Monday, May 25, 2009

8 The Death of Yitzhak 1

When Yitzhak did not come home, Abraham called: “Yi-ii-i-ii-caak! Yi-ii-i-ii-caak! Yi-ii-i-ii-caak!” There came no answer.

We do not know if this story about Yitzhak and Billy happened before or after speech was invented. Certain things can happen before the arrival language; for example, the art of gardening by Weaver Ants, perhaps the herding of animals by humans. However, Abraham’s need to communicate his deepest fear was pressing. Whether the call went “Yi-ii-i-ii-caak!” or “Yaaa-n!” we cannot tell, but Abraham’s voice was loud and desponding.

That night Abraham went without sleep. So did Sarah, the mother of Yitzhak. The parents churned in their heads the same question: Why had Abraham told Yitzhak to take the goat to the mountains yesterday? Why did he not do it the day before or today? Why had Sarah not stopped him? Neither Sarah nor Abraham could recall seeing any signs that would hint at what was coming. The sun had risen and set as it had every day—the day had begun no different from any other day.

This is not to say that sometimes the tribe had not stopped in its tracks to take notice of the moment. There was the time when someone had stopped in his walk and done something weird. Well, perhaps not so weird, because as soon as others in the village had taken note of his doing, they had done the same. All turned four full turns to the left and then four turns to the right. After they had done so once, they could not stop. They had done the strange dance all morning long. There was the time when a fight had broken out between two men and the women had rushed in to separate them. To restore calm, old Sarah and Abraham had lifted their skirts and shown how hairy they were.

Now neither Abraham nor Sarah could stop remembering the event that had caused them to send Yitzhak, Billy, and the herd of goats into the mountains. Sarah blamed it all on herself. She had stroked Yitzhak from an early age. When the boy had slept with her and started crying, she had stroked his thigh to calm him. Abraham remembered how fascinated Yitzhak had been with his penis and how he had obliged the boy and shown it to him, first soft, then hard. That is how Yitzhak probably got the idea of stroking the goat.

The habit of touching anything and everything was probably why the women knew how to masturbate men. They knew how to do and be done by. They could get men to stick their tongues in their honey troughs, and when a man had them flowing, they knew how to scream and cream him off without entering them. If in the 21st century such an act may seem out of a pornographic film, 21,000 years ago masturbation separated humans from other animals. Masturbation was another thing humankind became obsessed with after it had been forced out of trees. With no more branches to hold on to, the hands became freed “to do the devil’s work” as some might say. Women, though they still carried their newborn with them, became sexually more active and capable of getting greater pleasure from sex than men. A man soon became sexually exhausted (Casanova, who claimed to have had fourteen orgasms in one night, was an exception). In any case, women made it a habit of controlling aggressive men by stroking them and then not letting go until the man could do little but not jump. Their own preference was to do it slowly, to set the mood. This is why to this day women like to do it by candlelight.

But on that long ago day it was different. Yitzhak had disappeared. “Ai, ai, ai, ai, ai! Yi-ii-i-ii-caak! Yi-ii-i-ii-caak!”

Abraham and the entire village went up the mountain at daylight. They could see the goats above them in a meadow, but there was no sign of Yitzhak. Old Abraham, for all his age, led the climbers. As he came within shouting distance of the herd, he called again, but not for Yitzhak, but for Billy: “Brr-aa-vo, brr-aa-vo!”

Billy answered and came running. The goats lifted their heads and watched. Abraham lassoed Billy and gave the rope to someone else to hold. His eyes then searched the meadow once more. Then he saw Yitzhak’s body. It lay by a large rock. When the villagers reached the body, they could see a run of congealed blood from the nose and ears smeared Yitzhak’s tunic. His sling with a rock still in its pocket lay beside him.

Everyone reported some of their goats missing. Everyone had lost a goat or two. It was then that they understood that Yitzhak had died defending the herd from thieves. Still, who were the thieves? Because no one knew, everyone looked at Abraham and pointed at Billy. Was not the goat the one who had led to this unhappy event? Shall we kill him?

Abraham shook his head and swept his arm across the entire flock of goats. It was as if to say: Is Billy alone the guilty one? The gesture made everyone think. If they sacrificed Billy and their own goats, the act of the day would not be the discovery of the murder of Yitzhak, but a slaughter of goats. Would that not be sacrilege against Yitzhak? Abraham went to Billy and untied him.

