Is man's knowledge now nearly complete? Are only a few more steps necessary to conquer the universe...?
Here begins Homo Ignoramus. He does not know what life is or how it came to be and whether it originated from inorganic matter. He does not know whether other planets of this sun or of other suns have life on them, and if they have, whether the forms of life there are like those around us, ourselves included. He does not know how this solar system came into being, although he has built up a few hypotheses about it.
...He does not know what this mysterious force of gravitation is that holds him and his fellow man on the other side of the planet with their feet on the ground, although he regards the phenomenon itself as "the law of laws." He does not know what the earth looks like five miles under his feet. He does not know......He does not know......He does not know...... - Immanuel Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision
The New Science of Immanuel Velikovsky
Discord the mighty barrier of nations, loud shouted Athena, standing outside the wall on the edge of the moat, or moving upon the seashore: Ares shouted aloud from the other side, black as a storm cloud, crying his commands from the citadel of Troy, or speeding over Callicolone by Simoeis river.
So the blessed gods drove the two hosts together and made the bitter strife burst forth. The Father of men and gods thundered terribly from on high, Poseidon made the solid earth quake beneath, and the tall summits of the hills; mount Ida shook from head to foot, and the citadel of Ilios trembled, and the Achaian ships. Fear seized Hades the lord of the world below; fear made him leap from his throne and cry aloud, lest Poseidon Earthshaker should break the earth above him, and lay open to every eye those gruesome danksome abodes which even the gods abhor—so terrible was the noise when gods met gods in battle.(17)
The great founding event for the people of Israel, the deliverance at the Sea of Passage, also fits the rubric of those Greek myths that describe colossal natural events: the natural event is described in great detail, while the significance of the event alone is mythologized.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down upon the host of the Egyptians, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily; and the Egyptians said "Let us flee from before Israel; for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians."
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen." So Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its wonted flow when the morning appeared and the Egyptians fled into it, and the LORD routed the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the hosts of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not so much as one of them remained. But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. (Ex. 14:21-29)
Even the famous event of Joshua and the "day the sun stood still" contains, in the midst of the obvious wonderment of the Biblical account, mention of what seems to refer to something like a hail of meteorites preceding the miraculous event, suggesting that, here too, may be a remarkably faithful record of an actual event, albeit, of course, interpreted in terms of divine intervention:
And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the LORD threw down great stones from heaven upon them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died because of the hailstones than the men of Israel killed with the sword.
Then spoke Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel,
"Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon,
and thou Moon in the valley of Aijalon." And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD hearkened to the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel. (Josh. 10:11-14)
In the above tales we are dealing with accounts that were written down a few hundred years after the events to which they refer which, in the case of the Biblical accounts at least, creates problems of redaction, the conscious and intentional manipulation of the text. However, the descriptions of the natural events involved do not, for the most part, seem to suffer much of what could be called marked exaggeration. They are rather straight-forward and seem generally consistent with what might well be expected to happen on the earth were a celestial body to come as close to it as Velikovsky suggests.
Let us now examine some of the myths of the destructions of the three worlds from the oral tradition of the Hopi Indians of the South-Western United States. These myths have not been put into writing during a period of what may be over three millennia. (It is interesting, in this connection, that the Hopi consider themselves to be the first people to have arrived in the Americas). According to their mythology, the world has been destroyed three times, in each case because of the wickedness of mankind. Just before the destruction of the first world the Hopi were told by Sotuknang:
"You will go to a certain place. Your Kopavi (vibratory center on top of the head) will lead you. This inner wisdom will give you the sight to see a certain cloud, which you will follow by day, and a certain star which you will follow by night. Take nothing with you. Your journey will not end until the cloud stops and the star stops." .
... When they were all safe and settled Taiowa commanded Sotuknang to destroy the world. Sotuknang destroyed it by fire because the Fire Clan had been its leaders. He rained fire upon it. He opened up the volcanoes. Fire came from above and below and all around until the earth, the waters, the air, all was one element, fire, and there was nothing left except the people safe inside the womb of the earth.(18)
The second destruction of the earth is a brief but fascinating description of the kind of cataclysm Velikovsky describes:
So again, as on the First World, Sotuknang called on the Ant people to open up their underground world for the chosen people. When they were safely underground, Sotuknang commanded the twins, Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya, to leave their posts at the north and south end of the world's axis where they were stationed to keep the earth properly rotating.
The twins had hardly abandoned their stations when the world, with no one to control it, teetered off balance, spun around crazily, then rolled over twice. Mountains plunged into seas with a great splash, seas and lakes sloshed over the land; and as the world spun through cold and lifeless space it froze into solid ice.(19)
The third world is destroyed by flood, according to the Hopi tradition, a flood, moreover, which contains many similarities to the Biblical Deluge. Following Velikovsky's chronology of catastrophes, the Hopi Deluge seems out of order, unless, of course, that part of the world was flooded sometime during the events around 750 B.C. It seems more reasonable to suppose, however, that, over a period of thousands of years of oral tradition that the order of such awesome events, the nature of which was remembered to a remarkably accurate degree, was, nonetheless, rearranged, possibly for schematic reasons associated with the Hopi religion.
We are not, in the present paper, in any position to make an exhaustive study of all myths of catastrophe, much less to compare them with other categories of myth. The pattern that does seem to be common to those that we have examined is that the imaginative element, which plays an unmistakable role, is restricted to the interpretation of why the gods chose to act in the awesome ways that they did. The consequences of their decisions are, on the other hand, described in ways that are exaggerated only with respect to the assumptions of a uniform and constant cosmos. It may be supposed that the events themselves were so overwhelming that there was no room for exaggeration, only an awestruck taking in of the spectacle which was inundating people. This, however, is exactly what one would expect if the brain received what was happening in a total rather than a rationally and verbally selective sense, that is to say, with right rather than left hemispheric predominance.
The selective activity of the verbal brain appears to have acted much as it would be expected to act in the life of an individual following a series of traumatic experiences. The appropriate defenses are mounted so that a view of the world can be sustained that is indisputably constant and uniform. An individual who has had a terrifying and highly insecure childhood is extremely sensitive to subsequent insecurity and seeks, at all costs, to create and sustain an unalterably secure and stable world. He will be intolerant of evidence of instability and lack of control in both himself and in others. A similar process seems to have occurred on an historical scale, particularly in the West. Indeed one might speculate that the unprecedented creative outburst all over the known world in religious thought in the seventh and sixth centuries before Christ, in which we find the prophets of Israel, Lao Tzu, Confucius, and the Buddha, would have represented the quest for a spiritually stable center, given that the visible world was manifestly so unstable.
Soon thereafter, in his rational thought, however, man apparently began to look for more tangible sources of security, and even began to deny that the celestial world was, or could ever have been, unstable or inconstant. It is generally considered that, in Western thought, such a watershed took place in the work of Plato and Aristotle. The pre-Socratic philosophers, Heraclitus most notably, had founded their thought on a frank recognition of the transiency and inconstancy of the world. Plato, in some senses, bridges the past recognition that there has been dramatic inconstancy in the past, in the quest for a basis for a source of unquestioned stability. At virtually the same time as he acknowledges that there have been great cataclysms in the past, Plato urges that those who do entertain such dangerous beliefs be severely punished. In the Laws, that strange work of his old age, Plato declares that the most dangerous and subversive teachers are those that deny the eternal constancy of the heavens. To Plato, such constancy is the only guarantee we have for intellectual, political and moral order. As Stecchini* points out, Plato, and later Aristotle, seem to protest altogether too much that a planet may not become a comet, and a comet may not become a planet. Finally, Plato proposes that those who persist in believing in a universe subject to chance and unpredictability be imprisoned for five years, after which, if they still refuse to acknowledge the error of their ways, they be put to death. (20)
* One of the contributing authors to The Velikovsky Affair - Ed.
Yet it is a younger Plato who describes the effect of drastic changes in the heavens upon the earth. He reports that: "There is a time when God himself guides and helps to roll the world in its course; and there is a time, on the completion of a certain cycle, when he lets go, and the world being a living creature, . . . turns about and by an inherent necessity revolves in the opposite direction. . . . Of all changes in the heavenly motions, we may consider this to be the greatest and most complete." Plato adds: "Hence there necessarily occurs a great destruction of (animals) which extends also to the life of man." (21) Then there is the remarkable statement in the Timaeus that:
There have been, and will be hereafter, many and divers destructions of mankind, the greatest by fire and water, though other lesser ones are due to countless other causes. Thus the story current also in your part of the world, that Phaethon, child of the Sun, once harnessed his father's chariot but could not guide it on his father's course and so burnt up everything on the face of the earth and was himself consumed by the thunderbolt—this legend has the air of a fable; but the truth behind it is a deviation of the bodies that revolve in heaven round the earth and the destruction, occurring at long intervals, of things on earth by a great conflagration.(22)
Plato appears to stand at that time when men were of a strong disposition to deny the oral and written memories of what had once happened by creating rational systems of thought that would provide for them the sense of security and control that they could never have if they continued to believe that the earth was indeed subject to periodic destructive upheavals. Plato himself addresses the fact that, even by his time, the memory of great catastrophes had vanished to the point where such accounts as were available were dismissed as "little better than nursery tales." He has the Egyptian priest address Solon saying that "you know nothing of it because the survivors for many generations died leaving no word in writing."(23) To this Velikovsky replies:
The memory of the cataclysms was erased, not because of lack of written tradition, but because of some characteristic process that later caused nations, together with their literate men to read into their traditions allegories or metaphors where actually cosmic disturbances were clearly described. (24)
The characteristic process of which Velikovsky writes is the penchant that humans have to seek to regularize their environment. This is done by reducing it to rational and verbal categories, the better to control the situation by being in a position to anticipate what is likely to happen next, and for the foreseeable future if possible. Indeed, where possible, man seems disposed to avoid having to resort to the receptive mode in which the right hemisphere of the brain predominates, except as a momentary escape from the rigors of a linear and controlled existence. The left side of the body, which, of course, is the side governed by the right hemisphere, is associated, the world over, with qualities of life that, in some cultures, like our own, are regarded as suspect, and in others are regarded as sacred, mysterious, creative, feminine, passive, and intuitive. According to William Domhoff:
Folklore has it that the "Right" is good and the "Left" bad in Western thinking, particularly political thinking, because of the seating arrangements in the French National Assembly of the Eighteenth century—the nobles sitting on the king's right, the then upstart capitalists sitting on his left. However, Theodore Thass-Thienemann..... an expert on psycho-linguistics, has shown that this right-good, left-bad polarization has been present for a very long time in the entire Indo-European language family, as well as in Hungarian, a non-Indo-European language. Further, psychologist Sylvan Tomkins . . . has shown that the underlying assumptions dividing the political Left and Right are also the basis for age-old ideological disputes in mathematics, philosophy, science, and child-rearing. The work of these two men suggests that the real problem is why the nobles supposedly sat on the king's right hand in the first place.(25)
Ornstein suggests that the right-left dichotomy is virtually synonymous with Freud's conscious-unconscious duality. "The workings of the 'conscious' mind are held," he points out, "to be accessible to language and to rational discourse and alteration; the 'unconscious' is much less accessible to reason or to the verbal analysis. Some aspects of 'unconscious' communication are gestures, facial and body movements, tone of voice."(26) It would be equally valid to pair the right side and the ego, and the left side and the id. "The ego," says Freud, "represents what we call reason and sanity, in contrast to the id which contains the passions."(27)
Man is led by his ego generally because, when he can conceptualize and rationalize events, the world seems more within his control, more secure and predictable. But when the id is allowed to predominate, with its indifference to time, its inability to clarify boundaries, its absence of logic, both the self and the world are in an unpredictable, irrational state of affairs in which the organism is forced to be at the mercy of events. This is not a very comforting situation for man, the only animal that knows that it must die some day, and therefore, wants to control the environment so as to postpone that day as long as possible. Thus, in a sense, it might be said that the penchant for control and predictability in the human race plays much the same role as the ego does in the individual: it provides a sense of security and mastery, and keeps at bay as many of the forces of chaos as possible. We may even perhaps speculate that man's reluctance to be open or receptive to the world, and thereby vulnerable, was dealt a particularly severe blow by the terrors of the cosmic catastrophes that he, perhaps many times in his history, was forced to experience, and in the face of which he was completely helpless and vulnerable. (28)
It is not surprising that the realization that the right hemisphere of the brain was responsible for the performance of many important and hitherto neglected capacities of a nonverbal, non-rational nature has come at the time it has. Western man is beginning to appreciate the possibility that he has overdeveloped himself verbally, at the expense of nonverbal, non-rational and intuitive skills that he had virtually forgotten that he had; or at least that they could be of any value to him. Psychoanalysis represents the first realization in modern Western culture that the neglect of the receptive dimensions of man's nature has serious adverse consequences on his behavior, both personally and collectively. Personal and social health can only exist, said Freud, as the split in man, between his conscious self and his unconsciousness is overcome. Indeed the development of an ideal of the whole or integral person seems to be rapidly overtaking the traditional ideal of the good person. This is largely due, in fact, to the influence of psychoanalysis, and the schools that have developed in its wake, in demonstrating the deleterious effect of the development of only one side of the personality.
Coming as he has out of the psychoanalytic tradition, Immanuel Velikovsky's work represents a major attempt to reintegrate man's forgotten past with his rationalized awareness of himself and his history. By his application of the psychoanalytic method of rooting our buried memories of traumatic incidents in the past, in this case of the human race itself, Velikovsky shows us what a unified science of the totality of man's experience in the cosmos is able to accomplish. Perhaps not everyone possesses the capacity to develop the necessary mastery of as many disciplines as this remarkable individual has done to be able to formulate such an all-embracing theory. The next thing to that, and perhaps in some ways even better, is for scholars representing the many disciplines that are found to converge, when such grand theorizing as this is attempted, to begin to work together in recognition of the interrelationship and interdependency of all things within the cosmos. While we have reaped immeasurable benefits and an unprecedented amount of knowledge by a rational and conceptual examination of objects as they are separated out of the environmental field so that they can be subjected to detailed and sequential analytic, the very extent of that knowledge is now making us aware that all objects are influenced by each other in a vast network of relationships. If we are to genuinely understand the universe in which we live, we must find ways of examining the totality and interrelationship of things. That involves, not just a pooling of scholarly resources, but a new way of grasping scientific truths, one that deals in wholes, fields, gestalts, rather than with separate objects, specimens, and controlled variables—or at least in relationship to these more traditional methods of science.
Velikovsky's method of unearthing the buried memories of cosmic catastrophe, as well as his mastery of so many fields by discerning their relationship to one another, suggests the path that such a new science of man and cosmos must take. In order to grasp the total context in which events occur, it is not sufficient merely to rely upon rational, sequential and verbal thought. In addition to those approaches, the faculty of intuition which, by its very nature, is able to receive the whole picture of a situation is required. It is an axiom that is accompanied by a legion of anecdotes, from Archimedes in his bathtub, to Kekule's dream of the snake eating its own tail, that intuition accompanies rationality and leads it in most if not all great scientific discoveries. Intuition, however, seems like such an irrational, random quality to depend upon in work that it demands as much precision, control, and order as does scientific work. It does not, after all, come just when it is beckoned but, proverbially, "in a sudden flash," and, often, the harder it is sought the more surely it eludes. Yet much of the apparent unreliability of intuition may well have to do with the fact that it is left to chance, and not cultivated.
Idries Shah, in his fascinating work The Sufis, (29) maintains that the beginnings of modern science began under the influence of those mystics of Islam whose teachings strongly emphasized the cultivation of the intuitive quality of the mind as essential if one would learn to understand the full truth of things in their total context, rather than in isolation. If modern science would fully understand the whole truth of things, then it is time that the intuitive capacity of the mind were cultivated and developed. Since we now know that that elusive talent is a product of the previously neglected and poorly understood right hemisphere of the brain, we may come to realize that intuition is not some indefinable, irrational, mystical claim to call upon only when all rational and sensible explanations are insufficient. Now that we know it exists in a tangible place, so to speak, and that it has the capacity to receive stimuli in their totality, we may begin to find that it can offer us a tool by which to understand the various contexts in which all things are imbedded. and be able to do better science because of it.
By his willingness to listen to his own intuition and thereby free himself from the rational assumptions which bind most of us, Velikovsky was able to show how a category of human thought that was not considered to have anything to do with science could illuminate hidden and forgotten events in human history, thereby more fully completing our understanding of history, of human nature, of the earth and the solar system. In addition, it enabled him to articulate an entirely new element within the interrelationship of celestial bodies, namely electromagnetism. A goodly portion of the continuing animus against Velikovsky from within the scholarly and scientific worlds has been precisely because people trained exclusively within disciplinary boundaries are simply incapable of understanding an argument that claimed to be scientific but drew upon material from areas that were not classified as having to do with science. Then, when Velikovsky proceeded to introduce new constructs like electromagnetism in space to explain how events could take place, when Newtonian celestial mechanics apparently denied that they could, it seemed prima facie evidence that he was entirely outside the boundaries of legitimate science. But what Velikovsky was doing was blazing the trail of a new science, one that would exclude no area of human activity from its purview, and would be willing to draw upon all the resources of the human mind-rational and intuitive-to create, as the psychoanalyst does with the individual, an integrated and whole history, rather than a fragmented and selected history of man and cosmos. Only such a new science is equal to so all-encompassing a task.
1. Vico, Giambattista, The New Science, para. 814.
2. Ibid., para. 164.
3. Ornstein, Robert, The Psychology of Consciousness (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman & Co., 1972), P. 17.
4. Bogen, Joseph E., "The Other Side of the Brain: an Appositional Mind," (1969), in The Nature of Human Consciousness, edited by Robert Ornstein, (New York: Viking Press, 1973), pp. 100-101.
5. Ibid., p. 102.
6. Gazzaniga, M. S., "The Split Brain in Man," (1967), in The Nature of Human Consciousness, p. 27.
7. Ornstein, R., op. cit., pp. 51-53; also see D. Thomsen "Split Brain & Free Will," Science News, April 20, 1974, vol. 105, m. 16, pp. 256-257 - Ed.
8. Deikman, Arthur, "Bimodal Consciousness," (1971), in The Nature of Human Consciousness, p. 69.
9. Ibid., p. 71.
10. Ibid., p. 81.
11. Cf., Laing, R.D., The Divided Self, (1960), Sanity, Madness and the Family, (1964); Sullivan, H. S. Schizophrenia as a Human Process (1962),
12. Vico, op. cit., para. 814.
13. Schachtel, E. G., "Memory and Childhood Amnesia," in A Study of Interpersonal Relations, edited by Patrick Mullahy, (New York: Hermitage Press, 1949), p. 9.
14. Ibid., pp. 19-20.
15. Ovid, The Metamorphoses, Book II, Phaethon's Ride, translated by Horace Gregory, (New York: Mentor Books, 1960), pp. 62-64.
16. Ibid., p. 38.
17. Homer, The Iliad, translated by W. H. D. Rouse, (New York: Mentor Books, 1950). p. 237.
18. Waters, Frank, The Book of the Hopi, (New York, Ballantine Books, 1969), pp. 16-17. (emphasis added)
19. Ibid., p. 20. (emphasis added): see I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, chapter 5.
20. Plato, The Laws, Translated by B. Jowett, (New York: Random House, 1937), Bk. X. para. 889, 909.
21. Plato, The Statesman, translated by B. Jowett, (New York: Random House, 1937), para. 276 (emphasis added)
22. Plato, Timaeus, translated by F. M. Cornford, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1937), 22C, D, p. 15.
23. Ibid., 23C, p. 16.
24. Velikovsky, Immanuel, Worlds in Collision, (Garden City: Doubleday, 1950), P. 300.
25. Demhoff, William, "But Why Did They Sit on the King's Right in the First Place?" In The Nature of Human Consciousness, p. 143,
26. Ornstein, R., op. cit., p. 59.
27. Freud, S., The Ego and the Id, translated by Joan Riviere, (London: Hogarth Press, 1950), p. 30.
28. Alfred de Grazia explores the implications of these experiences for the subsequent life of man in his work on the palaetiology of human fear which formed the basis of an address entitled "Palaetiology of Human Fears" at the Velikovsky Symposium on Cultural Amnesia, held at the University of Lethbridge, May 1974.
29. Shah, Idries, The Sufis, (Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1964).