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Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Long Letter Home

I wasted a few hours mildly observing a very silly tv program, America Unearthed. It is, theoretically, exactly my sort of thing. I have the notes and research done for a book on the subject, Pre-Columbian Old World contact with the New. Very cool. But I did that work in the mid 90s, and it’s unlikely I’ll ever put it together. Point is, this little tv show (taking an hour to present 7 minutes of material) is exactly, or rather precisely, worthless.

 I’ve seen episodes before. Something about a super-secret Illuminati megacomplex under the Denver Airport; also the Georgia Guidestones. Something about the Masons building and controlling Washington DC. A giant buried rockwall in Texas built by giants.  Conspiracy crap. Oh, I love a real conspiracy. I love them for their rarity. This episode was about an ancient Egyptian presence in Oklahoma; and Celtic. And then one about a medieval Englishman buried in Arizona. Indeed, these things could be true. I’m entirely open to it. I believe there is some very reasonable evidence to support this sort of thing. I like anomalous data.

 But the Egyptian evidence, so called, is a flat 500 pound sandstone rock carved very clearly with an Egyptian style Apis bull.
 I am rusty on this topic, but I used to be pretty confident -- ancient history was the focus of my undergraduate interests. It is clear, in any case, that the Apis carving is certainly meant to be taken as authentic. Is it?

 I googled this particular example and found a nice little skeptical blog addressing the tv show. The bull is dismissed primarily on the grounds that the head is too small -- considered to be a basic error of fraudsters and beginning art students, who do not first chalk out their subject, and thus must artificially squash up the image to make it fit their miscalculated space. (I’m so inept at graphic representations that it’s actually funny -- but doesn’t it seem more likely that an artist would start drawing at the head?  And it seems like a right handed person would start carving, hammer and chisel, from the right.  I'm just saying.) (They left the front-left leg unfinished.)  In any case, of course the carver was an amateur, perhaps gifted, whether ancient Egyptian or modern fraudster -- what, an expedition into the wilds of an unknown continent traveled with a vast retinue of specialized craftsmen?

The blog writer is a scholar of petroglyphs, but certainly not an Egyptologist. His criticism is convincing until one actually looks at authentic Apis bulls. They are characteristic in their small-seeming heads. I remembered this, and checked it again on what you people call the internet (man, it make superficial research so easy -- which is why we can expect an increasing surfeit of hoaxes). The bull is certainly a fraud, but not because the head is too small.

 The stone was supposedly found by a couple of young men out looking for fossils or somesuch in the Oklahoma River. Oklahoma has a river? Hey dude, check this out! Bitchin! An ancient Egyptian Apis bull carved into this flat boulder in the shallow river! Farout! Let’s pull it out and call up some tv guy! And I looked at the two young men, and as they spoke I posited three options: truthful, lying, or I can’t tell. I could tell. Lies lies lies. One of them couldn’t wipe a sneaky little smirk off his face.
 Perhaps it’s just that he’s not an actor and the camera evokes this behavior? And the other could not help but shake his head, no, constantly, with every word he uttered.
 Perhaps it was him indicating dismay at the amazing thing that truly happened? No. Lies lies lies. (Here’s how to determine if someone is lying: be still, listen and observe.)

More telling, to my formerly somewhat trained eye, was the erosion pattern of the inscription. Insignificant. After supposedly 3000 years. Much of that time spent in a riverbed? -- certainly in the wind. Consider: an inscription, inscribed, carved into the stone; exposed to sustained weather patterns -- a current of water, or prevailing direction of wind. What must happen is that one side, leeward, of an inscribed line would be more eroded than the other. What would not happen, in an exposed inscription, is uniform wear. Which is what was in evidence.
Sure, the lines were somewhat rounded, as if someone had made a desultory attempt to simulate age. But really, totally, completely unconvincing, to the point of obvious deceit. Like a little smirk or a constant head-shake negation.

 Well, it’s fine as a puzzle: is this genuine? Like an Encyclopedia Brown mystery. But this is deliberate fraud, which is precisely analogous to counterfeiting. Isaac Newton was Master of the Royal Mint, and looming large among his duties was to oversee the execution of counterfeiters -- if memory serves, by partial hanging, then drawing and quartering. Trust must not be debased. To vandalize truth is profoundly corrupt, if such a quaint conceit can have meaning in Obamerica. These punks need to be caned. The tv guy is just making a living, soft-selling with deliberate naiveté and faux enthusiasm what he must know is not genuine. We expect scholarship from scholars, and entertainment from entertainers.

 The other episode? The medieval Englishman memorialized in a bodiless Arizona cave? His name, according to the runic inscription just outside the cave opening, transliterates as Rough Hurech (HRK?). And indeed, record of a 12th century Peter Hurech is to be found in England, the last of his line. This is where the voiceover guy starts asking the Could it be… questions. These shows are all about open-ended questions that never get answered. Could it be that space aliens built this 43,064 year old megalithic undersea structure? (No.)

 As for Rough Hurech, it is indeed runic script. In “English”, reportedly. No meaningful erosion, and undocumented and unobserved as of a 1984 report by state museum officials on the cave’s genuine Indian petroglyphs … but maybe since then the stone was uncovered and for some reason moved outside and left exposed by, uh, souvenir hunters? What is absolutely a problem is, if memory serves, that runic was a completely archaic form of writing, even 200 years prior to the supposed time in question; it was a first millennium alphabet. Anyone who knew runic, later, would know Latin, and my expectation was that the vulgar tongue would not be used, and that person also would not inscribe in runic. I don’t think there are any examples of authentic High Middle Ages runic inscriptions, by which to see what convention would dictate: it was not a practice, to have a convention.

