Popol Vuh

[Popol VuhMaya document, an invaluable source of knowledge of ancient Mayan mythology and culture. Written in K’iche’ (a Mayan language) by a Mayan author or authors between 1554 and 1558, it uses the Latin alphabet with Spanish orthography. It chronicles the creation of humankind, the actions of the gods, the origin and history of the K’iche’ people, and the chronology of their kings down to 1550.

The original book was discovered at the beginning of the 18th century by Francisco Ximénez (Jiménez), parish priest of Chichicastenango in highland Guatemala. He both copied the original K’iche’ text (now lost) and translated it into Spanish. His work is now in the Newberry Library, Chicago.

In 2009 archaeologist Richard Hansen discovered two 8-metre- (26-foot-) long panels carved in stucco from the pre-Classic Mayan site of El Mirador, Guatemala, that depict aspects of the Popol Vuh. The panels—which date to about 300 BCE, some 500 years before the Classic-period fluorescence of Mayan culture—attested to the antiquity of the Popol Vuh. In explaining how the Mayan gods created the world, the Popol Vuh features the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, who were transformed into, respectively, the Sun and the Moon. One of the panels depicts the Hero Twins beneath a bird deity; the other panel features a Mayan maize (corn) god surrounded by a serpent. The panels thus authenticated the earliest written version of the Mayan origin story, transcribed by Ximénez. (Source: BRITANNICA)

Most copies were burnt by the Spanish who wanted to eradicate Mayan culture—the only writing culture that developed independently from Europe and Asia. To promote their own culture and religion, Spanish missionaries taught Mayan scribes the Latin alphabet. Secretly, those scribes used the Latin alphabet to preserve the Popol Vuh, hiding the transliterated book until it could emerge unharmed and find new readers hundreds of years later.]

Father Ximénez’s manuscript contains the oldest known text of Popol Vuh. It is mostly written in parallel K’iche’ and Spanish as in the front and rear of the first folio pictured here | The original uploader was AmericanGringo at English Wikipedia – Originally from Ohio State Univ (cropped, straightened, grayscaled)

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Desert Solitaire

[“Wilderness preservation, like a hundred other good causes, will be forgotten under the overwhelming pressure of a struggle for mere survival and sanity in a completely urbanized, completely industrialized, even more crowded environment,” Abbey warned. “For my own part I would rather take my chances in a thermonuclear war than live in such a world….

The arches themselves, strange, impressive, grotesque, form but a small and inessential part of the general beauty of this country. When we think of rock we usually think of stones, broken rock, buried under soil and plant life, but here all is exposed and naked, dominated by the monolithic formations of sandstone which stand above the surface of the ground and extend for miles, sometimes level, sometimes tilted or warped by pressures from below, carved by erosion and weathering into an intricate maze of glens, grottoes, fissures, passageways and deep narrow canyons….”

Outdoor recreation was Abbey’s rebellion against the decaying and overcrowded cities. In the 1980s, as a succession of Reagan-era appointees sought to weaken protection of federal lands, “Desert Solitaire” became a must-read for environmentalists and Abbey found himself speaking to crowds of hundreds, denouncing money-grubbers who willy-nilly looted the public domain. His death in 1989 silenced his outraged voice, but no one will ever be able to silence the power of “Desert Solitaire,” his wild-goat cry to leave it as it was. “A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original,” Abbey warned, “is cutting itself off from its origins.”]

 

Evidence of Mathematical Structures in Classic Literature

Researchers at Poland’s Institute of Nuclear Physics found complex ‘fractal’ patterning of sentences in literature, particularly in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, which resemble ‘ideal’ maths seen in nature.

[Joyce himself, reported to have said he wrote Finnegans Wake “to keep the critics busy for 300 years”, might have predicted this. In a letter about the novel, Work in Progess as he then knew it, he told Harriet Weaver: “I am really one of the greatest engineers, if not the greatest, in the world besides being a musicmaker, philosophist and heaps of other things. All the engines I know are wrong. Simplicity. I am making an engine with only one wheel. No spokes of course. The wheel is a perfect square. You see what I’m driving at, don’t you? I am awfully solemn about it, mind you, so you must not think it is a silly story about the mouse and the grapes. No, it’s a wheel, I tell the world. And it’s all square.”

