About Me

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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Sun drinks the Sea, the dark earth drinks the sky-rain

Unusual for Southern California, our 2d of 4 days of rain. We love it, but do not know what to do. Anacreon, in 500 b.c. under a squal showered on his arid isle (Teos), cried out, in my poor translation of the same quandary:

"Hephaestus, carve me a hollow cup!
The dark earth drinks the rain,
The flowers drink the earth,

The sea drinks the wind,
The sun drinks the sea..." (!)

Shut up. I am drunk in the rain
offering a wet garland of flowers
kissed everywhere by the watered wind
coming and going
tasting everything.

Carve me a hollow cup! Funny how it looks like Anacreon had totally figured out the Water cycle. 500 b.c. We are such SLOW learners, even about things that are right before our eyes, our senses. We taste the rain...It drops from the sky after the sun has drunk it from the sea....

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Blanziflor et Hecuba-aa-aaa!

One of the many emotional peaks in the music-libretto of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, is the invocation of "Blanchiflor et Hecuba"! In the penultimate verse, just before the hearty ending cheer on the scaffold of malevolent destiny-- O Fortuna! The Ave Formoisissima invokes beautiful women as the Light, the Rose of the World.

The names of these two Queen Mothers would presumably be familiar to Europeans familiar with homiletic sagas in the Matter of Britain (King Arthur), France (Charlemagne) and Rome (mythology and Homer), and with Virgil's Aeneid.

Still, when rehearsing, I was always curious that these two specific women were invoked in the lament-filled paean to life-drive und das ewig-weibliche. Both women are expressly elevated to adored Venus stature. But who are they?

Hecuba seems pretty clear. The fertile wife of Priam, mother of Hector, and queen of Troy. As I recall, there are a number of different versions of her fate. Not content with killing her husband and number one hero son, the Aeneans burned her city, hauled her off as a slave, and killed most of her other 19 children. The youngest son, was not killed by the Greeks, but was murdered by a Thracian ally who usurped the Trojan treasure he undertook to guard. Hecumba, having been such a wonderful mother, is pushed over the edge with the news of this last and final infamy. Homer says she started barking like a dog, and howled at the moon. Hence the expression, "went to the dogs". Still, I like to imagine her impulse to bark was a perfectly rational response to what she was experiencing and led to her release from enslavement. With Hecubated breath.

Blanziflor is more difficult. The monks reference familiarity with Grail quests and Icelandic Sagas, in addition to the standard Homer. Blanchefleur is the heroine of an eponymous tale, is the beloved of Percevel (Parsifal), and is also the mother of Lohengrin (as Condiwiramurs). Finally, Blanchefleur is the mother of Tristan in Tristan and Iseult. (Tristan is the knight in Arthur's court, whose mission it is to safely deliver Iseult to his friend and her brethothed. On the way, the two fall for each other, hard.) It is possible the monks wanted to remind themselves of these powerful women.

But I do not think so. None of these "Blanches" seem to be connected with Hecuba, or the Hecuban form of lament -- a beautiful woman who has everything but whose destiny is to lose everything, including sanity. THAT sort of invocation seems to make sense in terms of the Carmina collection. So let's revisit Troy.

Looking closely at the entire text of the collected Carmina, one may be drawn to the conclusion that THIS Blanchiflor is one of the other women invoked by Virgil, in addition tol Hecuba. After all, the monks do seem to be tracing the tragedy of Troy -- the possibility of greatness, the reduction to flames and destruction on the whims of malevelent gods.

Obviously the woman whose fate it is to be most tightly connected to Troy, is Helen. Is "Blanchiflor" connected to "Helen" in any way? Is it possible the poets were alluding to Helen?

Ἕλλην (Hellen) has long been the traditional name Greeks have for themselves. A Greek's Abraham is a woman. The capture of Sparta's queen, and King Menelaus' wife, by Paris was the signature casus belli, purportedly as a repatriation effort.

It is Helen of Troy whose history, and even the etymology of her name, is most connected to the Venus the poets appeal to. It is of course, vanity to search for etymology, ever. Or for that matter, a "golden age" of Sparta -- archeological evidence of Mycenaean palaces have never been found.

Still, we can content ourselves with the foreshadowing themes drawn from Helen and extending to the continental medieval Blanchiflor. For example, the Tristam theme is foreshadowed by the fact that Agamemnon undertook to court and win Helen on behalf of his brother Menelaus.

Why not just sing "Helen and Hecuba-aa"! My thinking is that the poets were drinking. They loved Venus, not by her Greek name Aphrodite, and they loved her through Virgil, the Roman. The Castor-Pollux link between Sparta and Rome was a theme for Virgil. Here the poets are mimicking a famous epithalamium of Catullus, whose work was also put to music by Orff in a separate work. It is sexual love, not motherland and Mom and the happy home which are the starting and ending point of the monks' diversions.

So, it really is Helen, the founder of the cult in Laconia, a hangover of the fertility cult of the caves which never stopped and is invoked even today. The Homeric account (Helen walks around the Horse, mimicking the warrior's wives), gives way to the different stories dramatized by Stesichorus (both Greeks and Trojans stone her), Euripedes (in which Helen never went to Troy), and even Herodotus. In previous iterations, she was a vegetation goddess -- Helen of the Trees, in Rhodes with roots going back to the Minoan, where they had very similar terracotta female figurines.

And there on Rhodes we find the most tragic account of her fate. Having conquered all men with her beauty, and having been queen of the greatest cities, she came to Rhodes. Believing she was enjoying the hospitality of the queen of the island with handmaidens attending her bath, the queen in fact was seeking vengence for the loss of her family. She had her handmaidens disguized as Furies and set upon Helen, hanging her on a tree. Full circle. O Fortuna plango.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Music is not a Language

Often after playing music, never during, I fairly burst with expression and insight and desperately yearn to "communicate" it. Of course, this may be a side-effect of playing itself. The hunger, the need to express. Words are much more linear, of course, but both conversations and tunes are parsed by Time.

The difficulty is the shift, the translation back to "words". One can feel a knuckle between the word-net of "language" and the ringing-fruit basketry of "sound". We are able to do things with things we little understand -- words and tunes come from somewhere, loaded with skill-sets and feelings, and components which are shared. But most of the expressions are unique to their respective continents. Usually after playing, I literally have nothing to "say".

One of my favorite memories of performers in my youth were the lovable randy couple, Marais and Miranda. They were famous for telling musical stories. Their performance was both words and puns, and sounds sweeping across the arc of arts, with wisdom, flirtation, eyebrows and twinkling, and skillful bowing on vibrating strings. Their songs and sounds were blended, and now I deeply appreciate their skill at beckoning both.

Language can be used to perceive, to extend our perceptions. Music can be used to dip our toes into experiences. Both Words and Music can hit the sweet-spots of the brain and bounce thoughts aloft. Feelings can be lit up. Or smothered. But each is rooted and routed on separate places in the central nervous system. The mysteries of both are not the same.

Music - composition mysteries

Music is the only true "religion", by any definition of redemption or grace or self-realization. And like Religion, not all can be saved. Some of us will never "get it". Mozart could compose in his head, play in his sleep, and remember what he intended to do later in performance. Yet his peers treated him like a circus curiosity, not the high priest for which office he should have been annointed.

None of us know where music really comes from or what purpose it serves. Where was evolution headed, or where was your Creator going with this? We are lit up by timbre, tempo, meter, pitch and mode. We contend with tunings and tonalities, burning the circle of fifths inside melodies held together in ribbed vertebra of rhythm and rhyme. We feel the textures of sound, held in the suspense of lacunae and progression, modulating to a cadence of a drum we listened to from the womb.

World War II - assessment

A sufficient time has passed, and enough players with egos at stake have died, so that we can clear the slate and confirm what REALLY happened in the paroxysm of WWII. Here are a few notes:

1. FACTS. Hitler's personal secretary for a decade was an educated eye-witness to his rise to power and conduct of the War. She was never interviewed by anyone -- the military, the academy, the journalists. This single anecdotal fact reveals an enormous disinterest in facts generally, and a huge bias against women, that colors all accounts of the War.

2. ECONOMICS. A British economist spent the post-war decade appraising the value of the real estate and stock of Germany before the war, and comparing the value to the cost of fighting Germany. It cost much much more to wage war than to buy the materials which appear to be at stake.

3. GOLD. We know that the Nazis were pillagers. Like all thugs with guns, as they conquered Europe, they walked into every bank in every city, town and village and removed the gold. The Imperial Japanese Army systematicaly removed the gold from every bank, temple, and estate they could find from Manchuria to Indonesia. Together, the Axis consolidated at least 80% of the world's gold. This bullion has never been fully accounted for. It did not actually disappear -- it was not destroyed. Still, its "story" has never been told or ventilated by the press or by historians. We know the numbers of men at arms in numerous engagements across the globe, and we know the gold is important to thugs. But "military historians" seem to lose interest when "following the money".

4. VICTORY. Not surprising for such a complex event, but surprising considering what was at stake, there are many examples where but for a small and largely overlooked fluke, the AXIS would have won the war.

5. ACTUAL COST. We resist the attempts to assess the actual losses and damage because of the enormity. The losses of Nanking, Nagasaki, Dresden, and the Jews and Gypsies of eastern Europe, are simply not calculable, for even a start.

Stones and Bones

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CAVE ART Blogged 2009 “Stones and Bones”

Anthropologists have confirmed that homo sapiens was thriving in communities in Africa 500,000 years ago. 30,000 years ago we were painting the walls and ceilings in underground caves. We lived without the physical culture we enjoy today, apparently enjoying each other and the natural wonders of this world...for hundreds of thousands of years. What changed?

Culture has clearly "advanced" -- the stones and bones show improvements and increased specialization coupled with organization. Tools become more efficient. The "fitness" is adjusted. Today we can physically see the changes we describe as neolithic revolutions which in turn led to "civilization" marching through its bronze, iron, and steel iterations.

Still, we look at the Cave Paintings and their absences -- no God, no King, no weapons, no hierarchies of men -- and the predominance of gravidity, of color and wonder. We really have to reconsider the direction we have come. In the recent blink of 10,000 years we seem to have wandered into an obsession with personality cults, superstition and weaponry. Have we wandered into a dead end? What is the real vector? What is going on now, and why is it so difficult to comprehend our actual History? Surely what we did for 100,000 years is significant compared to a few centuries of risings and fallings and futile prayers to pantheons of gods.

The point is, looking at Cave Art (which is only 30,000 years old but which was already "advanced" in the caves ((there is no evidence of slow beginnings which probably began "outside")), we had Art. We had the sciencia of the minerals and pigments. This is what makes the ABSENCES so startling. Cave Art depicts no gods, no weapons, no armies, no hierarchies. But we had Community and we had Art and yes, Science -- for hundreds of thousands of years.

The recent 10,000 year old obsession with superstition and vengeful slaughter of "others" is all very new and unnecessary. No, it was not as if evil did not happen, or Mankind did not suffer. The Ice Age extinguished the Cave culture. But there in our Past, it was still Eden compared with the mass suffering to which we have lately become accustomed at the hands of Kings and Priests.

Consciousness

Why do we cling to MORE than life? Why do we press for Understanding and self-realization -- my gawd What is that? -- as well!

Yet every night, we surrender to LOSS of consciousness and Will. We fall asleep. We do not "change our mind" easily, and we almost never change our Personality. But gratefully we take to the pillow, and whatever we are, disappears.

Scripture

Scripture is never clear. There is no bible or spiritual text which is not disputed over life-times of believers, and the dispute is often and always ironic to the death!

The Tanakh, or Old Testament, was written by many authors over a period of 1000 years. This is a book of infinite inspiration and contradiction. It is glossed and tortured and translated in ever "new" ways. While its main purpose was to preserve the power of the priests against the kings, it shares a million minor agendas which continue to entertain and beguile.

Of the 27 books of the New Testament, there is a certain provenance to none of them. Many of the contemporaneous texts were curiously omitted without explanation provided by the anonymous Councilors meeting at Nicea in the fourth century after the Subject of the gospels stopped teaching.

Of the legendary "founders" of the great Religions, not one is alleged to have written a word -- Abraham, Buddha, Jesus -- all silent and absent from stone, papyrus, or clay. Mohammad and Smith appear to have written texts -- on leaves, skins, tablets -- but they each claim that an Angel (the same one, Gabriel), not God or Allah (again the same), dictated the text to them.

We have only recently discovered and authenticated long-lost but referenced "gospels", such as the gospel of Judas, Thomas, and several female writers.

St Paul, of course, is a historical figure and his letters -- actually penned by him -- have been preserved. Accord, the work of St Augustine, with his gospel of grace and invention of a trinity. What is significant is that in subsequent iterations, changes were made to the texts by so-called Believers with the intent to deceive others!

