The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. Click for credits
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. Click for credits

(This is the conclusion of a conversation with Paul started in an earlier post)

Yes, you have continuity too in North America, Paul, your roots and languages are from here, your monuments are European inspired. But European people who crossed the ocean were mostly fleeing injustice. They needed change more than continuity, and they found new societies where history and ties were not so burdensome. This of course liberated many energies but it could also be a reason why whenever I say that the past continues in the present, you guys shake your head and say: ‘No, it’s not so relevant’.

I mean, it’s not only a shorter history, it’s this ‘New’ thing:  the ‘New’ World was erected in the name of change, I believe. When a building gets old you tear it down, while here we keep almost everything, even crap. A metaphor in some way.

History is longer and heavier here and this implies pros and cons. Some parts of this country, Italy, are probably beyond redemption for this reason (inability to modernity, corruption etc.) but allow us to be thrilled that we are walking on the same roads tread upon by Julius Caesar or Marcus Aurelius, or to be happy that our ancient Roman sewerages (like Cloaca Maxima) are still working fine.

My family has this tradition of using the Fatebenefratelli Hospital on the Tiber Island. My father had surgery there twice and my wife there delivered our two daughters. Now it turns that this was a healing place since 293 BC, when a temple to Aesculapius, the Greek god of healing, was built. When, 600 years later, Christianity arrived the healing place was preserved intermittently and a Basilica di San Bartolomeo later built a few yards away (this saint being thence associated to healing it explains by the way the name of the famous St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.)

The Subura district, the slums of ancient Rome, was full of ‘disreputable locals and brothels’ (Wikipedia.) Today parts of it correspond to the Monti rione. Well, since antiquity until today such ‘disreputable’ locals still exist in the area (in via Dei Capocci for example) and the police mostly turns a blind eye because of its being like a tradition of the city. Of course during Fascism, when prostitution was legal, the area thrived.

Inside Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Click for credits
Inside Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Click for credits

The Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome (Saint Mary Above Minerva, see image above) and the area of the great Temple of Artemis in Ephesus (in today’s Turkey, see image at the head of the page) are interesting examples as well since they both follow a similar continuity-change pattern.

Continuity. In both places we have a succession of three deities with something in common (female gender, fertility, virginity etc.)
These deities belong to different periods and religions.

The Egyptian Isis, goddess of fertility, was followed in Rome – in that place – by the Roman Minerva (or vice versa; or they shared the area.) Minerva, a virgin goddess, was later replaced by Mary, a virgin divinity too, in the said church subsequently dedicated to her, Saint Mary Above Minerva.

Similarly, but on a much larger scale, the sanctuary in Ephesus dedicated to the Anatolian goddess Kybele, the Earth Mother, was later converted into the temple of Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunt, child birth, virginity and fertility. The place was very famous, one of the greatest sanctuaries of Antiquity – see a 3d reconstruction at the top of the page – and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. People flocked to venerate the goddess.

Well, it is amazing how not far from that place it was later believed that there existed the last home of Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. For this reason – the marvellous temple was destroyed by a Christian mob in 401 AD – a series of pilgrimages again began with pilgrims venerating the Virgin Mary and even recently the place has been visited by three popes, who followed a pilgrimage path thousands of years old.

Kybele, Artemis, Mary. A very impressive example of continuity through change, it seems to me.


Summarizing, what I mean is that, with no break, connections run in history from antiquity to the present which are striking and, here more than in the New World, we feel that they are all around us, that they are part of our most profound identity. Which also crushes us in some way, without a doubt.

There must be reasons why we are called the ‘Old’ World: aren’t we all mummies a bit?

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

Related posts:

Change and Continuity in History. 1
On Roman, Italian and Latin Roots. Italy and the New World

74 thoughts on “Change and Continuity in History. 2

  1. MoR, you say that we scrap old things when they become decrepit. Yes, we used to, but now, both in the US and in Canada we have laws protecting our “antiquities”. In Québec, we have a fund to save our religious heritage buildings and monuments. Our federal government now as a Heritage Minister and most provinces have one. In Edmonton, Alberta, there is a park called Fort Edmonton devoted to preserving the past; they have even moved there the first mosque built in North America, in Edmonton, in 1905. OK nothing like the Colosseum or the Via Appia but still part of our heritage.
    In Québec our Historical Monuments Commission is devoted to the preservation of our past. Our past is short but we need it to keep our bearings to the future. So you see, we are not that different. To use a family image, you are the big brother, we are the little brother watching your steps.
    The big difference is that we are a reconstituted family striving to balance the various heritages from our varied origins. Not an easy task, but well worth the work and the investment.