The academics write in their paper that: “Studying characteristics of the sentence-length variability in a large corpus of world famous literary texts shows that an appealing and aesthetic optimum … involves self-similar, cascade-like alternations of various lengths of sentences.”

“An overwhelming majority of the studied texts simply obey such fractal attributes but especially spectacular in this respect are hypertext-like, ‘stream-of-consciousness’ novels. In addition, they appear to develop structures characteristic of irreducibly interwoven sets of fractals called multifractals.”]

Read the full report here | THE GUARDIAN

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Flannery O’Connor’s The Displaced Person, and Our Refugees

“The Displaced Person” is undeniably topical, right down to its title—and its topic makes it peculiarly resonant at present, when governors are vowing to refuse Syrian refugees and Donald Trump has outlined an arrantly bigoted plan to bar all Muslims from entering the U.S.

O’Connor writes in a letter to a friend that “the topical is poison,” lambasting Eudora Welty’s famous story “Where Is the Voice Coming From,” written from the point of view of the man who assassinated the civil rights leader Medgar Evers. “It’s the kind of story that the more you think about it the less satisfactory it gets,” O’Connor wrote. “What I hate most is its being in the New Yorker and all of the stupid Yankee liberals smacking their lips over typical life in the dear old dirty Southland.”

O’Connor takes her title from the Displaced Persons Act, which, between 1948 and 1952, permitted the immigration of some four hundred thousand European refugees into the United States. President Truman signed the bill with “very great reluctance” for what he saw as its discriminatory policy toward Jews and Catholics: the Act stipulated that, in order to be eligible, one must have entered Germany, Italy, or Austria before December 22, 1945, which, according to Truman, ruled out 90 percent of the remaining Jewish people displaced by the war. Similarly excluded were the many Catholics who’d fled their largely Communist countries after the December 22 deadline.

Read the full story here | THE PARIS REVIEW

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John Trudell

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Photo by Matika Wilbur | Project562

[John Trudell, American Indian poet, actor, spoken word artist and political activist passed away on December 8, 2015, at his home, surrounded by his family and friends.

John Trudell was a Santee Dakota activist, artist, actor, and poet, who led a life dedicated to indigenous human rights, land and language issues. He helped spark a spoken word movement that is a continuation of Native American oral traditions. 
 
Born on February 15, 1946 in Omaha, he spent his early years living on the Santee Reservation in northern Nebraska. His father was Santee and his mother was of Mexican Indian heritage. He had a normal life until his mother died at age 6, and the new rock and roll music resonated with him from ages 9-12. He said high school was not good for him and would enlist in the U.S. Navy from 1963 until 1967, to get away. He married Fenicia “Lou” Ordonez in 1968 in California, briefly attended college, thinking he would go into radio and broadcasting.Everything changed in 1969 when Native American students and organizers, Trudell among them, occupied Alcatraz Island from November 20, 1969 to June 11, 1970. That group became “Indians of All Tribes,” and they issued the manifesto,We Hold the Rock, and eventually the book,Alcatraz is Not an Island. The Alcatraz Occupation became an incubator for the nascent Native American rights movement, including the American Indian Movement (AIM) in Minneapolis. The legal basis for this occupation was theTreaty of Fort Laramie of 1868, which said that any abandoned federal property would revert to the Indian Nations. This treaty’s legality would also inspire many more actions across Indian country. Trudell has always maintained that all these political actions were not just moral, ethical issues but were legal issues, according to Native treaty rights and federal trust responsibilities.

Trudell used his broadcasting experience on the airwaves of “Radio Free Alcatraz” (a clip from the program can be heard on the 2005 documentaryTrudell). His marriage would end during this period as he become a leading Native spokesman attracting national attention. The negotiations over Alcatraz, the proposed Indian Center and the occupation itself fell apart in 1971, but so many names of Native activists, organizers, artists, writers and actors from that time would become prominent in the ensuing struggles, movement and documentation.

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AP Images | Richard Drew

In remembering John Trudell, it is worth paying a note of respect to all the people involved in all the activities that helped define an era and led to many changes we enjoy today. Such as: Richard Oakes (my cousin), Adam Fortunate Eagle, LaNada Means, and Alcatraz veterans Richard McKenzie, Mark Martinez, Garfield Spotted Elk, Virgil Standing-Elk, Walter Means, Allen Cottier, Joe Bill, David Leach, John Whitefox, Ross Harden, Jim Vaughn, Linda Arayando, Bernell Blindman, Kay Many Horse, John Virgil, John Martell, Fred Shelton, Rick Evening, Jerry Hatch, Al Miller, Joe Morris, Stella Leach, Cleo Waterman, Al Rickard, Dean Chavers.

