Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hadrian's Eye

A remarkable tribute to the Pantheon in Sunday's New York Times transported me to Rome and reminded me, as I watched the stabbing of Julius Caesar on HBO's finale of Rome, how much I admire the true creator of the Pantheon, the Emperor Hadrian. Once again, as I did with Darryl last summer, I stood in the center of that sacred space, gazing at the shaft of sunlight entering the eye of the dome and piercing the interior to light the stone walls of the temple. An interior touched by the sun's shaft, interior and exterior, man-made space atune to nature, sacred to all the gods, a temple to Pantheism, this holy proportion is the sole remaining complete temple of ancient Rome. Yet it was fashioned by a man who was as Greek in mind as he was Roman, a man of the Hellenistic spirit, bearded Hadrian, lover of Antinous.

Dome of the Pantheon
photo by Jameson

Athens, National Archeological Museum

Imagine, Hadrian in the Pantheon, his arms around Antinous, blessed by the gods of antiquity. Above the lovers, the oculus of the Pantheon rains sunlight down upon their laurel-crowned heads. Will such a gathering again occur in that sacred space? How preferable theirs to the gatherings in the nearby Vatican, gatherings of loveless judges ready to condemn what they can neither feel nor comprehend, just as they condemned the spinning worlds of Galileo in their dizzy hubris.
If religion is to have any meaning at all, it must find it once again in the reason of Apollo and the passion of Dionysius. Faith is the love of another, and religious ecstasy is mutual orgasm.



Friday, November 18, 2005


"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction" --Pascal

years ago artists depicted the torture of naked prisoners in Uruk, now called Iraq. The clay seal pictured here is one example of prisoners of war being beaten with sticks. The torture continues, today.

“On this cylinder seal impression from Uruk (c. 3200 BC) the ruler armed with a spear stands before naked and bound prisoners.”(12, p. 194)

Bronze Age, Mesopotamia
(Note: this link no longer works, but it was the source of the photo and quote above.)

Saddam, Bush, and now the Shia have incorporated torture. The Tigris and Euphrates run red with the blood of millennia of violence. Is it likely to cease?Are we bringing democracy( or more to the point, capitalism) to Iraq; or are we setting the stage for the rise of a new Saladin -- the liberator born in Tikrit-- to free the East from the oppression of the West? Though the Shia continue to torture the Sunnis in revenge for the rule of Saddam, 80% of Iraqis are united in wanting to overthrow the rule of the West, in wanting the U.S. military to depart. Like the Roman Catholic crusaders, the U. S. forces are the enemy of the Moslem world, uniting it as surely as the crusaders united it a thousand years ago. Our meddling in another culture courts disaster for our own.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Cry For US, Argentina

San Martin, Simon Bolivar, and all who fought for the liberation of South America from colonialism are with the protestors in the streets of Mar del Plata.

Liberator José Francisco de San Martín
(Photo by Jameson)

(See: Thousands protest Bush in Argentina )

Peaceful or violent, these South Americans oppose Bush's free trade proposal with the U.S. While this is an economic plan unpopular with many, what has actually fueled the fire of protest is Bush's image as an imperialist who unjustly invaded Iraq, not to liberate anyone, but to seize the oil reserves there and to assert the power of the U.S. Our torturing of prisoners, many completely innocent, our utter disregard for the environment, our arrogant treatment of other nations, all have made us more unpopular than ever. The catastrophe of Katrina, and the ever widening circle of corruption in the White House, add more evidence of Bush's failure, of Bush's lack of intelligence and his mindless and destructive policies.

Every day I realize more how horrible the Florida electoral mess has left our country. Had Gore taken the office to which the American people elected him, the disaster of 911 would have been prevented, as intelligence reports make clear. The economic woes and mushrooming deficit would not exist. We would lead the world in environmental progress and conservation. Like Canada and Spain, our country would be progressive, prosperous, and beloved by the rest of the world.

Cry for us, then, Argentina. We need your tears. We need them to clear our vision to change from the evil, selfish, unilateral path we are now following to a path of enlightenment that will earn us respect. Help us replace greed and arrogance with the Tango. Dance us out of this dark time, this discord and ignorance. Then, in three years, Happy Days will be here again.

See the spin-off letter from this published in the AJC, 11-12-'05: