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VELIKOVSKIAN Vol. I, No 3
PUZZLES OF PREHISTORY
Roger W. Wescott
In its most literal sense, prehistory is the record of everything
that happened prior to the beginning of documentation. It follows that the
origin of the universe, of our galaxy, and of the solar system are among the
puzzles of prehistory. So are the origin of terrestrial life, of the animal
kingdom and of the various zoological taxa to which the human family
belongs—vertebrates, mammals and primates.
In practice, however, prehistory is generally considered the predocumentary
record of humanity. Humanity, in turn, is construed as meaning the family
Hominidae, especially the genus Homo, and, above all, the species
sapiens. In this essay, I will focus primarily on that part of
prehistory which covers the period of human existence. But, because our
species, like all others, is embedded in a space-time matrix, I will draw,
as need arises, on the records of both the pre-human and the human past.
For the past century-and-a-half, evolutionary theory has been dominated by
the school of thought known as uniformitarianism, or actualism.
Uniformitarians contend that the rule of intellectual parsimony
(better known as "Occam's razor") is best satisfied by the assumption that
the forces which molded our planet and its inhabitants in the past are no
different from those which mold it today. Since the most obvious of these
forces today are such processes as erosion and sedimentation, we must
assume, say the uniformitarians, that they predominated throughout
prehistory. Given enough time, they remind us, erosion and sedimentation
can turn mountains into plains and seas into land.
My inclination, however, is to turn their reasoning around. A planet whose
global processes are now, and have long been, predominantly uniformitarian
is one which would not be expected to look like our contemporary Earth. To
begin with, one would expect its rotational axis to be parallel with that of
its governing body, the Sun, rather than tilted at more than 23°
from the solar axis. Because of its lack of axial tilt, one would expect
our planet to have no seasonal alternations between summer and winter, or
between wet and dry periods. In short, one would expect its climate to be
On such a uniformistic planet, one would have no reason to expect
12-mile differences of altitude between the Marianas Trench in the
Pacific Ocean and the Himalayan Mountains of South Asia.
Furthermore, since there exists enough water to cover the Earth's
entire surface to a depth of two miles, were it truly spherical one
would expect that to be the Earth's actual condition. (Polar
flattening, occasioned by rotation, might be expected to deepen the
global ocean in some places more than in others, but nowhere to
permit land to break the oceanic surface.) Consequently, one would
not expect to encounter plants, snails, insects, or terrestrial
vertebrates such as man.
Paleontologists, of course, would expect to find no fossil
dinosaurs, mammoths, or moas. They could reasonably expect to find
no fossils at all, since fossilization is an exceptional, rather
than a uniformistic, process. Geologists, even if endowed with
futuristic diving and drilling gear, could not count on finding
earth strata, such as those that mark off geological eras, periods
and epochs because there is no evidence of any uniformitarian
process that produces global stratification.
Even if we grant that the interaction of water, organic compounds
and small-scale electrical discharges could be expected, in the
normal course of events, to produce life, there is no evidence that
such life would diversify phyletically, producing the million or
more species of organisms found today. No new species has appeared
in the course of recorded history. The most that one might expect
to find in the way of biota in a wholly uniformitarian world is an
astronomically large population of microorganisms of a single
Since the time of Georges Cuvier, paleontologists have agreed that
most of the organic taxa of the past are now extinct. Familiar
examples of such extinct taxa are trilobite arthropods, seed-fern
plants and oreopithecian apes. The only extinctions known during
the historical period are of species whose demise was brought about,
directly or indirectly, by human agency. Familiar examples of man's
non-human victims are the passenger pigeon, the Irish elk and the
To a catastrophist, stratification, speciation, fossilization and
natural extinction all constitute evidence of gross planetary
disturbance. So do seasonality, topographic
variability and the existence of dry land in the form of
irregularly distributed continents and islands. So,
finally, does the periodic occurrence of gigantism, as among
Cretaceous Texas pterosaurs with 50-foot wingspreads. Since such
creatures were anatomically ill-equipped for walking, yet would be,
by current aerodynamic assessment, even less capable of flying, the
only reasonable explanation of their presumptive locomotory
viability is ecological. Environmental conditions during the later
Mesozoic Era must have been such as to permit gigantic batlike
animals to fly. As a catastrophist, it seems to me that there are
only two plausible ecological situations which would allow for
flight on this scale. One of these is an atmosphere substantially
denser than ours; the other is gravity substantially weaker than
ours. While it is difficult to choose between these alternatives,
it is clear that neither can readily be fitted into a uniformitarian
model of gradualistic planetary development.
The chief argument used by uniformitarians against the preceding
interpretation of strata, fossils and topographic irregularity is
chronological. Radiometric dating, they say, shows that the Earth
is billions of years old. And, since it is evident that gradual
erosion can level a mountain range just as effectively as can sudden
subsidence, the only scholarly conclusion is to opt for the
gradualistic model, which fits Earth's eonic antiquity, rather than
for the catastrophic model, which does not.
The flaw in this radiochronological argument is the same as the flaw
in the chief argument for natural selection: logical circularity.
In its Spencerian formulation, Darwinian evolutionism asserts "the
survival of the fittest." Darwinians explain survival by fitness
while presenting survival as evidence for fitness. In much the same
way, radiometric dating is held to support uniformitarian theory,
despite the fact that radiometric results are valid only under
uniformistic conditions! The rate at which any radioactive
substance changes, isotopically or elementally, into another
substance is determined by the electrochemical conditions that
surround it. When these conditions are constant, so is the rate of
change. When these conditions are not constant, neither is the rate
The rate of change is, in all probability, dependent on the amount
of energy being injected into a bielemental system. A disturbance
as slight as an earthquake, or a volcanic eruption, might accelerate
the conversion process. A disturbance as gross as an asteroid
impact, or a close encounter with another planet, would almost
certainly do so. In the latter case, the radiological "clocks"
could run wild, registering a year in an hour or a millennium in a
year. My assumption is that they have repeatedly done so, with the
result that all dates prior to the 6th century BC must be regarded
as representing, at best, a relative serration, without significance
in terms of absolute time.
Of all the puzzles of human prehistory, the most striking, on the
face of it is the remarkable difference in appearance between man
and his nearest living relatives, the great apes of Africa and
Asia. Along with man's un-apelike appearance go, correspondingly,
un-apelike physiological and behavioral characteristics. Combining
anatomical with functional traits, we find human uniqueness within
the primate order clustering in four areas: posture, head, skin, and
1. Man is the only primate whose legs are longer than his
arms and who habitually walks erect. Functionally, however, he pays
for his bipedal gait with backache, hernia and other dislocations of
2. Man is the only primate with subcutaneous fat under the
skin and little hair over it. While he is not the only primate who
swims, he is the only Hominoid who does, and is the only primate
with bradycardia—automatic slowing of the heartbeat when diving or
swimming under water.
3. Man is the only primate with a cranial capacity of over
1,000 cubic centimeters and canine teeth that do not project beyond
his incisors or premolars. And he is the only primate with
voluntary control of both breathing and vocalization. Voluntary
breath control permits him to remain under water without inhaling
and voluntary voice control permits him to talk. His large brain
presumably facilitates not only speech but also the manipulation of
fire and the creation of artifacts.
4. Man is the only primate with a protrusive bust, elongated
genitals and cushion-like buttocks. He is also unique in his order
for performing predominantly ventral coitus and having no seasonal
restrictions on mating.
For me, the best explanation for these anomalous Hominid deviations
from the Hominoid norm is the thesis advanced since 1960 by Alister
Hardy, Carl Sauer and Elaine Morgan: During the Pliocene Epoch,
which preceded the Pleistocene Ice Age and followed the Miocene
radiation of Old World apes, our ancestors led a semi-aquatic
existence along the shores of the Indian Ocean.
Wading would explain our erect stance; swimming, our hairless but
padded skin; and diving, our bradycardia and breath control. The
bust would have given aquatic infants something to cling to while
suckling, in place of lost fur. Longer genitals would have kept
silt and water out of the cervical and uterine area. Cushiony
buttocks would have facilitated sitting on rocky beaches. And
ventral copulation is typical of marine mammals but unknown among
purely terrestrial mammals of any order. This fact strongly
suggests that, before they became grassland hunters during the
pluvial Pleistocene, our ancestors underwent bodily reshaping as
shoreline or lakeside scavengers during the equitable Pliocene.
Human prehistory can hardly be said to have begun during the long
and well-forested Miocene, simply because there were as yet no
Hominids. Our ancestors, presumably of the Dryopithecus
type, may be assumed to have been furry, quadrupedal, herbivorous
If, as I believe, aquatic habits and habitats led to the Pliocene
separation of Hominids from Pongids, it seems reasonable to refer to
this as the epoch of human prehistory par excellence. Human beings,
though putatively alive and active, left no traces, skeletal or
artifactual, of their lives. We may only guess that they resembled
their fossil Old World relatives, Ramapithecus and Oreopithecus.
In the Pleistocene, however, human remains, both skeletal and
artifactual, begin to appear. By the Upper Pleistocene, in fact,
graphic industry, ranging from mortuary cosmetics to cave painting,
is evident. While not fully historic, as in the later Holocene,
neither is the Pleistocene as traceless as the earlier Pliocene. To
indicate the intermediate status of the human record during this
epoch, we may refer to the Pleistocene as protohistoric—this
was a time during which man left his mark, if not his signature.
By the Middle Pleistocene, man had become both a carnivore and a
cannibal. The evidence for carnivory comes from the
choplines left by stone cutting tools on animal bones. The evidence
for cannibalism comes from the artificially enlarged foramina
magna of Homo erectus skulls.
With the introduction of agriculture came human sacrifice and
the practice of burying retainers alive in the tombs of newly
deceased rulers. The sacrificial victims were smothered, drowned,
cut to pieces, or burned to death. The ostensible reason for these
seeming atrocities was that, in the gross tectonic disturbances
which took place during Pleistocene glaciations, large numbers of
people had died in all these ways. Performed on a small scale, with
community concurrence, such killings were presumably apotropaic—calculated,
as appeasement offerings, to ward off far worse misfortunes.
An equally mysterious development from this same agricultural period
is the megalithic complex. On every continent except
Australia, large stone structures were erected by obscure means for
equally obscure purposes. These structures range in type from the
rude cromlech of Stonehenge in England to the sharply delineated
pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. Beyond a general impression that
megaliths have both astronomical and religious significance, there
is little agreement about them. The effort that went into erecting
them, however, was clearly immense. They were probably intended
both to help anticipate celestial disturbances and to outlast those
Another tantalizing protohistoric phenomenon is the existence,
throughout the Americas, of fragmentary evidence suggesting both
trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific contact between the two
hemispheres before the time of Scandinavian and Iberian
settlement. This evidence consists of Canaanite inscriptions, Roman
coins, Oceanian crops, bas-reliefs of elephants and, above all,
representations of African and East Asian faces. While there is too
little of this evidence to be conclusive, there is too much of it
for contact between the hemispheres to be disregarded. I believe
that the apparent links were real but are sparse today because of
catastrophic breaks in the sea routes, occasioned by a deepening of
the oceans or a stiffening of the winds that blow across them.
In the popular sense of the word, savage, equated with the
adjective cruel, seem to epitomize savagery through such
protohistoric practices as cannibalism and human sacrifice. In the
19th century, however, anthropologists began using savage in
a technical sense—to mean preliterate or preurban—as these
terms apply to contemporary peoples who live by foraging or
Since there is much in preliterate life that is cruel, there is
nothing invidious about using the term savagery to refer,
simultaneously, to preliteracy and cruelty-provided we acknowledge
the equal, if differently manifested, cruelty of civilized life.
