Monday, 28 December 2015

Special: Texas tornado

An aerial image taken Sunday, December 27, 2015 shows the path of a tornado in Rowlett, Texas. Violent storms ripped through the North Texas area late Saturday, spawning tornados that killed 11 people. (G.J. McCarthy/The Dallas Morning News)
I am taking a break from my break today to make this appeal  for my on-line friend Dick Stout whose home was destroyed by the tornado which swept through Rowlett, Texas on Saturday. Fortunately, Dick, his wife and their two dogs were unharmed and they are currently staying with relatives.

Dick is a metal detectorist, a senior, and a reader of this blog and has contributed a number of comments about metal detecting and collecting.

A fund has been set up for him and you can make a secure credit card donation at this Gofundme link. I know that things can be financially tight at this time of the year, but I hope that you can at least make a small donation (and perhaps more later).

Even being close to the path of a tornado is a horrifying experience: One touched down a couple of blocks from where I was staying in Oklahoma City, once, tearing off the roof of a church. Despite the fact that I had opened the windows a crack, I still heard the window glass being pulled from the low pressure outside. Homes can literally explode in such situations.

Please do what you can and spread the word about this fund. My best wishes and hopes for a brighter future go to Dick and his wife.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Understanding the ancient Celts and their art: part two

Charles Darwin in 1855, four years before the publication
of On the Origin of Species
Celtosceptism can be favourably compared to Creationism and Intelligent Design. This dawned on me yesterday while I was listening to Scientific American's podcast: Evolution Still on Trial 10 Years after Dover. The John Collis video seems to soften the more cultist opinions of Celtosceptism while maintaining the idea that there was no unified Celtic culture just as attempts to have Intelligent Design has avoided the terms Creationism and Intelligent Design in the wording of proposed bills to have the subject included in American school's science classes. The interview with Nicholas Matzke reveals how he applied the dna signal of common ancestry to the texts of these bills and found (appreciating its humorous aspect) that Creationism, itself, has evolved over time.

But the comparison does not end there: the idea that there was no unified Celtic culture when applied to both Celtic art and Celtic religion is the same as envisioning discrete creations of species unconnected through evolution. If that were the case, it would be the only example of its kind in all of human history.

In Christopher A. Snyder, The Britons, 2003, the author introduces Celtoscepticism saying:
"There is much that is sensible in these provocative critiques. But why have the Celts been chosen as the target? Are not such ‘mongrel nations’ as the Romans, the Germans, the English, the French – not to mention the Russians and the Americans – equally susceptible to such criticism? Each of these peoples has long possessed a diversity of languages, cultures, and races within the larger group. If we follow to the letter current anthropological theory on ethnic identity, can we make any generalization of peoples? If all identity is locally or even individually determined, can we write any group history?"
By applying evolutionary principles, the nature of this unification of Celtic culture can be easily determined providing that we have enough examples to work with. I was very fortunate to realize that the coins of the Coriosolite tribe issued during the Gallic War had enough variety in their design elements to suggest that an evolutionary process was taking place in the minds of their die-cutters. Eventually, I was able to chart their "genome" in my book Celtic Improvisations: An Art Historical Analysis of Coriosolite Coins , British Archaeological Reports(BAR) International Series 1092, 2002 which you can now download for free. It was the first application of evolutionary cladistics in archaeology. The project soon expanded in its scope to go beyond a fine-tuned chronology of ancient dies by their manufacture rather than by their use (which has never been done before or since) to an evolutionary study of ancient Celtic art and religion.

John Collis does not mention E. M. (Martyn) Jope in his video presentation and in the paper The Sheffield origins of Celtic Art upon which it is based. His posthumously finished (by Ian Stead) and published work Early Celtic Art in the British Isles, Oxford, 2000 is the standard reference to British early Celtic art, replacing Sir Cyril Fox, Pattern and Purpose: A Survey of Early Celtic Art in Britain which is out of print but can be purchased, used, through the link I give. Martyn Jope was Paul Jacobsthal's assistant and the book was originally going to name both as co-authors. You can still find remnants of that within the work with the use of "we" in places. Yet Collis ends his history with Jacobsthal and jumps immediately to the modern Celtosceptic views. Perhaps this omission was based in part on what Jope says on page 1 of his work:
"Chapter 3 shows something of the genesis of insular Celtic art*. We give an extensive survey of early iron weapons (mainly daggers and swords, with their bronze fittings) and also of brooches, from the sixth century on into the first century B.C., less for their art (often stiff or halting) than for their clear demonstration of a steady continuity in distinctive insular workshop practice from the sixth century onwards, at least in southern Britain -- substantial craft traditions within which an insular Celtic art could be developed. The initiating stimuli for this rise evidently came from Europe, yet at the crucial time, the fourth-third centuries B.C.,  we can point to practically no imported pieces that might have served as potential exemplars; the new ideas and skills must have come largely in the minds and hands of men with a considerable experience in distant ateliers.

"* (actually footnote 2) It now seems possible, more than it did in 1944 (ECA, pp. xi 156-7), to show in a similar way how this genesis came about in Celtic Europe also, for we can see mid-fifth-century craftsmen in central and western Europe using primarily Greek or other southerly themes to fashion their own designs and details, or taking over the Etruscan bulging physiognomy to create their own counterpart (review of J. V. S. Megaw, Ulster J. Archaeol., 34 (1971), 116)."
 The above quote clearly describes the exact nature of the genesis of British Early Celtic art and Collis' presentation design (as so often happens with Celtic topics) rewrites history to favour the current clique members. Jope was made of different stuff. In the link I gave to his obituary it says:
"He was utterly opposed to any form of time- serving administration, pomposity or narrow-mindedness. A student with an idea was sure of the same welcome and courtesy as a fellow professor. Power and the outward trappings of fame left him cold, and he was ill- equipped for the empire-building of academic politics; it was very rare to hear him say anything malicious about anyone."
and in an autograph letter to me of 15th Januaury 1989 he finishes by saying "What a pleasure to find so deeply informed an interest in Celtic antiquities in far-off Calgary!"

I will continue with part two of this post on Monday 4th January as I thought that the winter solstice, today, would be a good time to start my annual winter break from blogging. In the second part I will demonstrate the evolutionary nature of British Celtic art through a further examination of the earliest example of the so-called "British trumpet" design which Collis mentions in a much later context in his talk. It appears on a finial (most likely a sword pommel) in my collection and is the only British-produced example of Jacobsthal's "plastic style". It was made by one of those "men with a considerable experience in distant ateliers" and his work, of which this is the only surviving example, changed the course of British Celtic art. Seasons greetings to all of my readers!

John's Coydog Community page

Monday, 21 December 2015

Understanding the ancient Celts and their art: part one

Gold stater of the British Atrebates, CO[MMIOS], ca. 45-30 BC
VA 350-1, CCI 962698, enlarged, colourized and adjusted
(click to enlarge)
This series was introduced yesterday and refers to the video shown there. You can also watch it on YouTube.

Whenever I read a text or watch a video, I adopt a number of viewpoints: the author or presenter; people with varying knowledge; and myself. I try also to be mindful of my audience whenever I write or give a talk. In looking at historical texts, it is also very important to be aware of the time and place they were penned, its viewpoints and culture and the practises and biases of the author. I have noticed, time and again, in archaeological writing that historical information from the classical authors is used to support what the archaeologist is saying, but if the same sources are used by a critic to counter the claims of the archaeologist then the response is that the classical sources are unreliable. In such cases, the exact nature of that unreliability is not always given. For example, when Livy is writing about an example of Roman heroics, the very existence of the event should be suspected and confirmation should be sought from sources not referencing his work. If Polybius fails to mention something that we know about from another author, we should ask ourselves if such information would have put his Roman patrons in a poor light. Polybius does not appear to invent things like Livy, but he does omit some important information.

The same is true in modern texts and presentations, so we not only have to understand things about the source but we also have to understand things about the audience. The very fact of somebody standing on a podium lends credibility for an audience. If the speaker also has some status of social position that credibility is further enhanced, even if the status was not gained from the subject of the presentation. We have all seen rock stars and actors talking about social issues, but if the same things were said by a taxidermist or a dentist the audience would be far more critical. The main difference is that there are a far greater number of people who would dream of being a rock star or an actor than a taxidermist or a dentist. Even the environment of the presentation can make a dramatic difference: university auditorium or a soapbox on the pavement? In a modern office or in a grand historical building? In New York City or Dog Pound, Alberta?

We all know about cliques in schools, but less know about academic cliques because the latter are found within a certain discipline and mostly in the humanities rather than the sciences. Now when John Collis who both is and refers to himself as a Celtosceptic says things against the popular opinions of Celtoscepticism, we face another problem: cliques usually stay together right? Such criticism gives an apparency of truth and we let our guard down. He tells us that no classical author ever wrote that the Britons were Celts. This is true (with all the texts that have survived), but then he goes on to say that the Britons were never called Celts. This cannot be stated as fact at all: the matter is unknowable without  a time machine with an extremely sophisticated search engine on board.

He says that the Breton language came from Britain in post Roman times. This is true. That the particular language is called Brythonic might well give us the idea that its origin is British and the Gauls spoke something different, but they did not. Brythonic is a language group. What it is called is nothing but a  red herring if we are looking at cultures. It is the language group of Gaulish, Breton, Cornish, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic, but not of Irish which is Goidelic. Regardless of language groups, the different languages all have differences: we can have mac..., maq... and map... In Scottish, Irish and Welsh. So let's avoid the semantic trap, and call the language  X. X is an Indo-European language, so we can track it back to around modern Kazakhstan. The coin legend (inscription) language of ancient Gaul and ancient Britain are exactly the same. While Belgic is often given as a sub-group, modern linguists have been unable to find any differences save for that, in Belgic legends, there is a possibility of a few loan-words from the Germanic languages: ebor (Gaulish = yew) or ebur (Germanic = boar) being one example. The only coins of the Aulerci Eborovices to bear the tribal name depict a boar on the same side of the coin, but a Belgic tribe (from which they might descend) was called the Eburones. Happily, there is no such confusion between British and Gaulish Celtic coin legends. so "language X" was the language of both Gaul and Britain. Caesar said that the Gauls and Belgae spoke different languages, but what differences he heard might have only been that of local dialects or even just regional accents. Imagine a non-English speaker hearing English spoken in Glasgow, Manchester and the Appalachian Mountains. The latter might often be the closest to what you hear from a BBC announcer!

The coin illustrated above is British. Its legend is Gaulish. The name of the king is Commios and he was well-known to Caesar. He was a member of the Atrebates which existed in both Gaul and Britain. Caesar reports that he escaped to Britain after their falling out (he was Caesar's trusted emissary in Britain and among the German tribes). The Atrebates British Capital was Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester). The earliest buildings excavated there are of Gaulish construction. Such Gaulish coin legends can also be found on the coins of the northernmost British tribe who issued coins (Corieltauvi, Lincolnshire). So when John Collis says "No informed archaeologist has ever suggested the Celts never existed but we would consider them to be a continental phenomenon." you can be sure that the definitions of a culture have been severely (and conveniently) limited to support a belief. While the Greeks called the Celts "keltoi", its roots are not Greek and Caesar said that the Gauls called themselves Celts. There will be more examples to come in this series.

John's Coydog Community page

Friday, 18 December 2015

Understanding the ancient Celts and their art: introduction

In the last issue (355) of the Society of Antiquaries of London newsletter Salon was a link to this YouTube video Why is "Celtic" Art "Celtic"?, by John Collis, FSA. In his talk, Collis dispels a lot of what has been written about Celtoscepticism, not just in the media but also by other academics. As I watched the video the nature of the problem became apparent to me, but it was not anything that was covered in the talk. The talk, itself, was part of the problem and while a number of misunderstandings were corrected, a few were perpetuated. There were a few curious omissions, too.

This series will use the video as a point of departure for a broader look at the ancient Celts and their art and each part will have commentary about what Collis says followed by examples of how I select and deal with the related material.

As I watched the video, the first thought that came to me was that it not really about its subject at all; it is about what people have written about the subject. This is very much the academic method and a Ph.D. thesis will start with a review of the literature. To do original research, however, it is best to treat what has come before with extreme caution and it works best, by far, if you give it only a cursory examination at best. A more thorough review of the literature should be close to the end of the research and just before you start the final editing of the draft for publication. You could even completely ignore the literature at first, and the worst thing that could happen is that you would have to delete some of what you have already written and add to something else.

Proper research should always deal with primary material. If you are a historian, that primary material is text because history is not "what happened", it is what has been written about what happened. For every other subject, though, the primary material is not what has been written, it is the material, itself. In my collection of posts about Schopenhauer, I give the following quotes from him and explain the first as the difference between understanding from experience and by "book-learning":
"From all this it may be concluded that thoughts put down on paper are
nothing more than footprints in the sand: one sees the road the man has
taken, but in order to know what he saw on the way, one requires his
eyes. ...
"Men of learning are those who have read the contents of books. Thinkers,
geniuses, and those who have enlightened the world and furthered the
race of men, are those who have made direct use of the book of the
An archaeologist might research Celtic art just as a shopkeeper might play golf, but when the archaeologist is researching Celtic art, he must stop being an archaeologist and become an art-historian just as the shopkeeper must stop being a shopkeeper and become a golfer. Each activity has its own practices and while Celtic art might be associated with archaeology, this is only a subjective classification. An archaeologist who claims that the archaeological site is of primary importance will have nothing very useful to say about Celtic art because, in a single site, the amount of primary material is minuscule when compared the entire body of research material. Even if all archaeological sites that contain Celtic art are included the material will be extremely limited and vital information will be omitted. This is especially true for British early Celtic art as Britain has barely any of the continental "princely graves", and so much of the art are stray finds far from their place of manufacture or even objects known only from the trade. The more that is omitted, the less valuable will be any study. When an archaeologist condemns trade and collecting he or she is being an archaeologist and cannot possibly be an art historian at that moment. Similarly, when an art historian omits Celtic coins from a study on Celtic art, there will also be a reduction in the value of such a study because, while the art on their coinage is changed by the medium and its purpose, coins can still contain important Celtic art content that can be related to other objects.

The standard work on the subject is Early Celtic Art by Paul Jacobsthal and was first published in 1944 at Oxford. One of the sources for his primary material was Die Alterthümer unserer heidnischen Vorzeit, (AuhV), and the illustration on the right I scanned from that work and have removed overlapping material and the letters. It is Jacobsthal 20 from Weisskirchen, Sarreland, Germany. Jacobsthal says (with my editorial commentaries unbolded):

"Fragmentary above and below. Maximum diameter 8 cm. The gold foil rests on an iron lining 0.5 cm thick Lindenschmidt states that under the gold there is an equally thin plate of bronze in which the pattern is embossed; this cannot be verified [You can well imagine the problems that Jacobsthal, who was both German and Jewish, had in communicating with German museums during the Second World War], but is probable from analogies [The use of analogies is an essential part of the study of Early Celtic art as so much is fragmentary and of widespread distribution. It is real detective-work to put it all together]. In the middle, an amber ring, the central depression of which is covered with a gold disk;the five sockets had certainly some inlay; the analogy of the similar ornament from Schwabsburg (no. 21) suggests that there have been more inlays, but they are not preserved; moreover the terminal medallions are rather shallow and have no pins."

The photo on the left shows the reverse of a Coriosolite stater (from the mint on the west side of the River Rance, Côtes-d'Armor, Brittany). It is my Series Y, Group M, Coin 92 and was in my collection. The ornament extending from the pony's mane is analogous to the lobed designs at the sides of the heads on Jacobsthal 20. There was also a highly significant number of other design elements on Coriosolite coins that found analogy with those on other objects from Weisskirchen and a correspondingly small number that were from elsewhere, and those were mostly from the Rhine area; the human-headed horse on my Series X coins (and many other Armorican coins has its only parallel in another type of object on a  bronze figure from Trier. The design element, together with the use of the shared split palmette which is also shared between Armorican coins and objects from Weisskirchen is not a  feature of the Champagne workshops and is more typical to the Rhine workshops.. This shows, very clearly, that regional foci are not absolute and that modern geographical factors are not definitive. Together with much evidence from other coins there is no shadow of a doubt that Celts from the Rhine migrated to Brittany and adjacent areas prior to the production of Coriosolite coinage.

This series will continue on Monday. Have an experiential weekend!

John's Coydog Community page

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Schopenhauer and the meeting of East and West

Zhuangzi (Chuang Chou, ca 369-286 BC) dreaming of a butterfly,
brush drawing by Lu Chih, 1496-1576

"Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things."
As translated by Lin Yutang

The nineteenth century is my favourite time in history. It was a period of the greatest exploration both geographically and intellectually; it was our last "renaissance". Schopenhauer started to open our western minds to eastern thinking with philosophy, but he was not alone: Richard Francis Burton, more than anyone, epitomizes the spirit of the time in his explorations of far-off lands and their cultures. He translated the Kama Sutra and the Arabian Nights and risked his life to be the first non-Muslim (in disguise) to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Schopenhauer also foreshadowed Darwin on evolution and I think that owes a lot to eastern ideas about the connectivity of life and the universe.

For this final post about Schopenhauer I have picked the butterfly as a suitable metaphor. Most people have heard the story of the man who dreamt he was a butterfly, but few know of its Taoist origins. The "butterfly effect" further emphasizes the eastern, holistic outlook. While western explorers opened up eastern lands to Europeans, Eastern thought opened up western minds. Would postmodernism have even developed without eastern wisdom? I doubt it very much. I think it significant, too, that the more holistic view of culture was the focus of the Japanese Nara conference.

Tomorrow, back to the Celts and the problems of traditional (western) linear thinking. Butterflies flit, they do not plod.

John's Coydog Community page

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Schopenhauer and Wolfgang Pauli: part two (final)

Three clay tablets with the name Jahweh
"As you well know, when it comes to religion and philosophy, my background is Lao-tse and Schopenhauer (although I could expand the time-conditioned determinism of the latter with the idea of the complementary pairs of opposites and the acausal factor). ... I must confess that specifically Christian religiousness—especially its concept of God—has always left me emotionally and intellectually out on a limb. (I have no emotional resistance to the idea of an unpredictable tyrant such as Jahweh, but the excessive arbitrariness in the cosmos implied in this idea strikes me as an untenable anthropomorphism from the point of view of natural philosophy.) In the Lao-tse world-picture, the problem of evil does not exist, as can be seen particularly in Taoteking no. 5 ("Nicht Liebe nach Mensscenart hat die Natur... [Wilhelm's translation: "Nature's love is not like human love...]) But Lao-tse's whole concept is better suited to the intuitive world-picture of the Chinese, whereas Western science and its perceptions are alien to it. This does not mean that I would go so far as claim that Lao-tse's point of view, however satisfying it seems to me, is the last word on these matters as far as the Western world is concerned. On the other hand, Schopenhauer's philosophy—also because it mediates between the West and East Asia—enables me to have much easier access to your book Aion. For I was always of the opinion that it was precisely the privato boni that was the bone of contention that led Schopenhauer to reject "the θεός," as he called it. Thus Schopenhauer rejects "your θεός" because the evil would inevitably rebound on him. It was precisely this point that made Schopenhauer emotionally appealing to me.

