Category Archives: Brave New World

Harvey M. Bricker and the Passing of the Great Race’s Memory of Facts: the Culture of Traditional Education

Memories of Memorization, Traditional Education, and the Old Archaeology that came from WASPY Old “Traditional” Harvard. Education of a kind that almost no one has anymore, from an Educator without fair modern parallels, because of my Memories of a serious man with a wry and dry sense of humor who wore bow-ties and proudly (if somewhat ironically and daringly) sported a Hitler-style “toothbrush” mustache….

Word has come to me second-hand via HSC from the desk of my old honors’ thesis advisor E. Wyllys Andrews V that Professor Harvey M. Bricker of Tulane University passed on, joining his professors and other “Dead White Men” of Academic History in the the Great Symposium in the Sky last Sunday January 15, 2017. I rarely have occasion to write or even think about my undergraduate college professors in the 1970s, but Harvey without any doubt was one of my two top favorites out of a faculty of Archaeology and Historical Anthropology that I simply loved, really idolized, and almost worshipped as a younger than average teenager in New Orleans.

It is hard to believe that he must have been 76 or 77 when he died. Harvey and his wife Victoria R. were among the young generation of professors who totally remade Tulane as a modern university in the 1970s. (Vicky Bricker was, in fact, my very first professor of Anthropology, and the reason I switched from Political Science to Anthropology as my freshman declaration of major).

Harvey was an uncompromising traditionalist, an “Old Archaeologist” of the Hallam L. Movius (Harvard) and Francois Bordes/Bordeaux French Palaeoloithic School of careful excavation and stone tool typologies. Harvey made no attempt to conceal his contempt for the “New Archaeology” of the “Processualists” and for that I absolutely loved him.

He was a great classroom professor, although I’m sad to say I apparently only managed to take two classes from him, namely “Man in the Pleistocene” and “Rise of Civilization”, then catalog numbered Anthropology 625-626.

Today, I am most grateful to him for emphasizing a much maligned feature of learning: memorization. “Memorization of Facts” is denigrated in the modern world as almost beneath contempt. “Give me Big Problems; Teach me how to think outside the box; don’t try to lock me in” whine the modern millennial students.

I have always wondered how you ever think outside of the box if you don’t know what’s IN the box. It’s a serious question. I firmly believe that thought unanchored in knowledge of all that came before is pretty much worthless. But that is the way and the story of the modern world: “let’s forget everything that the Dead White Men thought day before yesterday” and “let’s just think whatever we want to think and do whatever we want to do”—that’s a surefire strategy for disaster, and it’s what the cultural marxists are doing with modern education at all levels.

Harvey Bricker awarded high grades ONLY for recitation of facts. “Facts are low level observations” which do not require much in the way of comparative thought, while “Theories are Higher Level, synthetic observations.” Or so I learned another (much more “Processual”, “New”) Archaeologist, Columbia’s Barbara J. Price, who herself died in New York City, February 18, 2016, at the age of 75.

To look at the forest or the trees, that is the question. Except it is really no kind of question: if you don’t look up very close, you won’t, you can’t possibly, know what kind of trees are in the forest, what is the mix of species. And to really study forest ecology you need a pretty exact census of each tree, vine, and bush in your study area, together with the contents and depths of the soil, the worm and insect population, not to mention the birds and mammals.

So Harvey M. Bricker taught like they did back in my grandparents’ days, back in the time of Madison Grant (the one who wrote of “The Passing of the Great Race”), and Harvey expected students to learn the names of local site phases and radio-carbon dates and the typological contents of tool assemblages.

I was fortunate because my grandparents had required me to memorize lists since I was a kid, and to recite them and test my memory was our family’s version of fun and game time. My grandfather’s practical point was simple: “Memorization is the key to any kind of business success. I have companies (H.B. Meyer & Son’s, Al Meyer Company, Bell Chemical Company) that depend on sales to very sophisticated corporate and government customers who have “procurement departments” whose employees do nothing but look at the available products’ cost benefits all day long. If my salesmen can’t remember every single product we have without consulting a catalog, they won’t be able to push the right product to the right customer. If they can’t remember every chemical component of every product, when it was patented, by us or someone else, and how it was used, they won’t be effective in presenting the substance of what we offer. So these are the same games we play at the office: who can remember the most detail. You’ll never regret learning how to memorize.”

So the attack on memorization of facts is part of the modern “dumbing down” of people to serve computers. Computers are based on memory, but can a computer really sell a product, or an idea, as effectively, or with as much flare and enthusiasm, as a personal conversation can do?

Academics, of course, both creates and consists of (at least theoretically, ideally) the great marketplace of ideas. Harvey Miller Bricker belonged to this old school that an archaeologist needed to be (in essence) as good a salesman for his ideas as anyone on my grandfather’s well-disciplined sales team. In the modern world of “safe spaces” and “trigger words” and political correctness gone mad, well, forcing people to memorize facts is tantamount to forcing them to work, and to accept the world as it is.

But if we haven’t studied the world as it REALLY is, how can we even know for sure that we don’t like it?

I remember my big bulging blue spiral ring notebooks with gold embossed “Tulane University” on the covers, chocked with page after page of notes in my fair-to-awful handwriting and internal manila “pocket” containers stuffed with class handouts, quizzes, and graded tests and papers.

For Anthro 625, “Man in the Pleistocene” (a survey of Old Stone Age/Palaeolithic Archaeology) from the first choppers below the bottom of the earliest floors at Olduvai Gorge to the final end of the ice age and dawn of the Mesolithic, Harvey’s lectures were filled with facts, and I basically couldn’t write down the facts he gave in those speeches fast enough. I wrote my paper for that course, “Comment Vivaient les Rennes a l’Age de l’homme Préhistorique” hypothesizing that the Later Magdalenian people of Upper Palaeolithic France had domesticated the reindeer, at least to the same degree that the Lapp of Finland have done so in modern times. (It was at least two years before the release of the Christmas kids’ song, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”… but “L’Age du Rennes” or “the Reindeer Age” is an old-fashioned French expression naming the Upper Palaeolithic. Harvey made me rewrite it about four times. It was a great experience. I remember reading and criticizing the work of an English archaeologist named D.A. Sturdy, and Harvey told me (wrote on one version of my paper) I shouldn’t be so hard on him, that Sturdy wasn’t necessarily “that stupid.” I was only 17 but Harvey spent a great deal of time with me.

For “Rise of Civilization”, Harvey required us to memorize the local sequence of Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Age in each sector of Europe, including the infamous “Reinecke” series. Thanks to Harvey, names like “Starčevo-Körös-Cris”, Vinča, Vinitsa, Lepenski-Vir, Dolni Vestonice, Dunaújváros, were fixed in my mind and remained ready to resuscitate talking to archaeologists in 1989-90 when my former Greek wife and I toured Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe during and after the fall of the Iron Curtain while I had a Volkswagenwerk Fellowship at the University of Bonn…. In essence, Harvey in New Orleans had taught us about local sequences as well as and as thoroughly as locally specialized archaeologists learn about their own backyards in (the former) Czechoslovakia, Hungary, (the former) Yugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria.

I never got to go on a dig with Harvey at the Châtelperronian site of Les Tambourets in the Pyrenees in southern France or ever even to see him in action, except in the classroom, but I heard so much from him, and found him so inspiring, that I feel like I did.

http://www.worldcat.org/title/chatelperronian-of-les-tambourets-haute-garonne-france/oclc/907679210

http://www.paleoanthro.org/media/dissertations/Scandiuzzi2008-abstract.pdf

I don’t know how it is now, but in those days the Anthropology Professors at Tulane all ate at the University Cafeteria with the students, and so we got to spend lots of time with them out of class. Harvey at a table with students was always funny in his stern dry way, twitching his mustache meaningfully in ways that the Führer himself could never have matched. He and Vicky had their share of the Anthro Department parties, including the annual Ritual of the Passing of the Golden Bough, at their home on Cherokee Street. I miss those days…. they were so carefree and fine and fun…. and so very interesting.

The passing of a great old fashioned professor like Harvey is a very sad moment. He and Vicky, starting 42-40 years in the past, so long ago, played a major role in shaping my life, my mind and intellect, such as it is….and they definitely formed a large part of how I look at the world…. through their very conservative lenses of cultural evolution and archaeological prehistory, the evolution of civilization and the development of cultures. I did not know them when they were focused on Maya astronomy and all that has remained pretty much beyond my grasp until the present day anyhow…. I am ashamed that I do not even own their magnum opus as of today, although I plan on buying it immediately:

https://www.amazon.com/Astronomy-Codices-Memoirs-American-Philosophical/dp/0871692651

But above all I remember them walking across the Tulane campus together looking so dedicated, so serious, and determined.

