Saturday, January 29, 2011

Secret Ancient Knowledge

Okay, so it's been a fabulous day. I've trimmed and pulled and tidied up flower beds and hung all the clothes and THEN I went down Main Street and collected I don't how many bags of trash and dumped them all at the dump place so I just feel fucking virtuous as shit.

Of course, I haven't done the breakfast dishes yet but whatever. I'll get around to it.

But while I was picking up trash, I started thinking about something I'd just heard on the good old Eat, Pray, Love CD which was about how Swami G or whatever Gilbert's guru's master's name was, translated a whole bunch of ancient Sanskrit texts and of course that has to make one suspicious- does his divinity make his translations correct? And I'm sure that a lot of people would say so but that's what people say about Bible translations too- that the men who translated the original scriptures and so forth were divinely hand-picked by God to do so and we all know that's bunk but that isn't what I came here to talk about.

It's that word "ancient" and how we give so much fucking credence to anything with that word attached to it. Ancient texts, ancient beliefs, ancient knowledge, ancient fucking weight-loss secrets.

Why? Why are we so convinced that "ancient" translates to "true"?

There are wonderful ancient texts, of course. The stories and speeches of Aesop and Socrates to name just a few and hell, yes, some of the ancients had some damn fine knowledge of architecture and building (or were there aliens involved?) and mathematics and so forth but do we use the anatomical beliefs of Hippocrates in modern medicine? No, we do not, although doctors still have to vow to first do no harm, which is a very smart idea and a good reminder and the man (if indeed it was Hippocrates, there is a lot of debate about this) sure came up with some fine ideas that do actually still have influence today in the setting of medical clinical practice. But we don't go to his beliefs to cure cancer, even if he was one of the first to describe it.

So what I'm saying here is that yes, the "ancients" were just as smart as we were and they came up with ideas that we know to be true but they also came up with some doozies too which we now know are wrong, wrong, wrong. Not their fault. They didn't have microscopes or MRI's or telescopes or radar or, well, you know what I'm saying here.

And to me the ascribing of great and magical powers and truth to the ancient texts of religions makes just as much sense as saying that since Archimedes was an incredible mathematician and inventor, nothing said or thought since him has been worth thinking about.

The "ancients" believed that the earth was the center of the universe but we are pretty sure now that this is not true even though yes, human beings do live here.
And everyone knows this and sees the logic of this but when it comes to religion, the older the better and don't try to fuck with it or explain it with modern knowledge because that would be heresy. God said it, I believe it, and that's that, even if it does involve chanting for eighteen hours at a time or virgin birth or burning bushes or that God could have one son and one son only and that to get to heaven, which no one has ever come back from and reported on with any real provable data, you have to believe in him.

Why do we seem to have to believe that what some guys wrote on spirituality and religion that long ago are the end-all and be-all of how the universe is fueled, and how people should act and what goodness is and what holiness is whether it was written in Sanskrit or Mayan hieroglyphics or Hebrew or Greek or Aramaic or Arabic? Or even "Reformed Egyptian" which is what the Book of Mormon was supposedly written in and which Joseph Smith translated from what he claimed were "ancient texts" and which were God's final word on the subject of religion?

I don't know. I just know it's true. We look to the ancients for their knowledge and although I freely admit that some of the ancients were excellent writers and poets and story-tellers, I don't think they had any more ability to give us the word of a god than we have today. They struggled with the same questions we have now. What am I here for? What does my life mean? What is the purpose of one life on this one piece of rock when there are so many stars in the sky, when the oceans are so vast and the mysteries are so many? Why do the good people suffer along with the evil? The "ancients" came up with fabulous explanations and tales and their worlds were ruled by gods and goddesses and then God and his son or Allah or, well...
Gods go out of fashion over the millennia like anything else.

And yet. And yet. We humans- we want the ancient knowledge and if we stop and think about it, that makes no real sense and if you ask me, Holy Texts are being written here and now by poets and story tellers, and saints are walking unrecognized by anyone and quite possibly are mad with the knowledge they carry and are treated for one mental illness or another so that even they don't know they're saints or conversely, need treatment because they think they are saints when in all actuality, they are merely mad.

When my grandmother got dementia, she was convinced that she was God and that my grandfather was The Holy Spirit. Or something like that. And I was about nine or so and there was a tiny part of me that thought, "I know this is crazy but what if...."
I mean, she was pretty old. Almost ancient, in fact.

Well, I'm just thinking about this today. About how the bottom line on so many "truths" is that they come from the ancients and by golly, I ain't giving the ancients any more credence than I am the moderns unless I think they deserve it. I will respect many of them but I am not going to consider them the final word on anything.

That's all. I have to go marinate fish now. It has been the most beautiful day and we're going to eat grouper that Mr. Moon caught and a cole slaw with cabbage from the garden.
And I'm going to listen to Prairie Home Companion and that's as holy as I'm getting today.
Well, that and the clean sheets and the knowledge that one tiny street in my tiny village is looking a whole lot better right now than it did yesterday.

