Wars of the Annunaki, by Chris Hardy – Part 2

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My last post on this book, written halfway though the reading posed a lot of questions, some prescient, some unwarranted, some remaining unanswered. First let me set the stage for Professor Hardy’s project here:

  • She has examined texts of both Sumerian language and the later Akadian tongue favored in ancient Babylonia against multiple translations of the book of Genesis, most likely first written in an antiquated version of Hebrew.
  • The story goes beyond Adam and Eve’s alleged fall from grace to include the story of Abraham and his nephew Lot and the destruction of five major cities, including Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • She leans rather heavily on the instructions of semantics, particularly in discriminating informational passages from moral ones (here meaning how moral phrases either confirm or distort the actual historical events as written and passed down  for centuries.)

And so how do translations of Sumerian and Akadian tablets diverge from the much later versions of these events as written in Hebrew? Without reproducing Hardy’s tale altogether, Eve and Adam grew beyond simple vassal status to the so-called gods (the Annunaki) to gain self-reflection and -determination, which threatened the status of the gods. This instead of being tempted by Satan to commit evil – a much later distortion of the Sumerian/Akadian writings on this subject.

And the story of Lot in the later texts, when examined through the lenses of semantics and logic, bears little representation of a real life situation. First, in the oldest texts, the primary “god” Enlil, sought to destroy all of humanity because he considered humanity a failed experiment (with some weight given to the idea that human self-determination threatened his status and enraged him personally.) Depictions of the Annunaki in these texts awarded them no cause for concern over the moral questions later Hebrew texts used as a rationale for destroying this embryonic civilization. A war of the kings ensued, fully documented on some thousands of translated tablets. Enlil, victorious, now had the elbow room to destroy humanity from Palestine to western India. Geologic and archaeological investigations throughout this area found radioactive skeleton fragments and vitrified rock, indicating the possibility of weaponry from the gods with the potency of our modern nuclear bombs, rockets, etc. A simple example of later versions of Lot’s story’s questionable events: If God told Lot’s family not to look back, because if they did, they’d be turned to salt, then who looked back to note the nature of Sarah’s demise? How was this possible, anyway? Was this person also turned to salt? Or was this simply an assumption of her death because she fell behind and disappeared? The Sumerian texts claim she fell far behind and was vaporized in the weaponry explosions.

The story here is one of this poor, huddled mass of humans, including Adam and Eve, as pawns in an epic conflict between Enlil and another of the Annunaki, Enki, who had in fact done the DNA tinkering that gave humanity the possibility of accelerated evolution. Enki, perceiving humanity’s possibilities as a race, sought to preserve them, while Enlil sought to destroy what he considered a failed experiment.

Seen in this light, if there be a thread of truth through the Sumerian and Akadian texts and their subsequent translations, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Enki archetype, whomever might personify the archetype, for preserving a fragile, new race of creatures. This despite the paradox of war and destruction no doubt built into human DNA along with its preservation and protection.

My rating: 16 of 20 stars

 

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A Pittance For Your Soul, Mister?

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In browsing through the latest copy of Writer’s Chronicle magazine  my thumbing stopped on an interview with famed writer and writing teacher, Ursula K. Le Guin. I usually pass over interviews because they’re normally about the struggles of writers embedded in academia or some such, and they’re usually parroting the same stuff . As in “if you’ve read one interview, you’ve read them all.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Occasionally, though, some bon mot within such an interview pops out that affects the way I see my own writing, and I read it over and over trying to get a grasp on its kaleidoscopic effect. I decided to read this interview in toto, since Ms. Le Guin has much to say about writing in general. part-way through, this rather opinionated statement stop out:

A fear of using the imagination is very deep in America.

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Interesting, I thought, and quite true. How many times have I been in conversation about one of my books – or another’s – when my conversation partner says ,”Oh, I don’t read fiction.” “Oh?” I reply. A nod from the other. “And why’s that?” “I don’t know, really. I guess I’m more comfortable with what’s actually happened rather than some made-up thing.” I consider telling the other how much is gained from such speculative voyages, that the second prime objective (No, make that the prime objective) of fiction is to inform. And so we concoct a tale full of symbolism that, along with it’s superficially entertaining impact, tells us so much by extreme characterizations and storylines.

But then what is real these days?  We’re constantly faced with “fake news,” as part of our political lives, and in any case memory is no longer considered an accurate reproducer of what has gone on before. “Reality TV” is considered the supplanter of sitcoms and drama on the idiot box, even though nearly everyone knows that on several levels such reality shows are contrived, managed, and in very few ways are they representative of anything real. This has created the most famous “reality star” in the person of our current president, a person who is so adept at managing his image that neither he nor his supporters seem aware of the dividing line between the real and contrived image.

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The irony here, I think, is that we’ve grown cynical for perhaps extraneous reasons, and cynicism has shaped a general belief that nothing real underpins much of our existence anymore. Marriage? That’s just something we can step into with one foot dangling outside in order to make it easier to escape when we can no longer “dig it.” Technology? A postmodern tool for creating mirror images of what’s real, one we feel secure in wallowing in. Hence we e-mail instead of phoning; we text instead of talking. Death? Yes, that seems real enough, and we do fear it, indeed. Patients with terminal cancer will beg for treatments that remove vestiges of an individuals’ life quality in exchange for another three months of evading death.

So, yes, we fear our imagination, I think, precisely because it’s the avenue to something our lives touch into that’s not only real but enduring. Imagination has given us so much in our quest to be complete in our humanity, only to be eschewed now in that same endeavor. Imagine if you will a state of evolution in which we have virtually everything at our touch to manage our human functions, but a state in which we have no idea of how these things came to be and no idea that we may exchange them for the blood, sweat, and sleeplessness that would give us freedom from them.

What Ms. Le Guin is saying, in essence, is that we’ve exchanged bits of our souls for ephemerality. And that’s a very sad state of affairs.

 

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The Age of the iPod is Over/The Verge

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Time and technology march on, leaving us with drawers full of antiquated gadgets. Still, this is important news for readers and book marketers. The world is all about mobility now, mobile devices that can do more and more. Soon you’ll be able to read books, watch streaming TV and movies, in your car (don’t do this if you’re driving), read books, listen to audio books – all on a single, chosen mobile device.

The Verge

 

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Of Lists and Being Seduced by Technology

The Atlantic, November 2013

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There are many ways to reconsider a year that’s nearly at its end, and The Atlantic makes a unique stab at it this month by using this the Technology Issue to consider the 50 greatest inventions since the wheel. It might be fun to make your own list and compare, but here are a couple of hints: the Internet isn’t #1 and neither is the personal computer. So scratch your head with this poser and have fun.

Bookending this listing is Nicole Allan’s “The Inventors.” The interesting thing here is not various simple widgets invented, or even the more complex ones, such as the airplane or the PC. Instead we find in this list corporate twists to invention, such as Amazon.com and Minecraft.

Since the Internet version of this mag is drifting toward Power Point type displays, Joe Pinsker’s “Die Another Day” chart only follows. In it we discover that over the past century and a half, U.S. life expectancy has almost doubled. How? Take a look at the diseases prominent in each decade.

There’s also an apocalyptic article by Nicholas Carr, “The Great Forgetting,” which reminds us of how dependent we’re becoming on our various technologies.

With the emphasis here on technology, the editors seemed to find it necessary to do some serious grounding and give us Robert Wright’s article, “Why We Fight – and Can We Stop?” In this article, easily the issue’s most provocative, we come to understand that human emotions are eclipsing reason to a greater degree than since the Enlightenment, with a consequent assemblage of neo-tribes based in their members’ emotional components to underscore the point.

This issue gives us yet one more reason to believe that The Atlantic will be around for quite a while yet.

 

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Unvarnished Journalism in Random Order

The Unwinding – An Inner History of The New America, by George Packer

 

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I came by this book via a serendipitous path, and it’s proven quite a gift. Anyone who hasn’t been living underneath a rock for the past two decades understands that the U.S. – and possibly the world – is undergoing remarkable social and economic change. Still, only a few, I suspect, know why this is happening and how it’s impacting the U.S. citizenry, the nation’s economic machine, and what the ensuing social ills have been. I thought I was perhaps one of these few who were in the know, but Packer’s extensive reportage here informs me that I, like most other concerned citizens, knew little of this  metamorphic time.

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His approach to understanding this era is to portray an assortment of lives in non-linear fashion – the rich, the famous, the struggling, and others like Packer, who are simply trying to understand. Why such an approach? Because, Packer seems to believe, the unwinding, as he calls it, has no clear beginning, and it has many causes. Consequently, its innate complexity makes it all the more difficult to assess and assimilate, on all levels, the economic, the political, the technological, the social, the military…and on and on.

Packer seems apocalyptic at times here, but he’s even-handed enough to leave us with a glimmer of hope. This, I think, is the case with all metamorphic eras: for those who fear change, there’s something of a self-imposed apocalypse, but for those who flex into change, there’s always a speck of promise looming.

 

My rating 19 of 20 stars

 

 

Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.

 

A Few Thoughts on The Difficulties of Being a Writer Today

 

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Book appearances are coming for my writer’s group (it’s more than just a mutual interest in writing): the True North Writers and Publishers Cooperative. After our initial defining and organizing efforts, we decided to send up some trial balloons to see just what the pressure points are in writing, publishing, and marketing. And so this summer our first foray will be these book appearances, and we’re going at it like the business venture we are. We’re making scheduled appearances in August and September, so if you’re interested in the where and “what-about,” let me know by responding to this post.

Which brings up the subject of what to talk about at book and writer-related gatherings. We’ll be appearing primarily in North Carolina, and our first talks will be about (besides our books) our relationships with dear friend and mentor, esteemed writer and writing teacher, Doris Betts, who we’re sad to report died about a year ago. And in another part of the state we plan to talk about genre – or the blurring of such lines – even, dare we say, the irrelevance of genre to writers.

There are other topics that will come up in appearances. I recently attended one writer meet-up – on a topic I would’ve loved to have spoken on myself: the new world of publishing, how self-publishing fits into that, how the Internet and e-books, e-readers, etc are affecting writing and publishing. The person who made this presentation did a most capable talk and kept writers on the edge of their seats with dry wit and layers upon layer of useful information.

But the one topic that grinds on writers’ nerves seems to be the nature of how to write.I recently made a talk to a writer’s group and tried to work my way into a mutual conversation on what works, what doesn’t work, in creative writing, whether short or long fiction, essays or nonfiction book or memoir. What was the response? Blank stares. Smug smiles. And one writer who wanted to bloviate on how many copies he’d sold of the one book he’d written.

So, given the fascination with famous writers, the lure of DIY writing and publishing, the tug of writing and publishing technology, what’s the proof of the pudding regarding quality writing? Certainly not in resistant-to-writerly-growth writers’ groups. Not in immersing oneself in technological publishing and marketing. And not in hitching your  wagon to the latest trend in genre writing. Whatever you write, the proof lies in what we at True North call the long haul. Meaning constant commitment to growth as a writer, to a slow but sure amassing of discriminating readers, a perhaps even slower collection of writers dedicated to writerly growth, and (this is the one area that comes spontaneously from within) a personal willingness to be open to something new, something that the publishing industry may find hard to understand or assimilate. The trap here is in resisting ideology, religion, a yearning for the past, anger at the present, fear of the future – – unless these can be written about objectively, without too large a dose of bias, and unless such topics can be written about in a rather universal way, applying to all, regardless of proclivity or emotional state.

Seen this way, it’s not surprising that many writers – and writer’s groups – allow themselves to be corralled by ego, belief structure, self-satisfaction in some state of personal stasis. We’re all susceptible to such things. But those of us who are willing to push those limitations aside and allow REAL stories to emerge are the ones who may just be the remembered and emulated writers of a difficult era.

 

Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place: Stories, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.

Living Breathing, In-depth Journalism

This month’s abbreviated magazine week showcase begins here:

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The Atlantic, January/February 2013

Sometimes New Years’ resolutions really amount to something more than good intentions and, given that The Atlantic actualizes such intentions at the start of 2013, this issue gladdens me. It’s a return to in-depth reportage on a number off fronts. There’s a lot here that’s worthy of reading here, but let me hit the high points.

How is anesthesia use connected to consciousness? Read “Awakening,” by Joshua Lang. There’s been a long-held opinion, counter to classical philosophy, that consciousness is somehow a product of the brain and neural apparatuses, that consciousness goes away, more or less altogether, under the influence of anesthesia.. This opinion, however, is proving a slippery slope, and the chase to identify consciousness goes on. And on.

Are you breathing a sigh of relief, now that the banking industry has been saved  and that the Dodd-Frank law promises to bring modernized regulation to the banking industry? Maybe you shouldn’t. In a collaborative article by Frank Partnoy and Jesse Eisinger, “What’s Inside America’s Banks,” we discover that many (almost all?) of modern banking transactions are so hard to qualify and quantify that no amount of analysis can assess a bank’s health. This is true particularly in assessing the degree of risk taken on in, for instance, derivative transactions.

Most of us know enough about late-twentieth century politics to smile smugly as we talk about the U.S.’s face-down of the U.S.S.R., which ended the Cuban missile crisis. Some of us even talk about the particulars of the tradeoff – the Cuban missiles for relatively meaningless U.S. missiles in Turkey and Italy. But Benjamin Schwartz’s article, “The Real Cuban Missile Crisis,” draws on a trove of information made public since 1997 to paint a much different picture of this pivotal moment in international relations.

As I wrote above, there’s much more, and if you’re looking to home-school yourself on one dismal winter day, you should pick up this issue and read it cover to cover.

 

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