Many years later, a traveler walking from one end of the world to the other asked for directions to Yitzhakville. He had heard of a temple dedicated to a goat and a boy there. A story told that it was there that a people called Yitzhaks had their origin. The traveler asked a villager of Yitzhakville to explain. This is what the villager told the traveler:

“The goats the boy was guarding in the mountains were our shadows. We did not know it at first, but we learned of it after Yitzhak was dead and our goats stolen. Everyone felt something was different, that something was missing. We did not know what it was until Abraham told us that Yitzhak had defended not only our goats, but also our shadows. He was right. That is why we hold our goats to be sacred and never slay them but for old age.”

“What do you mean that the goats are your shadows?”

“Before Yitzhak was killed, we did not know that goats were our shadows. This is perhaps because goats are white. After Yitzhak died, we began to understand that he was not guarding only our goats, but also us. He made us see ourselves through our shadows. This is why on Yitzhak Day we dye our goats blue.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

7 The Tragic Bond

Yitzhak is John the same way that Hannukah (Yannukah) is Johnsday, the latter celebrated during the Midwinter Solstice. Though neo-Christianity forced the Latvians to change the name of their midwinter solstice celebration from Jahndaal (Johnsday) to a bland “Winterfest”*, the Latvians still retain “Jāņu diena” (Johnsday) for their Summer Solstice.

[The same kind of sound shift as is noticeable in the Jewish “Hannukah” applies also the Islamic Prophet Mohamed. That is, Mohamed is from a name that originally was pronounced Johan-ed.]

But back to Yitzhak or John. A long time ago—before communities of human beings had become conscious of themselves as communities, that is to say, before people had noticed their shadow—there lived in the mountains of Anatolia a goat named Billy, a young boy named Yitzhak-John, and the boy’s father, Abraham.

The goat Billy was a buck. Yitzhak had caught him one spring day when he and his father had gone to the mountains to catch nannies with kids to milk them. When the nannies stopped to give the kids their milk, Yitzhak and Abraham lassoed them. Yitzhak had milked a whole gourd full of milk, when Billy gave Yizhak a butt from behind. It was as if to say, “Hey! You are stealing my food!”

Yitzhak caught Billy, and then allowed him to suck on the corner of the goatskin bag where his father and he had poured the milk from the gourds. After seeing there was another way getting milk than just from his mother’s teat, Billy would not leave. This is how Yitzhak came to bring Billy home to the village, a camp of yurts. When Billy’s mother, the nanny, followed them, Abraham let her come. Since Billy the goat could not depend on the milk of human kindness for long, it was best his mother came along to feed him.

At first, Yitzhak wanted to keep the goat as a pet in the yurt. Abraham, said: “No way. It is hard enough to get humans toilet trained. Do you want our tent smelling like a piss house?”

Yitzhak kept Billy and the nanny outside the yurt. Both goats, but especially Billy, accustomed themselves to human company easily. However, when Billy became older, he started to insist in wanting to join Yitzhak in the tent. Since no one would let him in, Billy went around the tent and pushed his horns under the tent sides, often pulling out the tent stakes at the same time. Not that Billy intended to annoy anyone, but, like it or not, annoy he did.

“What did you do to that goat to make him all that friendly?” Abraham asked Yitzhak. “This is not natural.”

“Nothing, father,” answered Yitzhak.

Of course, Abraham knew that it was a lie. “You take that goat back where it came from,” said Abraham. “I can see that you have jerked him off, and now he wants sex all the time. Pretty soon, he will be jumping on everyone in our yurt, your mother including.”

Yitzhak took Billy and his nanny back up into the mountains. Not to make it embarrassing for Yitzhak, Abraham persuaded the villagers that it would be a good thing if they let all their goats go into the mountains with Yitzhak and Billy. The villagers were happy to comply. So were all the goats. As Yitzhak and Billy left the camp, all the goats followed them. It was quite a large herd.

Old Abraham followed his son and the goats a way up the mountain. Sometimes he made goat like sounds to urge the herd on. The call sounded something like “Br-raa-vo!” The whole village then bleated after them: “Br-raa-vo!” It made for quite a chorus.

The story does not end here. Yitzhak could hardly know what trouble he got himself into when he become intimate with Billy. While he thought that he and Billy were playing in secret, in fact, Billy’s behavior soon gave it away. Billy was no one to keep a secret. Moreover, not only Abraham knew the truth.

A couple of village men, who were angry at Abraham over some slight that he as village elder had done them, had also noticed Billy’s behavior. They soon hit on a plan to benefit from it. The plan was a very simple one. While Yitzhak was herding the goats, they would sneak up on him when he was sleeping, bundle and bind him in a blanket, and take him to their camp. They knew that Billy would follow wherever Yitzhak was, and with Billy would come the whole herd of goats.

