Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Annotated Poems of Carin Perron

The Annotated Poems of Carin Perron is now available as an Amazon Kindle e-book. You can preview it live by clicking on the cover on the left or the button below.  (I uploaded it on Saturday but the "look Inside" feature has yet to be enabled. It can take up to a week. The downloadable free preview for the Kindle readers is available now).

The poet Carin Perron (1957-2003) was a crafts-person of poetry and often spent many years to perfect a poem. Published in such prestigious journals such as Ariel: A Review of International English literature, she made history by winning first place in the Bournemouth International Festival poetry competition after placing third in the two previous years. She had entered the competition only those three times. To mark the event, the three prominent judges of those years gave her an additional prize of signed copies of one of their books. Her poem Anne (For Anne Morrow Lindbergh) was read to its subject on her deathbed in 2001 by a friend. It was one of the poems which had won a prize at the Bournemouth Festival.

More than a complete collection of poems, Carin includes many notes on her works including the stories behind the poems and even a short instructional essay on the very difficult poet form: the sestina. The rhyming example, The Room, was the poem published in Ariel. She always wanted to change people's perception of poetry and how it was taught. Many of the poems have not been previously published and she worked on the manuscript for this book entirely during her three-year chemo-therapy treatments for terminal breast cancer.

A true "Renaissance Woman", at that same time, she worked on designing and building the "Celtic Coin Index Online" for Oxford University: a database of more than 28,000 ancient British Celtic coins and, as a portrait artist, had started a project of painting several copies on Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa". Her two cancer poems present opposing views of the disease: one poignant; the other heart-warming.

As her husband of nineteen years, I promised that I would see her work through to publication but it has taken many years for me to feel up to this task and for that I must apologize to those who have waited long to see this book. I have also included additional annotations on several poems. The structure and section titles are as she had planned although I have included an additional poem that had never made it to the manuscript having been written not long before her death. I have also changed the order of two of the last three poems reserving the final place for the poem, Domestic Epiphanies about our family life at home which she had me read at her memorial service. The collection includes both structured and free verse forms and includes several poem cycles. Much of her work owes something to French poetic forms. I have included, as an appendix, her last autobiography.

My next e-book will be a reworking of two of my blog series: "Dean Crawford: Living among the Dobunni" and "In praise of metal-detecting". It will appear shortly. The following e-book project: "Jungian Archaeology" will take much more time to complete. I have published five e-books in the last ten months. This last one will soon show up on my Amazon Author Page:
https://www.amazon.com/author/john_hooker


John's Coydog Community page

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Project completed and an important new one to start on Monday


All three volumes of The Gundestrup Cauldron: a new theory are now published:

1: Imagery, origin and date
2: Context
3: Symbols of Transformation

If you follow the links you will be redirected to your most local Amazon store to purchase.

On Monday, I am starting a new project: the complete and annotated poetry of my late wife Carin Perron (1957- 2003). She made history in poetry competition by placing in the top three positions three years in a row in the poetry contest at the Bournemouth International Festival (blind judging by three different British poets). In her first year of entry she tied for third place for Anne (for Anne Morrow Lindbergh). The judge, Sebastian Barker, said at the Adjudication that he found the poem "stylistically assured and deeply moving." The poem was also read to its subject, Anne Morrow Lindbergh on her deathbed by a close friend. The second year, she received the third place for Daughter The judge was Jeremy Hooker (no relation to me!). In her final year of entry she won first place for The Shadow. Not wishing to temp fate, she did not enter the competition again. The judge, that time, was Neil Curry. Carrie wrote about his decision:

"Neil Curry, the judge in 1993, said when he first read the poem, he thought it was okay, but nothing special. He put it in the pile to read again, rather than the reject pile, but it hadn't made that much of an impression on him. He found, though, that as he read other things, he kept thinking about it. When he found himself still thinking about it the next day, he thought he'd found the winner.

"It was great to have the poem appreciated at last (though when Chris Wiseman [her poetry instructor at the University of Calgary] first read it, he said, "I wish I'd written it," a comment I've never heard from him before or since). I guess there's some kind of lesson here, about persistence or something: or maybe about obsessive forms obsessing people, I don't know. Because I'd won something at Bournemouth for three consecutive years, the judges each sent me an autographed copy of one of their books of poetry, as a personal prize."
The book was being prepared by Carin Perron during the last three years of her life while she was fighting terminal breast cancer. Only one poem was yet to be added to the manuscript, one she had dedicated to me:  Trapeze à Deaux (for John, but I will be including it in the appropriate section (as the last poem in Turning Home). Almost all of the annotations will be hers, but I will be adding some extra information in editorial parentheses. I have decided, in her biographical information, to omit the identity and her account of her first husband (now deceased), because what she wrote would be likely to upset his relatives and friends. As the section devoted to the poems he inspired is titled The Anti-Muse, you may well understand why. In any failed marriage there are usually two very different accounts as to the reasons for such failure and I must be sensitive to that.

The book, which is yet to be titled (her file title was simply "Poetry Book" is divided into two sections: Four Muses and Poet without a Muse. Each part of which will consist of a number of poems. The structure is her own and will be as follows:

The Four Muses:

1. The Reluctant Muse (her friend, the potter John Chalke, 1940-2014)
2. The Byzantine Muse (another friend, Mark Joslin (1956 – 1996) who had worked at the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Edmonton Art Gallery (now the Art Gallery of Alberta) and Latitude 53.
3. The Anti-Muse (her first husband).
4. The Hidden Muse (Death).

Poet Without a Muse:


1. A Tourist in People
2. Visions & Architecture
3. Turning Home

She had originally planned that all the notes would be at the end of the book, but as they are so much more than just the usual notes one finds in a book and have great historical narrative and even technical information about poetry. I have decided that each will follow its respective poem. People often do not read end notes and it was very important to her that readers and critics would not misunderstand her poetry as is so often done in the published works of other poets where such information is not present. Above all, she was a craftsperson and would often spend many years perfecting each poem before she would allow it to be published.

As might be understood, it has taken me fourteen years to become prepared to tackle this project. I cannot say, at the moment, how long it will take to complete, but I am hoping that it will be less than a month. I also have to design a cover.


John's Coydog Community page

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Second volume of The Gundestrup Cauldron: a new theory is now published

The second volume of The Gundestrup Cauldron: a new theory, series examines the context of the cauldron imagery within Celtic and Greek iconography and history and the nature of the classical influences that led to the emergence of early Celtic art. Fully illustrated and contains an appendix with photographs all of the Gundestrup cauldron plates shown in the previous volume.

It is available on Amazon for preview and purchase, or read free with Kindle Unlimited

The third volume: Symbols of Transformation, will be out soon.


John's Coydog Community page

Friday, 20 January 2017

The Gundestrup Cauldron: a new theory. Volume 1 now available

The first volume is  now available on Amazon Kindle. the remaining two volumes are still in the editing stages and will be available in the next month or so.

"This volume contains all the basic information for the dating of the original vessel; its place of manufacture, and the meaning of its imagery. Essentially, this is all that has been attempted in previous studies although such studies have also ignored many details and used only some of the imagery to support their theories. No motifs are ignored in this study, although a few are so ubiquitous as to have several interpretations and I do mention other alternatives for these. None of the interpretations of the motifs, however, are unconnected with the narrative themes of the whole."



John's Coydog Community page

Friday, 6 January 2017

The Gundestrup Cauldron: a new theory

Covers for all three volumes


Most of the writing of all three volumes is complete. I only have a couple more introductions and the concluding chapters of all three volumes to write and perhaps a couple of editing runs. As the book was getting rather too large for a popular ebook, I divided it, quite naturally, into three separate stand-alone volumes. Once I have completed each volume it will be available on Amazon Kindle. I do not anticipate more than a month between each issue, and the price of each volume will be $9.99 US.

As a small preview, here is the Introduction for all three volumes:


Figure 1:  The Gundestrup Cauldron.
Photo: Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen, Denmark


The Gundestrup cauldron was found in 1891 by peat cutters at the Rævemose bog near the village of Gundestrup in Himmerland, Denmark.

The vessel is silver with some gilding and glass inlays (used in the eyes of some figures). It was found dismantled and appears to have been deposited before the bog had formed at that location. It is not complete: parts of the rim are missing as is one of the decorative plates, and it shows signs of having been repaired. Its reconstruction is largely hypothetical. The silver used in its construction comes from multiple batches of recycled metal as might be expected. The tin used to solder the plates and to attach the glass eyes was very pure and consistent with British (Cornish) tin. This suggests to me that the cauldron was constructed in its final form in northern Europe and most likely in Gaul, although its original construction would have been far distant. There are five rectangular interior plates, seven shorter rectangular exterior plates (originally eight) and a circular bottom plate which appear to be a recycled phalera.

The style of the decoration is native Thracian and the subjects of the decoration combine Celtic and Greek iconography, the latter with, sometimes, Thracian variation. Many of the repoussé decorative elements are connected by a background of chased or engraved decoration in the form of the Dionysian ivy scroll and there is also some (tonal) parallel hatching.

Over the years, there have been two main theories about its origin: that it was Gaulish made or that it was a Thracian product made for Celtic patrons. My study validates the latter although for the place of its manufacture and its date, I am in complete disagreement, and claim that the evidence presented here all indicates that its original form took place at a Thracian silversmith’s workshop situated in northern Italy most likely in the early second quarter of the 3rd century BC, but certainly sometime during the 84 years between 275 and 191 BC.

Only one previous study has presented a linked narrative for the meanings of the decorative plate iconography. This is Garrett S. Olmsted, The Gundestrup cauldron: its archaeological context, the style and iconography of its portrayed motifs and their narration of a Gaulish version of Táin Bó Cúailnge, Brussels, 1979. As the Irish epic refers to events of the 1st century AD and probably did not appear in a written form much before the 8th century AD we can safely believe that the story would have undergone several changes since even the later estimates of the cauldron’s manufacture and Olmsted’s title might be misunderstood as the story being a Gaulish interpretation of an earlier Irish epic rather than the Irish epic being a later, syncretized, telling of a Gaulish myth. In not paying due attention to the role of the bull in Thracian and Greek mythology and understanding that any syncretism includes both classical and Celtic components, Olmsted places the figures of the bull in the wrong context. However, this does not mean that other elements of the Irish epic might be tracked back through other imagery on the cauldron, even though tracing Medieval written accounts of Celtic subjects backwards to their pre-Roman period origins is a very risky business. It is far safer to project early myths forward to later usages, and this is what I do in this series (although not in this volume). Even so, the method must be used with extreme care because syncretism can take unexpected twists and turns.

In my interpretation of the linked narratives, I am not just using mythological elements but am also including mythological expressions of actual historical events experienced by the patrons of the Thracian silversmiths.
In matters of style and the forms of what is depicted on the plates, I am also including regional and time-sensitive data and identifying several local models that were used by the Thracian silversmiths for reference.

This volume contains all the basic information for the dating of the original vessel; its place of manufacture, and the meaning of its imagery. Essentially, this is all that has been attempted in previous studies although such studies have also ignored many details and used only some of the imagery to support their theories. No motifs are ignored in this study, although a few are so ubiquitous as to have several interpretations and I do mention other alternatives for these. None of the motifs, however, are unconnected with the narrative themes of the whole.

The second volume: Context, places the subjects and mythological themes of the Gundestrup cauldron within the artistic, religious and historical aspects of the time and place of its manufacture and includes both Greek and Celtic elements. It also reveals what classical elements were adopted by the Celts in their La Tène art; why this was done, and how the art-style, itself, indicates important syncretistic changes in their society and religion.

The third volume: Symbols of Transformation takes the archetypal psychological factors and shows how these images evolved from the Palaeolithic to the themes expressed in the Gundestrup cauldron and beyond that right up to the present-day expressions of these same themes. Interdisciplinary, Jungian, and Postmodern, it also includes the psychology of the observer as an important factor in the way that the Gundestrup cauldron has been studied, and the importance (and unimportance) placed on its various aspects in these studies and the reasons for such.


Like the layers of an onion, each volume will present a deeper understanding, but any of them will serve as a stand-alone reference for anyone who has an interest in their contents.