During this formative time Jews and Christians were maintaining graven images in the hearths of their homes, and continued to bury their dead with as many as 30 different deities. Even after the attempt to collate an "official" scripture 300 years after Jesus by order of the Mother of Constantine--that pagan Emperor who died as a non-believer--the copyists continued to use widely varying translations.

Of particular significance is the fact that the myth of inerrant "oral tradition" has been completely exploded. Most "traditions" trace back only a few generations. Most texts are interpolated and falsified, almost none are "copied" accurately verbatim and without new purposes and agendas. Translations are impossible. And memories? They are false.

Scripture is not history. It is fascinating. But it is not Truth.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bubbles and Pirates

The largest economy in the world is the Global Economy. No single "country" whatever that means, or even Continent, can claim to be Number One in a vacuum.

The United States has the largest economy among political systems, and by 2007, China became the 2d largest with the highest growth rate, at 9%.

Japan, with no natural resources and half the population of the US, is in 3d place, with the world's largest banks. Remarkably, considering its location exactly between the US and China, it is still in torpor from the real estate crash of Tokyo decades ago.

India has a growth rate that matches China in many ways, but is economically and radically different. The growth is accelerated not by low-wage manufacturing, but by service industries producing well over half the GDP. Both India and China each have a Middle Class larger than either the United States or Europe.

Russia still enjoys the rich bottom lands and bread baskets of the Ukraine, but these are still locked in with transportation difficulties exposed the the predations of Pirates and the spoliation of pollution. Russia, is not, as DeTocqueville predicted, the "country of the future", but it is the great warning to the future of the damage that piracy and pollution can wreak.

The economies of the countries in the Middle East are extremely small. The Oil billionaires look down on everyone--the Bedouin shepard, other billionaires, and especially the Middle Classes, which almost do not exist. This is the curse of Oil -- it creates controllers and dependents. Dubai, with its glittering architecture, looked promising, but then it collapsed economically -- and names the world's tallest building after a neighboring billionaire.

Back to China. This year, a variety of GDP growth rates and projections have been announced. Most of the numbers are astounding, not just because the rest of the world is suffering as a result of a pirate attack on Wall Street. The Chinese Government still "controls" the announcement of the numbers. And the Government is lying. The figures coming out of China are "political". The concept of gathering the facts and reporting them is still completely "foreign".

The publication and projection of false figures will have the accelerating and inevitable effect of creating a large Bubble in the Chinese economy. Prices are increasing for everything faster than wages. As the power drive of Hong Kong continues to roll across China -- all of its cities are in capitalism's thrall-- they compete with each other to pollute the air, water, and farms.

The rulers of China are elderly and short-sighted. They are stuffing their pockets as fast as they can, and are oblivious to long-term investments or the impact of toxic waste, industrialization, and thoughtless change. The Government officials engage in a crude form of competition which consists of banqueting -- they eat and drink to excess, as a form of political demonstration and power-mongering. This is the kind of anecdotal behavior which presages disaster and reveals character, or lack of character, at the top of their society, which is the bottom.

The Bubble that was created in the coastal real estate of the United States in 2008, causing a rise in prices of homes to a level roughly two times what the members of the middle class could purchase with their dual but decreasing earner households, is now forming in China. There are other similarities -- both spouses work, few children, large "middle" class, many opportunities to make money. There are also differences -- regulations, no privatized "Treasury Department", no Wall Street gamers.

However, it should be noted that in China, the pirates are already IN power. They conquered China quickly after WWII. More recently, in Wall Street USA, the pirates had to buy the Pentagon, the Treasury, all the large newspapers, the Congress, the Presidency, and even the Courts. This took more time.

The historical fact is that Pirates and Bubbles go after each other. Pirates have a crude fascination -- its part of their man-child fantasy -- with things that burst. The Chinese bubble is growing larger, rapidly. They have, like the Russians, polluted the land and rivers of China, which once fed the most successful breeding population on the planet. The Pirates are already in charge.

Geodeterminism

It is a curse, not to forget history, but to remember it.

Geographically, the north American continent is uniquely "bountiful" in terms of resources that human culture requires. The Mississippi-Missouri delta is a many-fingered palm of waterways going all the directions you want to go in a Temperate Zone bread-basket. The mineral wealth comprehensively covers the chart of elements, wanting for nothing. The plagues of locusts in the Great Plains mysteriously disappeared with the feral Bison. Colonies of idiots and convicted felons could come to the region and thrive. Natural population expansion results in larger numbers of descendants of the emigrants in America than in many of their "home countries". More present-day Americans have German ancestry than in Germany, the largest population of Europe. The largest Norwegian country is Minnesota-Wisconsin. We could go on. The 2d largest Polish city in the world is Chicago, etc.

Nothing political in the world is going to change this unique geophysical configuration of rivers and mountains and plains in a Temperate Zone. All the rivers of Russia flow North, where you do not want to go, except for the Volga which flows into a landlocked body of water, the Caspian Sea. Africa has a mighty and a storied river, the Nile, and many fertile places which enable mankind to thrive. But it shares, with South America, a Tropical curse. It is a petri dish for disease, torpor, and excess humidity. It shares with Australia, a plague of insects that distract human culture and compete for food.

It is true that the Middle East began the most successful human cultures in its fertile crescents. However, the soils of the region are exhausted, and the subsoil is cursed with an abundance of Oil controlled by inbred clans. The Egyptians destroyed the Nile with a dam, Saddam Hussein channelized and desertified the Tigris-Euphrates delta, and beyond Israel, the soils of the Levant and much of Persia are exhausted. Israel alone has flushed the salinity and replenishes its soil. Arabia sits on the largest fresh-water aquifer in the world, but ignores it for the oil.

It is true that the sub-continent of China has long supported human needs. The Yangtze flows east-west in a Temperate Zone. The People, the most successful on the planet in terms of numbers, also have the prescience to celebrate that achievement with steps to rein in any further increase. Many observers also take notice of the decision of the Government of China to permit economic freedom, and the participation of China in globalization. However, China destroyed the fisheries of its rivers with power dams and mining, and now has 18 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world.

It is true that geophysical features alone do not exlain all risings and fallings. Japan has few resources and constant earthquaking, and yet they have projected power, doing some of the worst and some of the best things. The centrality of Italy in the Mediterranean does not explain why a minor village formed at a fjord in the Tiber River valley, a cross-roads, would become the Rome that all roads led to. Or why a sinking city in a marsh of 117 islands would survive frequent irruptions to become Venice, a major maritime power during the Middle Ages through its Settecento (17-18th century).

Steven Solomon has recently lent his beltway journalist scholarship to the pride of place historicity of Water issues, in his comprehensive work, WATER the Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power and Civilization (2010). Noting that civilization itself (a mixed blessing) has been mid-wifed by agricultural irrigation, hag-ridden by scarcity, and left to collapse upon indiscretions over water, Solomon updates us all. The recurring patterns of geophysical preeminence are made visible. There is an enduring tension between two forms of political/economic organization which are themselves formed by water usage. The "hydraulic states" (Egypt, Sparta, Soviet) which focused on irrigation and canals run by centralized (authoritarian) governance, and the "sea-faring cultures" (Athens, United Kingdom) which were decidedly more difused and democratic. (We perpetually fight the Peloponnesian War.)

The key fact here is not which form of government is "better", by any measure. But WHAT sources for potable water are available?

We are, as always, facing the hydrological time bomb -- we, the beneficiaries of the immediately previous demographic bomb, enabled by the availability of exploitable Water.

The Meaning of Religion and the ABSENCE of God

One of the ironies of Religion is that so much of IT has been started by individuals and maintained by people with no Belief in any god.

Abraham, the OT/Tanahk tells us, arose out of Ur "with his gods". He did not start Monotheism, he was polytheistic, like most people trying to explain things they did not understand.

Buddha initiated the 2d great "Religion". 2500 years ago, Buddha denounced the concept of divinity--from Hindu hordes of spirits to the idea of a single omnipotent god. As for the idea of Heaven or Hell, or having a "relationship with God" he taught spirituality without referencing such absurd concepts.

Jesus, whose name is suspiciously Latin, was never worshiped as a god by any of the people who actually "witnessed" him, the Jews and a few Samaritans. After his death, Christianity spread peacefully throughout the collapsing Roman Empire.

Mohammed repeatedly gainsays his own divinity. Yet his followers idolize him and boldly disobey the words of the Allah conveyed in the Quran. Terrorists clearly reject "Islam", which is submission. Virtually all suicide and roadside bombers today purport to act in the name of Islam, but all have failed to show ANY directive from Allah to do what they do. The Quran promises no "virgins" for an assassin's pleasure in Heaven. Allah is described as a creator, including Jews and Gentiles, and that investment is contradicted by the act of murder.