 In my family are preserved old hymnals and prayer books, brought over from the old counties, Denmark and Norway -- they are printed in that hard-to-read Gothic font. Well, 140 years is a long time. It is completely unreasonable to expect to find such a usage in any contemporary communication, except that which strives deliberately to be obscure. My point is obvious. Rough Hureck may have come to America, and may have been buried in an Arizona cave, but this would be entirely by astronomical and infinitesimal coincidence, and we surely do not have his gravestone.

 As worthless, but not moreso, are the Alien Hunter shows. Any large stone piled onto any other is evidence of space aliens. It’s comical. Likewise the Bigfoot Hunter shows, and the Ghost Hunter shows. I haven’t actually watched one, but, well, I haven’t seen animal pornography either. I’m sure it has its interests. They are all of a piece, Honey Booboo by another name, silly and uncouth behavior for its own sake, or disguised as investigative adventure. There used to be really bad sitcom tv, Three’s Company and Married with Children. Now there is unscripted amateur bad acting of obvious vignettes concocted by producers who are not gifted storytellers. Every cohort has its own expression of lowbrow culture.

 So, in this, I do not despair. It is not the continuing corruption of popular culture that distresses. Yes, it is coarser, by orders of magnitude, but youth become desensitized to the same degree. Rather, I am unspeakably distressed in this: I believe the American spirit has been, finally, ruined. Gay “marriage”, mandatory government-dictated “insurance”, unpoliced “immigration”. Consider our wars. Our military wins them, and our politicians then lose them -- we must say, spurred on by popular opinion. I care not for platitudes; it is results that speak truth. Pols do only what they are allowed to do. Look at what we have allowed, confirmed. Now, in my extremity, when for the first time I am in need of medical doctoring, the American medical establishment is being ruined. Ah well, how ironic. The tragedy lies in the abandonment of, shall we call it Americanism. I won’t belabor it. It is the loss of freedom, as an ideal, that unhinges me. More government, less freedom. It is a self-evident logical formulation.

I believe a number of frankly weird things. I don’t have a problem with conspiracies. I require however evidence sufficient to sustain a claim. Extraordinary beliefs need extraordinary support. Thus I believe in God rather than in randomness. My life is random, as is, now, my health -- as if a lifetime of care did not earn benefit. Ah well. No justice. But the alternative is that randomness produces complexity, and that is impossible. God allows injustice, but physics does not allow the merely mechanical abnegation of entropy. Life does not come from non-life; I have faith insufficient to sustain such a belief. Ergo, God.

 I spend a fair bit of time, at night, in bed, attempting to manipulate my chi. Directing it to the sundry points of virulent inflammation that are crippling me (you can walk without a knee, or hips, but how can you walk without the bottoms of your feet?). It’s just a way of trying to reset my immune system. Any paradigm might do it -- prayer or visualization or hypnotism or meditation or aura work or chakra activation. Whatever. Is it working? Not in the least. My working hypothesis is that God won’t allow me even to trust my good practices. All that lifelong focus on fitness and health? No smoking or drinking or drugs or dead things in my diet? A reed I have leaned upon, that has broken and pierced my hand. On what then might I lean? Wherein shall I place my trust? In the God who allowed my family, my two other sons, to be taken from me? -- lost as far as I knew into a void as black as the abyss? Somewhere I must have misplaced my faith, for him to countenance such a thing. But God is a fanatic, an all or nothing sort of triune personage. We are allowed it seems to love only, only, only God, and nothing else, or he will take it from us. What do we value? Our children? Our health, our self-control, our diligent observation of hygienic practice? For nothing. From the four quarters of the earth Job will lose his cattle and his sons and his health, and the only comfort he will get comes as blame, until God comes in a whirlwind or a peeping voice and informs him unanswerably that all his blamelessness counts for nothing but an invitation to agony. And still must we trust him.

 I defy you, urge you, beg you to prove me wrong. Prove with, you know, evidence, like you’re disproving a ridiculous but prevalent conspiracy theory. I am of course taunting you with futility, asking the impossible, because the only answer does not come in the form of reason. No one can out-reason me, in this. My argument is not in interpretation, but in the evidence itself. Look at what has happened. It speaks for itself. There is only one appropriate answer, to discouragement. I do not know how one might communicate encouragement, through silence. Well, yes, I suppose I do. Because I have done it. Words don’t do it. It’s the conveying of empathy. I know this because I’ve done it, and it works. It’s how you comfort a child. Shut the hell up with the yammering words and hug him. There’s hardly anything in the universe sufficient to convince us we’re not completely alone. We find courage through empathy.

Well, it is true that Job got replacement sons. So never mind then. Do over.

 I have not suffered enough yet, though. It is my belief that God really is trying to break me. There is worse in store for me, until I yield. I am fully capable of never yielding. I’m crazy. So it’s an adventure. Who can hold out the longer. God, with his fiery hailstones and plagues and slaughtered loved ones, or me and my capacity to accommodate increasing debilitude.

 Here’s the deal, God: when I’m swallowed by a great sea creature and spewed up onto an eastward shore, I’ll stop fleeing to the west. Either that, or peep a little more clearly -- I’m not thoroughly convinced of the sincerity of your empathy.


 J

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jack, I've been walking alongside your blog for years. My thoughts are with you. Hang on.

JRStriker said...

Jack, it's John, JRStriker. You are too profilic to keep up with, so I stop by from time to time. Sorry to hear your current health issues. Yes, it sucks to be you right now. I hope you find God's healing in all areas of your life.
The reason I stopped by was to find your article about the jewish Zodiac. I can't find it. Please link it. Thanks, John

Jack H said...

Greetings J --

http://historicchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/06/heavens-declare-constellations-as.html

best,

J