And if ancient texts and ancient knowledge have changed your life or make your life worth living or guide your life, that is fine with me. I myself love the idea of us building knowledge, one thousand years at a time, one mind at a time, one discovery at a time and being able to have the free will to believe what I want, whether I have been influenced by Archimedes, Solomon, Charles Bukowski, Larry McMurtry or Keith Richards. Or Garrison Keillor. Or Zen Glen, my very own husband.

I will say, however, that if you know any ancient anti-aging beauty secrets, I would like to hear them. The modern ones are not working for me.
Unless they involve camel dung and ground pearls. Neither of those are in great abundance here in Lloyd.
If I could find some that involved ground up Bud Lite bottles and dog shit though, I would definitely be interested. Those I have.

Yours truly...The almost-ancient-herself...Ms. Moon


  1. I suppose it's because they seemed much closer? To the beginning, to the source? And there was less to know then, so maybe it was all more concentrated. We seem to be getting further and further away from any real undertanding or spirituality. Reduce it all to mechanics...

    You could well be right though. How do we know? It's like taking your car to the mechanic. What if it doesn't REALLY need a new gearbox??

    Anti ageing... well, I got Dr Nick Perricone's Promise from the recycling centre, I saw him first on Oprah. But your'e probably pretty much doing his thing already. Lots pf protein, not so much carbs, no sugar, lots of fruit, antioxidants, berries and cherries.

    He promises great things in a few months... it does seem v common sense.

    Dr Hauschka is lovely. Cosmetics. I wish I could afford them :(

    Lots and lots of water too.

    Neck/chin resistance excercise!

    I must start doing all these things, I'm suddenly aging by the day.

  2. Jo- What source? That's what I want to know. We take all of this ancientness as truth but if we really want to get back to the source, shouldn't we just study the apes? And I am very suspect about doctors who know what to do for anti-aging because I think there is no such thing. And yeah- I'm with you on Dr. Hauschka- how rich is "he"? Hell, I still trust Dr. Bronner and isn't he dead? And why is it that we worship the ancient texts and yet try to look as young as possible? Ah. So many questions. So few real answers.

  3. This is unrelated to anything having to do with god or ancient things. I thawed out some sirloin steak -it was a choice between that or deer steak and I'm still scared to cook deer steak since I haven't before. How do you cook sirloin steak? Email me, please. Love you.

  4. Bud light and dog shit cracked me up.

    Love is the source?

    Not the ancients' source, necesarily, but a good one.

    I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about.

  5. SJ- Did the e-mail arrive?

    Stephanie- You do know what you're talking about. Love IS the source. That's what I think.

  6. Funny... I'm waiting for the internet to speed up. I was watching a rerun of the ole Cosmos show with Carl Sagan... He was talking about the wisdom that came from the ancient city of Alexandria!

    Try oil of Olay and drink Papaya nectar.

  7. Remember Eddie Grant? Gimme Hope, Joanna and Electric Avenue?

    I read an interview with him when he waqs 40 (Which I thought was Old at the time) and he still looked EXACTLY the SAME as he had in the eighties.

    He said he lived on a mango plantation and ate mangos all day.

    Maybe that's the secret.

    Dr Nick's premis is that sugar ages you because its molecules bond you your skin and drag them down into wrinkles, or some such thing. The inflammation theory of ageing, that's it.

    I don't know, they want to make money, we want to throw it at them. I think Dr Hauschka products are gorgeous, and worth it, to be honest, if I had the cash, I'd be buying them. It's not like they're Creme de Mer or anything :)

  8. Ms. Fleur- I think it's all genes. Which, are ancient, when you think about it.

    Jo- I hate to break it to Eddie but mangoes have an awful lot of sugar in them. Not to say it's exactly like eating white sugar but the body breaks down fruit sugar to be the same thing. Maybe it's all those great enzymes in the mangoes.

  9. Ms. Moon,
    I've been lurking here for a while (found you on Maggie's blog) but had to finally choke it up and speak: yes, exactly. I have these thoughts about ancient texts, or ancients, or how we venerate old stuff and the good old days without realizing people were people, no better, no worse. I also feel anxious when we want all new, and to toss the old because, well, it's old.

    Well, I suppose everything makes me a little anxious. And I suspect that ground up Bud Light bottles probably do make a nice facial; or will in 1 million years when they're our ancestors' version of coal or something.

    You're a lot of fun to read. Thanks for being on the interwebs.

  10. Sara- I am SO glad you commented. You have no idea how much I appreciate and love comments. I completely understand the "Well, I suppose everything makes me a little anxious." Me too, sugar. Me too. Come back anytime and say whatever you want. And don't be anxious about it.

  11. I could do with some myself. Or a way to keep my hair from growing out quite so fast. Or some really good fast weight loss secret. Like by Saturday.

  12. Your blog will be read someday many years from now and the readers will wonder at the stories and truths you tell.

  13. Your last few paragraphs made me laugh. Let me know if you get the secret to eternal beauty. We can put that shit in a book and make lots of money, like Suzanne Somers. Love you!

  14. Mwa- By Saturday. ME TOO!

    Syd- Ha! Well, one day WE shall be the ancients. I wonder if our ancient texts will still be kickin' around.

    Ms. Bastard-Beloved- Us and Suzanne Sommers. Yeah. I could use the booty and I ain't talking ass here.


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