Then there was Fred Downey—Coyote 1, Peter Blue Cloud—Coyote 2, and the actor Peter Coyote, Benjamin Bratt, Jack Forbes, Grace Thorpe, Wilma Mankiller, and so many more who turned out to support in the early 70s like Buffy Ste. Marie, Marlon Brando, Richie Havens, Taj Mahal, Dick Gregory, Muhammed Ali, Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr., Anthony Quinn, Jane Fonda, Jonathan Winters, Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael.

A home movie by Bureau of Indian Affairs employee Doris Purdy was made at Alcatraz and captures a snippet of this time, as does the famous LIFE Magazine photo-spread that has Oakes, Trudell and the entire Alcatraz contingent featured. In 1972, the movement was propelled by members of AIM, the National Indian Brotherhood, the Native American Rights Fund, the National Indian Youth Council, the National American Indian Council, the National Council on Indian Work, National Indian Leadership Training, and the American Indian Committee on Alcohol and Drug Abuse who organized the Trail of Broken Treaties, Mel Thom, Clyde Warrior, Gerald Wilkerson, Vine Deloria Jr., Hank Adams, Carter Camp, Shirley Hill Witt, LaDonna Harris, Suzan Harjo, and Louis Bruce.

The 1973 AIM Liberation/Occupation of Wounded Knee included Russell Means, Dennis Banks, Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt, Ellen Moves Camp, Gladys Bissonette, Lenny Foster, Edgar Bear Runner, Stan Holder, Pedro Bissonette, Leonard Peltier, Bob Robideau, Dino Butler, Nilak Butler, Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, Mary Crow Dog, Kamook Banks, Lori Pourier, Winona LaDuke, Phillip Deer, Lee Brightman, Sid Mills, Bill Wahpepah, Ingrid Washinwatok, Billy War Soldier, Floyd Westerman, Joy Harjo. These are the names of just some of the people associated with that time, who knew or worked or debated with John Trudell.

We should also not neglect the memory of Frank Clearwater, Buddy LaMont, Joe Stuntz and the over 200 missing and murdered Natives from either side in the FBI/DOJ/BIA repression after Wounded Knee and the Jumping Bull Ranch/FBI shoot-out.] (from Indian Country Today)

Read more at INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY
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Best Selling Books, Initially Rejected

Some writers continually submit the same manuscript until it is accepted. Others chose to do a more polished draft before sending it out again. A select few learn from the lessons of submissions, to write a completely new book. What they all have in common is a persistence to never give up on their dream; a dream that has elevated them from writer, to best-selling author.

They have written some of the most critically praised and commercially successful books of all time. In some cases their enormous saleswere so consistent that they even kept their publishers afloat.

Yet in spite of this phenomenal success, every single one of these best-selling authors was initially rejected. Literary agents and publishers informed them in an endless stream of rejection letters that nobody would be interested in reading their book.

Here is an extensive collection of the some of the biggest errors of judgement in publishing history.

Read the full article | LITREJECTIONS

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Why Are Old Women Often The Face Of Evil In Fairy Tales And Folklore?

[Typecasting is one explanation. “What do we have? Nags, witches, evil stepmothers, cannibals, ogres. It’s quite dreadful,” says Maria Tatar, who teaches a course on folklore and mythology at Harvard. Still, Tatar is quick to point out that old women are also powerful — they’re often the ones who can work magic.

“I always look to the Disney film Snow White and that charismatic, wicked queen who is down in the cellar with her chemistry set. There’s a sequence in which she turns from a beautiful, charismatic, wicked queen into an old hag,” Tatar says. “I think that’s a scene that is probably more frightening for adults than children because it compresses the aging process into about 20 seconds.”

Tatar says old women villains are especially scary because, historically, the most powerful person in a child’s life was the mother. “Children do have a way of splitting the mother figure into … the evil mother — who’s always making rules and regulations, policing your behavior, getting angry at youand then the benevolent nurturer — the one who is giving and protects you, makes sure that you survive.”]     Read the full article here | NPR

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