John's Coydog Community page

Thursday, 5 January 2017

New type: two plastic style ring-headed pins of the middle La Tène

Objects featured in this post
1: plastic style pin 11.4 cm
2: plastic style pin 4.1 cm
3: pseudo-filigree fibula

all central European, 3rd Cent. BC, pers. coll.
I purchased No 1. at a Timeline Auction last August. It had been previously offered but had failed to reach its reserve price. I knew at once that it was in the rare plastic style and was eager to add this to my single, and only British example of the style. The British Museum has only a single example of this style and it is also central European: a linchpin terminal (Bohemian workshop). from the auction photograph. I was puzzled by the "spike" issuing from the top of the pin, but when it arrived I noticed a very small indentation at the back of the head (situated in the middle of the small light green patina patch visible in the photograph below.

No. 1 back
(click to enlarge all photos)

I realized that the top had originally bent backwards to meet the head and that the indentation had been caused by the pressure of it pressing on the head.

I sent a set of photos to Vincent Megaw saying that I believed the pin to be from a Bohemian workshop. He replied saying that it might equally have come from France. He is currently finishing the text of a supplement to Paul Jacobsthal's Early Celtic Art and has access to previously unpublished examples of the plastic style. The type was new to him.





Following are other views:
1: side
1: top





1: front
1: 3/4 front





Several months later, I noticed another example of the type for sale on an Ebay auction from the U.K. It was part of a lot of three artifacts and so I bought that lot as well. Although the seller was in Britain, the items he had for sale were fairly consistent with objects I saw that were offered from Serbian sellers. The new pin (No. 2.) was much smaller and although most of the lower part of the pin was missing, it had a complete top ring. While No 1 had four curls or comma shapes each terminating in a round boss, No. 2 had only three and the back was plain. Otherwise, the design was very similar.  See below for different views of No. 2.


2: top
2: front
2: side

2: back
Another object in the Ebay lot provided a clue to the second pin's origins. I reasoned that the items in the lot most likely had all come from the same country, and while the second item in the lot was rare, the type had been well recorded with details of the locations of archaeological sites where they had been found. It was a pseudo-filigree fibula of the later 3rd cent. BC. See photos below:

3: front
3: back


3: side
The archaeological site finds (24) of the pseudo-filigree fibula are as follows: Hungary (29.17%), Slovenia (25%), Serbia (16.7%) , Slovakia (8.33%), Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Romania and Czech Republic (all 4.17%). Another clue (for what it is worth) is that the British seller had a Hungarian first name and a variation of a Slovak last name.

This broad region of central Europe was very active in the time of the plastic style and it was not just members of tribes from the style's homeland which runs from Bavaria to Bohemia who were present, but also Gauls from the Champagne area of France were there too. I once saw a complete grave set from Romania that had exact parallels with every object with items in the Morel collection (Champagne) in the British Museum.

There are no problems with the legalities of these items as although many of the source countries mentioned in the paper which discusses the pseudo-filigree type have export restrictions, Canada will only recognize claims for objects that have only a single country where they are found. With this lot, there are no records at all for the plastic style pins and the pseudo-filigree fibula is found in at least nine countries, and probably more. Some countries do not follow the letter of the law. For example, the U.S. has seized objects of types that are found in a number of modern countries deciding this on place of manufacture rather than where found. These extra-legal actions could be due to ignorance by archaeologists and/or customs officials and even perhaps even nefarious motives of politicians. Early Celtic art spans a great number of modern countries and finds can be scattered over vast distances from any known homeland of a style. In a number of cases, workshops, themselves, move locations. The first example of the plastic style in my collection (a sword pommel) is  a case in point: It was from the workshop of a probable Bohemian master who moved to Britain and succeeded in changing the evolution of British Celtic art.

There was a time that I believed I would never get an example of the plastic style for my collection. With three items now, I seem to specialize in it!


John's Coydog Community page

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Change of direction

Gundestrup cauldron
1899 published engraving by J. Magnus Petersen from his 1891 pencil drawing

This will be the last of my regularly scheduled posts on this blog. Instead of one post per weekday, I will be posting only infrequently, and mainly about additions to my collection of early Celtic art (another one is on the way to me) and news about Tristan, the world's most famous coyote hybrid (coydog) whose main post now has 10,464 page views from all continents save for Antarctica, and is the number one result in quite a number of Google searches about coydogs. You can always enter your email address in the "Follow by Email" widget at the top of the left sidebar and Google will let you know when a new post appears. I will continue to reply to any comments I publish and will add any pictures of other coydogs that their owners would like to see here, and give any training tips that are requested.

Instead of writing this blog, my mornings will now be taken up with writing more books. Three are planned and there will probably be more to come. Foremost among these will be a major work on the Gundestrup cauldron. Vincent Megaw calls the cauldron "The most illustrated piece in all European prehistory" and yet there has never before been a very detailed and specific interdisciplinary study of it. My study will include art-historical and iconographic analyses that will reveal how the images are connected and the pattern of the syncretism between Greek and Celtic beliefs and mythology. It will also identify certain historical events that are symbolized in its iconography; present a much earlier dating for its manufacture and clearly show why, although it was made by Thracian silversmiths, their workshop was located in Italy. The book will appear as an ebook on Amazon, but I might publish paperback and/or hard cover editions as well. It is a project that has been far too long in the making and has already received very favorable comments in discussions I have had, such as this one from Professor Raimund Karl:
"This your theory about the Gundestrup cauldron date, origins & imagery I actually like quite a lot, and find quite convincing. I'd have to follow Vincent Megaw on this, it is definitely one of the most convincing theories about the origins & meanings of the Gundestrup cauldron I have seen so far! In fact, I may go even further and say that - without going through the other main theories again with a fine comb and comparing them to yours - it may even be the most convincing proposed so far!"
 For more than three years I have been writing this blog. This is the 775th post and as of yesterday, its total word count is 673,253. That is the equivalent of about seven Ph.D. theses or eight mystery novels on average. My writing speed is about the same as that of Stephen King. This blog has been an interesting project and I am convinced that a regular writing schedule will completely eliminate "writer's block". Over time, it has seemed to me that the posts were writing themselves and I have just been the vehicle. It is has been said that the best way to learn anything is to write a book about it. I think that the same might be true for blogging. I have learned much and I hope that you have too.

Thank you for reading and for your support, and have an inspired life.


John's Coydog Community page

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis: conclusion

Hive Mind
an emergent metaphor
ants creating a cortex in the sugar jar.
Photo and caption: Steve Jurvetson
Is "cultural heritage a neurosis? Not exactly: it is a weasel phrase that is passed as a meme. In its common applications, though, it is a neurosis and it has been used to create all manner of ills. It freezes cultural evolution into fixed moments of no change so we can say that it is as anti-evolutionary as creationism. Evolution favours change. We can see that clearly in the brain with pleasure-creating chemicals being created after new discoveries and experiences and these same chemicals being diminished by the repetition of the same event that caused them.

Freezing a point in cultural evolution has made the Athenian Acropolis look like the aftermath of a battleground. Everything that showed change has been removed and there is nothing that shows origins either. Most of history has been eradicated to isolate a single expression. It is more like a demonstration of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. We have location but no momentum.

The term, itself, has no long history: apart from some isolated occurrences in the nineteenth century, it is a twentieth century phenomenon, gaining its momentum mainly since the First World War. Its biggest dip was in the first half of the eighties with the emergence of postmodernism which had emphasized individual viewpoints and the power of subjectivity. But a meme resists inspection being a mind virus. It vanishes when thought gets applied and there are so many agencies in the world that really do not want you to think but only follow. The hive mind is the collective consciousness with, as Jung said, "its wretched "isms" that can launch wars and destruction.

Cultural heritage is said to belong to everyone, but when restrictions are placed on any personal ownership of it , it really belongs to no one apart from those who want to control. It is another expression of the Big Lie.

All of the great discoveries have been made by individuals, but the only individual in the hive is the queen and it is her job (in the case of bees) to make workers and drones. Physical, species, evolution can dispense with intelligence. take the example of the shark: a very efficient killing, eating and breeding machine. But we have evolved in a different direction since we lost our our big teeth and powerful jaws. The universe, itself, seems to be evolving and the latest thoughts in quantum physics are about the universe, itself, being conscious and evolving organic life to experience that consciousness. The evolution of microtubules in which quantum events can take place because their very small size restricts quantum decoherence gives support to this idea.