    1. It is good that you now are keeping your old things.

      Your past is shorter, true, but since you arrived from here I don’t think it really is in many respects. The presence of old monuments is not that crucial, it’s the traces in the mind that count. It is just your ‘perception’ of the past that I think is different. The effort of creating a New world trying not to repeat our mistakes etc. has produced a new freshness which is most of the time your strength and only sometimes your weakness.

      If given a choice, as I said above to Janet, I’d have preferred to be born out there.

      Here we are motionless compared to you and we’re limping along in an awkward effort to copy you in so many things.

      My eldest daughter has just come back from the USA having spent almost one year in California. She said: “Papi, all is so boring and stagnant here, it is a place for old people!”

      I agree we are not that different, and, beyond possible rivalries or divergences, please remember that we love you.


  2. Hi Manofroma,

    while your rich cultural history can be traced back over 3000 years the Australian Aborigines have a cultural history of over 50,000 years – now that’s ancient.


      1. This is not my comment. It is an automatic message by WordPress, the blog company, referring to the previous post. I replied to you above, not with this one 🙂


        1. Que voilà déclaration rassurante. Je ne suis donc pas seul dans mon imperfection…mais j’en connais des pires que la charité chrétienne m’empêche de nommer.
          Bientôt l’heure d’un repas chez-vous, alors bon appétit…et bon vin.


          1. Votre charité chrétienne m’amuse et me rend curieux. Ce soir j’ai choisi un bon rouge sicilien, Nero d’Avola.
            Bon appétit à vous aussi, quand il sera l’heure.


  3. Paul, I’m not sure we (Quebec) preserve as well as we should. Notice how many churches have been converted into condos! I think Boston does a better job.

    Compliments to part I and II.

    There’s a continuity. As you astutely pointed out, the founding fathers were well read in all things ancient. Although, I think their philosophy was based in the Enlightenment. Then again, isn’t the Enlightenment part of ancient wisdom?


    1. We were driving around town and I was deploring some demolition that was going on when my then 11 years old son piped in:”Dad if we keep everything where will people of my time put their buildings?”. He was right, in a way. Conserving for the sake of conserving is no better than destroying just to put in something else. Here as always sound judgment must be exercized.


    2. @Exposrip

      Thank you. Well, it is well known that the American and French Revolution are more or less linked with the Enlightenment, at a time when neo-classicism flourished: Edward Gibbon, Winckelmann, Bentham, the growth of archaeology etc. Bentham’s thought as far as I know found inspiration in Epicure, and the cult of reason and the combat against superstition and fanaticism are deeply connected with ancient thought.

      Am I that astute? 🙂


      Yes, keeping everything as we do here is also insane. Which son, the one I saw in that Youtube movie? By the way, does he resemble you?


      1. He is the only son I have. Les deux autres sont des filles jumelles. He takes more on his mother’s side.


  4. Here in New York City, the fate of “old” things has always been precarious. The city is notorious for demolishing wonderful landmarks, Pennsylvania RR Station being the most famous. In the last 30 years, things have changed a lot, though. Now, they are almost fetishized. If it’s old, it must be valuable. As an example, the recent debate over the fate of 2 Columbus Circle [] which I have always reviled as a piece of meretricious junk. One man’s opinion!

    I live in NJ about five miles from northern Manhattan and there are probably more pre-revolutionary structures within five miles of my house than in all of NYC! The developoment pressures there are too intense for them to survive. It was strange at first, living in the ‘burbs where “culture” is supposedly non-existent, to come across, by accidnent, all these well-preserved farm houses from the 18th century.

    Regarding agnostics: if you aren’t sure, you don’t believe. Doesn’t that make you an a-theist?

    Re ‘sopra Minerva‘, the one with the elephant-obelisk in front, no? The plaza there used to be a parking lot if I recall some old photos correctly, but when I had the pleasure of visiting three years ago, it was clear again. So, old things come in and out of favor even in Rome. And the Pantheon down the block – wonderful city!! Not to mention that that is the only gothic church in Rome, no?

    And doesn’t it have a wonderful Lippi frescoe? What a wonderful complement that image makes to the architecture, ornamented with an azure gothic cieling…please, get me back there soon!


    1. It was strange at first … to come across, by accident, all these well-preserved farm houses from the 18th century.

      I have seen many of them in the area between Concord and Boston.
      ‘Meretricious junk’ … it is weird architecture in fact. But there are so many beautiful things now preserved in New York. The whole Manhattan skyline is like an immense cathedral. Absolutely awesome. I was breathless when I saw it.

      Regarding agnostics: if you aren’t sure, you don’t believe. Doesn’t that make you an a-theist?

      Only to a certain extent. Complex topic. Many atheists are fanatics about the non-existence of God, while I hope I am not, though I am a bit of an anticlerical since I’ve lived too close to the Roman clerical power. A sort of love-hate relationship, and a family tradition.

      Yes, Filippo Lippi and his beautiful frescoes in Santa Maria sopra Minerva, the only gothic church in Rome (yes, the elephant-obelisk is in the piazza in front.) Rome of course is beautiful, and I love her very much.

      Cars? Oh they are everywhere here, so they are not a sign of favour or disfavour 😦


      1. There you go, NYC, Boston, Montreal (all sister cities in many ways) wrestle with the issue.

        MOR, I think they’re more tied to Paine, Smith, Hume, Diderot, Voltaire, Beccaria and Locke etc. than Burke. But above all Hobbes. Burke was too conservative, I would argue, for their thinking – he deplored the French Revolution. I don’t know how much Bentham influenced the FF either.


        1. Long story, and you know I’m more into ancient history. In any case the link between the enlightenment and classic culture I don’t think it can be denied, although in that period people probably didn’t feel inferior to Antiquity any more (which instead is the case of Renaissance men). Bentham might have been more influential in Australia, hard though for me to say.


      2. In New England, old houses are pretty common. Here in the “inner” suburbs of NYC, it’s a lot more rare.

        Many atheists are fanatics about the non-existence of God…
        Let’s just ignore the fanatics – always a good practice, right? Besides, you can’t really prove a negative anyway. If I want to be really precise about my views on The Creator, I simply say, “I have no reason to accept the notion of God. Convince me if you can…” Nevertheless, I might be less anti-clerical than you! I’ve never had to deal with that stuff!

        Regarding cars – I meant that it seems that the city has made some good progress in pushing them out of some ancient squares that are better left to pedestrians.


  5. I’ve enjoyed reading the conversation you and Paul have been having. I’m not going to get into that fray. I do have a comment about your daughter who spent a year in California. California is on steroids, everything always updated and renewed. She’ll need time to re-appreciate the history all around her in Italy.


    1. Alas, in fact she has now problems with all this history and heritage. She first stayed at Berkeley and later in San Francisco. Which kind of changed her.
      No fray with Paul. He is a very balanced (and very patient with me) man.
      Thanks for popping in Rosaria. You know you’re always welcome.

      Steroids and everything always renewed? Yes, I noticed, but San Francisco, very revolutionary in many things, seems though to have like a European charm in some way as well. I loved it.


  6. @Paul

    Your son looks a nice and intelligent young man.
    And, I forgot to thank you for fuelling the debate here so much, Paul, really.

    Muchas Gracias, Va Multumesc, Спасибо


    1. I find this blog most interesting and stimulating. I guess, MoR, that you deal with real cultural matters and it changes from what is going on at other places.
      I also like Rosaria’s blog. Her Detours story is most entertaining. Too bad there is still only one episode forthcoming.


  7. No denial here! ;<)

    The Enlightenment indeed reacted to every movement of influence and significance that came before it.

    A history professor once asked which period had a greater influence: the Renaissance or the Enlightenment?


    1. Which had a greater influence: the Renaissance or the Enlightenment?
      Something is wrong in this question, I believe. They being in succession, the latter being son of the former in some way, the answer should be: both had a great influence.


    1. Sakhi, there is history and then there is History. The small “h” refers to events big or small that have shaped our way of life in a small measure; the capital “H” refers to events and people who have shaped our world and changed our political and value systems.
      The discoveries of Arab astronomers and mathematicians in ancient times contributed to History, the construction of the Suez Canal was history. That is my view of the question. Your professor may have disagreed though.


