 1975) and can be found online in various places, such as here.  

The story of their discovery has been told by Professor James M. Robinson, who was responsible for tracking down the discoverers and determining the approximate date of their discovery (which had not been previously specified beyond a range of years), as well as for much of the analysis of the texts and their significance.  He spoke in person with the field hand who discovered the texts, and in an essay entitled "Nag Hammadi: the First Fifty Years" published in the Proceedings of the 1995 Society of Biblical Literature Commemoration, explains that the three brothers, named Muhammad Ali (the eldest brother), Khalifa Ali, and Abu al-Magd, were digging for fertilizer in the talus at the foot of the Jabal al-Tarif.  From his interviews with Muhammad Ali, Professor Robinson discovered:
When the local sugarcane harvest was over and the land lay fallow during the brief winter, he regularly dug soft earth at the foot of the cliff that served as fertilizer for the fields.  He had been digging fertilizer, he recalled, just a few weeks before the Coptic Christmas, which is January 7, when he made the discovery.  [. . .]

Muhammad Ali at first feared to open the jar (sealed with a bowl attached with bitumen to the mouth of the jar) lest it contain a jinn.  But then it occurred to him it might contain gold.  This gave him courage enough to break it with his mattock.  Out flew, into the air, what he thought might be an airy golden jinn, but which I suspect was only papyrus fragments.  He was very let down to find only worthless old books in the jar.  

He tore some up to share with some of the other camel drivers who were present, which explains some of the damage and loss which does not fit the pattern of what one would expect from the gradual deterioration of the centuries.  Since the other camel drivers, no doubt out of fear of Muhammad Ali, declined his insincere offer to share, he stacked it all back up together, unrolled his turban from around his head, put the codices in it, slung it over his shoulder, unhobbled his camel, drove back home, and dumped the junk in the enclosed patio in his house where the animals and their fodder were kept.  His mother confirmed to me that she had in fact burnt some along with straw as kindling in the outdoor clay oven.
We will probably never know what was on those texts that helped light the outdoor clay oven.  However, scholars have since determined that the jar contained thirteen codices (the twelfth was probably sacrificed as kindling, according to the analysis done by Professor Robinson, and only one text and the opening of another text from the thirteenth survive, having anciently been stuffed inside the cover material of the sixth codex), and that the surviving library of texts number forty-seven (not counting additional fragments and duplicates).  They have been given the name "the Nag Hammadi texts" or the "Nag Hammadi library" after the largest village near the cliffs where they were found (circled in green in the map above and notable for a bridge there across the Nile; the jar itself was found closer to Hamrah Dum, which is circled in red and has a red arrow pointing toward the cliff area one kilometer west, where Muhammad Ali told Professor Robinson he and his brothers discovered the jar; they were from the village of al-Qasr south of Hamrah Dum and circled in blue).

Nag Hammadi is located near the dramatic bend in the Nile just north of Luxor, which in ancient Egypt was called Thebes, the mighty ancient capitol of Upper Egypt (southern Egypt, the "upstream" and thus "upper" portion of Egypt, since the Nile flows south-to-north).  The map below shows the region and its terrain, along with a red arrow indicating Nag Hammadi and a blue arrow indicating the Jabal al-Tarif below whose cliffs the jar was buried.

Note that the terrain of Egypt shows clear geological evidence of massive water movement which shaped the severe terrain in the vicinity of Nag Hammadi and Luxor.  The deep gullies and wadis with their serpentine branches were probably formed by outrushing groundwater erupting and pouring out into the channel that would later hold the Nile River, when the entire area was covered by water that was trapped after the global flood described in the hydroplate theory of Dr. Walt Brown.  When this trapped water was rapidly and violently released and drained into the Mediterranean (probably due to the Mediterranean's breaching of the Dardanelles and Bosporus and the rapid filling of the area now covered by the Black Sea -- as that water flowed east, the water that had covered Egypt flowed out and into the now-lower Mediterranean; this aspect of the hydroplate theory is discussed on this page of Dr. Brown's book, towards the bottom of that web page, just above the inset entitled "Prediction 3").  

Dr. Brown discusses similar canyons to those seen in the terrain map above, but in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon.  There, many deep canyons are also seen which he describes in the section entitled "Side Canyons" a little less than halfway down this page, saying, "These side canyons also have their own side canyons, all connected like branches on a big, bushy tree. Surprisingly, most side canyons, at least today, have no source of water that could have carved them—or basins above that could have held much water."  On this later page, also dealing with the geology in and around the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Dr. Brown explains that the side canyons and barbed canyons there were most likely carved by water from the water table that had previously been much higher (before the trapped inland seas or giant lakes breached and lost all their water) erupting out of the flanks of the cliffs that today are high and dry (see his sections called "Side Canyons of Marble Canyon and Grand Canyon" and also "Barbed Canyons," both about halfway down the web page). 