Buddhism grew from a tiny religious community in northern India into a movement that spans the globe. This happened peacefully. When Arabs came into contact with Buddhism, they stopped their initial expansion by the sword. Islam immediately enjoyed a much bigger expansion peacefully--through India and all the way to Indonesia--than it had previously taken by force across the thinly populated desert of northern Africa.

Mormonism, remarkably similar to Islam in its formation and growth pattern, has also grown considerably. From a divinely-inspired but violent origin, its practitioners took up the practical arts and crafts and spread across the globe.

It is as if we come full circle. Abraham unites us all as "lost tribes" with no common language and makes us all one tribe moving to new places. Buddha points us toward serenity and a satisfying life. Other thinkers add the idea of Love (Jesus), peaceful submission (Mohammed), and community building (LDS).

And now we are back to trying to understand each other, from different tribes and different tongues, to find our common tribe. And no one has claimed to have heard from any god, of any ilk, for a hundred years. There are still individuals who invoke Religion and then commit un-saintly acts, none of which are justified by any Scripture. While several Religions have experienced paroxysms of violence, not one of the four great Religions has expanded significantly as a result of violence.

And not one of the deistic cults claims to have any evidence of any recent communication. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all invoke the SAME deity (arguably or intermittently Yahweh/Jehovah/God/Allah/Ishtar). All of their "Scriptures" are presaged by stories written on clay tablets by those people in Ur who worshiped a female trinity symbolized by the thin crescent moon on a green field. This round gently-curved breast symbol is now ironically and alternatively usurped as a symbol of Allah, and the Virgin Mary.

We are all Buddhists. We are all Unitarian Universalists, even if many of us do not know it. We are all the Lost Tribes of Israel, found our way home together even IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY PILLAR OF FIRE! We are the devoted Saints in the presence of each other. We sanctify what we do not destroy.

I urge all Religious Believers to attend: Almost all Belief is contrary to almost all Religious Tradition.

Argument and Agreement

What possessed the academy to stop teaching rhetoric and reasoning? What possesses those who assert leadership, over air waves and mosques and businesses and thrones, to vilify and silence and label their "enemies"?

Reasoning is dyadic argumentation tested by doubt, which is surpassingly mutual. Even a speaker will suddenly realize an absurdity only after it is expressed.

But how can we make reasoning more effective? Surely this is worth the effort, although I disagree with the school that would pretend that teaching Argumentation would lead to (1) Finding Truth, and (2) Resolving Conflict. While Argumentation is a social, even a cooperative enterprise, the aforesaid (1) and (2) remain demonstrably illusive.

Still, it is dialogue which makes culture possible. And the loss of civility which always arises when Argumentation is voiced from the extreme wings, will cripple culture and inflame idiocy. Political Freedom is layered and is never the result of extremity. Hate-mongering should be discouraged.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The difficulty of Belief Changing

If we never change our Beliefs, we imply our own un-educability. And even to state a Belief, to declare that we have over-reached the facts and hang by an unsupported limb, is to pronounce the fact that we are inclined to be un-educable. Now, is there any difficulty among men and women greater than the prospect of changing their Beliefs? I have seen people face starvation, death and pestilence, heroically, and with ingenuity. Yet, when face-to-face with the FACT that a central long-held Belief is not true, a Believer will die before changing that Belief.

After a Holiday feast, I was thinking about tryptophan -- the "drowsy Turkey" amino acid humans use as an essential building block in protein biosynthesis, and as a precursor for compounding Serotonin, Niacin, and apoptotically, Auxin (a phytohormone which we share with plants, and which plants use to convert stems into flowers(!).) It is true that the Tryptophan uptake across the blood-brain barrier may increase, and once inside the central nervous system, tryptophan is converted into serotonin which is further metabolized into melatonin, the circadian mother of sleep, in the pineal gland under normal enzymatic pathways. Still, is there a tryptophan trigger? The pineal is not the only source of melatonin. For example, peripheral cells such as bone marrow, and skin produce it, and it can even be ingested directly.

I convinced myself that the marginal tryptophan in the turkey was not likely to be a significant Cause of drowiness, in spite of my Belief that it might be. And after eating the Turkey, there I was nodding off. Was my pineal gland, the size of a grain of rice, triggered into melatonin manufacturing mode? Or was I getting drowzy because I had the naked, unsupported Belief, that turkey would induce drowziness? Sleep slipped into my quandary.