Introspective Reflections on October Melodies

There are transcendent days in one’s life, for good or for ill.  Day’s when everything changes, when new paths are trod and old ones abandoned.  The month of October for some reason has been transcendent for me.

October, in the northern hemisphere: browns and gold and oranges where green had been.  Not yet snowflakes but storms of cascading varicolored leafs accumulating in deep drifts.  Closer to the equator, the weather doesn’t change seasonally but rather, daily, and leaves tend to stay green, albeit in myriad shades, and flowers bloom all year.

October, as it shifted into November, was my son’s favorite holiday season as they preferred witches and ghouls and werewolves to robust old gentlemen dressed in red, riding in sleds pulled by eight, or sometimes none reindeer.  But they did like the gift giving aspects that followed on the heels of the winter solstice.

For me, October has had special meanings all my own.  Rites of passage seemingly.  Especially on two very different albeit perhaps complimentary occasions.

In 1952, on October 12, then Columbus Day (now a day to revile old Cristoforo and those Europeans who followed him and devastated what to them seemed like a new world), I left the beloved city of my birth to join my mother in what was to become our new home, or a collection of many new homes, all too many new sort of homes, in the United States.  First in Miami and Miami Beach in Florida; then in Charlotte, North Carolina; then back to Miami; then on to New York (in numerous places over the years including Ozone Park, Hollis, Queens Village, Flushing); then on to Charleston, South Carolina; then back to New York, for many years in the old Otto Khan palace in Cold Spring Hills, then to “the City”, then in Glen Cove; then back to Florida, Fort Lauderdale that time; then Hendersonville, North Carolina; then Florida again, various places in Marion County; and then ….

October 16, 2007, was another such day for me, although it sort of started on the afternoon after the Ides of October, a sort of 48 hour long day.  It started in Charleston, the Holy City to those closest to me.  The day before had been the end of Parents’ Day weekend at the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, my alma mater.  My eldest son, Billy, had just received that ornate band of gold that made us brothers, as well as father and son.  It was his senior year, as it had been mine forty years earlier.  Our family was really together that weekend, together for one final time.  And it may be that we all sensed it.  My marriage to Billy’s mother had been over for a while although shards still prickled and stung, but I’d hoped then that something of family could be salvaged.  I was wrong.  It was a day for endings.  But the next day was a day for beginnings.  A long day that started on Monday morning at the airport in Charleston, then continued with a layover in Atlanta, then possibly one in Panama City (in Panama, not Florida), then one in Bogota, in Colombia, and finally, ended on Tuesday, in Manizales.  Manizales where I’d been born sixty-one years earlier.  Sixty-one years, two months and twenty-two days earlier.  In a sense, I was going home, but to a home that had vastly changed since I’d last lived there as a young child, as I’d changed, as had my life.

The flight was long, but not just in distance and layovers, but metaphysically long, as though I were travelling to an alternative world, perhaps one of those posited in quantum hypotheses and M Theory.  Or in the imaginings of Nikola Telsa concerning fairies and changelings, long before electric cars brought his name back from the grave.

Since that Tuesday in October when I arrived, arrived knowing virtually no one, and with no idea how long I’d remain or what I’d face, my life has changed completely, but echoes of my old life linger.  Most I savor and treasure.  I’ve not abandoned it, not really, only now, it’s lived primarily in virtual space, that strange new reality, neither inner nor outer, and all too often impossibly unreal.

Improbably for many, many reasons, my life has blossomed in Manizales.  I was welcomed by hundreds of strangers as a sort of prodigal son returned, but not an impoverished and needy prodigal son, but rather, as one who had a great deal to offer, a great deal to share and a great deal to learn.  I was on an incoming tide of returning members of the Latin American Diaspora.  One long overdue.  I spent over a decade as a university professor in Manizales, and my voice echoed all over Colombia as for some reason, the media, print, radio and television, found me interesting.  Or perhaps just strange.  Students taught me as much as I taught them, perhaps more, and I was able to perceive realties concerning the sort of foster homeland I’d left, that are not visible there, but need to be.  And I managed to make my voice heard there as well.

Life in Manizales has been a great deal better than just good.  Good and talented friends abound and hope fills the air.  Beautiful verdant mountains surround me with skies full of birds and, above them, snowcapped peaks from which flow volcano heated thermal springs.  Spring is perpetual and, half an hour away, so is summer, and an hour in the other direction, first fall and then winter await, whenever I need them.  And I’ve found family here as well.  Beautiful, intelligent and talented cousins, but also the kind of family that is formed with bonds of shared intimacy and love.  I’ve perhaps had too many intimate encounters here.  Too many which just didn’t work.  But most have mellowed into beautiful friendships.  And one has prevailed and perseveres.  Manizales is a city full of learning and culture, an oasis for students and artists and writers and actors, and a city filled with real civic awareness, with a citizenry dedicated to a future where equity and justice prevail, and where empathy trumps polarization, unlike what is happening in the beloved land I left.  Which perhaps explains why there are so many, many expats here.

Of course, it’s not perfect.  Or rather, my life in Manizales is not perfect.  My sons, now estranged (estranged as all too often happens in today’s impermanent world, one where dysfunction is the norm) are far away, in both time as well as space.  And I don’t know my grandchildren, or more accurately, I know them only from infrequent photographs.  And so many friends from my youth, brothers really, especially those with whom I shared Spartan moments that made us who we became, are only virtual images on social media, although always in my heart.  Too many of them are passing beyond the veil well before their time, or so, we their grieving survivors believe. 

I guess when one has lived and loved in so many places, as I have, no place ever seems wholly home.  More so when one has lived long and fully.  As have I.  But Manizales is as close as it can get, at least for me.  Although Charleston would not be bad, not bad at all.  Nor would Manhattan.  Nor Cold Spring Harbor.

But I’m not complaining. 

Unlike Elvis and Frank Sinatra, “regrets”, I have many.  And had I the chance, there are many, many things I’d change.  I’ve inadvertently hurt too many who deserved better, especially women who’ve loved me.  And although I tried my best, I was apparently not as good a father as I’d hoped I’d be, or as good a son as I should have been, or as good a brother.  And probably, life has been kinder to me than I deserve, for which I’m grateful.  But now I’m definitely doing my best to redress that imbalance so that when I’m no longer here, the world will be a better place than it would have been had I never been born.  And I think that time will be on my side.  My family is long lived, very long lived, at least a century is not improbable, so perhaps I have quite a while yet to not only make amends, but to leave a healthy credit balance on karma’s scales.

I wonder if more transcendent days await me? 

I hope not. 

It would be difficult for any of them to be more full of opportunity than those transcendent forty-eight hours that started right after the Ides of October, a bit less than fifteen-and-a-quarter years ago today.  On the other hand, that Columbus Day in 1952 was not so shabby either.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, February 4, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  However, he is also fascinated by mythology, religion, physics, astronomy and mathematics, especially with matters related to quanta and cosmogony.  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Primordial

Lighting swirls amidst deep, dark shadows, thunder echoing off of silent cliffs somewhere in what will someday be called Cambria. 

Hints of far off cataclysms, dankly diluvial, sail on primordial winds as dusk’s crimson fingers claw at night’s sapphire, diamond flecked cloak.

Albian haze swiftly quickens into mist, threatening to cleave into drops, larger and larger drops, possibly armies of rushing drops, drops plummeting like raiders plundering unsuspecting shores of a world still virginally young, a world yet to yield to the tiny warm blooded invaders who’ll someday evolve into hominids. 

But not just yet. 

Soon though.

Much, much too soon.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  However, he is also fascinated by mythology, religion, physics, astronomy and mathematics, especially with matters related to quanta and cosmogony.  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Refractory Reflections on Metaphysics, Self-Awareness and the History of our Cosmos:  Perhaps a satire, but hopefully informative

Introduction:

For some reason, many people associate the term “metaphysics” with beliefs outside scientific norms, beliefs in magic or miracles or ghosts or religion, but in reality, the term applies to one of the four main branches of philosophy (those being metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and ethics).  Metaphysics is technically then, at least linguistically, the branch of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality; i.e., the premises for the concepts of being, identity and change, of space and time, of cause and effect, necessity and possibility.  Interestingly, it also encompasses questions concerning the nature of consciousness and the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality.