America in general, Tulane in particular, was different back then. But if we remember and rebuild, mixing memory and desire, as T.S. Eliot wrote in the Wasteland, perhaps it could be that way again. Perhaps students will rediscover the joys of memorization and building knowledge carefully and slowly, one brick, one stone tool, one Palaeolithic burin or type of clay at a time…. and both our theories and the world may be better for this.

SEE ALSO:

http://obits.nola.com/obituaries/nola/obituary.aspx?n=Harvey-Miller-Bricker&pid=183715426

http://www.legacy.com/memorial-sites/tulane-university/

9-11 + 13 = Happy Anniversary to a Dying Empire

Last night in Beverly Hills, as if to celebrate the eve of this horrible day, there were searchlight helicopters all over town and police in every alleyway of every residential street. What happened? Nothing, so far as I can tell. But the Police State is operating quite well, thank you. No problems in filling the American Gulags. In Los Angeles they arrest and fine people who care for too many unhealthy dogs (if they aren’t veterinarians, but just caring, loving people). In Beverly Hills they arrest and fine people who have more than 4 dogs… or more than 3 dogs and two cats…. I forget the exact formula, BUT I actually know people who have been prosecuted for such things.

Meanwhile, 9-11 has achieved all of its goals: we have lost most of our fundamental freedoms, we are constantly under surveillance, and our country has been flooded with Muslim immigrants precisely to make sure that no one will ever feel safe again, and the original (White & Black) populations of this country will know that this is NO LONGER their land….Blacks are no longer the “dangerous minority” to whites—Blacks and Whites are both being displaced by Japanese and Chinese Asians at the upper end of the socio-economic scale and Mexican and South Asian immigrants at the lower end. Hindus and Pakistanis and Arabs come to replace us in the middle class, management and many professions. So yes, racially conscious politics and policies are still alive and well an living in the United States—it’s just that the world’s all gone Topsy-Turvey.

I would like to see 9-11 transformed into a national holiday where we study “the lies of history” and celebrate our liberation from those falsehoods. Historical truth can be a source of pride or a source of shame—or just a source of valuable psychological insights into the perversity that is the Human Condition. 9-11 should be remembered as a cautionary tale that we must ALWAYS QUESTION THE FACTS and BE SUSPICIOUS AND SKEPTICAL, NO MATTER WHO TALKS TO US.

A friend of mine, and she is a friend, albeit a highly emotional and difficult person, becomes very indignant with me when I disagree with her assessment of other people or situations (or even her own situation). She tells me that friends should support each other no matter what. I say, “sometimes only your best friend will tell you what you really don’t want to hear.”

She cannot understand that I no more would ever say, “I support my friends, right or wrong” than I would say “I support my country, right or wrong.” Although I know that, for many years, “my country, right or wrong” was a prayerful mantra among those who still had faith in their government.

No, we all have a fundamental duty constantly to evaluate what is right and what is wrong. We are not merely entitled to change our judgments, we are duty bound to change our judgments if we learn new facts or see old facts in a new light. The quest for truth is a constant, never-ending struggle and the moment we abandon that quest, we cease to be human.

ANYONE today in America who says they still believe the official story about 9-11 is either a retarded fool or a craven sycophantic liar. And yes, this does appear to include all the editors of “Wikipedia” and “CNN”….and the National Geographic Society….etc. (in other words, everyone in the mainstream).

“Behold El Capitan,” “Remember the Maine,” Guy Fawkes’ Day, September 11, and the Culture of Deception

Some of my happiest days as an undergraduate at Tulane University were spent in Dixon Hall under the tutelage of my voice and singing instructor Francis Monachino, long-time Chairman of the Tulane & Newcomb Music Departments and a great and inspiring teacher.

My first part in any major production at Tulane was as “Senor Amibile Pozzo, Chamberlain of Peru” in John Philip Sousa’s Comic Operetta El Capitán (Premiered in April 1896 in Boston & New York). I never realized it at the time, but this comedy had great historical significance, and may have played a part in launching 20th Century America’s Culture of Deceit and Deception.

The plot is pure farce, on its face: “El Capitán” is in fact Don Enrique Medigua, a fictional Spanish Viceroy of Peru, which was in reality the richest of all the dominions in the New World, whose production of gold, silver, and agricultural products far outstripped even Mexico during the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries. Don Medigua fears assassination by rebels, and secretly arranges for the murder of the (real) rebel leader known as “El Capitán” (so the real rebel leader plays no part in the operetta). Unbeknownst to the rebels or anyone except his Chamberlain Pozzo, Don Medigua disguises himself as El Capitán and sabotages the rebel movement from within, but not before allowing the beautiful Estrelda, daughter of the former Viceroy, to fall madly in love with him based on his reputation as a fierce terrorist and warrior. Don Medigua’s actual wife and daughter think he has been kidnapped by the rebels and have Pozzo pretend to be the Viceroy so that the Spanish born Aristocrats of Peru will not lose hope and despair. An enterprising band of rebels then capture Pozzo, believing him to be the real Viceroy, and bring him before El Capitán who is, of course by this time in something of a pickle. But Don Medigua disguised as El Capitán has so completely exhausted the rebels by his “mis-leadership” that the rebellion collapses, the Spanish nobility wins, and the story ends “happily.”

A thought that never occurred to me when I was playing Pozzo at 16 (to Anthony Laciura’s brilliant performance as Don Medigua/El Capitán) now seems so obvious to me: was it mere coincidence that the most popular writer of military marches in American history composed this operetta less than two years before the sinking of the Battleship USS Maine in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898. Most historians now concur that the Maine, the second armoured cruiser (pre-dreadnought Battleship) in the U.S. Navy, was deliberately sunk by its crew for the sole purpose of inciting American popular opinion in favor of America’s first “World Wide War” of expeditionary conquest (i.e., the direct precursor of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq). El Capitán exemplifies the literary, historical, and/or dramatic trope that certain ideas appear first as a comic joke and then are later taken seriously: if John Philip Sousa’s operetta was not the template for the sinking of the Maine, it is nevertheless a remarkable historical coincidence that Don Medigua first murders and then impersonates his enemy in order to defeat him in a popular drama that was still playing all over the United States when the USS Maine blew up.

And yes, I write all this at the close of Guy Fawkes’ Day, November 5, 2011: Remember, Remember the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot; I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot. I like to pat myself on the back and brag that no sooner had Osama bin Laden been named as the perpetrator of 9-11 than I predicted with great confidence that he was the new Gunpowder Plotter, and that 9-11 was the new 5th of November. I predicted that bin Laden’s name would endure forever beside Guy Fawkes, but unfortunately, I had no role in producing the amazing movie based on that theme which came out in 2005, on the 400th Anniversary of the original Gunpowder plot in 1605.

V-for-Vendetta remains, to my mind, probably the finest political movie of the century, and I mean the past hundred years since the beginning of the cinematic film industry, not just the 21st Century in which we have lived for barely 11 years. Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving marvelously portray the principle characters in this story which explores all the possibilities of the use of the Guy Fawkes gunpowder story, and this movie has in turn given a new birth of metaphoric and dimensional analysis to the study of false flag attacks, false heroism, and the role of government as “first among all liars.”

There is not a shred of doubt that the movie V-for-Vendetta is the story of 9-11, metaphorically, allegorically, fictionalized as Britain under a pseudo-Fascist (Adam Sutler, whose name is awfully reminiscent of Adolph Hitler) instead of the United States of America under a pseudo-Republican (George W. Bush), in future time rather than historical, but with so many direct references to 9-11 and associated events…. well, it’s just incredible.

Also incredible to me is that the Wikipedia article on V-for-Vendetta does not even mention the parallels between the Sutler regime’s use of false-flag bioterrorism against the British people and the (9-11 “Truth Movement’s” theory that the) Bush regime used false-flag air terrorism against the American people. To me, the parallels are inescapable: the producers of V-for-Vendetta analyzed the same facts concerning recent history as those which gave rise to the 9-11 Truth Movement and came to the conclusion that terrorism originates not (primarily anyhow) with real Muslim extremists but with governments who see the “genius” of fear and use it against their own people to suppress civil liberties and maintain power.

The Muslim terrorists (in both North American and Western European modern history and V-for-Vendetta mythology), to the extent that they are real, are rather like Guy Fawkes in the 17th century. Modern Muslim terrorists, like Papist plotters of the past, have great value as symbols and embodiments of a real but rather vague threat to the national identity which justify the use and maintenance of real power. The Papist threat in England could only materialize when it comes in the form of a Catholic King (like King James II Stuart, grandson of James I, against whom Guy Fawkes allegedly plotted, and younger brother of Charles II who had no legitimate offspring [although he had literally dozens of illegitimate children by his mistresses]. The tumultuous history of 17th Century Stuart England focused on the maintenance of royal power through popular fear of Catholicism, balanced against royal fear of popular power manifested through Cromwell’s Civil War and Commonwealth (including the Regicide/Martyrdom Murder/Execution of King Charles I on January 31, 1649 after a preposterous “show” trial of the King for treason) and finally the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688-1689 which firmly established the modern Constitutional Monarchy of Great Britain ruled by Parliament.

In Adam Sutler’s England, like George Bush’s America, maintaining fear of Muslims among the people supported the repression of the historical “English Freedoms” secured under Elizabeth I, James I, Charles II, and William III & Mary II. If there are real fears of Muslim domination in America, they are coming to fruition under George W. Bush’s successor, “Barack Hussein Obama” whose name resoundingly echoes both “Osama” (bin Ladin, the modern Guy Fawkes) and the former dictator of Iraq whom George W. Bush decided to eliminate to maximize control over a nation which simply did not accept the “Bush doctrine” of Global government under US control.

Any way you look at it: elaborate governmental lies concerning faked attacks and falsified heroes have been used to justify strong central governments for a very long time now. It is hard to say whether the original Gunpowder Plot was real or staged. The “November 5″ plot on King James I and his wife and Court MIGHT have been real, and if so, it was a REALLY stupid plot (there was not enough Gunpowder under the houses of Parliament or any other explosive technology available in 1605 to have blown through and killed the King). Even if successful, the plotters had no Papist “nominee” lined up to become King of England on King James’ death, and James’ eldest son at the time, the future Charles I, was only two weeks short of five years old on November 5, 1605. (But admittedly, if James AND his children had been killed, legitimate succession at that point might have been very difficult, in that no English Monarch since Henry VIII had had any children: all of Henry Tudor’s children: Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, died childless, possibly in part a testament to their own horror at their father’s gruesome “family and marital” life and history).

Other historians have seen Guy Fawkes as a “Patsy” (scapegoat) comparable in real role and status to Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, being the “Fall Guy” for the “False Flag” Gunpowder Plot just as “9-11 Truthers” (including this writer) believe that Osama bin Laden was merely the “Patsy” for the events of 1998-2001 and afterwards which gave rise to the USA Patriot Act of 2001 and all the subsequent greatest suppressions of English and American liberties in the entire history of both nations since the reign of Henry VIII (who died 102 years and 3 days before the execution of Charles I, on January 28, 1547).

The study of “false flag” terrorism and warfare is a rising subject of historical deconstruction. It is stark testimony to the general lack of confidence people have in the U.S. government that a large number of people (polls differ) disbelieve the “official stories” of the Warren Commission concerning the events of November 1963 in Dallas, the origins of the Vietnam War in the “Gulf of Tonkin” incident the very next year, in August of 1964, and the subsequent stories of the events in the 1990s at Ruby Ridge (Idaho), Mount Carmel (Waco, Texas), Oklahoma City, the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, and finally 9-11 itself in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Pearl Harbor, the trigger for World War II, was obviously not a “False Flag” attack (there is not and has never been any doubt that the Imperial Japanese Navy was correctly identified as the culprit, and that it acted under official orders from Tokyo). But many Americans (and others worldwide) believe that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had despaired of ever finding a politically adequate or emotionally sufficient excuse to embroil or involve the United States into World War II, and so he either expressly invited the Japanese to attack or at the very least intentionally disabled the U.S. Naval and air forces around Hawaii in early December 1941.

The governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, in this day, appear to be governments based on a culture of pure deceit and deception. All governmental pronouncements and actions should be regarded with the most stringent suspicion. As one of the newscasters says in V-for-Vendetta “we just report the news, we don’t make it up….that’s the government’s job.”