Virgil’s The Eclogues: The Poem That Inspired Christmas

VirgilAeneid3Here it is folks: Virgil’s The Eclogues, the poem (37 BCE) that set the entire Greco Roman empire a fire with a messianic dream and implanted the mythopoeic beau idéal that a god child would be born and bring about a golden era of peace on earth:

“Now the last age by Cumae’s Sibyl sung
Has come and gone, and the majestic roll
Of circling centuries begins anew:
Justice returns, returns old Saturn’s reign,
With a new breed of men sent down from heaven.
Only do thou, at the boy’s birth in whom
The iron shall cease, the golden race arise,
Befriend him, chaste Lucina; ’tis thine own
Apollo reigns. And in thy consulate,
This glorious age, O Pollio, shall begin,
And the months enter on their mighty march.
Under thy guidance, whatso tracks remain
Of our old wickedness, once done away,
Shall free the earth from never-ceasing fear.
He shall receive the life of gods, and see
Heroes with gods commingling, and himself
Be seen of them, and with his father’s worth
Reign o’er a world at peace.

A Return to History?

“ Sueño de medianoche ”, 1936  Obras maestras de la miniatura persa; Artista Profesor Mahmud Farshchian, IránThe Return of History by AATISH TASEER  (NYT Opinion Page)

This excellent article brings into focus an idea I’ve been harping on for some time now i.e. the observation that when a belief system dies, it does so from within the collective imagination of its followers. Gone are the great monument builders, masterpieces, soaring symphonies, and transcendent poems, and in their place comes the hysterical hordes, the hateful rhetoric, the anti-intellectual looters hyped up on demagogic fear-mongering and race-baiting.

The once’ ‘mysterium tremendum et fascinans’ (Rudolf Otto, Aldous Huxley) no longer inspires awe, but collapses into a violent distopic nightmare of cruel judgment, punishment, hyper morality, and a maniacal obsession with women’s minds, hearts and reproductive organs.

In his NYT Opinion page, AATISH TASEER cites William McCants’ The ISIS Apocalypse,” where McCants explains ISIS’s obsession with the great Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid, whose court reportedly inspired “One Thousand and One Nights.” This particular story may be one of the oldest ever preserved of the ancient oral storytelling traditions dating back to The Legend Far-li-mas — the ancient male precursor to Scherezade. (Parkinson: Tales that Transform, Campbell: Primitive Mythology). Taseer laughingly reminds us that the idolized Caliph, al-Rashid, was not just a powerful leader, but an extravagant hedonist and “lover of wine and men”.

I wonder how much of this regressive religious revisionism around the world is driven by information technology accelerating at such an alarming extent (Toffler’s Future Shock) it cannot help but render the unprepared mind helpless and irrelevant.

Rather than adapting and devising (or waiting for new models to be handed down) most people are doomed to repeat the old formulas over and over again expecting the same result, and ultimately find them powerless. In such frustrating circumstances what else is there to do but turn on your neighbor, your president, your country, and your founding principles, and become the actual fear itself?

The proverbial monsters long overdue on Maple Street.

A Voight-Kampff Navigator for the Pre-Replicant Age


If we’re serious about stopping the epidemic of religious fanaticism, we have to stop looking at it in obsolete conventions of enemy warfare, clash of civilizations, or even religious/scriptural ideological differences, and start approaching the solution epidemiologically, psychologically and neuroscientifically.

The terrifying reality is that ideas (good and bad) spread through the human community like viruses ( See Gladwell’s The Tipping Point). Obsessive beliefs (religious, political, sexual) act on the brain like a parasitic fungus, sapping normal cognitive functions, distorting and assigning an encoded behavioral pattern in lieu of traditional social imprints.

The infected individual no longer cogitates, reasons, emotes, or relates in the way they use to, but as the viral belief system dictates. As Larry Gelbart said about George W. Bush, “he doesn’t think, he believes”, or, as yet another great screenwriter, Robert Bolt, said so poignantly, ” A belief is not an idea the mind possesses, but an idea that possesses the mind.”

That’s why I’ve devised my handy Posterior Medial Frontal Cortex Navigator. By measuring fluxes within the Limbic Amygdalae it can determine whether the original human being has been completely infected with the religious fanatic virus, or, if they can still be restored to normalcy through transcranial magnetic stimulation. (Any resemblance to the Voight-Kampff machine of Bladerunner is purely coincidental)

%d bloggers like this: