Overlap in Prey / Neanderthal, Hyena

_45464284_neander_sites466x268
Comparison of Neanderthal and Hyena as “top predators”.

Isotopic evidence for diet and subsistence pattern of the Saint-Césaire I Neanderthal: review and use of a multi-source mixing model.

Author information

  • 1Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution, UMR 5554, Université Montpellier 2, Place E. Bataillon, F-34095 Montpellier cedex 05, France. bocheren@isem.univ-montp2.fr

Abstract

The carbon and nitrogen isotopic abundances of the collagen extracted from the Saint-Césaire I Neanderthal have been used to infer the dietary behaviour of this specimen. A review of previously published Neanderthal collagen isotopic signatures with the addition of 3 new collagen isotopic signatures from specimens from Les Pradelles allows us to compare the dietary habits of 5 Neanderthal specimens from OIS 3 and one specimen from OIS 5c.

This comparison points to a trophic position as top predator in an open environment, with little variation through time and space. In addition, a comparison of the Saint-Césaire I Neanderthal with contemporaneous hyaenas has been performed using a multi-source mixing model, modified from Phillips and Gregg (2003, Oecologia 127, 171). It appears that the isotopic differences between the Neanderthal specimen and hyaenas can be accounted for by much lower amounts of reindeer and much higher amounts of woolly rhinoceros and woolly mammoth in the dietary input of the Neanderthal specimen than in that of hyaenas, with relatively similar contributions of bovinae, large deer and horse for both predators, a conclusion consistent with the zooarchaeological data. The high proportion of very large herbivores, such as woolly rhinoceros and woolly mammoth, in Neanderthal’s diet compare to that of the scavenging hyaenas suggests that Neanderthals could not acquire these prey through scavenging. They probably had to hunt for proboscideans and rhinoceros. Such a prey selection could result from a long lasting dietary tradition in Europe.

PMID:
15869783

_________________________________________________________________________________________

(Below: Not the Saint-Cesaire 1 specimen) “Mystery” Neanderthal species allows artists to speculate on the “reality” of multiple human types. There is no satisfactory evidence of blue eyes in Neanderthal.

neanderthal female reconstruction, viktor deak

Neanderthal female reconstruction, Viktor Deak

reconstruction of the La Chapelle aux Saints Neanderthal, by Fabio Fogliazza

reconstruction of the La Chapelle aux Saints Neanderthal, by Fabio Fogliazza 2

reconstruction of the La Chapelle aux Saints Neanderthal, by Fabio Fogliazza 2

Advertisements

Infant Synesthesia / A Developmental Stage

No, synesthesia is not a symptom of disorder, but it is a developmental phenomenon. In fact, several researchers have shown that synesthetes can perform better on certain tests of memory and intelligence. Synesthetes as a group are not mentally ill. They test negative on scales that check for schizophrenia, psychosis, delusions, and other disorders.

Synesthesia Project | FAQ – Boston University

________________________________________________________________

What if some symptoms “assigned” by psychologists to Asperger’s Disorder and autism are merely manifestations of synesthesia?

“A friend of mine recently wrote, ‘My daughter just explained to me that she is a picky eater because foods (and other things) taste like colors and sometimes she doesn’t want to eat that color. Is this a form of synesthesia?’ Yes, it is.” – Karen Wang

We see in this graphic how synesthesia is labeled a “defect” that is “eradicated” by normal development (literally “pruned out”). People who retain types of integrated sensory experience are often artists, musicians, and other sensory innovators (like chefs, interior designers, architects, writers and other artists) So, those who characterize “synthesia” as a developmental defect are labeling those individuals who greatly enrich millions of human lives as “defectives”. – Psychology pathologizes the most admired and treasured creative human behavior.

No touching allowed! Once “sensory” categories have been labeled and isolated to locations in the brain, no “talking to” each other is allowed. The fact that this is a totally “unreal” scheme is ignored. Without smell, there IS NO taste…

________________________________________________________________

Infants Possess Intermingled Senses

Babies are born with their senses linked in synesthesia

originally published as “Infant Kandinskys”

What if every visit to the museum was the equivalent of spending time at the philharmonic? For painter Wassily Kandinsky, that was the experience of painting: colors triggered sounds. Now a study from the University of California, San Diego, suggests that we are all born synesthetes like Kandinsky, with senses so joined that stimulating one reliably stimulates another.

The work, published in the August issue of Psychological Science, has become the first experimental confir­mation of the infant-synesthesia hy­pothesis—which has existed, unproved, for almost 20 years.

Researchers presented infantsand adults with images of repeating shapes (either circles or triangles) on a split-color background: one side was red or blue, and the other side was yellow or green. If the infants had shape-color asso­ciations, the scientists hypoth­esized, the shapes would affect their color preferences. For in­stance, some infants might look significantly longer at a green back­ground with circles than at the same green background with triangles. Absent synesthesia, no such dif­ference would be visible.

The study confirmed this hunch. Infants who were two and three months old showed significant shape-color associations. By eight months the preference was no longer pronounced, and in adults it was gone altogether.

The more important implications of this work may lie beyond synesthesia, says lead author Katie Wagner, a psychologist at U.C.S.D. The finding provides insight into how babies learn about the world more generally. “In­fants may perceive the world in a way that’s fundamentally different from adults,” Wagner says. As we age, she adds, we narrow our focus, perhaps gaining an edge in cognitive speed as the sensory symphony quiets down. (Sensory “thinking” is replaced by social-verbal thinking)

(Note: The switch to word-concept language dominance means that modern social humans LOOSE the appreciation of “connectedness” in the environment – connectedness becomes limited to human-human social “reality” The practice of chopping up of reality into isolated categories (word concepts) diminishes detail and erases the connections that link detail into patterns. Hyper-social thinking is a “diminished” state of perception characteristic of neurotypicals)

This article was originally published with the title “Infant Kandinskys”
________________________________________________________

GREAT WEBSITE!!!

The Brain from Top to Bottom

thebrain.mcgill.ca/

McGill University
Explore topics such as emotion, language, and the senses at five levels of organization (from molecular to social) and three levels of explanation (from beginner … advanced)

Depictions of Mammoths before and after sufficient evidence was found

I kind of wish that such a ridiculous beast actually existed – rather charming, even if preposterous.  

Copy of an interpretation of the “Adams mammoth” carcass from around 1800, with Johann Friedrich Blumenbach‘s handwriting

Remains of various extinct elephants were known by Europeans for centuries, but were generally interpreted, based on biblical accounts, as the remains of legendary creatures such as behemoths or giants. It was also theorised that they were remains of modern elephants that had been brought to Europe during the Roman Republic, for example the war elephants of Hannibal and Pyrrhus of Epirus, or animals that had wandered north. The first woolly mammoth remains studied by European scientists were examined by Hans Sloane in 1728 and consisted of fossilised teeth and tusks from Siberia. Sloane was the first to recognise that the remains belonged to elephants.

Sloane turned to another biblical explanation for the presence of elephants in the Arctic, asserting that they had been buried during the Great Flood, and that Siberia had previously been tropical prior to a drastic climate change. Others interpreted Sloane’s conclusion slightly differently, arguing the flood had carried elephants from the Tropics to the Arctic. Sloane’s paper was based on travellers’ descriptions and a few scattered bones collected in Siberia and Britain. He discussed the question of whether or not the remains were from elephants, but drew no conclusions. In 1738, the German zoologist Johann Philipp Breyne argued that mammoth fossils represented some kind of elephant. He could not explain why a tropical animal would be found in such a cold area as Siberia, and suggested that they might have been transported there by the Great Flood. In 1796, the French anatomist Georges Cuvier was the first to identify the woolly mammoth remains not as modern elephants transported to the Arctic, but as an entirely new species. He argued this species had gone extinct and no longer existed, a concept that was not widely accepted at the time.

When excavated, this mammoth was almost intact and retained skin, muscles, and innards. It was found in 1900 at the Berezovka River, a tributary of the Kolyma.
see also: http://www.donsmaps.com/bcmammoth.html

Mummified Steppe Bison from 43,000 ya during a warm period, Kenai Peninsula. Displayed at University of Alaska Museum of the North

http://peninsulaclarion.com/outdoors/2012-12-06/refuge-notebook-bison-in-our-back-yard

Prose Archives / Trip to Mormonville

Babes in a Mazda

My friend’s new car was scheduled to have warranty work done at a dealership in Salt Lake City, so he fetched me at 8:30 a.m., Saturday. I brought a heavy jacket and hiking boots, a bottle of water, and two bananas. What if we got stuck and had to walk for help or wait in the car? Not so paranoid a proposition. While driving over to SLC the previous month to buy a new vehicle, my friend’s old Mazda conked out in the middle of nowhere. A passer-by picked him up, fed him lunch, and called a relative to come out of the city and get him. In exchange for the conked out car and a quick bill of sale, the relative delivered him at the dealership in time to purchase a new vehicle, the very one already scheduled for warranty work.

The driving was easy, the skies clear across our high basin, snow hiding pimples of sage as efficiently as liquid painting medium, the barest features sketched in with thin blue wash, the artist having walked away for a moment, or forever, leaving an unfinished landscape on the easel.

This was actually our second attempt on Salt Lake City: the previous Saturday we were stopped by a dense fog that wouldn’t budge, despite our complaints that it ought to, so we bailed out at the first and only opportunity, an outpost called Little America, its windbreak of black pines something to see within the grounded white clouds, the outpost’s colonial buildings an oddity in terra Wyoming. My friend and I marveled once again at one man’s conceit that what the Wyoming wasteland needed was a cartoon village. Our immediate goal was breakfast in the big dining room, where travelers are fed and watered like teams of oxen being fortified to cross the Great American Desert.

A couple from town happened to take the adjacent table; there were no other patrons. The four of us speculated on travel forward, their determination to drive on settled by a previous life-threatening blizzard, years ago, which led them to the novel survival strategy of never turning back, no matter what. My friend and I concurred that the weather would / might clear between here and SLC, but a part of the excitement of a road trip for stir crazy villagers like us, is letting our eyeballs loose on new stretches of countryside. And, should the dangerous fog persist, the remaining 145 miles into Salt Lake City might prove more stressful than our nerves would tolerate, so we returned home.

We departed again yesterday in my friend’s new car, shooting for an 11 a.m. slot at the Mazda dealership in Salt Lake City. A mundane trip, except that I rarely leave our high and dry province; scantily populated by a huddle of humanity that is notable for a lack of dynamism. The two towns that make up civilization in the desert of southwest Wyoming are like a binary star system that has a chronic lack of mass, therefore never gets spinning.

