Deeper Roots

zhao

there are no accidents
what little i know about revisionist history and the fictional divide between "east" and "west":

during the first half of Greek empire everything came from Persia: food, music, technology, philosphy, mathematics, astronomy, religion, medicine, fashion, etc, etc, etc, etc. and it was not until the second part of the empire that the Greeks started coming up with their own ideas - and even then, very much influenced and inspired by South Asian (Indian), Middle Eastern (Iranian), and East Asian (Chinese) thought and practice.

Persian culture, the real "cradle of western civilization", came from Egyptian/African civilizations before.

these facts started to be buried by the Greeks themselves, replaced with the lie that Greece developed more or less by itself -- the beginning of everything "progressive" and "modern". and since then these false ideas have been further spread, and the truth buried deeper and deeper, during countlessly rewrites and revisions of history. the lastest of which saw powerful industrialists of 19th Century America apply sweeping education reforms across America, firing professors that did not tell their twisted version of the story, and installing yes-men that propagated the idea that "the West" was something different, and of different origions, from "the East".

the propagation of this fictional dichotomy between the "occident" and "orient" has always been politically motivated, provides a foundation for racism, distrust, and divide which furthers the aims of the ruling elite -- and is still instrumental today (the structural basis for "the war on terror", which also may be seen as the latest expression of these false ideas)

much of this train of excavations can be found in this book, derided by the ignorant and the brain-washed (just look at the ratings and comments on amazon):



What is classical about Classical Civilization? In one of the most audacious works of scholarship ever written, Martin Bernal challenges the whole basis of our thinking about this question. Classical civilization, he argues, has deep roots in Afroasiatic cultures. But these Afroasiatic influences have been systematically ignored, denied, or supressed since the eighteenth century--chiefly for racist reasons. The popular view is that Greek civilization was the result of the conquest of a sophisticated but weak native population by vigorous Indo-European speakers--or Aryans--from the North. But the Classical Greeks, Bernal argues, knew nothing of this "Aryan model." They did not see their political institutions, science, philosophy, or religion as original, but rather as derived from the East in general, and Egypt in particular. Black Athena is a three-volume work. Volume 1 concentrates on the crucial period between 1785 and 1850, which saw the Romantic and racist reaction to the Enlightment and the French Revolution, and the consolidation of Northern expansion into other continents. In an unprecedented tour de force, Bernal makes meaningful links between a wide range of areas and disciplines--drama poetry, myth, theological controversy, esoteric religion, philosophy, biography, language, historical narrative, and the emergence of "modern scholarship." Martin Bernal is Professor Emeritus of Government Studies at Cornell University; he was formerly a Fellow at King's College, Cambridge.
Could Greek philosophy be rooted in Egyptian thought? Is it possible that the Pythagorean theory was conceived on the shores of the Nile and the Euphrates rather than in ancient Greece? Could it be that much of Western civilization was formed on the "Dark Continent"? For almost two centuries, Western scholars have given little credence to the possibility of such scenarios.

In Black Athena, an audacious three-volume series that strikes at the heart of today's most heated culture wars, Martin Bernal challenges Eurocentric attitudes by calling into question two of the longest-established explanations for the origins of classical civilization. To use his terms, the Aryan Model, which is current today, claims that Greek culture arose as the result of the conquest from the north by Indo-European speakers, or "Aryans," of the native "pre-Hellenes." The Ancient Model, which was maintained in Classical Greece, held that the native population of Greece had initially been civilized by Egyptian and Phoenician colonists and that additional Near Eastern culture had been introduced to Greece by Greeks studying in Egypt and Southwest Asia. Moving beyond these prevailing models, Bernal proposes a Revised Ancient Model, which suggests that classical civilization in fact had deep roots in Afroasiatic cultures.

This long-awaited third and final volume of the series is concerned with the linguistic evidence that contradicts the Aryan Model of ancient Greece. Bernal shows how nearly 40 percent of the Greek vocabulary has been plausibly derived from two Afroasiatic languages--Ancient Egyptian and West Semitic. He also reveals how these derivations are not limited to matters of trade, but extended to the sophisticated language of politics, religion, and philosophy. This evidence, according to Bernal, greatly strengthens the hypothesis that in Greece an Indo-European-speaking population was culturally dominated by Ancient Egyptian and West Semitic speakers. Provocative, passionate, and colossal in scope, this volume caps a thoughtful rewriting of history that has been stirring academic and political controversy since the publication of the first volume.
About the Author
Martin Bernal, formerly a fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and professor of Government and Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University, is now retired.

chapters:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0813512778/ref=sib_dp_pt#reader-link

book:
http://www.amazon.com/Black-Athena-...=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1217852254&sr=8-8
 
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mistersloane

heavy heavy monster sound
Yay! You found Martin Bernal! I wondered a while back whether you'd read him yet. He wrote the first one right at the height of the second generation of Afrocentrism and it coming out was just the perfect timing - listening to Jungle Brothers, Public Enemy, Lakim Shabazz etc and reading that and just having my mind blown.

Haven't got time today to read what people are saying about him now - I know he got badly discredited and seemingly went mad at one point. I don't know what I'd think about it now, I know a combination of him, Andrea Dworkin, Mary Daly and Robert Anton Wilson all helped form a fantastic world view in this reader.
 

zhao

there are no accidents
glad other dissensian(s) are up on this. maybe i'm biased but makes so much sense to me any which way i look at it.

waiting for the eurocentric opposition...
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
This claim is interesting:

This long-awaited third and final volume of the series is concerned with the linguistic evidence that contradicts the Aryan Model of ancient Greece. Bernal shows how nearly 40 percent of the Greek vocabulary has been plausibly derived from two Afroasiatic languages--Ancient Egyptian and West Semitic. He also reveals how these derivations are not limited to matters of trade, but extended to the sophisticated language of politics, religion, and philosophy.
...for two reasons. As Bernal is obviously well aware, looking at what sorts of words are borrowed from one language by another is a well-known signifier as to the sort of relationship between the groups speaking those languages - an obvious example being that many of the English words associated with law, politics, the military and the Church come from Old French via the Normans. Secondly, because when words are borrowed or evolve over time, their evolution tends to follow certain fairly predictable patterns, so a rigorous linguistic analysis of these words could go a long way to either supporting or refuting this claim. Bear in mind that saying something is 'plausible' is a long way from proving it to be true, of course, but it's an intriguing idea.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
i read these years ago, i think they're fairly convincing, broadly speaking.... there's another guy, diop or something that i read, the african origins of civiliaztion. that was more tenuous as he was determined to make everyone beleive the pharoahs looked like they came from nigeria or something....
it only gets ridiculous when people start getting doctinaire about it and refusing to give greece any credit whatsoever.... greece is still hugrly important and was responsible for a lot that was genuinely new....
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
@zhao - are you just giving a synopsis of this particular strand of revisionist history or are you endorsing those views as your own, at least in part? not that it really matters, I'm just curious, having read a fair # of your posts as a serial lurker.

it only gets ridiculous when people start getting doctinaire about it and refusing to give greece any credit whatsoever.... greece is still hugrly important and was responsible for a lot that was genuinely new....
pretty much. I can't claim to have read a lot of scholarly works on the topic myself - I did, however spend a disproportionate amount of time reading about the 5%/Nation of Gods & Earth/NOI as a kid, mainly due to a lengthy obsessions w/the Wu & listening to a ton of that 5%-influenced rap in general. it seems like most things when people have an agenda to push, especially when it comes to something that can be as esoteric & nebulous as history & historical scholarship; as if someone took a gourmet meal & a pile of shit & mixed them together so thoroughly that it's frequently impossible to tell what's what. not that I'd ever claim the more "standard" Eurocentric view is more accurate/credible, quite the contrary. it's just that there's a vast gulf of difference between A) a reasonable assumption, such as that African/Asian cultures had a considerably bigger influence on culture/philosophy/technology etc. than white historians have credited them with and B) nonsense about white people being evil mutants bred by a renegade black scientist, which is like Scientology-level crazy.