That then begs the question as to what philosophy is.  Given that most fully recognized doctoral degrees today purport to be doctorates of philosophy, “recognized” because they are purportedly research oriented as opposed to merely working doctoral degrees like law or medicine, etc., that makes the term “philosophy either all-encompassing or meaningless, or, as some philosophers who thrive on controversy and contradiction forcefully assert, both concurrently.  Interesting that if philosophy is purportedly a quest for truth, its four branches are so ethereal, so either overflowing or lacking in substance (or both concurrently) that obfuscation seems its primary value.

Logic seems an exercise valid only insofar as its premises are accurate.  It would seem logical to test logic by measuring its conclusions with empirical evidence, but when we do that and the conclusions don’t coincide with actuality, we tend to just torture the result into submission by blaming external factors, or just lying (the most popular current trend).  Logic could be a process through which we constantly refine premises so that they approach veracity, if we could bind ourselves to the quest for truth, a Holy Grail of sorts, but we have, as of yet, in most cases, been unable to attain that strong a discipline.

Ethics seems a great deal like aesthetics, its postulates being utterly subjective based on the preferences of the beholder.  It too has, to date, escaped the quest for truth, at most sometimes encompassing agreed upon common denominators as to appropriate behavior; what philosopher David Hume referred to as “conventions”, i.e., agreements among a defined segment of the population, possibly a vast majority thereof, to treat something as valid, because such postulate seems to work well enough to be relied on.  Unfortunately, many such postulates with respect to behavior are demonstrably illogical and rather than based on reason, are merely arbitrary impositions of authority through force (e.g., monogamous behavior, sovereignty, autonomy, purported democracy, liberty, rights, etc., honored at least as much in the breach as in their respect).

Epistemology is vague enough to be virtually objectively undefinable.  Subjectively, it involves the study of the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, the rationality of belief, and various related issues. It asks what constitutes knowledge (differentiating it from mere supposition and belief), and how knowledge can be obtained, tested and thus refined.  What roles do perception, reason, memory and testimony play in the attainment of information worthy of reliance, and conversely, what factors impair the reliability of perception, reason, memory and testimony.  And finally, assuming knowledge is distilled from belief, how it can be organized and structured to render it useful, but subject to limitants, including whether all justified beliefs must be derived (i.e., derived from justified foundational beliefs) or whether justification requires only a coherent set of beliefs.

Epistemology is subject to philosophical skepticism which questions whether it is possible to attain knowledge at all, positing that, at best, we may enjoy Hume’s conventions, …. for a time.  In fact, questioning whether knowledge exists or is merely a temporary phenomenon involving a mere subjective exercise in relative opinions has become very stylish through positing of seemingly unanswerable queries such as: “What do we know”; “What does it mean to say that we know something?”; “What makes justified beliefs justified?”; and, “How do we know that we know?”

So, …. given the foregoing context, is it any wonder that metaphysics is both misunderstood and confusing?  Still, notwithstanding the foregoing, let’s delve into the metaphysical juncture between religion, cosmogony and cosmology.  It could be fun, perhaps even informative, assuming information, in fact, exists.

Unbridled speculation concerning sentience

[Hmm, why does the foregoing make some of us (well, at least me, I was being optimistic) think of the number one-hundred-and-eleven, perhaps a sacred number of sorts.  At least in Middle Earth.[1]

Anyway …  a “convention”, perhaps the first convention, the primal premise:  Prior to the beginning there was naught, absolutely.  Except perhaps, for a speck.  A very heavy speck perhaps, a singularity, although that might have been quite a bit after the beginning, if there was, in fact, a beginning.  But what if there was a “something” (certainly not time, not yet) before the beginning when only “sentience” existed?

“Sentience”, an awkward term as used in this reflection as it presupposes both senses and something to sense.  For our purposes however, let’s define it as a term of art referencing self-awareness, or at least, consciousness of a sort, even when there is nothing, necessarily, of which to be conscious (not to imply that it is not operative in the presence of senses and things to sense).

The huge probability is that sentience evolved over a very long time after the beginning, when there existed enough interactive complexity to give rise to life, and then to sensory rather than reactive input, and then to self-awareness and finally, to cognizance.  We tend to believe that all of the foregoing are biological concepts (and carbon based biology at that), but Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist, author and avowed atheist (indeed, ironically, the purported “god of the atheists”) has expounded on a concept of potential non-biological intelligence that leads to interesting alternative hypotheses, hypotheses that “breathe new life” into purportedly “debunked” philosophies concerning group sentience and intelligence, prime examples being the postulates of philosophers Thomas Hobbes, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Immanuel Kant concerning the volitional realities of history and of the “state” as sort of living entities.

Dawkins inadvertently gave life to such philosophical hypotheses when he expounded on a hypotheses concerning fundamental (i.e., basic) units of information which he referred to as “memes”.  Dawkins asserted that memes mirrored the concept of biological “genes” by congregating into complex organisms: genes into diverse life forms and memes into what Dawkins referred to as memeplexes.  Memeplexes apparently have many, if not all, the attributes of biological life, using the minds, emotions, etc., of human beings as tools and carriers similarly to the way we use cells, organs, etc., to grow, evolve, mutate, propagate and operate.  According to Dawkins and now many others, examples of memeplexes include religions, political movements and philosophies, all of which are purportedly characterized by birth, growth, mutation and defensive reactions. 

As not all life appears to be self-aware, neither are memeplexes.  While self-awareness is a complex concept which remains unexplained, it has been hypothesized that self-awareness arises when a critical mass of interactive complexity develops.  For biological creatures, that is attained through neuronic interaction in the brain.  A basic observation is that we, as human beings, are normally self-aware, but that we are also composite living entities comprised of trillions of cells, also independent living structures (even if probably not self-aware entities) which act through preprogrammed reaction rather than volition. 

It is posited that perhaps such complexity can also be attained through other means.  For example, socially, though interaction among groups of humans, it being understood in sociology that group dynamics frequently result in actions in which individual members of a group would not engage.  Those observations have led some to draw the hypotheses that a similar process exists, not only among groups of humans operating through memeplexes, but perhaps, even through non-biological conglomerations, such ecosystems, planets, solar systems, galaxies, perhaps even a universe or the multiverse as well. 

Based on the foregoing, whether biological of non-biological, one would seemingly be justified in assuming that sentience was a post creation, evolutionary phenomena.  However, to a great many fellow members of our human species, when pitted against faith, facts are balderdash, and with faith, anything is possible, even levitation of mountains by individuals without the use of tools.  Thus, to them, no matter what the facts, theories or hypotheses claim, and no matter what the evidence, sentience was first, and eternal to boot, and omniscient, and ubiquitously omnipresent, and omnipotent and even, despite apparent empirical contradictions, omnibenevolent.

Sentience as Divinity

Sooo, … anyway, let’s play the latter’s game and assume, for argument’s sake, that notwithstanding the evidence or lack of evidence, there might, at one point before time, have been a single sentience.  A monist first cause, eternal in the sense that it preceded both time and space.  In that case, one could well assume that such single sentience would have been bored out of its gourd (had gourds then existed) and it would also seem to follow that boredom was the very first thing perceived by that sentience, the motive force, as it were, the inspiration for everything that followed.  And it would further seem that, after a period (not yet time because motion did not yet exist and motion seems essential to time), let’s call it eventually, more than one sentience would evolve (if there had ever been sentience at all).  After all, the miracle of sentience is much more improbable than is the probability that, should sentience have arisen, it would arise again, and thus become multiple and varied.  It would have been terribly boring otherwise.  If there was more than one, they could at least sense each other, thus not being condemned to only perceiving “to themselves” about nothing.

At any rate, assuming that sentience was first (as discussed above, an improbability), then, perhaps, it would be appropriate to consider such sentience equivalent to what some among us[2] have come to perceive as “divine” (no, not in the aesthetic sense, nor in the epistemological sense, but rather, in a popular variant of the “metaphysical” sense).  Consequently, for purposes of these reflections, it would seem appropriate to define such sentience as Divinity (capitalized, out of respect, just in case).  “The” Divinity, or at least the original Divinity.

Anyway (again, as promised), ….

Evolutionary Naught

“Nothing” is an interestingly existential concept in its absolute sense.  It can seemingly take two principal directions.  The first is somewhat obvious (albeit very boring): the absence of everything.  But the second option, why that’s something else entirely, both literally and figuratively.  It could, in fact, at least as a mathematical concept, and mathematical concepts frequently seem to pave the way for realities of sorts, be the inchoate sum total of everything possible in time, space and whatever we’ve yet to perceive (even quanta) if everything includes equivalent positive and negative aspects, not linearly (two dimensional), but omni directional in three or more dimensions, probably a spherical concept, without any edges or angles, and hence infinite.  I.e., the sum total of everything intangible as well as tangible which, it would be mathematically reasonable to assume, equal zero, and thus, naught.  Under the latter scenario, nothing would contain inchoate infinity, and should motion be somehow attained and time thus created, why it might well include eternity itself. 

Hmmm, sounds quite a bit like embryonic chaos.  Chaos, not in a negative sense implying disorder, but in the almost magical sense of infinite possibilities and thus, total uncertainty.  Seemingly a close relative to quanta.

Because for purposes of this part of this reflection we have posited Divinity as an assumption, then one should probably wonder as to the relationship between our aforementioned Divinity and the second sort of nothing, let’s capitalize it and call it “Naught”, and our speculative sort of epistle would then entail how they may have interacted to permit the existence of all that is, something we might perhaps refer to as either the “Big Bang” or “Creation”, depending on one’s attitude towards metaphysics.

At some point it appears that, possibly volitionally (as a result of a decision by Divinity), or perhaps merely accidentally, Naught was fractured, cleft, cracked, busted, no longer, … well, … nothing, and a minimalist singularity escaped (the “Great Escape”).  There are probably those, and it is not reasonable to just assume that they’re wrong, who believe that Naught came first, the singularity second and Divinity (if at all) came third, but that is not, apparently, a palatable version as far as Divinity (at least the Abrahamic version of Divinity) is concerned, although there are others (secular physicists and philosophers they’re called) who deny that Divinity exists at all, although they do admit to sentience and to the singularity[3].  A still third group, generic philosophers (as we initially explained), in the quest for what they define as truth, who will argue with anyone about anything, including whether or not what they seek exists, or can be defined, or is permanent, etc.  You get the point I think.

Anyway, it seems we’ll have to engage in something that David Hume, a philosopher who did not believe truth could be found, developed as a working substitute.  As indicated previously, Hume believed that because, in his opinion, first causes, to which he referred as “premises”, could never be proven, for convenience (there being no other option, unless, perhaps, one were the Divine and the Divine were omniscient) we would need to reach a working consensus, a sort of pragmatic, temporary substitute for truth, because such “consensus” seemed to work.  Hume referred to such working consensuses (as initially discussed towards the “beginning” of this apparently interminable reflection) as a “conventions”.[4]

For purposes of this epistle (as we’ve indicated on now several occasions[5]) we will assume that sentience somehow evolved into Divinity within Naught eternities prior to the Great Escape, and then, volitionally, by escaping from Naught, destroyed Naught’s prefect balance, converting Naught into an omnidimensional, omnidirectional singularity, which then eventually expanded into an infinite number of universes which we will, as a convention, refer to as the omniverse, a neo-platonic monist sort of concept comprised of a series of multiverses, each comprised of uncountable universes, etc., etc., etc.

[Because reflecting on an infinity of multiverses, or even just one multiverse would not only take a long time, and writing about it, a lot of paper, really, more time and paper than have ever existed, we’ll focus on one universe for the nonce, the one we inhabit.  One we’ll call “Cosmos”, as did the ancient Greeks (and today’s Russians).]

In the Beginning

We know turn to speculation of what our hypothetical Divinity might have witnessed, perhaps as possibly eventually shared with a few select individuals (long after individuals had evolved), no, not priests, or at least not priests as such, but mathematicians and physicists.

In the “Beginning”, hmmm, an interesting concept.  There is of course the version favored by faith imbued Abrahamics, and similar versions posited by diverse other mythologies (mythology in the broad sense which encompasses virtually all religions), but there is also, to all appearances, a version imbued with evidence which even Creationists (an Abrahamic religious phenomena) seem to accept, so for now, we’ll roll with that, at least, for purposes of this reflection, or perhaps epistle.

Sooo, ….

In this version of the “Beginning”, rather than just a six day endeavor (plus one day for sort of resting), a singularity burst forth from Naught in the form of  massive, unimaginable heat, heat in all probability never to be duplicated (interesting to speculate that an Abrahamic Hell may have preceded Heaven), plus four “forces”.  First out and thus eldest was gravity, then electromagnetism, then quantum flavourdynamics (which some call the weak force, a name it resents as pejorative) and then the nuclear force (which enjoys being referred to as the strong force, i.e., as it binds elemental particles together).  They introduced an era known to some and accepted by others, but by no means all, commonly referred to as “cosmic inflation”.  During the cosmic inflation era (epoch, eon, or whatever), the singularity is unwrapped, perhaps by Divinity, and its residue quickly expands (really quickly, we lack a concept reflecting enough speed to adequately describe how quickly) and begins to sort of cool, albeit with intermittent explosive events which, through gravity, perhaps attempting to recreate the initial singularity in an inverse process, heats a tiny bit of that which was cooled.  As the foregoing required motion, time, as a concept we sort of grasp (if perhaps not to the extent of understanding), was also born.  Time, born concurrently with the Great Escape, might have an interesting case to make insisting that it was first, but that seems a chicken versus egg conundrum, or would have, had there been chickens and eggs at the time in forms other than possibly inchoate.

Interestingly, although we do not personally recall it, all of the ingredients for the matter which currently comprises each and every one of us was present at the Beginning, thus, in a sense, we are all virtually the same age, the same age as our Cosmos.  Anyway ….

The Beginning!!!  Oh what a time it was!!!  Albeit very brief at first.  Yactoseconds were eternities then.  It was the era ruled by Planck-Time (no relation to Hammer Time).  During the initial second, only energy existed, energy comprised of neutrinos in thermal equilibrium with protons, neutrons and electrons, all maintained through weak force interaction.   The era that comprised a single second had no name at the time (at least that we know of, Divinity might have a different story to tell) but it has since come to be referred to indirectly as the “coupling era”; a suggestively interesting nomenclature. 

Eventually (a very short eventually, having taken but a second, but it was all the time that had ever existed, so perhaps it seemed long to the coupled neutrinos and protons, neutrons and electrons), the rate of the weak interaction became slower than the rate of initial expansion of the universe, or perhaps (it’s hard to remember after more than fourteen billion years), instead, the time scale for weak interactions became greater than the age of the universe at that time (there being no real difference), and the orgy quickly petered out (so to speak).  As a side note, the temperature of the Cosmos at the time of “decoupling” was approximately ten billion degrees Kelvin (very, very hot).  As a result of decoupling, neutrinos formed a cosmic neutrino background.  Primordial singularity remnants, which we, in or ignorance, call black holes (a name for which they do not care), may also have been formed during the first eternal second (hmmm, sounds oxymoronic, but it’s probably true).  Sort of progeny of the wild times.

Beginning towards the end of the first second composite subatomic particles emerged, including protons and neutrons, and then, after more and more eternities, at about two minutes after the Great Escape, nucleosynthesis (apparently a new and kinkier sort of mating) occurred and, about a quarter of the protons and all the neutrons fused into elements, initially hydrogen, then its heavier variant, hydrogen+ (also known as deuterium) apparently having swallowed a neutron (hmmm, why are there so many sexual analogies?).  The hydrogen and deuterium then started to mate like crazy, siring mainly primordial helium; i.e., a family comprised of an alpha particle (two protons and two neutrons) engulfed in an electron wave comprised of two electrons.  The next orgy then took place as the then ruling citizenry (hydrogen and helium atoms, protons, neutrinos and neutrons) engaged in constant and more complex coupling, generating more and more complex atoms. 

Divinity, perhaps looking on, perhaps not yet prudish, would seem to have been pleased.  The bit of havoc it wreaked was bearing fruit, … sort of.

The Joys of Plasmic Baths

Eternities and eons after the Great Escape, what we would call twenty minutes today (eternities and eons were much shorter back then), the Cosmos was no longer hot enough for nuclear fusion but far too hot for neutral atoms to exist or for photons to travel far.  It was then comprised of a miasma of energy and opaque plasma.  For us currently, as biological beings, plasma would be deadly, but sort of cool (in a non-thermatic sense).  It was comprised of an extremely hot and thick ionized substance, in composition, somewhere between gaseous and liquid.  For the Divine, it might have been a warm bath.  Indeed, while improbable to the extreme, it is not impossible that a form of life might have inhabited the primordial plasma realm, well, in the sense that nothing is demonstrably impossible.  After all, most of the matter in our Cosmos (ninety-nine point nine percent) is still plasma in the form of stars, etc., and we live in the Cosmos. 

Eventually, a tiny bit of the plasma (one tenth of one percent, oddly, the percent of current humans who rule the world) evolved into the other three states of matter (gas, liquid and solids), but eventually took quite a while.  Actually, about eighteen-thousand years.  But a tiny bit of the former plasma was still quite a lot, much more than even googols (as a number, not an autocratic internet platform) of the newer forms of matter.

A recombination epoch began at around 18,000 years after the Great Escape as electrons combined with helium nuclei (perhaps the first mixed marriages and the threat of assimilation was born) to form He+, an ionized form of helium (perhaps copying the initial experiment through which hydrogen swallowed a neutron to form deuterium), and, about 29,000 years later, as the universe cooled (relatively), matter (including, of course, plasma), rather than radiation, began to predominate.

At age 100,000, relative to the Great Escape, neutral helium atoms (without the +) formed giving birth to the first molecule, helium hydride. About 270,000 years later (370,000 years after the Great Escape), helium hydride and hydrogen concluded a long term affair as a result of which, molecular hydrogen was born and, for the first time, the Cosmos attained transparency, apparently an important accomplishment.  And stars started to form. Hmmm, “a star is born”, good name for a movie.

The relatively newly formed hydrogen and helium atoms, with traces of lithium, quickly attained their ground state (state of lowest energy) by parting from some of their photons (“photon decoupling”), some of which are still around (perhaps sad at having been rejected) as the cosmic microwave background, the oldest direct observation we currently have of our Cosmos.

Wow, it’s like a tele-novela (Spanish for soap opera), except, as best we know, there was no television at the time.  But the romance was palpable.

Evidently, Divinity had done enough for a while and it was time for lights out, and a nap.  Divinity, of course (assuming it exists), takes credit for everything that’s happened.  He, she, it or they were (assuming they exist) experimenting, playing, laying out and implementing a plan.  But the Cosmos was now able to coast on its own for a while.  A pretty long while really, about nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine million, six-hundred-and-thirty thousand years.  Give or take a few days.

The universe was transparent, comprised of plasma, energy, hydrogen and helium with a bit of lithium mixed in, and it was playing with the Elder (gravity), but slowly.  No stars or other sources of light existed and the original glow from the plasma had dissipated. That brilliant pale orange glow of decoupling photons and radio emissions released by hydrogen atoms had first shifted red and then after the first three million years, faded, thus, no visible light.  Perfect for naps.

One may wonder about dark matter and dark energy at the time, as well as antimatter, but, the volumes in which those chapters were kept have been mislaid, and thus unavailable right now.

Wow, talk about an “On the Seventh Day”!

Let there be Light!

Soooo, ….

Divinity may have been napping for a while but, between two hundred million and five hundred million years after the Great Escape, lights slowly started turning on as the earliest generations of stars and galaxies started to form and early large structures gradually emerged, all drawn to the foam-like dark matter filaments which had already begun to draw together throughout the Cosmos.  Details concerning size and duration[6] are apparently in those mislaid chapters as well (“mislaid”, yuck, … a sexual connotation gain, just a coincidence in terminology).[7] 

An article encaptioned “Chronology of the Universe” on which much of the foregoing and following is based describes early star formation as follows (almost a quote but slightly modified):

They [the stars] may have been between 100 and 300 times larger than the star we call Sol and non-metallic, and of relatively brief duration (after all, they were beta versions), flashes in the pan so to speak as rumors still circulating claim that they quickly consumed their fuel (hydrogen) and detonated “as highly energetic pair-instability supernovae”(I don’t know why the imagery keeps sounding so sexual, in this case, like very inexperienced pre-adolescent boys)”after mere millions of years”, but it may well be that less ambitious, smaller stars with more staying power are still around.  But even in the former case, the resulting super novae had a lasting impact as they “created” (hmmm, that may not be the correct word as Divinity likes to claim that prerogative for him, her, it or their selves) most of the everyday elements we see today, … including those of which we are comprised.

During that same period, high-energy photons from the earliest stars, dwarf galaxies and perhaps quasars led to a period of reionization that finished by about one billion years after the Great Escape, and then, the lights really finally started to turn back on.  Showtime!  The stars were much as they are today, except for being hotter, more dense (not intellectually, as far as we know), with more spiral and irregular galaxies and more interested in procreation.  Our current galaxies may, as far as we can tell (despite our relative myopia), tend to include far more giant elliptical galaxies, galaxy clusters and super galaxies.

The lights were on, but, and it’s a pretty big but (but, not butt, although perhaps that accidental analogy works), because of the constant acceleration of our universe, presumably, based on the hypotheses (described as a “law”, whatever that is) that neither more energy nor more matter can be created (or purportedly destroyed, just converted inter se)[8], the apparently constant and consistent acceleration and expansion of the boundaries of our Cosmos seemingly diminished the ability of gravity to decelerate them[9] while, concurrently but in contrast, on the dark side, dark energy (believed to be a constant scalar field throughout the visible universe) had and has been a constant factor tending to accelerate expansion[10].  Thus, again, “apparently” (everything we seem to know about physics always seems to be only apparently, as you may have noticed), the Cosmo’s expansion passed an inflection point about five or six billion years ago and it entered the modern “dark-energy-dominated era”.  Soooo, at least since then, expansion is now accelerating rather than decelerating. Cosmic sentience may know what’s going on, assuming it exists, but perhaps it doesn’t care, or perhaps, like us, it hasn’t noticed, being concerned with other things.  And with reference to “laws” of physics, you know how legislatures are.  Consistency is not their hallmark.

Anyway ….

“Notwithstanding the foregoing” (a sort of legal phrase that sometimes pinch hits for “anyway, ….  There are among us purported experts who believe they understand how our Cosmos will function for about eighty-six billion more years (and, unlike journalists, they may be right, although studies of quantic phenomena certainly keep stirring our perceptions of the Cosmic “pot”), but after that, hmmm, who knows.  At some time the “Stelliferous Era”, the era when celestial progeny has been looked on as favorable, stylish and productive, our current era, will end, and, sort of like is happening in many parts of Terra today where populations have become more jaded and more interested in individuality than in families, where they find gender a sort of optional fad preferring choice over biological legacy, star formation will begin to atrophy until no new stars are born.  Because it is anticipated that the Cosmos will continue to expand, that may mean that we will enter an age of hermits, less and less closely related, with less and less interstellar interaction.  And the observable Cosmos will become more and more limited to the local, perhaps eventually, depending on how quanta feels about this, perhaps our Cosmos will expand so much, that only isolated neutrinos and their cousins will remain, although black holes would seem a sort of wild card.

Hmmm, except for being massively larger, that would seem a lot like just before “the Beginning”.

And our friend, the universal sentience and its component families???   What we’ve hypothetically defined as “Divinity”?  Hmm, perhaps only the shadow knows.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  However, he is also fascinated by mythology, religion, physics, astronomy and mathematics, especially with matters related to quanta and cosmogony.  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.


[1] [Hmmm, a warm welcome to our first footnote.  Probably more to come.  This was just too long to include, as an interruption in the main text].  Anyway, … a caveat with respect to the terms “anyway”, “so” (usually elongated to “soooo” and “Mmmmm”.  They are terms that I will frequently use as sort of placeholders without real independent meaning, i.e., as “expletives” or “fillers”, although the term “expletive” also pertains, in a negative sense, to words or phrases charged with negative connotations.  Strange); … anyway ….  A further linguisti-grammatical caveat: I use series of “.”, not only to denote text missing in a quotation, but as long pauses.  I think that’s it … for now.