To see where this particular Nag Hammadi and Luxor portion of the Nile fits into the larger picture of Egypt, see the map below.  Similar geological signs of catastrophic water outflows can be seen further east, where the outflowing water ended up in the Red Sea and connected ultimately with the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean:

Getting back to the incredibly important texts found buried in that ancient jar at the base of the Jabal al-Tarif, they have been generally categorized as reflecting a "gnostic" understanding of the origin of mankind and our purpose here in this life, a perspective that is at odds with the understanding that would become the teaching of orthodox Christianity and which would therefore be violently declaimed against and apparently was stamped out.  The texts are described by Marvin Meyer in his 2005 book The Gnostic Discoveries: The Impact of the Nag Hammadi Library as follows: 
Research on the Nag Hammadi library and the Berlin Gnostic Codex [also found in Egypt but in the late 1800s, which appears related in its contents to the Nag Hammadi texts and which contains four texts] has disclosed a broad spectrum of perspectives among the texts that may be identified as gnostic or gnosticizing, and the texts seem to fall roughly into five groups.  These five groups may reflect, for several of the groups, gnostic schools of thought embraced by teachers and students in communities.

The first group of gnostic texts in the Nag Hammadi library consists of the Thomas texts: the Gospel of Thomas, the Book of Thomas, and probably the Dialogue of the Savior. [. . .]

The second group of texts derives from the Sethian school of thought.  Sethian texts reflect traditions of Seth, son of Adam and Eve, as a paradigmatic human being. [. . .]

The third group of gnostic texts represents the Valentinian school of thought.  Valentinus was a second-century Egyptian who became a Christian gnostic teacher and preacher in Alexandria and Rome. [. . .]

The fourth group of gnostic texts in the Nag Hammadi library comes from the Hermetic heritage.  The Hermetic tradition has been known for a long time, and Hermetic texts, collected in the Corpus Hermeticum, have assumed a prominent place in discussions of mystical religion in antiquity and late antiquity. [ . . .]

[. . .]  Within the texts of the Nag Hammadi library there are three Hermetic texts, two previously known, an excerpt from the Perfect Discourse and the Prayer of Thanksgiving, and one new Hermetic text, the Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth.  

The fifth group of gnostic texts in the Nag Hammadi library and the Berlin Gnostic Codex is hardly a definable group, but instead consists of those gnostic texts that defy classification.  These texts seem to incorporate leading gnostic themes, as suggested above, and may show similarities to other gnostic texts and traditions, but they do not fit neatly into the other groups of gnostic texts.  48 - 52.
Such is the categorization suggested by Marvin Meyer and other scholars.  Others may perhaps organize or categorize them differently.  However they are categorized, their significance is profound on many levels and for many reasons.  First, as Marvin Meyer explains elsewhere in the same book, "Prior to the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, 'gnosticism' typically was considered to be an early and pernicious Christian heresy, and much of our knowledge of gnostic religion was gleaned from the writings of the Christian heresiologists, those authors who attempted to establish orthodoxy and expose heresy in the early church. [. . .]  Since the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library and related texts, the study of gnostic religion and its impact upon ancient and modern religion has been fundamentally transformed" (1-6).

Second, the deliberate burial at the base of a cliff after sealing the texts into a jar suggests that those who valued these texts were hiding them from those who wanted to suppress or even destroy them, and this brings up the entire theme of the destruction of ancient knowledge which has appeared in previous posts such as this one and this one.   Marvin Meyer provides evidence that these texts may have been buried upon the publication of the Festal Letter of Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, in AD 367 (also known as the 39th Festal Letter (Meyer 30-31).  This letter lists the texts considered canonical and condemns as heretical those that are "an invention of heretics."

Finally, the texts have great importance to us on their own merit, for the light they may shed upon the meaning of human existence and the nature of human consciousness.  For this, the reader is encouraged to examine them for himself or herself (again, they can be searched and read here).

There is also the matter of that mysterious report from the discoverer of the long-lost jar containing the library, who said that when he broke open the jar, out flew what "might be an airy golden jinn," but which Professor Robinson says he suspects was "only papyrus fragments."  I wonder . . .