it's all a spectrum, of course, but whenever I come into contact w/heavily Afrocentric music/writing/art I always have a preliminary cringe waiting for the moment when someone starts going off on Jews or claiming that homosexuality is a conspiracy invented by white people to destroy the black family (a la Francis Welsing, a major philosophical inspiration behind "Fear Is a Black Planet). though, again, it's often, as in the case of Welsing, mixed in with a bunch of valuable insights.

one other thing, vaguely related - I spent quite a lot of time training at a dojo that was mostly, including the sensei, African-American Muslims (mostly, but not all, NOI) and we always got on pretty while despite me being a pasty white devil. we did studiously avoid religious topics.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
To be honest, I'm slightly surprised to find that the influence of afroasiatic cultures on the ancient greeks is considered a radical idea - in terms of maths and science, certainly, it always seems to be well acknowledged. I guess there is still an idea of a 'Greek year zero' in terms of art and literature.

But it does sometimes seem like this sort of critique is freezing 'western scholarship' in time in 1900...

I've actually read a few not-exactly-new[1] accounts of Greek science that take the view that they actually took several steps backwards from their antecedants, by becoming a slave owning society and consequently developing a distaste for anything that smacks of work or 'technique', and thus attempting to distance science from technology and experimentalism.

[1] as in, inherited from my grandparents
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
I don't doubt at all that civilizations in both Africa and Asia predate "Western" ones or that they influenced Greek and other ancient civilizations deeply.

But as far as trying to trace all cultural signifiers to prior civilizations goes, I don't know if it's always that productive. Perception is often reality; the fact that certain European nations (Germany esp) built much of their own sense of cultural identity upon a mythologized idealized version of ancient Greek culture (as an origary source of concepts, political organization, etc.) in a certain sense creates its own reality. This is as important to study as humanity's African roots are, imo.

Like Padraig I often cringe at "historiographical" studies that claim to "prove" an Afrocentric worldview, but usually it's because fetishizing the other (a la Orientalism) can work both ways--both to make Westerners feel superior and to give some sort of unrealistic superiority to the Other for no other reason but that they are the "exotic" Other...

know what i mean?
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
I also don't happen to think that the Greeks were somehow special among civilizations in any other way but their military capacity.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
I also don't happen to think that the Greeks were somehow special among civilizations in any other way but their military capacity.
that seems pretty spot on. it seems as if their major innovation was the "decisive battle" mentality, so to speak, which broke w/the older, more "primitive" means of combat, which tended to be more ritualistic/lower intensity (relatively)/based on missile attacks. they were, if not the first, then at least one of the first peoples to overcome ancient taboos against face to face killing and the natural inclination to shrink from attack by edged weapons. again, I'm not an expert, but from what I've read it seems like a lot of that, like most things, had more to do w/exigencies of their geography/culture than any kind of "eureka!" style innovation. basically, the geography of Greece is such (rugged, tons of small valleys) that it lent itself to a lot of small landholders, who didn't really have a lot of time to campaign b/c they had to work their land, hence they acquired a taste for deciding matters quickly - charge, 1/2 hr to an hour of absolutely brutal carnage, and then everyone goes home. that's the mentality that shocked their opponents, esp. the Persians, who just weren't used to those kinds of tactics. that, plus the phalanx & its' attendant tactics, is what brought them so much military success. plus Alexander was undeniably a military genius.

of course it's open to debate whether the Greeks' military innovations are a good or bad thing (if such terms even apply), esp. given that primitive warfare seems a hell of a lot more sensible.

I do think there's something to be said for their achievements in the arts, philosophy, etc. though, to whatever extent those were influenced by earlier cultures (most likely the Egyptians or various Mesopotamian peoples). just in terms of the West, it seems as if the Romans/Byzantines, for instance, were pretty heavily influenced by the Greeks. the usual caveat applies about any supsicions one may about the inherent worth of the Western tradition given the last few hundred yrs of history. I tend to be on some "things went wildly wrong when hunter gathers settled down & began pursuing agriculture & shit's been fucked since" tip, but that's just me.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
if you cant see whats new and different about greek art youre a bit dumb
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
I also don't happen to think that the Greeks were somehow special among civilizations in any other way but their military capacity.
I dunno about this - they made some pretty amazing advances in politics, philosophy and mathematics, to name just three spheres of achievement, and that's without even mentioning art (or rather, the arts), as luka does above. The Greeks were certainly not the Old World's first monumental architects, but they did things with it no-one else had done before - look at the proportions of the Parthenon ffs, they're intentionally imperfect so as to appear perfect when viewed from the ground. Hero of Alexander invented a steam engine two millennia before Industrial Revolution, but since slave labour was virtually inexhaustible it was regarded as a novelty...this is a seriously sophisticated culture we're talking about here. That's not to say that it 'invented itself from scratch' - no culture ever does that, obviously - but it's no insult to the Egyptians or Persians or any other culture, all of whom had amazing achievements of their own, to give credit where credit's due to the Greeks.

I think it might be reasonable to give a more recent example as illustrative of this: consider a rather simplified lineage of rock'n'roll that describes it as more or less descending from electric rhythm and blues, coming from earlier Mississippi Delta blues, coming ultimately from the work chants of African slaves...now that doesn't mean rock'n'roll isn't an inherently American form of music, does it? It's a form of music that developed in America under the influence of other aspects of American culture (and then of course took off hugely in Britain and many other parts of the world), but which has a sort of ancestral germ cell that came from Africa a couple of centuries and many mutations ago. Ditto hip-hop a generation later.

Edit: and as for their military prowess, most of this aspect of their history consists of squabbling between city-states and ever-shifting allegiances and pacts, with no overall superpower-like control of the region. Sure, there were the Trojan Wars, but that was the bronze age, pre-dating Classical Greece by over five hundred years, and the period of Alexander's huge but short-lived empire came somewhat after the high noon of Greek culture. In any case, Alexander wasn't even Greek, he was Macedonian.
 
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zhao

there are no accidents
so sorry this took fucking for ever.

@zhao - are you just giving a synopsis of this particular strand of revisionist history or are you endorsing those views as your own, at least in part? not that it really matters, I'm just curious, having read a fair # of your posts as a serial lurker.
i am endorsing these or the majority of these views as my own.

but i have only limited interest in questions of who came first and who copied whom; it is the CONTINUITY and UN-SEPARATENESS which is important.

there's a vast gulf of difference between A) a reasonable assumption, such as that African/Asian cultures had a considerably bigger influence on culture/philosophy/technology etc. than white historians have credited them with and B) nonsense about white people being evil mutants bred by a renegade black scientist, which is like Scientology-level crazy.
sure. A) i pretty much agree with, and i think it has had much more crucial impacts on the world than a lot of people think. B) ... depends on which of the day you ask me ;)

no, all kidding aside, I'm not interested in demonizing "white people". i quite like Jarred Diamond's analytical process and the conclusions he comes to: there are concrete, pragmatic reasons for Europe probably not contributing to world knowledge as much as Middle Eastern, Asian, or African cultures in the big picture, and none of them are any kind of inherent stupidity or backwardness or, god forbid, genetic inferiority.

and there are concrete, practical reasons for Europe's ascendency and subsequent conquest, namely territorial luck of draw which provided them with knowledge from the east and material advantage, and not any kind of inherent visciousness or brutality. (i believe who ever had those cards in that situation would have played them the same way)

it's all a spectrum, of course
sure, but that can easily become a wishy-washy relativistic view which confounds all views into a muddy stew; and the "all grey no black or white" thing should not be taken so far as to discourage seeking of truths.

and the truth is that we are all one. and that the illusion of separation comes from surface phenomenon and chance, and fostered into doctrine and used as a tool by those motivated by greed and hunger for power to have their way with the world.
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
Yeah, sure Greek art was great. I agree with Padraig's excellent post entirely.