For the real discoverers within cultural studies (and this includes a great number of collectors who have populated the world's museums with the "raw material" for their thinking processes now, unfortunately. mostly isolated from view as you can only display so much), their subject is their vocation. I will leave you with what Jung says about vocation:

"Vocation, or the feeling of it, is not, however, the prerogative of great personalities; it is also appropriate to the small ones all the way down to the “midget” personalities, but as the size decreases the voice becomes more and more muffled and unconscious. It is as if the voice of the daemon within were moving further and further off, and spoke more rarely and more indistinctly. The smaller the personality, the dimmer and more unconscious it becomes, until finally it merges indistinguishably with the surrounding society, thus surrendering its own wholeness and dissolving into the wholeness of the group. In the place of the inner voice there is the voice of the group with its conventions, and vocation is replaced by collective necessities. But even in this unconscious social condition there are not a few who are called awake by the summons of the voice, whereupon they are at once set apart from the others, feeling themselves confronted with a problem about which the others know nothing. In most cases it is impossible to explain to the others what has happened, for any understanding is walled off by impenetrable prejudices."
 C. G. Jung, Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 17: Development of Personality (p. 176). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
Tomorrow, an important announcement to all the readers of this blog.


John's Coydog Community page

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 19: GroupThink analysis and examples (ix)

"¿De qué mal morirá?" (What will he die from?)
Francisco Goya (1746–1828), Los Caprichos (40)
For the GroupThink chart, see section (i) in 31st August post

Box D: Symptoms of Defective Decision Making

1. Incomplete survey of alternatives.

2. Incomplete survey of objectives.

3. Failure to examine risks of preferred choice.

4. Failure to reappraise rejected choices.

5. Poor information search.

6. Selective information bias.

7. Failure to contingency plan.

Sometimes the treatment is worse than the complaint. Box D posits a relatively ordered situation and then reveals the manifestations of GroupThink which confound the result. In our situation, not only are the mechanics of cultural heritage misunderstood because it was engineered as newspeak, but the word culture is given the outdated nationalist meaning, and not even the also outdated ethnic meaning (as far as UNESCO is concerned, it is entirely up to the political leadership of any nation which ethnic groups are protected and which are neglected or even destroyed). We have seen how Celtic culture was defined from an outside perspective using criteria where "faulty" would be a compliment. For example, it was stated that as the British had round houses and the Gauls had rectangular houses the British were not Celts. It was not stated, however, that the traditions of these forms of houses pre-dated the La Tène Celtic cultures by thousands of years. But GroupThink creates gullibility and people bought it. So a common Celtic language was dismissed because language was said not to be a reliable gauge of culture, but house styles were! It got even stranger and there are actually people out there who believe that English was being spoken in Britain before the Romans arrived. All of these cultural definitions can be identified as 6. Selective information bias.

The subheading 2. Incomplete survey of objectives would be better placed as the first consideration in the subject of cultural heritage matters because various groups have different objectives and some of these actually have no bearing on culture except as a means to an end. For example, the United States memoranda of Understanding have the objective (to the State Department) of using cultural matters in order to gain political/economic advantages from other nations. The other party agrees to something which is not revealed to the American people and that is considered a state secret which has been held inviolate by the courts. The American people do not know if they get to set up more military bases in the partnering country or if it is a matter of Monsanto being allowed more freedoms there. Sometimes things leak out, though. A Memorandum of Understanding with Mexico, many years ago was signed so that Mexico would extend its contract with the U.S. to return stolen cars. The terms used in the formation of committees such as "stakeholders" also give an impression of a business bias to the proceedings, but business is just one part of any culture. It is one of a myriad cultural frames and these are often called cultures themselves e.g., "Hip-Hop culture". Sometimes, the business side is emphasized and called an industry. e.g., "the tourist industry". Often though, the larger picture of infrastructure is not well-considered and it has been noted that while tourist money can go to an attraction, when factors such as traffic problems are included, the benefits are not as good as they seemed. Without really knowing the specifics of 2, then 1. Incomplete survey of alternatives, could well follow cultural topics even when culture has nothing at all to do with the motive because it is just one means to the end. Thus, also, 3. Failure to examine risks of preferred choice and  4. Failure to reappraise rejected choices, could well omit some very important data as not only are the various visible options not examined properly, but there are possibly all sorts of other choices that are completely unknown except to a few who are not talking at all.