[2] Those who are not among “us of little faith”.

[3] As to which they seem to argue interminably, and along with secular mathematicians, argue about the nature of Naught.

[4] Of course, as is the case with language, that term has been distorted, mutated and changed and now also refers to gatherings of people with shared interests who need excuses to avoid normal “social” conventions and engage in behavior Divinity might find objectionable.  At least Divinity as perceived by some, a sort of very opinionated negative sort of totalitarian Divinity.

[5] It seems as though such arbitrary assumption sticks in someone’s craw and thus, has to be repeatedly reinforced.

[6] Anyway, … it sounds like something else, something prurient, but I assure you that was not so, or at least I’m pretty sure that was not so.  My primal matter, like yours, was there, but not yet sentient, … I don’t think.

[7] Hmmm, if we are going to postulate Abrahamic possibilities, then one might speculate on whether or not the deposed former archangel Hêl él had anything to do with dark matter.

[8] Perhaps because the concept of preservation of the matter-energy concept was so thoroughly violated at “the” Beginning, some busybodies decided that a law needed to be passed controlling the issue, but who was there at the time to legislate that law???  How would violations be punished?

[9] Hmmm, how might that impact that other gravity related law, that whatever goes up must go down.  I’m getting an image of a typical legislative body, corruption rampant, charged with legislating physical laws, and not doing such a great job.

[10] Sooo, black matter, black energy, what if rather than Hêl él to blame, it’s a reflection of Zoroastrian ethical dualism: Spenta Mainyu versus Angra Mainyu?

Observations regarding the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of the Patriotic Union (a political party) versus the Colombian State

Today, January 30, 2023, I am proud to be a Latin American, the place where, perhaps more than in any other part of the world, there is a supranational institution truly dedicated to the protection of the rights of our population and its members against the corruption, ineptitude and violence of the governments which, for centuries have managed our countries under the direction and in the service of foreign powers. The truth is that today, when hypocrisy and falsehood reign throughout of our planet but especially among those countries in the northern hemisphere which proclaim themselves exceptional and morally superior, perhaps only in Latin America is real progress being made in the great battle (perhaps started at the beginning of the French Revolution) to achieve respect for the dignity of the individual, the dignity of minorities and the dignity of those who are different or believe in ways different from those established by elitist traditions. Respect for the dignity inherent in a world at peace where the sovereignty, dignity and rights of others are respected.

A horrible injustice, the torture, murder, calumny and genocide perpetrated by prior Colombian governments against the Patriotic Union and other social, cultural, civic and political movements has been, at least acknowledged, and some blame has been somewhat assigned, albeit directed at a Colombian State that under its recently elected center-left government (the first in Colombia’s history), has initiated profound attempts to effect change. But real justice calls for external processes with respect to those foreign countries responsible for so many barbaric episodes in our continent (and elsewhere), and it calls for internal processes that really establish the responsibility of the specific individuals involved in these crimes and the responsibility of their families who enjoyed and continue to enjoy the benefits illegally stolen from their relatives’ victims and from the innocent Colombian people. Processes with real consequences, consequences similar to those imposed by the Nuremberg Tribunals after World War II, although those cases were almost entirely hypocritical, as were those who organized them but exempted themselves from answering for their own massive crimes against humanity, the “Allies” which were already planning similar crimes against billions of future victims through neoliberal economic policies enforced through neoconservative military and clandestine means.

I am proud to be a citizen of the newly evolving Colombia, although I am extremely embarrassed by the Colombian State of the past. And I personally deeply regret that I was not in Colombia during my formative years, working, as were the members of the Patriotic Union and other truly civic groups (many of whom paid with their lives), to attain the justice and common welfare that every Colombian deserves. Like so many other Colombians and Latin Americans, my family fled the violence orchestrated elsewhere, and I, as a six year old, became a member of the Latin Diaspora, only returning fifteen years ago after a life abroad.

We can do little to change the past, but we can learn from it, and as the Jews constantly urge (although unfortunately not through example), we can do everything possible to avoid the past’s mistakes. That, at least, seems to be what the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ decision and related orders directed at the Colombian State demand. In furtherance of such goals, all Colombians and all Latin Americans can join the Patriotic Union and the numerous other social, cultural, indigenous, Afro-descendant and related political movements, and with the many victims of our unjust (until now perpetual) conflicts, to finally begin to extinguish violence, to extinguish impunity, to extinguish inequity and inequality, to extinguish injustice and intolerance towards those with different perspectives, to hold those who govern us accountable for their corruption and ineptitude, and to assure that our supposed public servants (too many of whom believe that they are superior to those to whom their duty is really owed) come to understand what just what a “servant” is.

January 30, 2023: a day upon which to reflect and a day on which dedicate ourselves to creating the Colombia that we all deserve. A day to always remember. A day for understanding the complex emotions we should be feeling, a synthesis of pride, elation and joy, intractably intertwined with shame and remorse and dedicated to doing better in the future, much, much better.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Another Missive from Troy’s Cassandra

A rant in e minor sharp

While doing research on a “reflection on sentience, self-awareness and their possible existence in non-biological forms”, I came across the following information, admittedly in a Wikipedia article (a starting point for research rather than a reliable source).  I share it because so much of the information we receive lacks context, perhaps deliberately, in order to manipulate such information for electoral, rather than merely political purposes, i.e., to manipulate us into perpetuating specific power blocs, in most cases, apparently, neoliberal systems using neoconservative tactics for their own selfish ends, regardless of the costs to others (the Ukraine being today’s most glaring example). 

Because of the nature of the following information, I hasten to indicate that I am very environmentally conscious and not a climate change denier (admittedly phrasing designed to rebuke and belittle those who deny the existence of climate change).  I am admittedly a true leftist (not the faux variant of purported liberal or purported progressive so often referenced by the corporate media and most traditional political parties today) but I do not react with my eyes tightly shut and ears carefully plugged so that my mind can remain tightly closed. 

Anyway, … according to the following quote from a generic article on the evolution of our planet (which can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Earth):  “It is estimated that 99 percent of all species that ever lived on Earth, over five billion [of them ] have gone extinct.  Estimates on the number of Earth’s current species range from 10 million to 14 million, of which about 1.2 million are documented, but over 86 percent have not been described.  However, it was recently claimed that 1 trillion species currently live on Earth, with only one-thousandth of one percent described.”

We humans today are for the most part antievolutionary in our own interactions, in our ethics and in our morals, rejecting nature’s postulates concerning “survival of the fittest” which have been historically espoused by fellow humans we find reprehensible (most recently the Nazis and their “ilk” (admittedly a negatively charged description).  Thus we reject discarding the infirm and handicapped and seek, through social means, to level the playing field apparently established by nature, seeking, for example, to eliminate the relevance of health, gender and racial differences.  We are also seemingly antievolutionary with respect to avoiding natural factors that lead to species extinction in the animal and vegetable realms. 

I admit that, emotionally and intellectually, I am in accord with those antievolutionary beliefs.  But, the information cited above concerns me.  I have to admit that we, who claim to love Gaia and respect and seek to protect nature, seem to be doing so in total opposition to historical “natural” tendencies, in essence, having decided that we know better than nature, and that we are more moral than nature, and that our role in the scheme of things, is to correct nature’s erroneous tendencies, a job we are not doing very well, perhaps, because rather than having attained a real consensus, we are hopelessly polarized, pulling in myriad opposing directions, and, like confused lemmings, seemingly heading desperately towards our doom as a species.  Perhaps a doom that nature will relish.

Still, I love our species and, as an individual, intend to do what I can to avoid what, to an outside observer (were there any), would seem our obvious fate should we prove unable to somehow drastically change directions.  That leads me to reflect that most of our current philosophies and strongly held beliefs need a fundamental reevaluation, one based not on what we wish were true, but on unvarnished truth. 

I frequently write concerning the fallacies of popular beliefs concerning the nature of “logic”, interpretations where “logic is perceived of as a method of proving accuracy, when, in truth, it is just the middle of a quasi-mathematical equation that may be reflected as follows: premises + facts x logic = conclusions.  If any of the components are defective, the equation is not only useless, but dangerous.  The two elements most likely to be defective are premises and facts.  But even when defective, it has a self-correcting empirical aspect, if we just face reality.  If the “conclusion” arrived at does not pan out despite the accurate us of the logic component, then we know that either the premises or the facts were inaccurate, and we should acknowledge that we need to go back to the metaphorical drawing board.  Unfortunately, that is something we as humans are loath to do, having an almost instinctive aversion to admitting we’ve been wrong.  Mistakes, when recognized and properly analyzed, are the best tools for approximating verity, they are the best teachers and probably our most valuable experiences.  But they are a tool we ignore, which leads us as a species to where we find ourselves: a myopic race towards a suicidal dead end.

That may well be what one of our most brilliant and flexibly minded geniuses meant when he described insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.  Something especially dangerous in what passes for democracy but which is in reality, merely a means to keep us pacified while the worst among us keep us controlled.  Imagine a purported libertarian system where opinions are tightly controlled through censorship purportedly essential in a quest for accuracy?  Well, perhaps “imagine” was a poor choice of words.  That is exactly where our currently trendy, “woke, feel-good, virtue-signaling cancel culture has us.  And, we will never find new alternative solutions to our myriad problems by closing as many minds as possible, by punishing and ridiculing alternative viewpoints, by destroying what passes for history in favor of narratives we find more palatable.

One of the things that I find most frustrating in our quest to resolve our problems is that there is no dearth of viable solutions, only of the will to implement them.  Solutions are, like many useful inventions, patented, not to be used but to be warehoused in a suicidal quest for a profitable income stream; a delusional pivot towards living for the moment and, as French King Luis XV is reputed to have said: let our descendants face the storm, something Luis XVI and his family certainly experienced during the French Revolution.

It is vastly understating the case to describe our current means of communication through corporate and social media as “problematic”.  It is the poison designed to destroy those best able to lead us towards equity and justice and peace and sustainable economics, and thus those mediums are all too likely to assure that we will not be around all that much longer, that we won’t be around to muck up nature’s slow but steady pace towards its own goals and aspirations, with or without us.

Something on which to ponder as we are collectively drawn along to our own perdition.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Poetry

Poetry is hard to define. 

Sometimes, it’s best defined by denying those aspects that most associate with a poem.  Rhyme, meter, strict structure, even alliteration and consonance.  Then again, perhaps the definition of poetry, of what constitutes a poem, is very personal.

To me, the essence of a poem is the creation and sharing of a wave-like sensation that carries both the writer and the reader along an emotive trail, sometimes brief, sometimes expansive, as though one were surfing but on a gently melodious wave floating over a series of profound abysses into which one might chose to wander, lost but questing.  Beauty or horror may be present, but perhaps they can be melded subliminally into something incomprehensibly sublime, perceptible only in a silent and indiscernible language, one only the soul can fully understand.

Then again, there’s rhyme and meter, strict structure, even alliteration and consonance; there’s metaphor and simile; allusion and illusion.  Shades and shadows and echoes and rainbows, hummingbirds and dragonflies and sometimes just dragons, … or maybe frogs.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Magic and Miracles, a senryū of sorts in e minor flat

Sooooo, … on the nature of magic and miracles,

Seemingly metaphysical fraternal twins stamped on the same coin,

Albeit perhaps on different sides.

_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

The Revelations of John (an Exile in Patmos) Reconsidered ,… Sort of

Or perhaps, the “Reconsiderations of Bill or Guille” (an expatriate of sorts in Manizales)

Introduction

(The serious part)

The purported revelations of John of Patmos (really, an expatriate who fled to Patmos), a John who styled himself the Elder, the purported book of revelations written on or about the year 96 of the Common Era, seem, in their apocalyptic aspects, almost completely Zoroastrian.  A cartoonish culmination of the doctrine of ethical dualism.  Indeed, the version of Yešu[1] it envisions, denominated “Christ”, seems utterly different than the loving Jesus reflected in modern imagery, much more the messiah longed for by racist, ethnocentric Hebrews, to whom all others were inferiors, now, ironically, subsumed in fundamentalist Paulist Christianity[2].

Interestingly, old Johnny seemed most bothered by the sexual and dietary heresies of the Nicolaitans, followers of Nicholas the Deacon, a real apostle (unlike Saul, albeit as a replacement) and member of the Jerusalem Community.  As in today’s uber polarized world, relatively irrelevant issues were used to divide people who had much more in common than in conflict, the apparent goal (as it is today) being the elimination of any who held contrary views, regardless of how innocuous.  The Nicolaitans’ horrible heresy (according to their detractors, including John but strangely, not Saul), involved the belief that monogamy was not essential and that sharing those beloved with others was a positive, rather than a negative thing, true love promoting the joy and pleasure of the beloved, rather than restricting it; but also, the belief that it was not inappropriate to eat food (specifically meat), offered in sacrifice to idols if it had first been exorcised, … probably important when food was scarce.

John was not original in his revelations, primarily using imagery, threats and promises old before Yešu had purportedly incarnated.  Imagery, threats and promises made in writings such as the books of Daniel and Ezekiel in the Old Testament, 1 Esdras in the Apocrypha, the Book of Enoch in the Pseudepigrapha, the Assumption of Moses, and, portions of the Synoptic Gospels.  He merely placed them in a new, anti-Roman Imperial context, and directed them specifically against the Roman Emperor and those who followed him, especially followers of Yešu willing to compromise the beliefs Pauline Christianity required of them.  In essence, he was a plagiarist, but that was not looked down upon in antiquity.  Indeed, a popular literary device at the time was the antithesis of plagiarism, giving famous others credit for what one had written in order to enhance its impact.

Of course, all of the threats and promises reflected in John’s purported revelations were to take place while the Roman Empire continued to exist in its pagan version.  It’s hard to believe that they applied after the Roman Empire became Pauline, when it became Pauline Christians who engaged in persecution, torture and murder, as well as who placed restrictions on religious beliefs; actions such as those attributed by John to the Romans.  Hence, everything predicted should have taken place prior to the Emperor Constantine’s decrees in the year 331 of the Common Era, decrees which made Pauline Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. 

Through distorted rationalization (such as are common today in journalism) disassociated from the religious aspect of John’s purported revelations and focused exclusively on their political dimension, i.e., the existence of the Roman State, one could, albeit unconvincingly, argue that the promised (or threatened) events need only have occurred prior to the fall of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire in the year 1453 of the Common Era.  And if later, only if today’s Vatican State is seen as the continuation of the Roman Empire against which John railed can an argument be made that the prophecies of John’s purported revelations remain merely inchoate, rather than utter claptrap.

Interestingly, the sexual beliefs associated with Nicholas the Deacon seem to never have gone out of style and seem, at least since the 1960’s, to have emerged from the closet, as it were.  As to eating food sacrificed to idols, well, who knows?  Who can tell where today’s food has its origins, regardless of labeling laws, … except perhaps for Kosher food.

Summary of John’s Imagery

(The satirical part.  Accurate, but satire just the same.  Unavoidably so):

Yešu, in his role as the Pauline “Christ”, purportedly speaking from heaven to John, addresses messages to seven angels, each responsible for one of seven specific Pauline churches in Asia Minor.  One might ask why Yešu, in heaven, would need the assistance of John, to address his angels, but evidently the divine communication network was not functioning at the time.  So much for ubiquitous omnipresence.

With reference to the seven angels, one each had purportedly been assigned the role of guardian to Pauline churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Thyatira, Pergamum, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.  Evidently, five of the angels were not doing such a great job at eliminating those who found the doctrines of the Nicolaitans reasonable.  Yešu seems especially miffed with the angel charged with guarding the Pauline church at Pergamum, where “Satan”[3] was purported to have his headquarters. 

Interesting. 

One wonders if Pergamum has been carefully searched in quest of a portal leading to the infernal regions.  For anyone interested, the site of Pergamum is located sixteen miles from the Aegean Sea on a lofty isolated hill on the northern side of the broad valley of the Bakır River, a site currently occupied by the modern town of Bergama, in the province of İzmir in Turkey.  One wonders if, as in the Colombian municipality of Rio Sucio, they have biannual carnivals dedicated to “the Devil”.