If you read anything the Greeks wrote in Greek, all they talk about is war. (hyperbole) It's craazzay.
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
if you cant see whats new and different about greek art youre a bit dumb
Idealizing the human form? No one's ever thought of that before. J/k, I like Greek art, especially the pottery with the hot gay sex scenes on them.
 

zhao

there are no accidents
i went to an islamic art exhibition here in berlin last summer. for 4 hours mesmerized by the mind boggling psychedelic geometry, the beyond words gorgeous colors, the subtlety... what intricate subtlety that speaks to the depth of the soul with mere repetition and juxtaposition of forms. the Persian carpets were simply to die for... a feeling of ecstatic peace, a frightful beauty which reminds me of the vast greatness of being... a timeless abstraction in service of a higher purpose. visual poetry, manifestation of the divine.

and when me and my friend walked out of the exhibit we were suddenly affronted by these big cheesy nudes full of gaudy heroism. self important and full of vulgar egotism -- an exhibit of Greek art.

Persian art is Andrei Tarkovsky, is Abbas Kiarostami.

Greek art is the loudest, most annoying, cliched, obscene and pointless Hollywood blockbuster.
 
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luka

Well-known member
Staff member
yeah and shakespeare is overwritten bombast, and sunsets are gaudy and overrated
and titian was a hack, and rembrandts paintings are too brown and beer is just gassy water that makes you feel ill....
 

zhao

there are no accidents
yeah and shakespeare is overwritten bombast, and sunsets are gaudy and overrated
and titian was a hack, and rembrandts paintings are too brown and beer is just gassy water that makes you feel ill....
haha i'm sure what i said about Greek Art feels like blasphemy to your indoctrinated brain, with your aesthetic receptors all but mangled by years of "THIS IS GREAT ART. THIS IS THE FOUNDATION OF CIVILIZATION".

well fuck all that BULL shit I'm calling a spade a spade.

compared to the Persian understanding of abstraction, through out which pervades a sense of cosmic transcendence, the Greek obsession with materialist representation and illusionism would only be boring except for its abhorrent heroism.

compared to the supreme elegance and humility of Islamic art (and art from other older traditions) which places the human subject within sublime nature, within the infinite glory of divinity, within the universal scheme of things, Greek loud and obnoxious self aggrandizement was testament of nothing but their own simple mindedness and lack of understanding. (pointing the way to the destructive course we find ourselves on today)

oh how the elders would shake their heads at these chest pounding stupid new kids on the block with high opinions of themselves as only those truly ignorant could...
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
compared to the supreme elegance and humility of Islamic art (and art from other older traditions) which places the human subject within sublime nature, within the infinite glory of divinity, within the universal scheme of things, Greek loud and obnoxious self aggrandizement was testament of nothing but their own simple mindedness and lack of understanding. (pointing the way to the destructive course we find ourselves on today)
Yeah, 'cos the Islamic world's a paradigm of peace, prosperity and groovytastic human rights. :rolleyes:
 

STN

sou'wester
I've got to say, I think a lot of Greek tragedies to be rather rocking. I don't think I've been indoctrinated into this. Visual art maybe not so much, but stuff like Oedipus Tyrannus, The Orestia, The Lysistrata etc etc floats my stoat.

I would also like to give Antient props to Petronius's Satyricon and Catullus's saucy rhymes, even though these are Roman. Edit: and not tragedies.
 
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