The men hoped to corral the goats and exchange them at a neighboring village for half the number of goatskin bags. Of course, the villagers would lose their herd, but then the mountains were full of wild goats. Come next spring, the villagers could catch themselves a new herd.

What the men did not count on was that Yitzhak would resist and defend his flock. When the men tried to seize the goatherd, the boy was awake and had been watching them. Yitzhak hit out. The robbers, suddenly fearful that the boy would discover their identities, hit back. One of them hit Yitzhak on the head.

The men immediately fled whence they had come. Billy, seeing Yitzhak lying on the ground and moaning in pain, tried to revive him by humping him. Unfortunately, the blow had caused internal bleeding, and soon Yitzhak was dead.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

6 John the Awesome

Few of us would question if Ivan the Terrible (Ivan being the name for John in Russian) was truly terrible. History ascribes to Ivan terrible things, even as it does to him terrible things, not least mistranslating his name. Terrible need not be terrible if it is in fact awesome. Thus, it may be that Ivan, John in English, was not Terrible, but Awesome.

The name John has had many adventures. Here is one almost everyone knows, but in a more polite version. Here is the real story.

Most of us have heard of John the Baptist. He is one of the lead figures in the New Testament. He baptizes people by the River Jordan, among them a young man named Jesus. The king cannot tolerate John. After all, the king believes that the head of the community should be the king, not John. After all, who is John, but some camel herder taking advantage of the reputation of another herder, a goatherd, moreover one who lived long ago and went by the name of Yitzhak. Why should the people be flocking to John, when they should be coming to me, the king?.

The king does “fixes” John and fixes him good.

The king invites John to his castle on the pretext that he wishes to be baptized, too. John comes of course. However, when John arrives, he is surprised the great to do. At first, he is fed all kinds of dainties, given a drink made of camels milk steeped in Johns Grass, and then he is asked to a show. The show is a full-press porno. Naked young women who have oiled themselves with odorous spices and darkened with coal their eyes, nipples, and other orifices, come to dance in front of him.

When John protests and wishes to rise from his chair to leave, rightly suspecting a trap, alas, Johns Grass has done its thing. He has become relaxed enough to have an erection. If he rose, everyone would of course see his embarrassment and have a good laugh. Worse, this is when a beautiful young maiden kneels before him and asks him if he would baptize her by letting her suck him off. To make sure there he does not escape, two guards hold John in his seat, and just as he is spilling his seed, a third guard (mercy be!) grabs him by his hair, accuses him of insulting the king, and chops off his head.

Not only has John lost his head, but his reputation as well. Everyone hears the story, but much changed. The king’s court releases a story of how John tried to get down on Salome and… lordy lord!

Because of the scandal, the king takes over John’s office. Which raises a question: Why was John, the camel herder, the spiritual leader of the community, but not the king?

Before we go on about the adventures of the name of Awesome John, here is important information about the name John itself. Where does the name come from? What does it mean?

As busts of important men and women eventually fall off their pediments and are covered by dust and overgrown with brambles, so with the name of John. However, instead of dust and brambles, John is buried by different pronunciations of his initial letter J.

For example, in reality, John is a cognate (that is to say, it is one and the same name) for Ivan, Ian, Jan, Janis, Janus, Jean, Johann, Hans, Han, Huan, Hunnapuh, Gion, Giovanni, Gans, Dion, Don and many many more. Similarly, John is the source of many derivative names. For example, gendarme, gene, gong, dzhong, janitor, gentleman, dungeon, wohn, zion, all have their origin in the name John. The God Wotan is another John the Awesome, in this case the name John being pronounced as Wohn, a hint of which remains in the German name for apartment, re Wohnung.

John is also closely associated with the Sun, the Sun being his mother. Unfortunately, this fact is hid either by changing the gender of the Sun to male gender [as, for example, Sonne (f. Old English)] or by telling his story in such a way as to divert attention from the original story. For example, the Sumerian Goddess Iananna was the original Sumerian Sun Goddess, while Dumuzi, her son, was no other than Awesome John.

John also appears in the most ancient of all stories, Gilgamesh, as the kings closest friend, Enkidu [Yenki, Yenkidu, Hunnapuh?]. Enkidu is described as a wild-man, though he most likely is a goatherd. A temple whore tricks Enkidu. She gets Enkidu-John to abandon his flock in the countryside and come with her to the city.

John lives to regret the move. The reason is similar to that of John the Baptist. The whore was sent to John by Gilgamesh, the king, who tricks John out of his spiritual office by compromising him with the dazzle of his worldly court.

The story about John repeats itself time after time after time. We get it as late as Molliere in his play “Don Juan”. Destined for great things, John, again, burns out sooner chasing after women and sex than become the king of his community.