Following Yešu’s message to his angels, strangely, via John (as I’ve noted), he describes to John, evidently for transmittal to us, a message concerning seven seals (no, not the animals, just scrolls) on which is (or will be) purportedly written an account of events that “are about to take place” (the term “about” was evidently to be interpreted in a very broad manner, a manner to include any temporal period whatsoever; hmmm, a bit suspicious that).  But only Yešu is purportedly authorized to open the seals (no one else being worthy). 

There follows a bit of equine fantasy (I’m rather fond of horses myself) as the first four seals, if ever opened (John assures us they will, be, Yešu told him so) for some reason deal with horses.  Sigismund Schlomo Freud might have had something to say concerning that imagery, had it ever been brought to his attention.  Perhaps it was and perhaps he did.  Hmmm, on at least one occasion Freud did discuss equine fixations as follows: he interpreted horses, as a phobia (unfortunately he did not discuss them directly as a fixation), as symbolic of the father, and that fear that a horse would bite represented fear of castration as punishment for incestuous desires towards the mother, an expression of the Oedipus complex.  One might wonder what that tells us about John.  As far as I know, Yešu had no personal interaction with horses, only asses, although certain ranks of Roman soldiers in Palestine (where Yešu lived) did use them.  For the safety of my eternal soul then, I’ll limit my observations to John.

Anyway, again according to Yešu (via John), when Yešu opens the first seal, a white horse will appear whose rider will go forth to conquer. Other seals will then be opened, and three more horses: a red one, a black one, and a pale one, will appear in rapid succession.  According to analysts of John’s purported revelations, the four horses and their respective riders purportedly symbolize the conflicts that will mark the beginning of the final destruction of the Roman Empire (and have nothing to do with an Oedipal Complex, but, … who knows).

When the fifth seal is opened, the souls of those who have been waiting for the purported second coming, in duly respectful tones but obviously “verily” annoyed, will demand to know (respectfully of course), how much longer they have to wait until their suffering is avenged, but will be advised (one assumes by Yešu) that they still have a while to wait, and that their wait is likely to be unpleasant, but that if they are patient and faithful (it seems they were not merely souls, but living entities as well), they will be among the redeemed whose names are written in a “Book of Life”.  Evidently, such souls will never have been previously exposed to the revelations of John and will thus be ignorant of what is happening; apparently not being all that conscientious in complying with their Pauline educational obligations.

According to good old John, the scene then changes and we will embark on act two of his revelations.  One wonders if John’s production might not make a good video game.  Four angels representing the four winds of heaven will be told to hold back their winds (hmmm, flatulent angels) until “the servants of God have had seals placed on their foreheads”.  “Ouch”; one wonders if that will hurt.  It seems quite a bit like branding.  Then, apparently, notwithstanding the billions who have, since the dawn of the Common Era, attempted to comply with the usually incoherent, incomprehensible and contradictory instructions they keep receiving from the heirs of Paul (and presumably John) in Yešu’s name of course, all but a very few of them, 144,000 to be precise, will be sentenced to perdition.  As of the dawn of 2023, the world’s current population is approximately eight billion people, most of whom may have souls (although most politicians, lawyers, journalists and priests may not).  As of the dawn of 2023, it is estimated that 117 billion people have lived on Earth, the vast majority having lived following the start of the Common Era.  Assuming that Yešu decarnated (a neologism for when he abandoned his “carnate” form) approximately 1,990 years ago, as 2023 dawns, that means that, were the events “imagined” by John to occur today, an average of only about 72 people per year would have been “saved”.  One wonders at those stuck in Limbo, all the unbaptized infants, etc., what is to happen to them?  That means that fewer people will be “saved”, regardless of their piety, belief and conduct, than currently comprise the 0.01% who rule and own us.  What are the probabilities that such 0.01% have somehow cornered this market as well?  Hmm, they currently constitute about 800,000 people; that means that less than one in five of them will make the cut.  Interesting situation, at least for them.  For the rest of us, it’s apparently “Abandon All Hope”.

Anyway, according to Yešu (according to John), before Yešu opens the rest of the seals, another series of disasters will be heralded by seven angels, each one carrying a trumpet. One wonders if the seven angels are the same each time, or if they arrive in teams of seven.  The trumpets must be huge as they have massive destructive power when blown, although they perhaps are only indicia of coming calamities, Harbingers in Black, perhaps like those that the Latin American poet César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza wrote about in his poem, “Los Heraldos Negros”. 

Following the blowing of the trumpets, a massive earthquake will purportedly occur, turning rivers to blood.  The light of the sun and the moon will be extinguished and the stars will come unglued and fall to Earth.  Then things will really get bad, especially for any surviving persecutors of (one assumes) the 144,000 lucky ones.  Given all the schisms in Pauline Christianity since John’s day, where members of each Pauline denomination claim all others are to be condemned to Hell as heretics, certainly a form of persecution, it would seem that the most avidly religious may well be both among the punished and the vindicated, concurrently, which may explain the 144,000 number.

John, apparently paraphrasing Yešu, unless he has a really good memory, then maligns dragons, equating them with poor old confused Satan (remember the whole thing with Hêl él, Lucifer, and Sama’el; now they’re turned into a dragon, yeesh!!!).  But apparently, Satan and Marcus Cocceius Nerva, the Roman Emperor in the year 96 of the Common Era (when John purportedly wrote his “revelations”), are to be considered one and the same.  Poor Nerva; he did not reign long at all, just fifteen months, and he was a reformer of sorts, no Caligula or Nero.  But then, perhaps communication was slow back then and good old John thought that someone else was in charge.  However, one would assume that Yešu would have known better.  Perhaps poor John just misunderstood.  After all, it may be that Yešu was declaiming to John in Enoquiano, the mythical celestial language.  And there have never been all that many certified, or even qualified Enoquiano translators and interpreters, at least since the fall of that tower in Babel.

Anyway, ….

The “Dragon”, a-Satan (clearly a reference to Hêl él who rebelled in Heaven against YHWH and then purportedly schemed with Herod I, also known as Herod the Great, to do away with the infant Yešu) will somehow have been busy along with his retinue of angels (supposedly fully one third of the former Heavenly Host), challenging Yešu, YHWH and the Holy Spirit, purportedly working through poor Nerva (more probably his predecessors as Nerva was the first of the Five Good Emperors, or perhaps his successors, or perhaps the Papacy, or who knows who).  At any rate, “he” (whoever “he” is) will have been the one who will have been persecuting Yešu’s followers.  Hmmm, that “he” could be any leader of any purportedly Pauline church[4] since, based on the aforementioned thousands of Pauline schisms, almost all followers of Yešu will have been commended to condemnation in Hell and to damnation (assuming the two things are different) by other followers of Paul, given that they each consider all others blasphemous heretics.

Actually, the aforesaid “he” ought to be easy to recognize as, according to good old John (as told to him directly by Yešu), “he” will have seven heads and ten horns and will be somehow further identifiable by calculating his number, it should be “666” (although how our numbers are calculated remains a mystery); so be in the lookout for anyone fitting that description.

As the end finally draws near (again), again according to John as told directly by Yešu, or perhaps only by Yešu’s voice, three angels will appear (one wonders what will have happened to the other four, if indeed they are the same, or why the change in numbers if they are different; and whatever will have happened to the horses and their jockeys?).  One angel will announce that the hour of God’s judgment has come, the second one will yell that Babylon has fallen (which happened millennia ago so is no surprise) and the third will be doing his best to terrify anyone who’s been worshipping “the Beast” (probably the Dragon, you remember, our composite nemesis), all of whom are to then be thrown into a lake of fire where they will forever be destroyed. Hmmm, that seems a bit oxymoronic at best, poor phrasing, as destruction seems a final event rather than a process.  But then again, as you may recall, it may be that Yešu was declaiming to John in Enoquiano, hard for mortals to understand.