My friend’s car plummeted through a gap in the Wasatch Range, literally falling into the neighborhood of the Great Salt Lake and onto the streets of Salt Lake City – a stunning transition on a clear day, but a noxious wedge of pollution seemed to have no limit and it fouled the Promised Land and its promise of urban adventure. The smog, or crud, or yellow breath of God, who perhaps, now and then, takes up cigar smoking in order to annoy certain people, blanked out city and suburb alike. Objects just feet from the road were mysterious and unidentifiable.

The auto dealership, our primary destination, was as fresh as the architect’s final check. High-class coffee perked in a high-style coffee pot. Cooking videos cycling on a flat screen TV featured a pair of chatty chefs, one of whom prodded a plate of chicken parts in a somewhat predatory and sexual way, which bugged me.

“I wouldn’t eat anything prepared by a person who touches food that way,” I told my friend. He was seated on a heavy chrome stool, sorting magazines in the light of stylish overhead purple glass fixtures.

“Is that a Martha Stewart magazine?” he asked, motioning for me to pass it along. Ninety-two minutes passed pleasantly, without the smell of exhaust, boredom of torn auto parts catalogs and girly magazines.

Sealed inside the silver Mazda, we vanished into the noxious city, past an abandoned fast food site that had been taken over by an ethnic restaurant, displaying a practical succession of occupants reminiscent of a coral reef, whose creatures find new homes in discarded shells or vacated crannies.

“Jeez, this place is a pain. Can you figure out where we’re supposed to turn? I think I missed it.”

Rural persons like my friend feel that traffic signs, lights, and street markings are inimical to a happy life. I agree. My side of town used to have two stoplights, but the city sensibly disabled one of them because it was a nuisance.

“Make a U-turn,” I said.

“Don’t think I can do that,” he said, examining the rearview mirror.

“You know, if Salt Lake City was in Wyoming, the wind would blow the crap out of here in ten minutes.”

Lunch at a Greek Restaurant might have supplied an end to our growing disappointment, but our griping merely escalated. “Taste this soup,” I said. “It’s weird, like a bottle of vinegar got knocked into the pot.”

And inside a “big” store that supposedly carried the type of ceramic tile I had come all this way to buy, I said, “What good is a city if you can’t buy what you can’t get at home?”

We left for Wyoming hours earlier than expected with plenty of spending money still stuck in our pockets. At Park City, Utah, the rays of the setting sun colored clear skies. From there it was a short, happy shot across the Wyoming border, then home, following a final stop for snacks at a “restaurant.” The truckers lounging inside looked like 5th Century Goths waiting for the right moment to sacking Salt Lake City or to retreat to Cheyenne. I could have been mistaken. The people of the good ol’ United States look a bit rough these days, but I did feel like the rough stock regarded me as a barbarian hooker as I strolled innocently outside the café.

I offered to drive the rest of the way, powering the Mazda through a crumbly gray stretch of lonesomeness that improves once night has fallen black and complete.

“If we were in my truck we wouldn’t be able to hear each other talk and our butts would hurt,” I said.

“That’s why I bought a nice car this time. Every Joe in Wyoming drives a truck.”

Little America came and went as a nest of lights in the dark universe, the product of a distant aesthetic blending the cultures of Antarctica and Connecticut, an alien venture that has added so much to the impoverished Wyoming experience. The Mazda chased and passed trucks through the early winter night until we were home.

Bonus blip:

Six years ago, my friend was called on to make an emergency delivery to the Salt Lake City airport. I tagged along. A group of local high school students was poised to fly to Germany for the summer and one girl had actually forgotten her passport. We made the 185-mile distance, plus a sprint through the facility, in time to see all twenty-seven teenagers board their plane. I bumped into one of those students recently, now  married and all grown up. She disclosed that thanks to that trip to Germany, she had lost any desire to ever leave Wyoming again.

 

Mormonville; unhealthy for living things.

When one thinks of the West they typically imagine mountains, trees and no pollution. However, Salt Lake City has become one of the worst places in America to breath the air according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to the Wyoming EPA, there are no advisories in the state concerning air quality. (No need.)

 

History as Literature / Lewis Mumford The City…

THE CITY IN HISTORY

Lewis Mumford / Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1961

“Mid the wanderings of Paleolithic man, the dead were the first to have a permanent dwelling: a cavern, a mound marked by a cairn, a collective barrow.”

“The city of the dead antedates the city of the living. In one sense indeed, the city of the dead is the forerunner, almost the core, of every city. Urban life spans the historic space between the earliest burial ground for dawn man and the final cemetery, the necropolis, in which one civilization after another, has met its end.”

______________________________

No computer replacement yet; I’m at the library, frustrated! My “vacation” from blogging will not do. I must blog!

Anyway: I’ve been going through piles of books to “dispense with” and reacquainting myself with the small stack of those which I return to again and again for inspiration and reference, and vitally, the handful of ideas that set me off on a journey many years ago toward understanding human behavior (which as an Asperger, is/was a critical topic. It is my hypothesis that Asperger types have a hyposocial, visually-based brain organization that “resembles” that of pre-social “Wild” Homo sapiens.)

The giant effort, The City in History, by Lewis Mumford, is one of those books. I have never read all 576 pages of exhaustive details; the quote above occurs near the beginning, and “struck me” immediately with its importance to modern human destiny; not predestined destiny, but the path of human civilization as it has played out over the previous 10-15,000 years of humans becoming domestic “urban” humans, a distinction that has become more “real” to me as I have explored this “thing” called Asperger’s.

Modern social destiny, and the “type” Homo sapiens that created it, (and whom continues to be created by hypersocial environments), was not a collective direction decided upon by “mankind” but the result of individuals pursuing survival. Climatic change and other natural geologic processes forced the dependence on agriculture and sedentary life; the “idea” of controlling nature must have seemed to be a great and victorious reality at the time, which could only be “good”. This quest remains the central “self-glorification” of modern techno-social humans, but from this one step, disaster has followed.

Mumford’s book is filled with the grandiose “narrative” that archaeologists and anthropologists envy – (frustrated novelists that they are.) Historians are free to “do this” – history has always been a scheme of cultural focus; mythology with either a few facts, or a deluge, added to “support” the myth. Our mistake is in thinking that mythology is “false” and has no value, and that history must be “scientific” – which it is not. It is literature that serves to remind us of the hundreds of millions of lives that have been lived, and great writers like Mumford remind us that “we are not IT” – that is, the supreme and intelligent species that fulfills some imaginary “historical” evolutionary destiny, but instead, our behavior shows us to be one more repetition of the necropolis stage of civilization.

To be, or not to be, labeled Asperger

 

It is claimed that Asperger individuals resist change, but as usual, this is an assumption on the part of neurotypicals; an assumption that lacks nuance, sensitivity and understanding of what is actually going on “inside” an Asperger. My life has been one of extreme changes, both desired and imposed by the world of man. Both types of change can be disruptive or productive; the option that makes sense is to work at the problem and not to worry over how these things happen. Life is a tragedy from the “get go” – a circumstance that neurotypicals work diligently to deny. The challenge for every organism is survival, but for humans there is a “bonus” question: How shall one live with the knowledge of personal extinction?

To count on an afterlife is to cheat: there exists only one life that is “yours” and whatever any social person claims, it’s yours and yours alone.

The basic element here is the “illusion” that there is safety in numbers – that somehow, like anchovies or flocks of birds, sheer numbers will keep death at bay. Let “bad luck” pick off the weak, the stragglers, the old and the sick.

“That’s not me!” we tell ourselves, and our friends; our workplace group, our economic group, our educational group: the world could surely not do without us! We’re headed for a nice safe perch at the top of the pyramid. Look how attractive I am; surely, with every trendy purchase, I am building my immortality. My apartment or house, it’s furnishings – my car and my wardrobe, the entire assemblage of “who I am” guarantees exemption from that vague cosmic “creator” who chooses whom to strike down, and who will be awarded entry into the top spot on the pyramid: Paradise.

Burial rites are of interest to most humans: this may be skewed by the fact that graves are often the only source for real objects and can satisfy curiosity about “who we are and how did we get here?” Digging up bones and pondering skulls takes on a weird desperation: owning the bones equals owning the power of that “person” – sacred relics draw humans to them with social magnetism; objects that “touched” a person, or were part of their body, retain contagious magic power. This illusion can become quite gruesome and fuels mass death in religious and ideological warfare.

Auction houses all over the “civilized” social world benefit from selling off the many layers of status (an estate) that buyers want for themselves; a type of “grave robbing” that is socially acceptable – and indeed, transfers instant status, without it being earned. This is a very ancient human practice: a “poacher” of grave goods who acts on economic motive is a criminal; an institution which utilizes those objects to raise money is not. Institutions collect “status” like any other group; donors both impart and gain status by means of “generosity” – that magical act of penance that is the required social gesture for having “hogged” the resources of industry and culture.

The “shopping” culture can be viewed as a continuation of the quest for “status” acquired by having abundant grave goods; in ancient graves these objects are often necessary tools that the person would need in the afterlife. The afterlife is concrete: a definite place where life goes on just as it is, here and now.

Neuorotypicals maintain that their lives are “blessed” by magic: in the U.S. this overwhelmingly means God or Jesus; saints, spirits and all manner of lucky charms and technical gadgets. Corporate brands become secular religious cults; corporations are  representatives on earth of a Cosmic Great Mind, a consciousness that behind the scenes, is creating mankind’s Future. Participation in this pyramid scheme is easy: BELIEVE in us; buy our products and join the “chosen ones” in a race to immortality. Whatever the form, it’s  the same childhood terror that arises from having to please  Big People, who have the power over us of life and death: Parents.

I have stopped contemplating choices for some time; as one ages, what I would consider optimum rarely matches what is possible. Letting go of desire, or “the Will” to “make things happen” is pushed aside in favor of passive thinking; quick decisions and satisfying resolutions fade away; images arise from a dimension without time, free of the idea of progress, forward motion, schedules, or even conscious deliberation. Pictures float into awareness like deep sea creatures ascending the water column to feed at the surface. Inevitably, one or more of these pictures will “feel” right, but will usually not agree with reason. It’s then up to the intellect to “decide.”

After 66 years this process has never changed; it tends to infuriate some neurotypicals because they already “know” what to do: follow the crowd. Just do what “everyone” does. The Big Guy is in control; he has a reason for everything that he does, even if no one ever knows what his reasons are, it’s “all for the best.”

What I have accepted is that whether or not I’m labeled Asperger, that label is irrelevant to how I perceive human existence.

“What happens” devolves from my choices in response to “whatever comes my way.” No supernatural baby-sitter is going to rescue “my ass” if I mess up. That’s the difference in how this Asperger responds to change. It’s simply the difference between obeying outside control and thinking about inner responses –

Have I changed; yes.

Have I changed? Yes. Has it been easy? No.

Cave Art in Indonesia as old as in Europe / 39,000 ya

Gee Whiz! Could it be that Archaic Humans, including H. erectus, H. neanderthalensis and H. sapiens, were visual thinkers?

just-the-facts

Eurocentric Archaeology and Anthropology take a hit:

Pleistocene cave art from Sulawesi, Indonesia

Aubert1, 2, 9, A. Brumm1, 10, 9, M. Ramli3, T. Sutikna1, 4, E. W. Saptomo4, B. Hakim5, .  Morwood11, G. D. van den Bergh1, L. Kinsley6, A. Dosseto7, 8,

Nature / Volume: 514; October 2014
Archaeologists have long been puzzled by the appearance in Europe ~40–35 thousand years (kyr) ago of a rich corpus of sophisticated artworks, including parietal art (that is, paintings, drawings and engravings on immobile rock surfaces)1, 2 and portable art (for example, carved figurines)3, 4, and the absence or scarcity of equivalent, well-dated evidence elsewhere, especially along early human migration routes in South Asia and the Far East, including Wallacea and Australia5, 6, 7, 8, where modern humans (Homo sapiens) were established by 50 kyr ago9, 10. Here, using uranium-series dating of coralloid speleothems directly associated with 12 human hand stencils and two figurative animal depictions from seven cave sites in the Maros karsts of Sulawesi, we show that rock art traditions on this Indonesian island are at least compatible in age with the oldest European art11. The earliest dated image from Maros, with a minimum age of 39.9 kyr, is now the oldest known hand stencil in the world. In addition, a painting of a babirusa (‘pig-deer’) made at least 35.4 kyr ago is among the earliest dated figurative depictions worldwide, if not the earliest one. Among the implications, it can now be demonstrated that humans were producing rock art by ~40 kyr ago at opposite ends of the Pleistocene Eurasian world.
_______________________________________________________________________________________

“Ancient cave drawings found in Indonesia show that early Europeans weren’t the only ones creating art. Known as the Sulawesi paintings, the prehistoric images were discovered some years ago inside limestone caves in Indonesia’s Maros and Pangkep regions. The drawings, which include depictions of animals and hand stencils created by spraying red pigment on to the rock face, have been analyzed using sophisticated new dating techniques and are now believed to date back at least 40,000 years. The discovery is particularly important because it shows that primitive forms of artistic expression were not exclusive to the people living in Europe at the time.”

“Cave painting and related forms of artistic expression were most likely part of the cultural traditions of the first modern humans to spread out of Africa and into Asia and Australia, long before they reached Europe,” said study co-author Adam Brunn. – See more at: http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/news/273448/indonesia-rock-art-dates-back-40000-years#sthash.drHN9iFa.dpuf

___________________________________________________________________________________________

“Until now, we’ve always believed that cave painting was part of a suite of complex symbolic behavior that humans invented in Europe,” says archaeologist Alistair Pike of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. “This is actually showing that it’s highly unlikely that the origin of painting caves was in Europe.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________

“What this suggests is that this whole ability to make these things and possibly the tradition of making them is part of the cultural repertoire of the people who left Africa. ” Alison Brooks, archaeologist, George Washington University

A Favorite Childhood Story / The Original Ugly Duckling

Contrary to the Dogma of psychology, empathy is rare in human beings, And is not normal. AS A Neuro-complex child, this story Helped to free me From pain inflicted by social humans. Empathy and clarity are found in artists, not in Psychologists. Any parent who has a child who is Exceptional, Please read them this story.  
The Hans Christian Andersen Center il_340x270_704940769_dt0z

The Ugly Duckling

It was so beautiful out on the country, it was summer- the wheat fields were golden, the oats were green, and down among the green meadows the hay was stacked. There the stork minced about on his red legs, clacking away in Egyptian, which was the language his mother had taught him. Round about the field and meadow lands rose vast forests, in which deep lakes lay hidden. Yes, it was indeed lovely out there in the country.

In the midst of the sunshine there stood an old manor house that had a deep moat around it. From the walls of the manor right down to the water’s edge great burdock leaves grew, and there were some so tall that little children could stand upright beneath the biggest of them. In this wilderness of leaves, which was as dense as the forests itself, a duck sat on her nest, hatching her ducklings. She was becoming somewhat weary, because sitting is such a dull business and scarcely anyone came to see her. The other ducks would much rather swim in the moat than waddle out and squat under the burdock leaf to gossip with her.

But at last the eggshells began to crack, one after another. “Peep, peep!” said the little things, as they came to life and poked out their heads.

“Quack, quack!” said the duck, and quick as quick can be they all waddled out to have a look at the green world under the leaves. Their mother let them look as much as they pleased, because green is good for the eyes.

“How wide the world is,” said all the young ducks, for they certainly had much more room now than they had when they were in their eggshells.

“Do you think this is the whole world?” their mother asked. “Why it extends on and on, clear across to the other side of the garden and right on into the parson’s field, though that is further than I have ever been. I do hope you are all hatched,” she said as she got up. “No, not quite all. The biggest egg still lies here. How much longer is this going to take? I am really rather tired of it all,” she said, but she settled back on her nest.

“Well, how goes it?” asked an old duck who came to pay her a call.

“It takes a long time with that one egg,” said the duck on the nest. “It won’t crack, but look at the others. They are the cutest little ducklings I’ve ever seen. They look exactly like their father, the wretch! He hasn’t come to see me at all.”

“Let’s have a look at the egg that won’t crack,” the old duck said. “It’s a turkey egg, and you can take my word for it. I was fooled like that once myself. What trouble and care I had with those turkey children, for I may as well tell you, they are afraid of the water. I simply could not get them into it. I quacked and snapped at them, but it wasn’t a bit of use. Let me see the egg. Certainly, it’s a turkey egg. Let it lie, and go teach your other children to swim.”

“Oh, I’ll sit a little longer. I’ve been at it so long already that I may as well sit here half the summer.”

“Suit yourself,” said the old duck, and away she waddled.

At last the big egg did crack. “Peep,” said the young one, and out he tumbled, but he was so big and ugly.

The duck took a look at him. “That’s a frightfully big duckling,” she said. “He doesn’t look the least like the others. Can he really be a turkey baby? Well, well! I’ll soon find out. Into the water he shall go, even if I have to shove him in myself.”

Next day the weather was perfectly splendid, and the sun shone down on all the green burdock leaves. The mother duck led her whole family down to the moat. Splash! she took to the water. “Quack, quack,” said she, and one duckling after another plunged in. The water went over their heads, but they came up in a flash, and floated to perfection. Their legs worked automatically, and they were all there in the water. Even the big, ugly gray one was swimming along.

“Why, that’s no turkey,” she said. “See how nicely he uses his legs, and how straight he holds himself. He’s my very own son after all, and quite good-looking if you look at him properly. Quack, quack come with me. I’ll lead you out into the world and introduce you to the duck yard. But keep close to me so that you won’t get stepped on, and watch out for the cat!”

Thus they sallied into the duck yard, where all was in an uproar because two families were fighting over the head of an eel. But the cat got it, after all.

“You see, that’s the way of the world.” The mother duck licked her bill because she wanted the eel’s head for herself. “Stir your legs. Bustle about, and mind that you bend your necks to that old duck over there. She’s the noblest of us all, and has Spanish blood in her. That’s why she’s so fat. See that red rag around her leg? That’s a wonderful thing, and the highest distinction a duck can get. It shows that they don’t want to lose her, and that she’s to have special attention from man and beast. Shake yourselves! Don’t turn your toes in. A well-bred duckling turns his toes way out, just as his father and mother do-this way. So then! Now duck your necks and say quack!”

They did as she told them, but the other ducks around them looked on and said right out loud, “See here! Must we have this brood too, just as if there weren’t enough of us already? And-fie! what an ugly-looking fellow that duckling is! We won’t stand for him.” One duck charged up and bit his neck.

“Let him alone,” his mother said. “He isn’t doing any harm.”

“Possibly not,” said the duck who bit him, “but he’s too big and strange, and therefore he needs a good whacking.”

“What nice-looking children you have, Mother,” said the old duck with the rag around her leg. “They are all pretty except that one. He didn’t come out so well. It’s a pity you can’t hatch him again.”

“That can’t be managed, your ladyship,” said the mother. “He isn’t so handsome, but he’s as good as can be, and he swims just as well as the rest, or, I should say, even a little better than they do. I hope his looks will improve with age, and after a while he won’t seem so big. He took too long in the egg, and that’s why his figure isn’t all that it should be.” She pinched his neck and preened his feathers. “Moreover, he’s a drake, so it won’t matter so much. I think he will be quite strong, and I’m sure he will amount to something.”

“The other ducklings are pretty enough,” said the old duck. “Now make yourselves right at home, and if you find an eel’s head you may bring it to me.”

So they felt quite at home. But the poor duckling who had been the last one out of his egg, and who looked so ugly, was pecked and pushed about and made fun of by the ducks, and the chickens as well. “He’s too big,” said they all. The turkey gobbler, who thought himself an emperor because he was born wearing spurs, puffed up like a ship under full sail and bore down upon him, gobbling and gobbling until he was red in the face. The poor duckling did not know where he dared stand or where he dared walk. He was so sad because he was so desperately ugly, and because he was the laughing stock of the whole barnyard.

Theo Van Hoytema

Theo Van Hoytema

So it went on the first day, and after that things went from bad to worse. The poor duckling was chased and buffeted about by everyone. Even his own brothers and sisters abused him. “Oh,” they would always say, “how we wish the cat would catch you, you ugly thing.” And his mother said, “How I do wish you were miles away.” The ducks nipped him, and the hens pecked him, and the girl who fed them kicked him with her foot.

So he ran away; and he flew over the fence. The little birds in the bushes darted up in a fright. “That’s because I’m so ugly,” he thought, and closed his eyes, but he ran on just the same until he reached the great marsh where the wild ducks lived. There he lay all night long, weary and disheartened.

When morning came, the wild ducks flew up to have a look at their new companion. “What sort of creature are you?” they asked, as the duckling turned in all directions, bowing his best to them all. “You are terribly ugly,” they told him, “but that’s nothing to us so long as you don’t marry into our family.”

Poor duckling! Marriage certainly had never entered his mind. All he wanted was for them to let him lie among the reeds and drink a little water from the marsh.

There he stayed for two whole days. Then he met two wild geese, or rather wild ganders-for they were males. They had not been out of the shell very long, and that’s what made them so sure of themselves.

“Say there, comrade,” they said, “you’re so ugly that we have taken a fancy to you. Come with us and be a bird of passage. In another marsh near-by, there are some fetching wild geese, all nice young ladies who know how to quack. You are so ugly that you’ll completely turn their heads.”

Bing! Bang! Shots rang in the air, and these two ganders fell dead among the reeds. The water was red with their blood. Bing! Bang! the shots rang, and as whole flocks of wild geese flew up from the reeds another volley crashed. A great hunt was in progress. The hunters lay under cover all around the marsh, and some even perched on branches of trees that overhung the reeds. Blue smoke rose like clouds from the shade of the trees, and drifted far out over the water.

The bird dogs came splash, splash! through the swamp, bending down the reeds and the rushes on every side. This gave the poor duckling such a fright that he twisted his head about to hide it under his wing. But at that very moment a fearfully big dog appeared right beside him. His tongue lolled out of his mouth and his wicked eyes glared horribly. He opened his wide jaws, flashed his sharp teeth, and – splash, splash – on he went without touching the duckling.

“Thank heavens,” he sighed, “I’m so ugly that the dog won’t even bother to bite me.”

He lay perfectly still, while the bullets splattered through the reeds as shot after shot was fired. It was late in the day before things became quiet again, and even then the poor duckling didn’t dare move. He waited several hours before he ventured to look about him, and then he scurried away from that marsh as fast as he could go. He ran across field and meadows. The wind was so strong that he had to struggle to keep his feet.

Late in the evening he came to a miserable little hovel, so ramshackle that it did not know which way to tumble, and that was the only reason it still stood. The wind struck the duckling so hard that the poor little fellow had to sit down on his tail to withstand it. The storm blew stronger and stronger, but the duckling noticed that one hinge had come loose and the door hung so crooked that he could squeeze through the crack into the room, and that’s just what he did.

Here lived an old woman with her cat and her hen. The cat, whom she called “Sonny,” could arch his back, purr, and even make sparks, though for that you had to stroke his fur the wrong way. The hen had short little legs, so she was called “Chickey Shortleg.” She laid good eggs, and the old woman loved her as if she had been her own child.

In the morning they were quick to notice the strange duckling. The cat began to purr, and the hen began to cluck.

“What on earth!” The old woman looked around, but she was short-sighted, and she mistook the duckling for a fat duck that had lost its way. “That was a good catch,” she said. “Now I shall have duck eggs-unless it’s a drake. We must try it out.” So the duckling was tried out for three weeks, but not one egg did he lay.

In this house the cat was master and the hen was mistress. They always said, “We and the world,” for they thought themselves half of the world, and much the better half at that. The duckling thought that there might be more than one way of thinking, but the hen would not hear of it.

“Can you lay eggs?” she asked

“No.”

“Then be so good as to hold your tongue.”

The cat asked, “Can you arch your back, purr, or make sparks?”

“No.”

“Then keep your opinion to yourself when sensible people are talking.”

The duckling sat in a corner, feeling most despondent. Then he remembered the fresh air and the sunlight. Such a desire to go swimming on the water possessed him that he could not help telling the hen about it.

“What on earth has come over you?” the hen cried. “You haven’t a thing to do, and that’s why you get such silly notions. Lay us an egg, or learn to purr, and you’ll get over it.”

“But it’s so refreshing to float on the water,” said the duckling, “so refreshing to feel it rise over your head as you dive to the bottom.”

“Yes, it must be a great pleasure!” said the hen. “I think you must have gone crazy. Ask the cat, who’s the wisest fellow I know, whether he likes to swim or dive down in the water. Of myself I say nothing. But ask the old woman, our mistress. There’s no one on earth wiser than she is. Do you imagine she wants to go swimming and feel the water rise over her head?”

“You don’t understand me,” said the duckling.

“Well, if we don’t, who would? Surely you don’t think you are cleverer than the cat and the old woman-to say nothing of myself. Don’t be so conceited, child. Just thank your Maker for all the kindness we have shown you. Didn’t you get into this snug room, and fall in with people who can tell you what’s what? But you are such a numbskull that it’s no pleasure to have you around. Believe me, I tell you this for your own good. I say unpleasant truths, but that’s the only way you can know who are your friends. Be sure now that you lay some eggs. See to it that you learn to purr or to make sparks.”

“I think I’d better go out into the wide world,” said the duckling.

“Suit yourself,” said the hen.

So off went the duckling. He swam on the water, and dived down in it, but still he was slighted by every living creature because of his ugliness.

Autumn came on. The leaves in the forest turned yellow and brown. The wind took them and whirled them about. The heavens looked cold as the low clouds hung heavy with snow and hail. Perched on the fence, the raven screamed, “Caw, caw!” and trembled with cold. It made one shiver to think of it. Pity the poor little duckling!

One evening, just as the sun was setting in splendor, a great flock of large, handsome birds appeared out of the reeds. The duckling had never seen birds so beautiful. They were dazzling white, with long graceful necks. They were swans. They uttered a very strange cry as they unfurled their magnificent wings to fly from this cold land, away to warmer countries and to open waters. They went up so high, so very high, that the ugly little duckling felt a strange uneasiness come over him as he watched them. He went around and round in the water, like a wheel. He craned his neck to follow their course, and gave a cry so shrill and strange that he frightened himself. Oh! He could not forget them-those splendid, happy birds. When he could no longer see them he dived to the very bottom. and when he came up again he was quite beside himself. He did not know what birds they were or whither they were bound, yet he loved them more than anything he had ever loved before. It was not that he envied them, for how could he ever dare dream of wanting their marvelous beauty for himself? He would have been grateful if only the ducks would have tolerated him-the poor ugly creature.

1200px-406_Trumpeter_Swan-630x280

The winter grew cold – so bitterly cold that the duckling had to swim to and fro in the water to keep it from freezing over. But every night the hole in which he swam kept getting smaller and smaller. Then it froze so hard that the duckling had to paddle continuously to keep the crackling ice from closing in upon him. At last, too tired to move, he was frozen fast in the ice.