    2. @Sakhi

      Thank you for stopping by Sakhi! I agree with Paul. And in any case history generally refers to facts happened in the past. So it is right in my view to call the above facts history. Of course India has a long history too, which, as in Italy, implies pros and cons as well.


  8. “When a building gets old you tear it down, while here we keep almost everything, even crap. A metaphor in some way.”

    You are too funny! haha!


    1. Hi Maryann, happy if my lengthy posts provide any entertainment to my readers, and – I think now you know it – you are always so welcome here! By the way, that old Penn Station in NYC was a marvel (Lichanos mentioned it here.) Such a pity they tore it down.


  9. @Lychanos

    I saw the old Penn Station (NYC) in the Wikipedia, a real jewel. I read that the demolition began in October 1963.

    The guy I call *Magister* was a great teacher. He taught me a simple thing: ‘culture’ is living, not bookish, and has to do with our everyday life.


  10. @Paul

    I will mention just one of Magister’s exercises. His teachings went much further, but this can provide an idea of his teaching power.

    While reading we had to use our imagination and connect each historical fact, philosophical thought or poetic passage to the life of real men like us. Done well this turned everything pulsating, whether occurred during WW1 or at the times of Chartage.

    Everything appeared true, we felt these past people had similar thoughts, passions and needs. All became human, not bookish. Most important was the atmosphere of inspired depth he was able to create in his classes.

    Reading had to be done slowly, with words pronounced aloud and clearly for this connection to better happen in our mind. We read in turn. As a by-product it also empowered our way of speaking, since we learned to speak with concentration giving natural weight to words according to content.

    Easier to say than to do. But he did it in front of us, a living example being much easier to follow. I know it seems weird but it was not. He was a great person. Besides I’ve seen similar techniques in acting studios, where they teach concentration and truth of feelings, as they did for example at the Fersen Studio of Stage Arts in Rome – great actors are true, not fake in their acting.

    For young people like us, so bored by unmotivated teachers, it was a revolution. We could retrieve all the culture we had set aside. I could start a new dialogue with my father, a very knowledgeable man, who hadn’t though been able to transmit me much until then.

    I cannot forget when Magister read aloud this poem by Garcia Lorca.

    It was summer. We were among olive trees at an educational centre in the countryside not far from Rome. In the poem a guy in the hot sun of Spain picks full round lemons from a tree and starts throwing them into a fountain, till the fountain water turns into gold.

    Oh, we saw in our mind those beautiful lemons, full and round, as we saw the water turning slowly into gold, so beautiful you could touch it. A marvellous tableau that conquered us to poetry forever.


    1. Such a professor happens once in a life time. To paraphrase the Odyssee; “Happy who, like MoR and Paul, had such a professor”. Mine, as I told you, was my English teacher for 6 wonderful years.


      1. I remember. Father Lachance, who taught you to appreciate English literature. I would love to know more about him. And, by the way, no good teacher for French literature?


        1. No, that I had to learn by myself. In the 40s and 50s, in Quebec, most French authors were condemned as libertine or anticlerical or at any rate dangerous for our Faith. Their books were all in the “hell” section of school libraries, order of the Church. So we had to resort to all kinds of stealth tactics to get to them.
          We had access to chosen excerpts of Latin, Greek and French authors, excerpts so insignificant that it really kept us away from looking further…unless, as I was, one was pigheaded and willing to risk eternal damnation not to mention expulsion from Catholic schools. I managed to escape the latter, as for the former we will see later.

          Father Lachance was a poet in his own way. He gave his course in a most deliberate way. Whether you followed or not was up to you and when the group got too noisy he would boom out with his rich baritone: “Gentlemen please speak lower so that those who want to follow can do so”, and kept going. Of course Raoul and I had a special status nad he followed our progress very closely.
          Outside of the classroom he was always available for extra coaching and he had a wonderful record collection.

          He was a Sulpician priest but not the obnoxious, narrow thinking one. His favorite souvenir from his novitiate in Paris before WWII was this one: ” I was explaining to an old French Father what taking a shower was. He looked puzzled. I repeated my explanation more elaborately, going into more details. Just as I figured that he had understood, he looked at me and said-but my son, you must get your cassock all wet…”. I guess that sums him up.