As if that’s not enough, with all the bad guys frying in a lake of fire (sounds sort of like something the Nazis were accused of doing), seven more angels will then appear (ahhh, the seven reunited perhaps), each one carrying a bowl filled with one of seven plagues as YHWH will be really wroth!!!!.  One wonders at the interaction of the fire in the humungous lake into which billions of bodies and souls are frying, with the plagues, which are to be as follows, almost as though they were a recipe: the first bowl will have some sort of agent generating “foul and evil sores” on the men who at the time bear the mark of the beast and who worship its image (does that mean women will be exempt, just asking, that will certainly please feminists); the second, will be poured into the sea (which sea is not clear), and will turn its waters into blood (which supposedly had already occurred to rivers somewhat earlier), but this time, killing everything there (assuming our pollution has not already done that).  Hmmm, it seems YHWH will become a mass polluter. Then, similar calamities, all different, will follow as each angel carelessly empties its bowl, without any thought for the consequences.

So, having destroyed everyone and everything except for the 144,000 lucky prize winners, Yešu will finally return, riding on clouds (hopefully not thoroughly polluted) and, amazingly, it appears that the fiery lake and plagues will not have been enough to destroy all the “wicked”, because more will be slain by the light Yešu’s coming generates (as though he were radioactive).  Apparently, concurrently with that event, the Dragon (a-Satan, etc.) will be bound underground for a thousand years and the Earth itself will be condemned to a thousand year period of desolation.  In the meantime, the 144,000 lucky righteous ones will have been flown to a celestial city where they can hang out with YHWH, Yešu, the Holly Spirit, and those angels who’d declined Hêl él’s invitation to rebel.

But that’s only for a single millennium.  Apparently, somehow, during that time, the remainder of the 117 billion will have recovered; revived so that they can be destroyed again.  Interesting to speculate as to when they will have died as their torment was to have been perpetual, what with the fiery lake, the plagues and all.

Anyway, according to John, as told to him by the voice of Yešu (one wonders if his voice is an entity in and of itself, which would seem to make the trinity a bit crowded), the celestial city will land on earth and someone or someones will engage in one more wars (which will probably make the 144,000 very happy, as, assuming they coincide with the current 0.01% who rule us, war seems to be their favorite pastime), and the wicked will be destroyed … again.  After which, the residue of humanity will live happily ever after, perpetually partying with YHWH, Yešu, the Holly Spirit, and those angels who’d declined Hêl él’s invitation to rebel, in the celestial city now on earth.  Given the slight population, it could be on a tiny Island somewhere in the Caribbean perhaps, perhaps near Eden, a new Jerusalem with streets of gold,  walls of jasper and gates of pearl (and what about windows?), in the midst of the good old River of Life, which will flow eternally from the throne of God, with neither sorrow nor crying allowed (or else), for God will wipe away all tears (one wonders, with no crying, from whence tears will appear), and there will be no more death.

One does wonder a bit what might happen to any of the happy denizens of the grounded celestial city, should they become a bit too independent; one wonders whether “free will” will be an aspect of that paradise; one wonders, … just asking, what would happen to any who might transgress.  You know, sing out of tune or harp off chord or something.  Perhaps wonder about dear old Nicholas the Deacon.

Anyway ….

Amen.

Concluding Observation

One wonders what happened after good old John sobered up.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.


[1] Yešu, commonly referred to as Jesus, or the Christ, or Joshua, or Yeshua, but the correct Aramaic variant (the name he might answer to) was Yešu.  He never, ever, ever answered to Christ.

[2] The adjective Paulist is added because Saul of Tarsus perverted the original teachings of Yešu, for his own purposes, in opposition to the religious movement that initially sought to promote the beliefs espoused by Yešu as promoted by Yešu’s brothers and apostles through an organization known as the Jerusalem Community.  He referred to his counter movement as Christianity and to Yešu as the “Christ”, a Greek term roughly analogous to messenger or messiah.  Saul, who renamed himself “Paul” for some reason, first tried to destroy the Jerusalem Community through legal and religious means within Judaism (including assassinations) but eventually found it much more profitable to coopt it, disassociating them from their Jewish origins by melding Jewish beliefs with Greek spiritual philosophies.

[3] Known to latter pre-Pauline Hebrews as ha-Satan, the unfortunate syncretic composite through mistranslation by Jerome of Stridon of the Hebrew archangel Hêl él, Lucifer, the Roman god of truth and light, and, YHWH’s chief legal advisor and prosecutor, Sama’el.  Poor Lucifer, eternally calumnied since then.

[4] All leaders with the possible exception of a certain Jorge Mario Bergoglio, also known currently as Pope Francis I.  He’s an unusually forgiving and empathic sort who refuses to condemn anyone.

A Political Reality Check as we Remember Martin Luther King, Jr., DD

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., DD, who we remember and honor today, would, I believe, be profoundly ashamed of us.  He believed in love and empathy, in equity and justice, and in peace.  Instead, we have polarization and perpetual war.  Instead of seeking to remove the chains that bind us, we proudly polish them, in the name of hypocrisy.  We revel in a non-existent democracy, and in non-existent liberty, our freedom of expression is censored so that opinions contrary to those necessary to maintain the hold of the few over the many will be silenced and reality distorted, as we are continuously bled of the little wealth the powerful still do not control.  And like good slaves, we are grateful that it isn’t worse, …  although it is much worse than we believe.

An example: We have become so used to fake scandals manufactured by the Deep State in order to tighten its grip on power that we are in a turmoil over the purported “privately held government records scandal” now impacting Deep State darling Joe Biden, reflexively, declining to think.  The reality is that some “government records”, including those classified as secret, top secret, etc., have always been retained by previous office holders and probably more so by members of the Deep State’s core, the intelligence community.  Of all the recent faux scandals, this may be the most stupid, and that applies to both its Trump and Biden aspects.  The Hillary Clinton aspect has been all but forgotten, as has that which dealt with Barak Obama. 

There are real scandals that should concern us rather than the continuous stream of invented scandals that keep deflecting us from realizing the real source of most of the world’s problems, the Deep State and its penchant for perpetual war in order to shift wealth to the worst among us, no matter what the price.  Those were scandals that mattered to Dr. King, who we purport to honor today as we destroy the legacy which he died to bequeath us.

The Deep State has us utterly polarized and consequently, paralyzed, as we are robbed, killed and maimed purportedly in the name of democracy, liberty and human rights.  Greater hypocrisy would seem impossible.  Wake up, but really, not like the somnambulant cancel culture puppets who do so much to divide us and to deflect us from resolving the issues that most harm us.

Without empathy we will never attain real equity, real equality, real justice, real peace, real democracy or real liberty.  Dr. King had a dream which the Deep State and its minions have turned into a nightmare.  Ridicule, calumny, destruction of historical monuments, hate and disrespect are not the tools that will lead us to the metaphorical mountain from which Dr. King saw the future we and our progeny deserve.

Something to ponder on this anniversary of Dr. King’s birth.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Of Birds, the Homeless and Me: Something to consider

My quandary with pigeons, with birds really, is that while they are, in some aspects, beautiful, especially in flight; they’re so damned dirty, albeit unavoidably so, at least in urban settings where, from time to time, they seem to weaponize their waste, occasionally against me, albeit more often against my car and most frequently on the tenth floor window sill of my apartment, a space near a tiny garden set in a ledge my wife and I have planted in a nook outside our kitchen window where it abuts another little window at the side of our dining room.  A place where pigeons enjoy nesting and giving birth, and to which they enjoy returning after they’ve hatched.  I wonder if it’s a form of passive aggression, passive aggression like that inherent in so many humans whose lives seem to have been wasted and who find themselves figuratively littering the streets of their more fortunate brethren.  Of people like my wife and I and our friends and acquaintances.

Litter, the weapon of choice of disenfranchised humans and birds alike.

Doesn’t our reaction to them say more about us then it does about them?  Doesn’t it reflect our all too comfortable hypocrisy?  Our inability to accurately reflect introspectively?

Many decades ago, in an amazing oxymoronic piece, oxymoronic because her voice was so beautiful and the theme so dark, Joan Baez planted the seeds for what I write today, she planted those seeds in my soul when I heard her ballad entitled, “Their but for Fortune”.  It helped me become a human being, a human in the positive sense of what we should be rather than what we are.

Something to consider on a beautiful day in a city in the sky, on the central range of the Colombian Andes.  

Something to consider anywhere, … really.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.