Subheadings 5. Poor information search, and 6. Selective information bias, could be reversed as any information bias will lead to a poor information search. there is a great example of this with a cultural heritage GroupThink access to archives of photographs of antiquities which had been in the possession of dealers convicted of buying from tomb robbers. These archives are not accessible by auction houses and dealers and are used to force these  business to return such objects to other nations and at the same time give ammunition for their critics to blame them for a lack of "due diligence". The word "entrapment" springs to mind, but the underlying motive is to bring suspicion to trade, because trade focuses on individual possession rather than state possession.

Finally, 7. Failure to contingency plan, must also recognize what actually might then happen if the the chosen plans go through. The view, however is so myopic that contingencies, in our topic, are to things that are also invisible. That will be part of my conclusion to this series which will start tomorrow.


John's Coydog Community page

Monday, 12 September 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 19: GroupThink analysis and examples (viii)

Odd man out. Photo: Martin Addison
For the GroupThink chart, see section (i) in 31st August post

Box C3: Uniformity Pressures

a) Self-censorship.
b) Direct pressure.
c) Mindguards.

The solitary cormorant sits on a post with a chain connected to something. The gulls sit on posts with chains that go nowhere; the only thing connecting them is their sameness. They are interchangeable. I remember being fascinated by a solitary cormorant among all the gulls when I was small boy looking out from the top of a cliff on the south coast of England. It even appears in my novel. Perhaps it became my spirit-animal. Mind you, a cable is much stronger than a chain when it comes to reasoning.

Uniformity pressures connect cultural heritage protectionists and not only are their products generic, but the same words and phrases appear again and again. They are often weasel words, too; having no real meaning in their application, they cannot be refuted. This sort of thing comes out of, common, archaeological writing: words like status; display; trade; and ritual; terms that can be used whenever anyone cannot really analyse something. The dullness of uniformity feeds back to the culture as well: fixing it motionless in a bygone era where, as an encapsulated idea, it serves only the politician as an exemplar for often only self-serving motives. When cultures cannot change and borrow from each other, they become extinct.

a) Self-censorship.

I remember being told about a lecture given about Celtic iconography where the speaker felt obliged to use the term "European Iron Age" instead of Celtic. It was obviously a painful thing for that speaker, partially, as its generality made it meaningless. Greece, too, was part of the European Iron Age. The Celts had no Muses and the Greeks no Morrigan. The use of iron never changed the spirit: It was matter, not mind. Without self-censorship, one could go against the group and might never again be invited to lecture in its halls.

b) Direct pressure.

I ran into Euan MacKie at the 1999 Bournemouth meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists where I was scheduled to give a talk and I asked him about his, then, recent difficulties in having one of his papers rejected by the Prehistoric Society. It was done so not because there was anything wrong with its data, but because it was on Archaeoastronomy and they didn't believe in that. I told him that it might be interesting to hear them explain the roof-box at Newgrange without any reference to that subject. It's not so much that they never mentioned archaeoastronomy, its just that they only published things that were critical of its findings. A bit like the AIA never publishing a post 1970 antiquity that is in a private collection unless the paper is to warn against looting. At least, with the National Enquirer, you know (or should do) that its content is nonsense.

c) Mindguards.

These are the self-appointed members of the group who protect the group from any ideas that might be contrary to its dictates. I often criticize collectors or dealers who lump all archaeologist together based on the utterances of such people, but whenever I give examples of bad or mediocre archaeology, any of these mindguards who do mention what I have said attempt to convince their followers that I am against archaeology and/or archaeologists in general. Actually, I hold a few archaeologists in very high regard, just as I hold a few collectors and dealers in very high regard. At the top of any subject of interest there are only a few who add a lot to our understanding, but it takes a very large pool to create that few and if you limit its numbers, you will diminish understanding. You mostly find mindguards in the blogosphere. They never  provide anything original and they are interchangeable, differing only in the style of their rhetoric.


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