          1. Another gem of yours Paul. I like to listen to you talking about your life. It seems Catholics out there were very conservative. I can understand that the edgy French literature was a bit too much for them. So you had a peek at all that… you bad boy…. but don’t worry about damnation, you are such a good man, I’m the one who should worry more instead …


  11. @Lichanos

    In Rome you feel the tremendous power of the organization of the Church.

    As for cars, yes, some progress has been made and now we have many pedestrian areas, but not as many as I would.

    I simply say, “I have no reason to accept the notion of God. Convince me if you can…”

    Many believers say it is a matter of faith rather than reason, and that faith is a gift from God. Others instead use arguments. Also atheists often use arguments. As far as me, as I said I feel some void sometimes because I was imprinted by my mother at an early age. This might also be why I don’t consider myself an atheist, hard to say.


    1. You are right MoR. To believe or not to believe is not a rational nor a scientific matter. It is strictly an emotional question. You feel God or you don’t; at least you suspect there could be something. It’s not even a question of religion, it’s a state of mind. You do not convince nor convert, you bear witness to your beliefs and values and the others do the same…and all is well.


    2. @Lichanos

      Yes, all is well.

      I feel there could be something. This could make me an agnostic more than an atheist. Such a feeling is though easier to experience than to define, as Paul observes, and it draws me to all religions in a way, past and present. I doubt though I’ll ever be a neo-pagan or of any religion.

      Again (I’m obsessing, I know) the Greco-Roman syncretism (similar to today’s Hinduism) was a great thing, and allowed a lot of melding & a plurality of paths to God(s). And history shows that a lot of merging did occur in the centuries (the example of Ephesus: Kibele —>Artemis —>Mary; or winter festivals —> Saturnalia —> Christmas etc.; or the creation of hundreds of saints as substitutes for pagan deities in order to favour the spread of the new religion etc.)

      Why then people were / are divided by religions instead of feeling united by them? Hard to say. Different nations and civilisations etc. Plus I’m convinced internal divisions such as sects or schisms happened because of politics and power. Take the British. The main reason they split from Catholicism was because they couldn’t accept to be ruled by the Italians. I’m pretty sure about it.
      But now I’m digressing, as usual.

      Paul, I’ve replied above to your story on Father Lachance.


      1. @MoR, I had already seen your reply to my post on Father Lachance.
        As for the British split, it was brought more by Henry VIII’s lust for women and the refusal of his divorce by Rome than by not accepting to be ruled by Italians. Had the Pope been British, the results would have been the same.


      2. Lust for women, of course Paul, but after Henry VIII’s lust was satisfied, or, better, the kings and queens after him, they could have come back to Catholicism [I cannot believe they were ALL so lustful.] After all the religion was identical. I may be wrong, but I still think the main reason for not getting back, on the whole, and for all that period, was political.


    3. The power of The Church…yes, nothing like that here.

      Cars…they are the instrument of the Devil! Think how wonderful all cities would be without them!! Or at least far fewer of them.

      On God…yes, early experiences are VERY powerful. I was not brought up in a religious family. That, plus the fear of the Void that is the universe makes for a powerful brew!

      Rest easy in your agnosticism. At least you know its nature. So many just shilly-shally about.


      1. @Lichanos

        Cars …Think how wonderful all cities would be without them

        I have great nostalgia for my infancy when cars were sporadic before the economic boom. I remember at 10 I used to cross Rome by bicycle without my parents knowing about it – or they’d have died of heart attack. Sometimes herds of sheep were seen in the streets.

        I was not brought up in a religious family

        Like my daughters. Sometimes my wife and I do wonder if we did the right thing. What values did we give them? The Berlusconi times are difficult for the Italian youth …

        The fear of the Void in the Universe … yes, but also the astounding beauty of it. Did you see the Sombrero Galaxy I published in my previous post? Awesome.


        1. “MoR”, Henry the Height’s successors were probably not as lustful, but they had seen what came with being head of their own Church. Brittons being very practical people they kept it that way feeling they could need that power. Besides there is a limit to shunting your citizens from one faith to another. The masses will follow their leaders if they semm to know where they are going; shifting directions too often and too close is counterproductive and once you have picked a fight it’s very bad to seem to be losing it.


        2. Re Void – Yes, amazing picture. You might like this post on a related theme:

          Sheep in the streets of Rome – wonderful! When I was a boy, we used to go for vacations to a fancy hotel nearby, and it had reproductions of Piranesi prints in the rooms. I loved the half-covered ruins with the shepherds walking among them. I’ve loved those pictures ever since.

          The hotel was the setting of Some Like it Hot, a great film that you may know.


  12. Hi Manofroma

    You may have noticed I have been away for a few days, hence my delay in getting back to you. I am no expert of Japan, far from it, I have an active interest in Japan and have travelled there three times the last of which included the Nakasendo Way walk.
    I read and learn as I go and research topics that appeal to me.
    It may be an idea to speak to my blog friend Tulsa at

    for some tips regarding books. She has been living there a long time and will have some ideas I am sure.
    Happy days


    1. Dear Delwyn,

      you are very kind to send me this link to your friend. I will certainly contact her and read her blog, like I will continue visiting yours. I’ve seen you also compose some poetry. I like that and also do the same in English although mine is mainly prose poetry. By the way, in one of your recent posts you talk of New Zealand (where one can see beautiful pictures of it also from space.) Are you from there or from Australia? New Zealand has been another of my dreams. Had a lot of dreams in my life, Gosh, now that I think of it. This dream originated from a friend’s friend who sold his house in Italy and bought a HUGE farm over there with vast land and hundreds of sheep. Now he lives there happily and enjoys his farmer life in contact with nature.

      My best wishes for all



      1. PS
        From what I’m reading it seems you first lived in NZ and then moved to Australia in 1977. We’ll keep in touch. Your setting is fascinating.


        1. Hello again,
          I have just read your reply on my post and came here to catch up.
          Yes you have correctly worked out that I grew up in NZ and moved here to Queensland in my mid 20.s. We became naturalised Australians in the bicentennial year which was ummmm in the late 70s I think. It is only recently that we have realised just how beautiful NZ is, thinking it was very parochial when we left. It is an extremely beautiful country with generous and friendly people but now too cold for us and of course Australia is also a magnificent country of great diversity and opportunity. We have been blessed with 2 nations.
          Thanks for your interest and chats,
          Happy days


          1. Thanks to you Delwyn, and I hope these chats will repeat themselves in the future. I believe a lot in communication and exchange among people from distant places (well, from any place.) The world is getting more united. The generation to which we both belong had believed a lot in all this.


  13. I really enjoy reading your blog. I’m not sure if I’ve ever commented on it before or not. I definitely wanted to though. Thanks for your comments on my blog. I left you a response there.

    I was born and bred here in the United States. I love being an American. I’m also proud of my European heritage. I visited Europe back in the year 2000 for a month. I fell deeply in love with it.

    Most areas here now do have historical associations, etc. that preserve older homes, etc. Where I live we have homes dating around the time of the American Revolution and even before. I loved in Europe that I could see homes, churches, palaces, etc. that are older than my own country.


    1. Thank you Keith. I like your blog too and it brings back so many memories! I’ve seen many of those houses in the area around Boston. America is a great country and it’s one of the myth of modern times. I have commented again at your blog. Ciao and thanks for stopping by!



  14. @Lichanos

    I’ve read your post. Very stimulating. I might comment on that, since I don’t care if a post is recent or past.

    Really? ‘Some like it hot’? Of course, one of the films I adore, by Willy Wilder. You mean the hotel where the mob has its general meeting? I like the unusual connection with Piranesi and Rome. I thought the hotel was in Florida, while I read in your blog that you are from San Francisco though living not far from Manhattan.

    In your *post* [SETI – Are we alone?] the quote from the biologist Ernst Mayr states that since there is only one highly intelligent species, us, in more than one billion species on earth, this reduces a lot the possibility of finding someone highly intelligent around the universe.

    Well, who knows, it could be even worse. Pls read this *post* in Café Philos, an interesting American blog where you find this quote from Henry Beston, the American naturalist (The Outermost House) who argues there might be very complex intelligences even here in our planet, problem being we probably are not able to establish any contact with them. Which of course further reduces the chances of outer space communication: we cannot even communicate here at our home!

    “We patronize them for their incompleteness [referring to other species on earth], for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

    A beautiful reflection in my view. Yes, we probably are very lonely, even on our planet. But you are right, outer space makes our loneliness more scary.


    1. The resort is the Hotel del Coranado, near San Diego. I grew up 150 miles away in western Los Angeles. In the movie, it WAS in Florida, and yes, I live in New Jersey, near Manhattan.

      Why would anyone comment only on NEW posts? This is not a newspaper! Comment away!

      I will look at that post you reference on hidden intelligences here on earth. An intriguing idea. It reminds me of a favorite sci-fi story I read as a boy. Some humans visit a planet inhabited by dinosaur-like reptiles that live a million years. They live so long, they have VERY slow metabolisms. Their sense of time is similarly different from ours. They dimly intuit the presence of the earthlings, seeing them as flickering spots of light that flash about and are gone. That was a visit of years for the earthlings who see the reptile beings as hunks of rock that don’t move. Two sets of minds, passing like ships in the night, unaware of each other.


      1. So I guess it was American sci-fi of the fifties. I was a voracious reader of that stuff in my teens.
        Many people just comment on new posts. I’m not one of them.


    2. I like that quotation. The “otherness” of animals is part of their fascination. I love my dog, I think, or hope he loves me. A totally different, and much simpler mind, but a mind nonetheless. It is weird…


      1. Yes, weird, but I guess your dog loves you a lot, and I don’t know whether his mind is that simple. I would like to read this Henry Beston. He belonged to that generation shattered by WWI, like Hemingway.


        1. Animals and insects do have a mind of their own. Have you ever watched a cat obviously figuring the push to be applied to jump on a window sill? Or a squirrel trying to figure how to and succeeding at getting at the grains inside a supposedly squirrel-proof manger?
          Did you ever marveled at the social organisation in a beehive or in an ant hole?
          Chimpanzees educate their young ones to the survival tasks they need does it not suppose some kind of purpusefulness?


        2. @Paul

          I agree Paul that animals minds are underrated. Man with all his technology is just different, not superior in my view. Despite Darwin, we still feel superior deep down both because of our ideology (man as the king of creation) and of our power (we can kill any animal with weapons. And viruses and germs?)
          Yours are very good examples. Why should a dolphin or a whale be inferior to us? They can do things we can’t and have senses we don’t have. Same thing, as you said, with insects or cats. I’ve heard that the smell of a dog is thousands times stronger than ours, plus it can hear sounds we’ll never hear and so on. ‘The animal should not be measured by man’ (who is another animal himself.)

          (= thanks in Mandarin)


          1. Well, let’s not carry this sympathy for the four-legged ones and the crawling things of the earth too far now!

            I think that, in terms of thinking power, humans ARE superior. We have symbolic language. We have memory, and time, and culture. Chimpanzees teach their children a thing or two, but that’s about it. (See my post on 2001 for a shot of chimps getting the lowdown on tools.)

            This is just an objective evaluation. I don’t mean superior in any moral or ethical sense.


          2. I can agree. But I confess that, intuitively, I’m not 100% sure. Saying we are superior means judging them by our criteria: we know math and physics, they don’t, and so on. But they might know things we totally have no idea about (and might never have in the future.)


  15. Hi,
    I want to thank you for visiting me again, and for taking the time to read the short story I posted in six parts. I’ve worked it over, and shared it with my writers’ group, where it stimulated a great deal of controversy. So, I got to get back to it and work at polishing and editing. It does take the fun our of writing, though,

    YOu and Paul have spent a couple of weeks discussing the old, the new, religion and faith, and everything in between. I hope neither of you two are pushing the so called “Intelligent Design”. Aquinas might approve of it; but we are not living in medieval times any more.

    Arrivederci a un’altro giorno, e un’altra materia.


    1. I’ve enjoyed your short story Rosaria and am looking forward for more. I wonder what the controversy was about at your writers’ group. Yes, there’s been a lot of discussion on many topics here. I think discussion is a wonderful way of exploring things together. One mind is not enough.

      As for myself – I cannot speak for Paul – I’m not pushing intelligent design (or creationism) at all. Science and faith are two different things in my view.

      Arrivederci a presto.


      1. @Rosaria, Intelligent Design, Creationism, the Big Bang, to me are just mumbo jumbo. Somehow, somewhere, something or other happened and the universe was there and developped. That there is a superior being or beings behind all that, to me makes no doubt. The rest is philosophy, theology, mythology, cosmogony or whatever.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s