Among the more widespread cruelties of preliterate life are:
adolescent initiation, ritual mutilation and head hunting.
The professed purpose of Initiation is to separate youngsters
from childhood and from maternal dependence. The means of
accomplishing this goal, however, are social isolation, physical
abuse and psychological intimidation.
Ritual mutilation, though it may begin in infancy and affect
any part of the body from head to foot, tends to peak at initiation
time and focus on the genital organs. My interpretation of
initiatory mutilations and Ordeals is that they recapitulate the
catastrophic events which repeatedly Mutilated so many of our
ancestors during the Pleistocene Epoch and initiated the world we
know. The genital focus of initiatory surgery may reflect a
Pliocene situation in which erotic activity was more frequent
and less restricted than in later times, with the result that it
came to be thought of as the misbehavior for which a battered
humanity was receiving celestial punishment.
Headhunting is common among the preliterates of Eurasia,
Africa, Oceania and South America. Hunted heads, once severed, may
be mutilated, eaten, shrunk, or carried as trophies. Head-hunting
is reminiscent of North American scalping, Mexican ball-games (in
which losers were executed), and the ancient Central American
practice of carving stone spheres and placing them atop hills or
mountains. In all these cases, human heads were, because of their
relative sphericity, apparently identified with displaced celestial
bodies—either planets in abnormal earth-approaching orbits or
meteorites bombarding the terrestrial surface.
Psychoanalysts assure us that cruelty, however wanton it may appear
to its victims, is always motivated and that its primary motive is
usually fear. This analysis helps us make sense of the fact that so
many contemporary preliterates exhibit "superstitious" fear—not
only of comets and eclipses but even of rainbows and sunsets. The
catastrophist explanation of these fears is that, during periods of
mutual planetary approach, terrestrial sunlight has been eclipsed by
large celestial bodies, comets have devastated the Earth and the
atmosphere has taken on a persistently ruddy or polychrome-like
It is easy for us to recognize irrational elements in protohistoric
and preliterate behavior when we do not share the behavior in
question, as in the case of human sacrifice or initiatory
mutilation. There are, however, similar types of behavior which we
do share, if only because they appear to have become human universals.
One of these universals is chimetic imagery—a persistent
tendency to visualize and (if only half-seriously) verbalize about
creatures unknown either among living species or from the
fossil record: dragons, unicorns, mermaids and the like. Although
it is possible that chimeras of this type have made an
ephemeral appearance on the Earth as teratogenic results of
mutations induced by catastrophe, it is more likely that they are
theriomorphic versions of nebular or cometary shapes seen in the sky
during times of cataclysm.
Another such universal is funerealism, the ritualization of
death and of practices relating to the dead. Human corpses are
never disposed of by merely sanitary methods but are invariably
cremated, buried, immersed in water, or exposed on an
elevation—always in a ceremonial manner. Such means of disposal
are probably stereotyped reenactments of the kinds of death suffered
naturally by a majority of the population during fire storms,
earthquakes, floods or sudden tectonic uplifts resulting from
But the treatment of corpses is not the only thing hedged about with
ceremonial observances. Both verbally and behaviorally, everything
to do with death and the dead must be handled with circumspection.
It is taboo, as is the complementary phenomenon of childbirth.
Everything, in fact, that has to do with the body and its functions
is surrounded by prohibitions. The body may not be touched
casually. It should not be viewed unclothed (even if clothing is
only a waistband, necklace, or bracelet). Both its ingestive and
its excretory processes require avoidance behavior: Every people
bans certain foods, denying that they constitute food at all, and
all treat adult excretion as private, if not secret, behavior.
Of all forms of carnality, the most heavily tabooed is, of course,
sexual behavior. Even among those protohistoric and
preliterate societies which portrayed ithyphallism or enjoined
public coitus, such behavior was, to judge by the evidence, never
simply a manifestation of relaxed permissiveness. It was highly
ritualized activity, regarded as indispensable to the fertility of
the earth, without which food might fail and the community starve.
Taboo is prohibition invested with a sense of horror at the
thought of violation, perhaps best defined as non-hedonic,
non-utilitarian prohibition. A hedonic prohibition, such as
forbidding a child to touch a hot stove, prevents pain; a
utilitarian prohibition, such as forbidding drivers to pass red
lights, prevents accidents. Most taboos, however, do not prevent
pain or inefficiency (except in the secondary sense that their
violators would be communally punished or immobilized). If
anything, they increase discomfort and delay fulfillment of basic
needs and wishes. But the fear underlying them is so compelling
that, if the strict social rules allaying the fear are disregarded,
collective panic may ensue.
Yet another universal of human behavior is psychopathy, a
type of mental illness characterized by the acting out of conflicts
and disregard for established social norms.
Of the various forms of psychopathy, the most dramatic is
schizophrenia, mental disorders, usually chronic, which impair
functioning and are characterized by psychotic symptoms involving
disturbances of thought, perception, feeling and behavior.
Schizophrenics, though relatively unresponsive to their social
surroundings, are subject to influences unfelt by others, causing,
for example, delusions of persecution or of control by an external
Socially less disabling mental disorders are the neuroses,
emotional disorders due to unresolved conflicts, primarily
characterized by anxiety, which do not involve gross distortions of
Two common forms of neurosis are anxiety, an unpleasant and
overriding inner emotional tension that has no apparent identifiable
cause, and phobia, an obsessive, persistent, unrealistic fear
of an object or situation, such as claustrophobia, fear of closed
I believe that all psychopathies may be regarded as residual fears
of actual past disasters. But, since these disasters have occurred
infrequently in the personal lives of the individual sufferers
involved, the catastrophist explanation requires assumption of a
collective unconscious mind of the kind postulated by Carl Jung.
Civilized peoples share the compulsive miseries described above as
universally human and have added new, perhaps more oppressive
refinements to this legacy. Of these, the most obvious is elaborate
institutionalism. It can be argued that preliterate
societies have only two basic institutions—ceremonial marriage,
legitimizing the family, and ancestral rites, defining the
community. Literate societies, however, add at least two other
institutions—church and state, each staffed by a hierarchy of
priests and rulers.
Besides organized religion and governmental bureaucracy, there is
one other institution found in every known urbanized society but in
only a scattering of preurban societies. This universal, demanding
its own hierarchy of commanders and commanded, is war. Where human
sacrifice killed people by the dozen or the hundred, war does so by
the thousand or the million. (And, in the event of thermonuclear
conflict, it may do so by the billion.)
The link between psychopathy and institutionalism is provided by
dissociation, or social and psychological separation. During
the relatively uneventful Pliocene Epoch, there was, we may assume,
a comparatively harmonious association between species and
individuals, both Hominid and non-Hominid. But successive
Pleistocene catastrophes fragmented this biopsychic unity,
alienating organism from organism and group from group. Among our
ancestors, it led to a split between the sacred and the secular and
between word and deed, permitting hypocrisy and fostering
deception. Each successive cataclysm, moreover, produced shifts in
ethos, leading, for example, first to the sacralization and then to
the desacralization of maternity, of animality and of sexuality. In
no case, however, was either exaltation or debasement a matter of
option. Cannibalism, for example, was either periodically enjoined
or permanently forbidden. Neither engagement in it nor abstention
from it appears to have been a casual matter, left to personal
preference or individual choice.
As their root word indicates, the terms, "ethos," "ethics" and "ethology"
once referred to the conduct, or behavior of both animals and human
beings. Today, the first two refer to human behavior only, the last
to animal behavior only.
However, the terms "ethical" and "ethological" may (without recourse
to the "new" sociobiology) be construed as partially overlapping in
reference, since it is highly unlikely that traumata, widespread
enough to distort human behavior, would leave the behavior of
animals—particularly higher animals—unaffected.
Building, therefore, on mythical evidence (to be detailed and
explained below) as well as on data from comparative psychology, I
infer that, prior to the Pleistocene disturbances, some of the
characteristics of animal behavior now regarded as from time
immemorial were either rare or non-existent.