Is John that weak a character? Does the name of John do no more than buy him a ticket to a Can-can show? Does John always fall for the king’s ruse to do him out of his humanity?

Monday, May 4, 2009

5 Terror In The Pasture

In order to become fully conscious, a human being needs to see his and her shadow. That is to say, if you are walking along the beach on a sunny afternoon and take no notice that you have no shadow following you, it is most likely that you are not consciously aware of yourself. Oh, yes, you are there. You put your foot or paw before you and see where you are going (proof being that you avoid walking into the sea), but no matter how long your shadow, you see it no more than most animals see themselves in the mirror.

We may take the above scene and substitute for the shadow a community of human beings. The stress is on the word “community”. Let us imagine that these human beings are the first apes forced at that very moment out of the trees they have always lived in. As far as the apes can remember, they had always lived in the rain forest and in trees. Then years of drought arrived. The forest dried out, and one day, today, lightning struck a tree and started a forest fire.

Whereas they needed to eat and shit just like any other creature, because of their lives spent living in trees, these apes—soon to become human beings) had not taken note that they shat. Their excrement simply dropped to the ground and was lost there. Nor did these apes—while living in trees—need to take note of their shadows. Nor had they taken any particular note that they lived together as a tribe. This is why when they came onto the beech, they did not know—at first—that they shat, that they had a shadow, or that they were a community. To find themselves on the beach was a most awkward moment, but at the same time, it fascinated.

Of the new things to discover and take note of, our ancestors probably learned to recognize their shadows first. After all, the shadow cast by our bodies has a real shape, even though when we touch it, we touch it without touching it. It is and it is not there. Then we went about learning toiled training. We made our first skirts and draped them around our ugly red behinds (living in trees we had not taken note of this), thus becoming able to cover up also our fur—an unwelcome reminder now of the days we had lived in trees. After we had learned to do all that, only then did we discover death and through death that we live in communities.

As strange as it may seem, the first human beings had not taken much of a notice of death, because death was too much like shit. When we lived in trees and died, we simply fell to the ground and out of sight. Even getting used to toilet training—a notable advance in consciousness—was something of a paradox. By letting our excrement drop in a hole and doing our shit as solitaries, we learned manners and to be discrete. We also transferred our new orientation to the dead. In those days, when individual faces still went unrecognized, death was noticed only by its stink and the area was avoided. Now, if you stank you were buried. Because a dead body was recognized to be no ordinary turd, the entire community came together for the burial. but for a long time burial did not become any greater ceremony than that.

How did the discovery of death and how did the community come about? The answer may sound as surreal as making an effort to imagine ourselves in the sun without a shadow, but here it is: we discovered death through cattle. To help us see the connection, let us recall weaver ants. These ants live in trees in rain forests. The ants cut up leaves, string their bodies together into “bridges”, “milk” sugar from caterpillar larvae, and exhibit other intricate tricks of their species at the same time as they have limited cognitive capacity and no consciousness. See and also
It may be that before human beings became aware of themselves as a community—though they were living in groups or tribes—they, like the weaver ants, were gardeners without too much consciousness of themselves as a community of special gifts. Except in the early days, the apes were gardeners of convenience. That is to say, after they had eaten the fruit of one garden, they moved through the trees to another garden of tree fruit.

But when the apes came out of the trees, they had to discover another kind of fruit. This is how they discovered edible roots. Then we discovered that mothers of animals gave milk, that this milk could be stolen from their young, and that the milk would keep flowing if the udder was routinely stimulated. Thus, we discovered milk could be had from goats, sheep, cows, yaks, lamas, camels, reindeer, pigs. Milk is so bound up with human food consumption and sense of well being, that in some societies even males offer babies their breast to comfort them.

It should not come as a surprise to us that human beings learned to exploit animals and themselves a long time ago (almost as soon as we came out of the trees and onto the plains), and that such exploitation was not necessarily a violent one. Animals were gathered, domesticated (conditioned to accept the human environment, castrated if need be), conditioned to accept a human hand on the udder to be milked, and then taken by a herded to pastures belonging to the community. The herder kept an eye over the flock to protect it from wolves, mountain lions, and thieves from neighboring communities.

It is, thus, likely that it was a herder who was the first to die defending the interests of a community. This made the community all the more conscious of the importance of the herder. It also made the community more conscious of itself. Many of us already know this story, though it is told in a different version. For example, most of us have heard the story of Abraham and his son Yitzak. I retell the story somewhat differently. All the same, it involves a goat, its herder John, and Abraham, the community elder and father of John.