Friday, June 26, 2009

Europeans Covering America

It was not Columbus that is credited with discovering North America, but John Cabot, or Giovanni Caboto, as his mother knew him, since he was Italian. Henry the 7th of England financed Cabot's explorations, and historians are not sure of anything regarding these voyages.  But historians talk of Cabot landing in Newfoundland and claiming Eastern Canada for the English.
This would have been Cabot's second voyage in search of a northerly passage to the Spice Islands. The date of June 24, 1497, is assigned to his landing in North America.  Cabot never returned from his third voyage, begun in 1498, and nothing is known for sure of his fate or that of the crew members. 

But it is not just Cabot's voyages which can be described with various degress of certainty, which certainly means, degrees of uncertainty.  Accounts of Cabot's sailing across the Atlantic are just an example of the kind of dreams that historians regularly compose.  Calling the seas the Atlantic, his ship, The Matthew, his fate, unknown---what can this really mean?  Can you quiz a drop of water til it says, "Atlantic?"  The historians do not recognise that the status of their knowledge is far more compromised than their admitting, "well, judging from his maps, he probably made it to what we now call Newfoundland." 

What do we really know, and even this is a surmising. But the real knowledge that could have been involved, would have been the bump of a wooden keel on a sandy shore, the kind of thing you see, you feel.  This can be called knowledge.  The use of words like English sovereignty, this is not knowledge, this is imagination.  You cannot taste English sovereignty, the way you can salt in the air.  A simple enough distinction, but one the academics don't make.

Jan Cox said "history is dreams." My talking of Cabot here is meant to illustrate what Jan meant with this phrase, "history is dreams."  When I mention history, I am mainly trying to find fresh ways to think for my own benefit.  Not to elucidate some "out there" kind of truth. History is dreams.  But if your mind is motoring along at a mechanical speed, your best bet to speed up, is fresh thought, (and always, though this has not been publicly explained, a certain effort.)  But fresh thoughts----that will at least keep you in the game.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Finding the Trail

My philosophic calm gets lost easily if the subject is lost pets.  Or---people who speak of animals having a homing ability.  It has always seemed to me that folks who speak of pets finding their way home are irresponsible people who blame their pets for their own carelessness, as in "Fluffy will come back when he is ready." That kind of attitude makes me want to slap the speaker.  Most likely their pet is frightened and lost and soon to be gassed, the latter if some so-called good samaritan drops them off at the government sponsored control the animals by killing them place.
Well the above paragraph does sound cranky.  Jan Cox spoke of our taking care of stray animals. He did not dwell on it----taking care of some lost pet will not wake you up. Ordinary people often have big hearts.  Some even act on their impulses to be kind to animals.
And---the fact is some animals do exhibit an ability to find their way back home.  There is no doubt about this.  This homing ability in animals is rare. The rareness of this ability in animals, (an ability which most people could not duplicate, to find your way over strange terrain, to some place you may or even may not have ever been to before) means you have to assume the animals you encounter are really sadly lost.  How do some few dogs or (I assume) cats, navigate their way successfully, is a question, even as we acknowledge most animals do not exhibit this behavior.  Is it some kind of radar, some latching onto a magnetic line?
Similarly people very rarely exhibit an interest in the Real Work,--the Way of Real Knowledge, to which Jan Cox devoted his life. Presumably all people have the ability to hear its reality.  Though most people, too, will never find their way home.