/ Scholarship / Bible /
Streaming is wonderful. I just watched a movie on the Book of Daniel, tears sprang from my eyes as Daniel is delivered, by divine miracle, of course, from the lions’ den. Boohoo, how wonderful: so said the huge natural ancient area of my brain. If the small, recent, deliberately developed (but impossible-to-be-much-developed) part of my brain had agreed this would be a very different world: and we would be a different species.
I hope to say a bunch of things here: and weave some of them together with responses to another movie I streamed close to Daniel: Blackfish. It will be a scrapbook at first, may be edited, expanded for the rest of time.
First I sketch in the title target:
The movie shows Daniel being led by Darius’ soldiers to the lions den. They walk like in a hall, they come to a door, a door like any sound studio would have a choice of: an ordinary door with a door knob. They hold the door open, Daniel enters. There’s no rush of mad lions eager to rend soldiers or Daniel. No, Daniel walks to where lions are supposed to be passively waiting: like a fish holding position in current, waiting for food to arrive. Daniel entered through an ordinary door, now he’s in an ordinary enough room: a cell, a dungeon? no grass, no sunlight: hard floors, bare walls. Daniel’s lions den looked completely like the lion cages I saw at the zoo as a boy: years before the Bronx Zoo completely rethought how they caged animals.
Reflect: we’ve all seen more than enough PBS documentaries to have heard repeatedly that a caged animal is not a sane animal. Neither should we expect a tortured prisoner to be the same creature as the “same” “man” in the bosom of his family: he just having carried home the slain boar, the week’s pay check … Lions kept in a crypt will not be the same lions that Samson met in the wild: and the lions that Samson met are not likely to be African Lions, the lions we know from movies. (There’s no telling — without lots more scholarship than most scholars have — what the Bible means by lots of words mistaken for common: lion … rose …?)
Rethink the title: it shouldn’t be Daniel in the Lions’ Den; it should be Daniel thrust among insane, tortured, perverted beasts (of unidentified species).
Within hours I watch the movie Blackfish. Killer whales, orcas, are captured, removed from their family groups, put in a cage. In the wild these creatures group in regular patterns: not unlike cats: the females group, it’s a matriarchal society, the kittens are in the center, toms roam the periphery. Humans in their natural setting(s) form families, tribes; humans enslaved get shoved into a ship, the slavers break up families, put the people with others of incompatible culture, different languages … separate mothers from children, separate worshipers from their god … like Daniel in Babylon! Humane treatment is not the goal.
Well, shove the orcas together like lions in the Central Park Zoo in 1940 and what happens to the males? Their fluke crumples.
Like chaining Samson to the mill wheel, cutting his hair. Next you can dress him in a bow tie. You don’t even have to cut off his balls: he’s already a castrati.
We get so used to seeing orcas with a limp-dick fluke we’re not likely to realize how rare this condition would be in the wild. Go to one of these marine circuses, pay money, pay lots of money, listen to the testimony of their experts, the trainer/show people. These scripted morons tell the infinitely ignorant and gullible public that this is normal. !!
(In 1990, Pete, the boss of Highlands Hammock State Park, asked me if I’d like to give the ecology / park history tours. Sure. I learned the basic spiel, then studied up and improved it. I got standing ovations from my first tour onward. People were singing my praises to the ranger station. But others were sabotaging my reputation. One professional educator couldn’t believe what a great teacher I am; but ten illiterate fundamentalists would complain that I was telling lies: I said the hammock had been developing for one million years, I said that this part of Florida had been above sea level for ten million years … These claims were impossible: because the Bible (interpreted) tells us that Creation happened only six thousand years ago: things can’t be one million or ten million years old if they didn’t exist until six thousand years ago! Guess whose reports were most listened to?
Civilization provides itself with institutions obedient to the liars, then pretends that things are labeled correctly.
Not at all.)
You Are There
Remember that show that pretended to put the boob by his tube into the center of the action for … the Civil War, Roosevelt with Stalin and Churchill … The medievals did that too: there’s Jesus on the cross, there, just to the side, is St. Francis praying. Dr. Who does it with time travel from a police box.
I invite you to understand that the Bible does much the same thing: the Jews imagine that they are the center of the universe, the Jews imagine that Cyrus the Great sat down with Croesus the Rich and now they stick the Jew Daniel right next to them, imagine that Cyrus and Croesus would listen to this Daniel: the successful Jew bureaucrat. Well, all right, the Puerto Rican clerk might get her picture taken with Mayor Laguardia: that doesn’t mean she dines with him regularly (not likely, even if she’s his whore).
We all do the same thing: I imagine myself right there as Jesus is crucified, I imagine Jesus being aware of me: as his sympathy-suffering witness: he’s the star, I’m the costar.
(And if Jesus doesn’t watch out I’ll be the star and he the costar! Ditto Noah, Abraham … anybody …)
(And if I see even the tiniest potential for it to be true with me, imagine how readily I see the same potential in you?!)
Watch Blackfish: more than once: monitor how many lies the trainers tell the public.
Not that the trainers know that the propaganda they’re spewing is “90%” falsehood; the circuses don’t hire zoologists to ride and kiss the orcas. The captive orcas die young; the trainers tell the public that that’s the normal life span. Nazis can tell Nazis, “Oh, it’s natural for Jews to die at age twenty, with no gold fillings in their teeth, caged, with their piano moved to a Nazi home …”
But we’re lied to on every front, all our lives, how would we be able to tell: the liars supervise the truth tellers: terrorize the truth tellers: silence those still trying to tell regardless …
No one is really fooled: but few speak up, and there are always a couple more crosses for those who do. Germans voted for Hitler: then they sat silent in their 1933 Berlin living rooms as this and that color-shirted thugs beat us this Jew, that gypsy, the other dissident in the street. And then they all say, “We didn’t know”!
Why not? How come Americans still didn’t know in 1950ish when I was sent to the office for mocking the compulsory school’s pretense of reinventing deomocracy, where our every word was supervised.
When I offered an alternative, a cybernetic democracy, in 1970. Everyone saw what I was doing, but nearly no one saw out loud, most kept silent, their hands in their pockets: can’t speak up while the Nazi’s supervise our free speech.
Daniel is presented to us as a Jew in Cyrus’s Babylon, coming up on seventy years since the Jews, according to their Bible, were deracinated from Jerusalem and slam dunked in Babylon. Gee, just escaped from Egypt, to Israel’s south-west, now they’re enslaved in Babylon, to Israel’s north-east: the Jews are caught in a major-civilization sandwich. If you read Egyptian records (which I don’t: like you, I rely on the scholarship of others) the Jews are no big deal, thinking that they’re even mentioned by the hot shit Egyptians requires a lot of interpretation. If you read Babylonian records (which, again like you, I also don’t) you’ll be hard put to find the Jews any more oppressed than other coerced ethnic groups in civilization’s cement mixer. You can hear about this and that conquered or conquering king, obviously lots of people got run over, their identities lost or mixed; leave it to the Jews to tell stories in which the slaves are the heroes, the slaves’ god the main god. I love this movie: the big cheese conquering king, Cyrus, a big player (sure, that agrees with what the scholars who do sift this stuff agree on): Croesus, a rich guy, sure he gets mentioned too … and Daniel. Huh? Who?
(And did any Persian historian pretend that the defeated king of Lydia, Croesus, would have dined with Cyrus the Great?)
Balshazar, Darius, one goyim king after another, breed bureaucrat vipers in the bureaucracy which petrifies any civilization. The three bureaucrats featured in this story resent and rear Daniel, the Jew: supposedly because he alone isn’t corrupt: he works for the Persians, the Chaldeans, the Akadians without taking bribes: like Francis Bacon, way later in England: he gets arrested for taking bribes! Sure he took bribes, they all took bribes, Bacon was different because he didn’t let the bribes influence his judgment! So the more-corrupt had to sabotage the less-corrupt. The more corrupt bureaucrats trick Darius into condemning Daniel. Darius agrees with their nitwit logic that proclaims that a king must obey his own laws, that a king must never contradict himself, Darius commands Daniel to be thrown into the lions den. Now the movie shows this “den”: they open a door, an ordinary door. Daniel walks in. There walking about are lions, both male and female. Daniel is among the lions.
The lions do not rush the door when it opens, the let Daniel come to them, everyone in their own good time. Ditto the next morning: the soldiers open that same door, Daniel comes walking out, the lions make no attempt to eat a few soldiers, very well-behaved lions: somehow they’ve forgotten their reputation for ferocity, these lions are all drugged …
I wept like a babe, I’ve known this story all my life, I blubbered. Well: bless streaming, not many hours later I was watching another movie: Blackfish. This movie documents orcas, killer whales, captured and trained to do tricks in marine circuses like SeaWorld. And I thought of Daniel’s lions, crowded together, males and females, in a room, with a door, like a basement, like a dungeon …
I’ve seen film on lions in Africa. The do group together, naturally, and at night: it’s their own behavior, they’re not performing a trick. The females sort themselves one way, the males also sort, differently, they sometimes have contact, for their own purposes. And I remember going to the zoo as a child: the lions were like the lions in Daniel’s den: all shoved together: no natural light, no grass, all in a cage like sardines in a can. And then, was it in the 1950s, the Bronx Zoo got redesigned: now the lions roamed an area like a savanna: they could go solo, or group as they liked. It wasn’t as though they had Texas to themselves, or even the Bronx; but they did have more room than this lions den in the movie Daniel.
more edit coming
Blackfish shows captive orcas caged like the old zoos, pressed together like sardines: pressed together like the guppies in my boyhood fish tank. The movie shows males being captured, dumped into a water cage. In all cases, within a few years, the males’ fluke crumples over: like a castrati wearing a bow tie.
2014 05 22 It was only last night that Jan and I watched a movie of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. The story is narrated by the stallion named Black Beauty. The reader is made aware of mistreatment: of man to man, man to animal. Be nice to fellow creatures.
That’s pass as a religion at my muster. I was goaded to visit this post today by a web news piece on Seaworld as a bastion of animal cruelty.
… There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham …
Black Beauty, Chapter 13, last paragraph
I love animals imagined as conscious, even wise, stories, but associate them with Kipling: maybe he took a page from her! Tolstoy too. And Isak Dinesen. …