(22.maj.2017). On a bright and sunny day like this fine monday in may, I happen often to feel an urge to visit a library, a dusty archive or an antiquarian bookseller. I suppose most of my readers follow me – no?
So of course nothing could be more natural than make today’s city stroll pass by the dutch booksale at Vangsgaard’s on Kultorvet here in Copenhagen. Today’s price is 25 kr (abt. $3,50) per book.
I bought a small handfull, among which:
1. THE ORIGIN OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE BREAK-DOWN OF THE BICAMERAL MIND. By Julian Jaynes. Boston, 1990, Houghton-Mifflin, 491 p. Large paperback.
This specimen is somewhat used in appearance, but still holding together reasonably well. The front cover carries a sticker saying “With a new afterword by the author”.
On the back cover is a photo of the author and a synopsis saying a.o.t.:
“At the heart of this internationally acclaimed and hotly debated book is the startling theory that human consciousness did not develop slowly over time – that, in fact, ancient peoples from Mesopotamia to Peru did not “think” as we do and therefore were not conscious.
“Drawing on recent laboratory studies of the brain and close examination of archaelogical evidence, Jaynes concludes, that consciousness is not a product of evolution but of catastrophic events in our own history, events that occurred as recently as three thousand years ago. The implications of this theory extend into every aspect of our culture”.
Of course I only bought the book a couple hours ago, and have since then been busy sipping coffee and skimming todays papers.
I have thus hardly read one whole line in the book, only skimmed a few words here and there.
But already I believe Julian Jaynes’ book may be potentially hugely interesting. Off hand a cursory glance on a few pages combined with above synopsis from the back cover reminds me of issues like creationists wersus Darwinian evolution; or perhaps of Karl Kohlenberg and his pupil Zecharia Sitchin’s theories of “cosmic seeding”? Perhaps also of questions concerning mans double brain – the left and the right? (comp. https://blocnotesimma.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/the-robots-cash-ban/ )
I’am certainly looking forward to perusing this perhaps both genuinely learned and eccentric work.
(Update 23.May.2017) After posting the above last evening i have had a chance to browse a bit more and even read a few pages in Julian Jaynes fascinating book. As it will probably be a few weeks before i may get the leisure to peruse the book more closely, I would like to add the following few remarks at this point.
I now believe I’m right in assuming, that the functional differences between the right and left hemispheres of the brain are prominent among issues treated in the book.
Especially I’ve noted the following: The author asserts that prehistoric man – and partly also man of antiquity – were dominated by their right half-brain. Author believes a certain center there made man hear voices – which he calls the “voices of the gods”.
These voices told humans how to behave and what to do and like; man had really no inherent will or opinion in existential or practical matters. Hence the authors allegation they had no “consciousness”.
But then (suddenly?) “it came to pass” that the left hemisphere of the brain (eventually) took over; which is supposed to have given man his exquisite language skills, also his own will or “consciousness”, and – eventually – humanity its civilization.
My imprompty remarks: What the author describes as “hearing voices” and “the voices of the gods” seems to be based mostly on his study of patients in psychiatric hospitals, and hence scewed by their insanity.
However his ideas probably could have a more general interest if based on the well established phenomena of telepathy – and not so much on the unhealthy, abnormal, even morbid degenerations of psychiatric patients.
Obviously man of antiquity (and prehistory) were able to use this faculty of telepathy much more in practical life than modern man. Telepathy thus enabled him to “listen to”, “have a feeling for”, “have empathy for” his fellow man, be they his friends or his foes.
The author asserts, that the brains right hemisphere is mans controller, his “general”, “strategist” (or whatever) as it is mostly this part of the brain that sees and uses patterns and designs: Our holistic brain?
But eventually the left part of the brain – according to the author perhaps rather suddenly abt. 3000 years ago – became more prominent and even dominant. Language, words and scripture became more advanced – while the telepathic skills of the brains right side languished, eventually becoming only rudimentary in the wast majority.
(Perhaps it should also be mentioned that many authors maintain, that “aliens” seem to communicate only or mostly by telepathy. See f.inst. university historian Richard M. Dolan’s two massive volumes “UFOs & The National Security State” (2009)).
This developing shift in the “balance of power” of the brains two hemispheres has normally been described as an improvement, a progress. Which it is, however, only in so far as the telepathic faculties of the right brain – including “intuitive feeling” and “empathy” – did not disappear.
Otherwise the shift might perhaps more accurately have been described as a degeneration, which seems to be the case with modern man. Hence modern civilizations character of fragmentation and disintegration; of reckless egotism and satanism?
My above remarks are however rather impromptu. I hope to be able to comment a bit more on Julian Jaynes brilliant book in a few weeks or months.
2. LITTERATUR BILLEDER. Af Vilh. Andersen. København, Det Nordiske Forlag – Ernst Bojesen. 1903, 227p. Original edition, very nicely bound in private halfcalf, only slightly worn.
The author is of course the well known danish litterature historian and critic Vilhelm Andersen (1864-1953), from 1908 for many years professor at the Copenhagen University.
I believe this is his first collection of essays on litterature. They are sampled from different sources, though mostly from newspapers and magazines.
According to the table of content there are essays titled thus: RASMUS MONTANUS – FREDERIKSBERG – DET HEIBERGSKE HUS – HENRIK HERTZ – FR.PALUDAN-MÜLLER – DEN GRØNNE BOG – BLICHERS JYSKE DIGTNING – BØDTCHERS DIGTE – LEMBCKES DIGTE – NIELS MØLLERS “RØSTER” – GEORG BRANDES OG DANMARK – BJØRNSON-MYTE – and “MODERSMAALET”.
I have to admit I already own the book, but as a rather nondiscript paperback, quite without soul. Perhaps this is the reason I have hardly read in the book yet.
When browsing in the store I happened to open on page 81 and read this (from essay on Henrik Hertz):
“Omtrent midt imellem Hørsholm og Rungsted ligger et stykke inde paa marken en høj, som Hertz til fru Heibergs erindring døbte Hannabjerget. Her var hans yndlingsplads. Han kalder i et brev udsigten derfra “ubestridelig den smukkeste i hele Danmark”.
“Staar man paa denne høj og vender sig mod nord, har man bag ved sig skove, til venstre imellem landevejstræerne byen med de røde tage og møllevingerne ovenover, til højre Sundet med Hveen og sejlerne, og foran sig, i bakke og dal, marker og enge i vid uendelighed.
“Det ser virkelig ud, som om den danske natur paa dette sted havde gjort en udstilling af alle sine yndigheder. Netop dette ligesom kunstnerisk arrangerede tiltalte Hertz. I et af sine digte raader han, at man for at have ret glæde af naturen skal arrangere den med et kunstnerøje.
“Det mærkes paa alt det smukke, som han har skrevet om sit fædrelands skønhed, at han har kendt lidt til at lade sig betage af den vilde fri natur – sligt vilde vist forekommet ham raat – men som en Københavner holdt meget af at se på udsigter.
“Naar det saa en dag var rigtig varmt og stille i vejret, gik Hertz gerne igennem Rungsted skov helt ned til stranden. Her kunde han ligge i timevis paa en høj skrænt og døse og stirre ud over Sundet paa det himmelblaa vand med de sitrende solstriber, de lavt flakkende maager, de skinnende sejl. Hans unordiske natur elskede denne hede stilhed.
“I hans digte er der altid stilhed og meget ofte netop denne tropiske middagsstilhed, hvor “varmen synker sagte ned, og naturen som i drømme er fordybet i sin fred”. I en saadan stilhed maa man, for ret at forstaa dette stykkes poesi, tænke sig, at “Kong Renés Datter” foregaar”.
I suppose Hannebjerget may be just about where you now find Hannebjerg Vej? So I probably have passed by this location almost daily for abt. 3 years when biking from Hørsholm to Rungsted Statsskole, where i was made a student in 1964.
In the nineteensixties you still had to pass by a small farm (“Opmæsgaard”?) with dunghill and wheat fields and all to get from Hørsholm to Rungsted by (still existing) Ørbækvej, Gl.Vallerødvej and Bolbrovej.
However the farm and wheat fields have long since been converted to a giant, ugly, concrete “Berlin Wall” with appartments. And, alas, I fear that the present day view from what may be back of Hannabjerget to the south out over this giant, “half-mile-long” appartment house may be one of the least charming in North Seeland?
3. REVUE DES DEUX MONDES. TABLE. DEUXIEME PERIODE 1874-85. Paris, 1886, 204p, bound in half-calf.
I have recently acquired some stray issues of this venerable magazine, of which I bought a large box shock full many years ago (now mostly discarded). But these tables of content may be as rare as perhaps helpful for an occasional reader.
Tweets on http://www.twitter.com/gamleboeger