Among these traumatically-induced innovations, I believe, were the following:
1. Cyclicity, such as alternations between diurnal and
nocturnal activity or between estrus and sexual latency;
2. Xenophobia, or hostility toward other communities;
3. Periodic overpopulation, functioning as double insurance
against sudden extinction;
4. Migration, occasioned by the frequent destruction of
habitats or exhaustion of food sources;
5. Hunting—that is, aggressive predation as opposed to
unhurried scavenging; and
6. Ritualism, or the obligatory use, for communicative
purposes, of displaced feeding or mating movements.
One of the behavioral splits referred to above as dissociative is
the distinction, which goes back at least to Sumerian times, between
religion (expressed in myth and manifest in ritual) and science
(applied as technology and practiced as engineering). During the
past century, this split has widened to chasm-like proportions.
Under the influence of uniformitarian theory, the scientific picture
of our past as one of historic progress and prehistoric evolution
has become incompatible with the picture, provided by the
mythologies of every continent, of a human past divisible into the
principal periods—a relatively changeless Golden Age, followed by a
highly changeable Time of Troubles, itself divisible into subperiods.
My response to this contradiction is to follow the scientific
picture of our past, with respect to the fully historic period of
recent millennia, but to prefer the mythic picture of protohistoric
times. I reject prehistoric gradualism—the current scientific
consensus—because I believe it to be based on repressed emotional
denial of past catastrophes and unconscious fear of future ones.
(Prior to "Darwin's century," I think, scientists were better able
to accept past catastrophes because such catastrophes were offset
by religious consolations, which scientist has since weakened to the
point of ineffectuality.) I suspect that we will remain
intellectually dissociated until such time as we can re-integrate
mythic with scientific thought.
Returning, however, to the mythic account of our past: Most of the
world's mythic traditions describe a primal and paradisiacal age in
which the following conditions existed:
1. The zenith of the sky was perpetually occupied by a huge
and seemingly immobile luminary, variously known as "the cosmic egg"
and "the sun of night," which was the focus of universal admiration
but which disappeared in a disaster. (In scientific terms, this
would mean that our solar system once contained two stars; that the
Earth was then an astrosynchronous satellite of the smaller star;
but that this star exploded in a nova.)
2. The terrestrial climate was uniformly moist and warm.
There was no winter and no night.
3. Vegetation was lush; therefore, protracted searches for
food were rare.
4. Terrain irregularities were mild and infrequent. There
were many shallow bodies of water and no deep or stormy oceans.
5. Conflict between individuals and species was minimal and
rarely injurious. Carnivores were scavengers rather than predators.
6. Human social structure was matricentric. Paternity was
either unknown or disregarded. The "masculine" virtues of
aggressiveness and bellicosity were superfluous, while the
"feminine" virtues of tenderness and nurturing were so common as to
be taken for granted.
7. Death, as we know it, did not occur. (Although
Methuselah-like longevity may have been one source of the tradition
of deathlessness, it probably stems, primarily, from a vanished
collective consciousness, such that individual death was neither feared nor regretted.)
After this situation ended due to the destruction of the "lesser
sun," the Earth and its inhabitants fell from the "higher sky" into
a "lower sky." (In scientific terms, the Earth was catapulted from
what are now called the Jovian planets into a closer solar orbit.
It tilted and began to rotate, producing diurnal and seasonal cycles.)
The sky and its inhabitants were then periodically transformed.
When that happened, the Earth suffered flooding, conflagration,
tremors, freezes, bombardments and detonations, accompanied by
grievous loss of life, both human and non-human. (The nova that
shifted the Earth's orbit shifted that of several other planets.
Before they settled into the orbits which we now observe, the
planets made repeated, close approaches to one another, with devastating results.)
After the loss of their Pliocene paradise, our forebears were so
frightened, shocked and bewildered that they dissociated themselves
not only from nature around them but also from nature within them,
which they now perceived as threatening. One result was the
self-contradictory emotion of ambivalence—simultaneously desiring
and rejecting the desire, all the while remaining unaware of the
inner conflict. They were at once nostalgic for the lost paradise
and determined to master post-lapsarian misfortunes by inflicting
them on the external world. Sometimes their ideas were purely
paradisiacal, as in the case of the promise of a heavenly life after
death; sometimes their behavior was patently catastrophic, as in the
case of unrestricted warfare of the type that obliterated Carthage.
Usually, however, cultural innovations proved to be Janus-faced,
partially reviving the lost order while simultaneously reinforcing
the destructive processes that put an end to that order.
Examples of such ambiguous developments are: Paleolithic mastery of
fire, which restored the warmth of the Pliocene luminary at the cost
of burning trees (and sometimes houses or even people); Neolithic
domestication of plants and animals, which restored the archaic
plentitude of species, but did so exploitatively; Bronze Age
urbanization, which reinstated the form of the lost planetary order
but created an increasingly unnatural human environment; and Iron
Age imperialism, whose objective was a universal state reminiscent
of the archaic cosmos, but whose means of realizing that goal were
The catastrophist paradigm is far from new. It was espoused in the
last century by Georges Cuvier and Ignatius Donnelly, and in this
century by Claude Schaefer and Immanuel Velikovsky. Though ignored
or disparaged by most contemporary scientists, it goes further than
any other, I think, to explain those prehistoric data that remain most puzzling.
Nonetheless, there are puzzles of prehistory that yield no more
easily to catastrophism than to uniformitarianism or to any other
diachronically-oriented rapid rate of growth during the Pleistocene Epoch.
By way of explanation, it is not enough to say that man needed the brain to
survive the rigors of the Ice Age. Many small-brained, and some,
literally, brainless organisms also survived it and are now thriving.
Another unsolved puzzle is incest prohibition,
observable in the form of incest-avoidance, in both wild and captive
chimpanzees as well as in historical and contemporary humanity.
Neither instinct alone nor institutionalization alone accounts for
it. Nor does the threat of biological degeneration, since this is
far from assured, in either theory or practice.
One of the greatest prehistoric puzzles for naturalistically-minded,
modern intellectuals is supernaturalism. Neanderthalers seem to
have believed in discarnate souls—ghosts of both men and animals. And
most of their successors, at least since Neolithic times, seem also to
have believed in gods, spirits, elves and various other powerful
beings. The naturalistic explanation of these beings as wishful
projections of human needs is unconvincing, since supernaturals appear
as to be equally as malevolent as they are supportive. Instead of
asking why some people feel the presence of such beings, a better
question may be why scholars generally do not. Are they, perhaps, more
susceptible than others to traumatically-induced, ontological blindness?
(For Venus from Saturn)
Be done with death, my dearest.
Now, with the sun, be born.
Celestial choirs invest you
This universal morn.
O swim the blue of heaven,
And wade the green of earth;
Seek in the deepest ocean
Ever newer birth!
I see you rise and conquer,
My newly nascent child,
In planetary voyage
The interstellar wild.
What ever was, you will be.
What's soon to come, you are.
How many gods embrace you,
My twice-born evening star!
Roger W. Wescott
 This Article will appear in the forthcoming book, Question Marks
of the Past, ed., Jaroslav Malina (VLHKA 10, 602-00 Brno,
Disorders," The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy,
ed. Robert Berkow, M.D., 16th edition (Rahway, New Jersey:
Merck & Co., Inc., 1992), p. 1546.
Disorders," The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy,
ed. Robert Berkow, M.D., 16th edition (Rahway, New Jersey:
Merck & Co., Inc., 1992), p. 1614.
 Ibid., pp. 1616-1617.
the Words: A Layman's Guide to Mental Health Language
(American Psychiatric Association, 1988), p. 13.
 Ibid, pp. 4,15.
 Reprinted from The New Worlds Review (Lakeville Connecticut: May, 1971)