"From a critical point of view, I should like to say myself that what is being rejected here is only the idea of a humanlike consciousness in God. I actually tend to identify Schopenhauer's so-called will (the way he uses this word has not gained currency at all) with the θεός ἀνεννóητος of the Gnostics, which is mentioned on pp. 278-82 of Aion [CW 9ii, pars. 299-304]. Such an "unknowing God" remains innocent and cannot be held morally responsible; emotionally and intellectually the difficulty no longer arises of reconciling with him the existence of sin and evil."

Excerpts of a typewritten carbon copy with handwritten additions from Pauli to Jung, 27 February 1952. op. cit. (yesterday) including my note about published editorial parentheses. (Pauli's footnotes have been omitted here).

Wilhem's translation of the Tao would have been the one available to Pauli but various translations exist today. Some are rather too changed; one even uses "political correctness" in referring to the Master (sage) as alternately "he" or "she" as the sex is not specified in Chinese. I much prefer the Penguin Classics translation which gives for the quoted passage: "Heaven and Earth are ruthless, and treats the myriad creatures as straw dogs; the sage is ruthless and treats the people as straw dogs."

The pertinent passage in Jung's Aion is:
"St. Paul’s concept of ἄγνοɩα (ignorantia) may not be too far removed from ἀγνωσία, since both mean the initial, unconscious condition of man. When God “looked down” on the times of ignorance, the Greek word used here, ὑπεριδών (Vulgate: despiciens) has the connotation ‘to disdain, despise.’ At all events, Gnostic tradition says that when the highest God saw what miserable, unconscious creatures these human beings were whom the demiurge had created, who were not even able to walk upright, he immediately got the work of redemption under way. And in the same passage in the Acts, Paul reminds the Athenians that they were “God’s offspring,”  and that God, looking back disapprovingly on “the times of ignorance,” had sent the message to mankind, commanding “all men every-where to repent.” Because that earlier condition seemed to be altogether too wretched, the μετάνοɩα (transformation of mind) took on the moral character of repentance of sins, with the result that the Vulgate could translate it as “poenitentiam agere.”  The sin to be repented, of course, is ἄγνοɩα or ἀγνωσία, unconsciousness.  As we have seen, it is not only man who is in this condition, but also, according to the Gnostics, the ἀνεννóητος, the God without consciousness. This idea is more or less in line with the traditional Christian view that God was transformed during the passage from the Old Testament to the New, and, from being the God of wrath, changed into the God of Love— a thought that is expressed very clearly by Nicolaus Caussin in the seventeenth century."
Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 9 (Part 2): Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self (pp. 191-192). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.(footnotes omitted here, and I have corrected the typo: "ἀνεννóητς" (which omits the ο).
In his essay: Religion. A Dialogue, (between "Demopheles" and "Philalethes" ) Schopenhauer uses the Gnostic style which Jung also used in his Red Book, and most famously in Seven Sermons to the Dead which descend, in the West,  from Plato's Dialogues, but the Upanishads, too, take the form of such dialogues.

I will wrap up this series on Schopenhauer tomorrow.

John's Coydog Community page

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Schopenhauer and Wolfgang Pauli: part one

Wolfgang Pauli
photo: Bettina Katzenstein
"The idea of meaningful coincidence—i.e., simultaneous events not causally connected— was expressed very clearly by Schopenhauer [1788-1860] in his essay "[Transzendente Spekulation] über die anscheinende Absichtlichkeit im Schicksale des Einzelnen [On the Apparent Design in the Fate of the Individual]." There he postulates an ultimate union of necessity and chance," which appears to us as a "force," which links together all things, even those that are causally unconnected, and does it in such a way that they come together just at the right moment." He compares causal chains with the meridians, simultaneousness with parallel circles—corresponding exactly to your "equivalent cross connections." He sees, "albeit imperfectly from a distance." the compatibility of the opposition "between the apparent chance element in all occurrences in the life of the individual and their moral necessity in the shaping of that life in accordance with a transcendental practicality for the individual—or, in popular language, between the course of nature and providence.

"Perhaps some reference in your work to this essay of Schopenhauer's would be a good idea, all the more as he, too, was influenced by the ideas of Eastern Asia that you quote so frequently. Although Sch.'s essay is probably known to only a relatively small number of physicists, it is always pleasing in a fundamental issue to be able to make connections with what is already in existence.

"This essay of Schopenhauer's had a lasting and fascinating effect on me and seemed to be pointing the way to a new trend in natural sciences. But whereas Sch. wanted at all costs to cling to rigid determinism along the lines of the classical physics of his day, we have now acknowledged that in the nuclear world, physical events cannot be followed in causal chains through time and space. Thus, the readiness to adopt the idea on which your work is based, that of the "meaning as an ordering factor," is probably considerably greater among physicists that it was in Schopenhauer's day."

The above is an excerpt (editorial references are in the published work) from a very long handwritten letter from Pauli to Jung on 28th June 1949, Atom and Archetype: The Pauli/Jung Letters 1932-1958, ed. C. A. Meier, Princeton University Press, 2001, pps 36-42.  in response to a letter from Jung together with an early draft of Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle . The last part of Pauli's letter is virtually a draft of the start of an essay on the physics of synchronicity and Pauli's closing starts with "this is as far as I have got.". He  looks forward to speaking with Jung about it and nearly a year later he writes to Jung about the subject again including details of two dreams he had after reading Jung's draft and refers to another conversation on the subject the previous day. Jung did, indeed, include the reference to Schopenhauer that Pauli suggested (see yesterday's post for the quote). The entire Schopenhauer essay can be read on Google Books (scroll down below p. 200 which is not shown).

IThe World as Will and Idea, Vol 2. Schopenhauer says:
"Therefore in self-consciousness also the known, thus the will, must be what is first and original; the knower, on the other hand, only what is secondary, that which has been added, the mirror. They are related very much as the luminous to the reflecting body; or, again, as the vibrating strings to the resounding-board, in which case the note produced would be consciousness."
Michio Kaku, the co-founder of String Theory says: "What is physics? Physics is nothing but the laws of harmony that you can write on vibrating strings." and a number of commentators on string theory have mentioned Schopenhauer's aforementioned book, making the connection directly or indirectly, but Schopenhauer, as we discussed yesterday, was strongly influenced by the Upanishads. Since the seventeenth century, classical Indian musical instruments such as the sitar and the sarod have included a number of resonating strings that are not deliberately played by necessity (although sometimes are, optionally), but resonate in response to the vibration of the main, played, strings. The purpose of introducing these strings comes from the Upanishads and other Vedic works about the interconnectedness of the universe and is currently applied in texts about classical Indian music as the "Indian saturation aesthetic". So again, we have an acausal connecting principle which in String Theory hangs onto physicality by only one dimension. David Bohm's Implicate Order "source", however, is completely non-physical. The way we express such abstract ideas  have such connections through meanings which lack the more direct relationships of classical logic but become connected through multiple realities as is explained in transdisciplinarity, itself coming from quantum physics.

Tomorrow, Wolfgang Pauli's problems with Schopenhauer's God.

John's Coydog Community page

Monday, 14 December 2015

Schopenhauer and the Upanishads

Om symbol

“One who meditates upon and realizes the Self discovers that everything in the cosmos – energy and space, fire and water, name and form, birth and death, mind and will, word and deed, mantram and meditation – all come from the Self."

The Upanishads, Eknath Easwaran translation, Narada's education, 26.1,  p.140-141, Nilgiri Press. Kindle Edition.

The Upanishads came to the west rather late. Some of them appeared in translation between 1802 and 1804 and the first German translation of these was in 1808 and had a profound influence on Schopenhauer (C. G. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, Princeton/Bollingen, 1970, p.517n). From these texts he was able to build on the writings of Kant and this bore fruit with his The World as Will and Idea. In his preface, he advises the reader to read it twice and after the first reading, to read an appended essay before the second reading. I can understand why this was necessary and faced part of his problem when I wrote my own book on the coinage of the Coriosolites, for certain subjects can only be understood in a holistic manner and (as I said in my book) a book is a linear vehicle of understanding. The other part of his problem is that eastern ways of thinking were totally alien to western people of his time and his efforts to circumvent the western patterns of thought resulted in more complexity and the use of more examples than would be necessary today for anyone with a basic grounding in quantum physics and/or depth psychology.

Jung says: "...the will, as disposable energy, gradually subordinates itself to the stronger factor, namely to the new totality-figure I call the self (On the Nature of the Psyche, p. 134, Princeton...) and (ibid, p. 80): "In Schopenhauer we find the unconscious Will as the new definition of God". Jung also says (Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting  Principle, p. 12):
"Schopenhauer believed in the absolute determinism of the natural process and furthermore in a first cause. There is nothing to warrant either assumption. ... The idea that the simultaneous points in the causal chains, or meridians, represent meaningful coincidences would only hold water if the first cause really were a unity.But if it were a multiplicity, which is just as likely, then Schopenhauer's whole explanation collapses, quite apart from the fact, which we have only recently realized, that natural law possesses a merely statistical validity and thus keeps the door open to indeterminism."
I should, perhaps, append the above paragraph by saying that Jung defines psychic energy as libido, but Freud only placed sex in that role. While sex is certainly part of the Jungian libido, it is only a very small of part of this vast totality which includes all mental energies.

I think a quote from physicist David Bohm would be apropos to finish with as Bohm also struggled with describing the whole and created his Rheomode as a better way of describing these ideas:
"We have got to see that thought is part of this reality and that we are not merely thinking about it, but that we are thinking it”. (On Creativity, p. 141)
or, one could come to understand the quote from the Upanishads that I started with.

John's Coydog Community page

Friday, 11 December 2015

Schopenhauer on women

Going to the ball, Gustave Léonard de Jonghe (1829–1893)
Mark Twain said "write what you know", but Schopenhauer's essay on women, which few could deny is blatantly misogynistic, is studied from a philosophical perspective, or is praised to some degree in various anti-feminist rants which treat women as all being the same as rabidly as extremist "woman's- libbers" treated men in the days before feminism became a term. If you read a little about Schopenhauer's personal life you can see that his relationships with women were both limited and strained, and that includes the relationship with his mother. In selecting a painting to illustrate for this post, the one on the right seemed about the best to express the least objectionable aspects of Schopenhauer's thoughts on women, providing that we imagine that the mother is thinking about fashion and priming her daughter for the eventual ball where she will be introduced to a selected group of suitors. Regardless of philosophy or of personal experiences, Schopenhauer was still of his time.

I think it a better approach to treat Schopenhauer's essay as a glimpse into his psychology; his anima. The anima is often spoken of simply as a man's feminine side, but this is not exactly true. As it is an aspect repressed to various degrees, it does not represent a woman so much as a bad caricature of such and the female's animus does the same, in reverse, for men. It is easy for me to imagine, from reading of his relationships with women, that Schopenhauer had a good measure of  repression in that particular department.

Add to his repression, the evidence that his personality type was INFP and we can understand more about Bertrand Russell's opinion that he did not practice what he he preached. The best of Schopenhauer is what best brought out his true passion and that seems to have come from Indian religious philosophy, and in particular, the Upanishads. This topic will start on Monday. It will go far past Schopenhauer; far past his influences on, and commonalities with Jung and Pauli and will extend to aspects of current scientific thought.

Have a liberated weekend.

John's Coydog Community page

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Schopenhauer on authenticity

Credulity, Superstition and Fanaticism
William Hogarth, engraving, 1762

"The man who publishes and edits an article written by an anonymous critic should be held as immediately responsible for it as if he had written it himself; just as one holds a manager responsible for bad work done by his workmen. In this way the fellow would be treated as he deserves to be—namely, without any ceremony.

"An anonymous writer is a literary fraud against whom one should immediately cry out, "Wretch, if you do not wish to admit what it is you say against other people, hold your slanderous tongue."

"An anonymous criticism carries no more weight than an anonymous letter, and should therefore be looked upon with equal mistrust. Or do we wish to accept the assumed name of a man, who in reality represents a société anonyme, as a guarantee for the veracity of his friends?

"The little honesty that exists among authors is discernible in the unconscionable way they misquote from the writings of others. I find whole passages in my works wrongly quoted, and it is only in my appendix, which is absolutely lucid, that an exception is made. The misquotation is frequently due to carelessness, the pen of such people has been used to write down such trivial and banal phrases that it goes on writing them out of force of habit. Sometimes the misquotation is due to impertinence on the part of some one who wants to improve upon my work; but a bad motive only too often prompts the misquotation—it is then horrid baseness and roguery, and, like a man who commits forgery, he loses the character for being an honest man for ever."

Arthur Schopenhauer, On authorship and style.

Schopenhauer does not use the word authenticity in this essay but when you purchase some collectible online it might come with a certificate of authenticity stating it to be as described in the advertising copy. I have yet to see such a document called a guarantee of veracity. I take such documentation with a grain of salt. One object in my collection has such a document, but the object is not what the vendor claimed it to be. I did not return it for a refund because I bought it with the knowledge of what it really was and had it been correctly identified I would not have been able to afford it. I remember reading, somewhere, that if you purchased a forgery from a British antique dealer as a genuine item, then you can legally claim a refund, regardless of whether it came with a certificate of authenticity. However, if you sold such an item to an antique dealer then they could not get you to refund their money as they claim to be expert in such matters. It struck me as a very sensible law because who would want to put their trust in ignorance? Perhaps it no longer exists and that is why we have such certificates of authenticity.

In Schopenhauer's time, authenticity was not the buzzword it is today. You have to be very careful about buzzwords: a company that prominently advertises its ethics, for example, is most often a company that has none.

Schopenhauer's ire, in this part of his essay is directed toward deliberate anonymity and I get a number of blog comments from "anonymous". If they seem to be honest, I let them by. People are more fearful today than they used to be but this fear of authorship is even used as  ploy to attack the person to whom it is directed. It hopes to solicit sympathy. We have lost many of our animal instincts. My dog, Tristan, is a coyote hybrid and retains more of his basic pack instinct than does a purely domestic breed. When on a leash, and encountering fear in a person his instinctual response is twofold: his hackles rise and he gives two short warning barks, Then, if the fearful behaviour continues, he bares his teeth and lunges toward that person. He knows that by being on a leash he cannot remove himself from the source of danger. But why would a fearful person be a source of danger? He has adopted a human as a member of his pack (actually family group is the case with coyotes, wolves hunt in packs). The instinct is to kill the source of danger because fleeing is not possible. In such an animal, fleeing is not fear, it is removing oneself from a source of danger. "Fight or flee" is not a measure of personality in the coyote, it is survival instinct and the choice is dependent on the situation at the time. Within a hunting pack (or family group) the instinct expressed is "If you are fearful you cannot be trusted and trust is essential to survival. After observing this in Tristan I came to the realization that every single person in my life who had given me any trouble, did so out of the fear of something. Schopenhauer, in that section of his essay, expresses more of that pack instinct than we commonly see today, but his pack consists of other authors.

Authenticity, even as a buzzword, does not have to be nefarious and I give a good example of real social authenticity in my post: Nara + 20: Stakeholders, communities, and authenticity. However I also give, in the same post, an example of how the same subject matter is used for nefarious motives.

John's Coydog Community page

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Schopenhauer and the postmodern: part two (final)

The Futility of Art: Postcultural semiotic theory, realism and libertarianism
 1. Contexts of meaninglessness
If one examines presemanticist narrative, one is faced with a choice: either accept realism or conclude that language is capable of deconstruction. Sartre uses the term ‘textual rationalism’ to denote the role of the participant as artist. ...
The above quote is a meaningless, unique and machine-generated excerpt of an academic paper from the pomo-generator. Its section heading (after only three page reloads to avoid notations) is pure serendipity.

Criticisms of postmodernism based on the dismal quality of its academic writing are cases of mistaken identity. With some of its original authors, however, what at first glance seems overly verbose and difficult to understand is often a case of the author struggling with his language in order to select the precise wording for a concept that could easily be misinterpreted. I often have that problem, myself. It is not the postmodernist philosophy that is at fault, it is the affected academic writing style which is applied to whatever might be in vogue at the time.

This is why I can title this post "Schopenhauer and the postmodern". The latter is a major philosophy in our time and what Schopenhauer wrote was largely about the major philosophies of his own time. So it is the fact of academic fashion rather than the nature of any fashion which is really at fault. In other words, it is a matter of the Zeitgeist in and of itself.

I have taken excerpts from three of Schopenhauer's essays and present these quotes in the order in which they appear. The example of underlining is Schopenhauer's and my minimal interjections are enclosed by square parentheses. The selection process was not easy as there is so much more I could have used. I avoided passages that consisted of large numbers of examples not only to save space but because some of these examples would be less familiar to today's reader than they were in his time. The full essays can be read by following this link to the Internet Archive (Project Gutenberg). This was the translation used in my Google Play eBook. I have compared it with other English translations and found no differences in meaning, whatsoever. I recommend paying the small price for the eBook for the functionality of the medium (although it, absurdly, does not permit copying).


When we read, another person thinks for us: we merely repeat his mental
process. It is the same as the pupil, in learning to write, following
with his pen the lines that have been pencilled by the teacher.
Accordingly, in reading, the work of thinking is, for the greater part,
done for us. This is why we are consciously relieved when we turn to
reading after being occupied with our own thoughts. But, in reading, our
head is, however, really only the arena of some one else's thoughts. And
so it happens that the person who reads a great deal--that is to say,
almost the whole day, and recreates himself by spending the intervals in
thoughtless diversion, gradually loses the ability to think for himself;
just as a man who is always riding at last forgets how to walk. Such,
however, is the case with many men of learning: they have read
themselves stupid. For to read in every spare moment, and to read
constantly, is more paralysing to the mind than constant manual work,
which, at any rate, allows one to follow one's own thoughts. Just as a
spring, through the continual pressure of a foreign body, at last loses
its elasticity, so does the mind if it has another person's thoughts
continually forced upon it. And just as one spoils the stomach by
overfeeding and thereby impairs the whole body, so can one overload and
choke the mind by giving it too much nourishment. For the more one reads
the fewer are the traces left of what one has read; the mind is like a
tablet that has been written over and over. Hence it is impossible to
reflect; and it is only by reflection that one can assimilate what one
has read if one reads straight ahead without pondering over it later,
what has been read does not take root, but is for the most part lost.
Indeed, it is the same with mental as with bodily food: scarcely the
fifth part of what a man takes is assimilated; the remainder passes off
in evaporation, respiration, and the like. ...

From all this it may be concluded that thoughts put down on paper are
nothing more than footprints in the sand: one sees the road the man has
taken, but in order to know what he saw on the way, one requires his
eyes. ... [The difference in experiential from book learning]

It is because people will only read what is the newest instead of what
is the best of all ages, that writers remain in the narrow circle of
prevailing ideas, and that the age sinks deeper and deeper in its own
mire. ...

This condition of things shows why the scientific, literary, and
artistic spirit of the age is declared bankrupt about every thirty
years. During that period the errors have increased to such an extent
that they fall under the weight of their absurdity; while at the same
time the opposition to them has become stronger. At this point there is
a crash, which is followed by an error in the opposite direction.
[See Enantiodromia and it is also a good explanation of cultural lag]
To show the course that is taken in its periodical return would be the true
practical subject of the history of literature; little notice is taken
of it, however. ...

In German philosophy Kant's brilliant period
was immediately followed by another period, which aimed at being
imposing rather than convincing. Instead of being solid and clear, it
aimed at being brilliant and hyperbolical, and, in particular,
unintelligible; instead of seeking truth, it intrigued. Under these
circumstances philosophy could make no progress. Ultimately the whole
school and its method became bankrupt. For the audacious, sophisticated
nonsense on the one hand, and the unconscionable praise on the other of
Hegel and his fellows, as well as the apparent object of the whole
affair, rose to such a pitch that in the end the charlatanry of the
thing was obvious to everybody; and when, in consequence of certain
revelations, the protection that had been given it by the upper classes
was withdrawn, it was talked about by everybody. ... 

No greater mistake can be made than to imagine that what has been written latest is
always the more correct; that what is written later on is an improvement on what was
written previously; and that every change means progress. Men who think and have
correct judgement, and people who treat their subject earnestly, are all exceptions
only. Vermin is the rule everywhere in the world: it is always at hand and busily
engaged in trying to improve in its own way upon the mature deliberations of the
thinkers. So that if a man wishes to improve himself in any subject he must guard
against immediately seizing the newest books written upon it, in the assumption that
science is always advancing and that the older books have been made use of in the
compiling of the new. They have, it is true, been used; but how? The writer often
does not thoroughly understand the old books; he will, at the same time, not use
their exact words, so that the result is he spoils and bungles what has been said in
a much better and clearer way by the old writers; since they wrote from their own
lively knowledge of the subject. He often leaves out the best things they have
written, their most striking elucidations of the matter, their happiest remarks,
because he does not recognise their value or feel how pregnant they are. It is only
what is stupid and shallow that appeals to him. An old and excellent book is
frequently shelved for new and bad ones; which, written for the sake of money, wear
a pretentious air and are much eulogised by the authors' friends. In
science, a man who wishes to distinguish himself brings something new to
market; this frequently consists in his denouncing some principle that
has been previously held as correct, so that he may establish a wrong
one of his own. Sometimes his attempt is successful for a short time,
when a return is made to the old and correct doctrine. These innovators
are serious about nothing else in the world than their own priceless
person, and it is this that they wish to make its mark. They bring this
quickly about by beginning a paradox; the sterility of their own heads
suggests their taking the path of negation; and truths that have long
been recognised are now denied...

In the secret consciousness that this is the condition of things, every mediocre
writer tries to mask his own natural style. This instantly necessitates his giving
up all idea of being naïve, a privilege which belongs to superior minds sensible of
their superiority, and therefore sure of themselves. For instance, it is absolutely
impossible for men of ordinary intelligence to make up their minds to write as they
think; they resent the idea of their work looking too simple. It would always be of
some value, however. If they would only go honestly to work and in a simple way
express the few and ordinary ideas they have really thought, they would be readable
and even instructive in their own sphere. But instead of that they try to appear to
have thought much more deeply than is the case. The result is, they put what they
have to say into forced and involved language, create new words and prolix periods
which go round the thought and cover it up. They hesitate between the two attempts
of communicating the thought and of concealing it. They want to make it look grand
so that it has the appearance of being learned and profound, thereby giving one the
idea that there is much more in it than one perceives at the moment. Accordingly,
they sometimes put down their thoughts in bits, in short, equivocal, and paradoxical
sentences which appear to mean much more than they say (a splendid
example of this kind of writing is furnished by Schelling's treatises on
Natural Philosophy); sometimes they express their thoughts in a crowd of
words and the most intolerable diffuseness, as if it were necessary to
make a sensation in order to make the profound meaning of their phrases
intelligible--while it is quite a simple idea if not a trivial one
(examples without number are supplied in Fichte's popular works and in
the philosophical pamphlets of a hundred other miserable blockheads that
are not worth mentioning), or else they endeavour to use a certain style
in writing which it has pleased them to adopt...

If a man has something to say that is worth saying, he need not envelop it in
affected expressions, involved phrases, and enigmatical innuendoes; but he may rest
assured that by expressing himself in a simple, clear, and naïve manner he will not
fail to produce the right effect. A man who makes use of such artifices as have been
alluded to betrays his poverty of ideas, mind, and knowledge.
Nevertheless, it is a mistake to attempt to write exactly as one speaks. Every style
of writing should bear a certain trace of relationship with the monumental style,
which is, indeed, the ancestor of all styles; so that to write as one speaks is just
as faulty as to do the reverse, that is to say, to try and speak as one writes. This
makes the author pedantic, and at the same time difficult to understand. ... 

The largest library in disorder is not so useful as a smaller but
orderly one; in the same way the greatest amount of knowledge, if it has
not been worked out in one's own mind, is of less value than a much
smaller amount that has been fully considered. For it is only when a man
combines what he knows from all sides, and compares one truth with
another, that he completely realises his own knowledge and gets it into
his power. A man can only think over what he knows, therefore he should
learn something; but a man only knows what he has pondered.
A man can apply himself of his own free will to reading and learning,
while he cannot to thinking. Thinking must be kindled like a fire by a
draught and sustained by some kind of interest in the subject. This
interest may be either of a purely objective nature or it may be merely
subjective. The latter exists in matters concerning us personally, but
objective interest is only to be found in heads that think by nature,
and to whom thinking is as natural as breathing; but they are very rare.
This is why there is so little of it in most men of learning. ...

Men of learning are those who have read the contents of books. Thinkers,
geniuses, and those who have enlightened the world and furthered the
race of men, are those who have made direct use of the book of the
Much of the above is not original in its concepts and you might want to take a look at the First Preface to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury in Gerald of Wales ca.1146 – ca.1223, The Itinerary and description of Wales, by way of comparisonSuch writing is more often understood as a lament by the older for "the good old days" than a sociological observation of enantiodromia which, because of cultural lag, takes some decades to personally experience (and an ability to observe such evidence).

Tomorrow, a much shorter piece on Schopenhauer and authenticity (another popular word of our time).

John's Coydog Community page

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Schopenhauer and the postmodern: part one

File:Schopenhauer 1852.jpg
Arthur Schopenhauer 1788-1860, daguerreotype.
Sometimes, when you are looking for something, you find something even better. I was gathering works by Arthur Schopenhauer looking for a particular essay which had influenced both C. G. Jung and Wolfgang Pauli, but before I found it, I had purchased an eBook of a collection of his essays which had no table of contents. The essay I was looking for was not included but within its pages I found the solution to a problem that had bothered me for years: why is academic postmodern writing so bad?

By nature, I am not an obsessive person but, being intuitive, I find that some problems have that effect on me. I know there is a solution, a perfect solution, but it alludes me and I cannot rest until it is resolved. A hint to my obsession of this particular problem is the number of times that I had provided a link to the "pomo-generator" on this blog and in countless list postings and emails (although I probably could count most of them, I really do not want to!).

For those of you who have come across this post through a web-search, and at the risk of boring my regular readers (who can skip this paragraph with my blessings), the pomo-generator machine-generates absolutely meaningless essays about postmodernist thought. Every time you refresh the page, an entirely new essay is produced. The classic example of this sort of thing is known as the Sokal hoax and was perpetrated by physics professor Alan Sokal in 1996 who created, and had published in a journal of postmodernist studies, a paper of random quotes from postmodernist writing strung together so as to have the appearance of a serious work but it was actually gibberish. Sokal's purpose was critical of postmodernism but also played on the editors willingness to buy into something that seemed to validate their preconceptions. Unfortunately, no one ever saw the broader picture (myself included). Needless to say, it upset a lot of postmodern writers, but they, too, did not see what was really behind it all.

You might be wondering what on earth could Arthur Schopenhauer have said about postmodernism as he died so long before the term was coined. Later writers (including C. G. Jung) have certainly foreshadowed postmodernism, but all ideas have their time and such foreshadowing is typical of many great ideas. When I was busy trying to develop new things when I was in business (I was the "idea person" in our company), I knew that if I did not act upon one of them, someone else in the world would soon do so. I understood that I was,  to a very great degree, a product of my time. This is actually true of anyone who is not stuck in some personal past. The answer is that Arthur Schopenhauer noticed something  that was not really about postmodernism at all, but what he noticed is currently expressed in postmodern writing. This means that some future philosophy will manifest the same sort of awful writing. We have been looking at a symptom and not at the disease. Tomorrow, I will reveal it all, mainly with the words of Schopenhauer, himself.

After that, I will be following with some other essays about Schopenhauer, including what I was originally looking for with regards to his influences on Jung and Pauli. Some will be single posts, others will be short series. 

John's Coydog Community page

Monday, 7 December 2015

The end of television

File:Early portable tv.jpg
photo: Hana Kirana
This is a brief post today as I decided to get all of my end of the year paperwork done and delivered in a single day and that required going all over town and I have just limped home at 4 p.m. (I have a foot injury that is taking its time to heal). While I was out, I dropped off my TV modem at the cable company and cancelled my TV service. I had not watched TV in about a year so there seemed little point in continuing to pay for the service. Sometime in the new year, the TV set itself, along with my DVD player, VCR and two or three old and defunct computers will get recycled together with any other antique electronics I might have stashed in the back of some cupboard. Tonight, I plan to watch Netflix and perhaps read an eBook. Perhaps some time in the future, my bookshelves will vanish too. What am I going to do with all of that space?

Tomorrow, Schopenhauer and the postmodern.

John's Coydog Community page

Friday, 4 December 2015

The silver coins of Taras: conclusion

Taras, ca. 280-228 BC, diobol
photo: Classical Numismatic Group Inc. 
I started this series with a diobol and I am finishing it with another. Collectors of ancient Greek coins have limited choices on obtaining a coin depicting the facing head of Athena. The most famous example being a tetradrachm of Syracuse by Eukleidas, but at half a million Swiss francs it is out of reach for most collectors. The example on the right fetched a hammer price of only $202 US. While it was circulating in Italy, Archimedes was running naked through the streets of Syracuse shouting "Eureka". The coins of Taras are very popular with collectors because of their attractiveness and the fact that you do not need to be wealthy to collect them. The people of Taras, at that time these coins were issued would have been overjoyed that their coins were being appreciated in a world far larger than they knew more than two thousand years later. Most of those issues (and the same is true for all Greek city-states) bore designs to promote their city and culture. Today, we call this "branding".

The mythological types of Greek coins reveal how mythology was reinterpreted anew for each place and time and that is the nature of cultures. What is current, now, is obsolete tomorrow; new deities are constructed from the remains of old deities. If cultures are to survive at all, in minds, they have to connect in a very personal manner. I connected with the sea monster Skylla on a fishing trip off the coast of British Columbia and that event will be in my mind each time I see Skylla on a helmet design. Had I not bought a corroded Celtic coin from Seaby in London when I was about fifteen years old, I would never have written my book, nor put the Celtic Coin Index on line. Not once, though, did any visit to a museum ever change my life. Locked away in cabinets; behind glass, or with museum staff making sure that you do not touch, the cultures are killed because we can no longer connect with them in a personal way.

Even this series would have been impossible without CNG's policy of allowing the use of their many photographs to be used as I have used them here. Most museums will charge exorbitant sums for such use. A few, like the British Museum and a couple of American museums do allow such usage but others, like the Museum of London will not even allow you to sketch something. The sterilized remains of culture are being held for ransom.

So I will end by saying that if you have enjoyed this series and would like to have a coin of Taras of your very own then take a look at CNG's current Triton Auction which closes in New York on January 4th. There are a number of Taras coins up for bid including this very nice stater from the Vlasto collection.

I will be back on Monday with something new. Have a (personally) culturally significant weekend.

John's Coydog Community page