Early that morning a farmer came by, and when he saw how things were he went out on the pond, broke away the ice with his wooden shoe, and carried the duckling home to his wife. There the duckling revived, but when the children wished to play with him he thought they meant to hurt him. Terrified, he fluttered into the milk pail, splashing the whole room with milk. The woman shrieked and threw up her hands as he flew into the butter tub, and then in and out of the meal barrel. Imagine what he looked like now! The woman screamed and lashed out at him with the fire tongs. The children tumbled over each other as they tried to catch him, and they laughed and they shouted. Luckily the door was open, and the duckling escaped through it into the bushes, where he lay down, in the newly fallen snow, as if in a daze.

But it would be too sad to tell of all the hardships and wretchedness he had to endure during this cruel winter. When the warm sun shone once more, the duckling was still alive among the reeds of the marsh. The larks began to sing again. It was beautiful springtime.

Then, quite suddenly, he lifted his wings. They swept through the air much more strongly than before, and their powerful strokes carried him far. Before he quite knew what was happening, he found himself in a great garden where apple trees bloomed. The lilacs filled the air with sweet scent and hung in clusters from long, green branches that bent over a winding stream. Oh, but it was lovely here in the freshness of spring!

From the thicket before him came three lovely white swans. They ruffled their feathers and swam lightly in the stream. The duckling recognized these noble creatures, and a strange feeling of sadness came upon him.

“I shall fly near these royal birds, and they will peck me to bits because I, who am so very ugly, dare to go near them. But I don’t care. Better be killed by them than to be nipped by the ducks, pecked by the hens, kicked about by the hen-yard girl, or suffer such misery in winter.”

So he flew into the water and swam toward the splendid swans. They saw him, and swept down upon him with their rustling feathers raised. “Kill me!” said the poor creature, and he bowed his head down over the water to wait for death. But what did he see there, mirrored in the clear stream? He beheld his own image, and it was no longer the reflection of a clumsy, dirty, gray bird, ugly and offensive. He himself was a swan! Being born in a duck yard does not matter, if only you are hatched from a swan’s egg.

He felt quite glad that he had come through so much trouble and misfortune, for now he had a fuller understanding of his own good fortune, and of beauty when he met with it. The great swans swam all around him and stroked him with their bills.

Several little children came into the garden to throw grain and bits of bread upon the water. The smallest child cried, “Here’s a new one,” and the others rejoiced, “yes, a new one has come.” They clapped their hands, danced around, and ran to bring their father and mother.

And they threw bread and cake upon the water, while they all agreed, “The new one is the most handsome of all. He’s so young and so good-looking.” The old swans bowed in his honor.

Then he felt very bashful, and tucked his head under his wing. He did not know what this was all about. He felt so very happy, but he wasn’t at all proud, for a good heart never grows proud. He thought about how he had been persecuted and scorned, and now he heard them all call him the most beautiful of all beautiful birds. The lilacs dipped their clusters into the stream before him, and the sun shone so warm and so heartening. He rustled his feathers and held his slender neck high, as he cried out with full heart: “I never dreamed there could be so much happiness, when I was the ugly duckling.”

Visual Thinking / Speyer Cathedral – Space Shuttle

A visual thinker files away information in the form of images that may be “triggered” by encounters, many years later, that recall a stored image. Often, these mean nothing – are simple coincidence; mere curiosities – and will be returned to visual memory, but “updated” by the comparison.

In this case, a chance “appearance” of a photo of Speyer Cathedral, found while searching for something else on the Internet, immediately produced in my mind, an image of the Space Shuttle. The striking similarity of forms passed from a coincidence to a curiosity – and then to an idea expressed by Oswald Spengler in Decline of the West:  – that Western Culture is driven by the desire to overcome the visible; to expand into time and space; to replace organic nature with machines.

A thousand years in time separate these two iconic products of Western Civilization: Is the space shuttle not the fulfillment of the cathedral? Note that the (abstract) concept of Western desire for domination and “spatial conquest” is represented in my visual brain by SPECIFIC concrete objects, which only then, can be “connected” to word concepts.

untitled-speyer

Speyer is dominated by its Romanesque cathedral (dedicated 1061). Speyer is one of Germany’s oldest cities and the resting place of eight medieval emperors and kings of the Salian, Staufer and Habsburg dynasties. History: Speyer was the seat of the Imperial Chamber Court between 1527 and 1689, and also held 50 sessions of the Imperial Diet. The First Diet of Speyer (1526) decreed toleration of Lutheran teaching, soon revoked by the Second Diet of Speyer (1529). The latter diet led to the Protestation at Speyer the same year, during which 6 princes and 14 Imperial Free Cities protested against the anti-Reformation resolutions. It is from this event that the term ‘Protestantism’ was coined.

The History of the Space Shuttle, by Alan Taylor, Jul 1, 2011 (Fabulous photos): From its first launch 30 years ago (1981) to its final mission scheduled for next Friday, NASA’s Space Shuttle program has seen moments of dizzying inspiration and of crushing disappointment. When next week’s launch is complete, the program will have sent up 135 missions, ferrying more than 350 humans and thousands of tons of material and equipment into low Earth orbit. The missions have been risky, the engineering complex, the hazards extreme. Indeed, over the years 14 shuttle astronauts lost their lives.

 

%d bloggers like this: