The last quarter of 2011 was magnificent and I learned a lot by “participating” (I mean “deep participation” here to be clear). I was moving around, checking on diverse mind maps and explored the empirical, the political, the poetic and artistic, the divine and cosmic worlds.
It was fun meeting and exchanging notes with the best “searching minds” in the region and I enjoyed the exchange I had with a US political attaché on wikileaks, Spratly Island issue, US visa, etc. And oh, the sumptuous vegetarian food and hospitality of two Chinese consuls (incoming and outgoing) was mouth-watering and I tell you the preparation was socially enchanting.
Of course, who would forget the extrajudicial killing forum organized by the Ateneo Center for Human Rights, the City Center for Human Rights Laoag in Laoag attended by political science professors, students and members of the Philippine National Police. The forum was politically and socially engaging. The grip of political violence is so strong in the country and anyone, I mean you or I or you and I can be a victim of extradjudicial killing.
The cosmic chat I had with a NASA based Filipino astronomer and my encounter with the Hare Krishna group and their discourses on spiritual identity and Vedantic philosophy was supra-mental (the frontal lobe of the brain is stimulated) and subliminal (sublime thoughts ignite the heart).
After having these tours of epistemologies, I realized that we, with specific and special interests, priorities and ways of looking at things, “view the world from different vantage points” to borrow Inayatullah’s words (2007).
I observed that some were more interested with the quantitative in their knowledge search that is the real becomes positivistic and reality is real if it is observable and countable while others prefer to have a legalistic and political view of the truth. They argue that our hope lies in changing (the reformists view) the way we do things by strengthening existing legal structures, crafting more laws, engaged police power and law enforcement. The zero-sum game view of reality and the chess set strategy are strong here.Systems and structural perspectives dominate the discourse of the real.
Fortunately, I met some people (few actually) that were more epistemic and mythic oriented. Their view of the real “are differently real” in that reality is expressed in silky poetries, philosophies, in digitized metaphors and myth. They are more literature (digitized literature) inclined and that spirituality, arts and music inspires them. They used the cosmos and the arts in explaining the real and are more engaged in post-rational ways of thinking. Their narrative for a new world was transformative, digital and refreshing. They believe in alternatives and they used their imagination to create the world they want.
I was also invited to participate in a Chinese communist state freedom celebration . The “red” (as I see it) was cultural and foundational to the Chinese context of liberation and “as our economic standing grows” the Chinese Neo-socialist, Post-confucian worldview have superimposed the green dollar mindset (Neo-liberal and American). Their message was: “the future is Asia and we are with Asia.”
The feeling I had was somewhat different when a US political attaché came for a dialogue. The focus was Spratley Islands, wikileaks, immigration, declining economic and political influence of the US in Asia among other issues. The message was “fear” and that “fear” was something that we have to prepare for as China become more politically dominant. The US political officer admitted that Asia is the next big thing and the US is now more engaged (deeper, and perhaps more digitially pervasive). I remember Senator Joker Arroyo warning the public to be cautious when talking to alleged “CIA’s”. The old senator was saying that the US is here for their interest and interest alone. Realpolitik ha.
Finally and yes finally, I enjoyed the company of star gazers and cosmic wanderers.
And since I am most fascinated with the stars, the constellations and the cosmos (post-rational ways of thinking), I am itching to write on the SkyExplorer Project organized by the Ilocos Norte Science Community, the Office of Former Senator Nikki Coseteng, University of the Philippines, Diliman and Northwestern University. The “Lakbay Langit” space lecture was facilitated by Dr. Edmund Rosales, a NASA based Filipino astronomer.
It was so close, I know. My heart was with it, moving and flowing with the movements of the stars and the planets. The Filipino astronomer Dr. Edmund Rosales and his participants were deeply engaged I could see their awe-inspiring reactions. We screamed, we laughed, we interacted and there was a blanket of silence (in a reflective state) most of the time.
Yes, we were dumbfounded by the wise nature of the Sun as the Earth evolved and revolved around it. The Moon, of course, was his usual self, staring at us and occasionally blocked the Sun from our view (Solar eclipse) and kissed us from above (Lunar eclipse) as it turned to a staggering red, climaxed, and darkened against the radiance of the Earth.
Arabic Stars and the Roman Catholic View of the Space
We learned that most of the stars, the farthest stars I supposed, were “Arabic stars”. While there were stars named after the Greek Gods and Goddesses, the Arabic stars (and of course the Chinese stars, the Mayan stars, the Malay stars) were more mysterious and magical to me.
The Pop Stars as I now call it (the Greek stars, Horoscopes and the Zodiacs) became so entrenched and associated with the Capital, the Religious and Hollywood. The stars apparently were used as trademarks for made to order astrologists, scriptwriters, fiction writers and producers.
The Catholic Church would use these stars to create their images and meanings of the cosmos, spirituality, science and destiny. Their favored meaning and thinking images on these stars would haunt humanity for two thousand years.It would in time become their rationale for dogma to persecute, conquer and declare war against “Other” institutions, beliefs, faiths, science and cultures of man. The crucifixion, with its bloody connotation, would stand above all other symbols at least in the political sense. The Roman and Greek interpretations of the stars overshadowed other forms and worldviews. They would dominate and colonize the constellations, at least, in the realm of human metaphysics and epistemology.
Bruno was deeply influenced by the astronomical facts of the universe inherited from Arab astrology, Neoplatonism and Renaissance Hermeticism.
The Church would go on retracting most of their statements and views about stars and astronomical sciences and have issued intermittent apologies to the people and institutions that the Roman Catholic Church persecuted, excommunicated and incarcerated.The likes of Leonardo Da Vinci, Giordano Bruno, etc. are some of the many “tortured geniuses” that suffered the wrath of Catholic dogma. Giordano Bruno for example was burned at stake in 1600s after the Roman Inquisition found him guilty of heresy for his pantheism, which at that time considered heresy illegal. After his death he gained considerable fame, particularly among 19th and early 20th century commentators who, focusing on his astronomical beliefs, regarded him as a martyr for free thought and modern scientific ideas. (Wikipedia, 2011)
Arab Moon Mansions
Recently, the Church issued somewhat a very controversial statement (at least within its own purview of the real) given their longstanding belief that Man (created by God) is the only rationale and living entity in the known universe. The Church acknowledged in 2008 the possibility of life on other planets after a decade long debate with astronomers and physicists. If you want to know more about the debate just google – Catholic Church and life on other planets.
A More Inspired Story
The Islamic, the Chinese and the Mayan story evoked a different or perhaps a more inspiring story of the cosmos.
As symbols of inspiration, they would use the stars as their metaphors, symbols (because of the cosmos rich interpretive and existential value) for the Most Highest, the Most Revered, the Most Respected, the One, the Source and the Inspiration. In the Malay tradition, the Sun is called Mata Hari.
Today, institutions (corporate, cooperatives and religion) and nation-states (democratic, communists, socialists) use the star as a symbol of strength, unity and hope. We could easily identify army ranks according to the number of stars on a badge and social status by the luminosity of the crown, jewelries like earrings, necklaces and rings among others. Bloggers would use it as review indicators in movies, books, novels and poetry, etc. The Christmas tree would have the star on top.
Organizations in need of alternative and transformative futures also use the star to represent a detailed vision of the future that is “neither too far nor too near” (Inayatullah, 2007).
.At the end of the Sky explorer lecture, the Filipino astronomer showed us an artist depiction of the Sun imploding and exploding in four billion years (the Solar Systems disintegrate as well). This imply that human existence is just a small bang in the ocean of cosmic consciousness.
Kind thanks to the Ilocos Norte Science Community for the complementary tickets. My family enjoyed the star gazing and travel.
To Astronomer Dr. Edmund Rosales, an amazing lecturer, and the SkyExplorer Team we owe you a lot of space knowledge and astronomical goodwill. The encounter with the SkyExplore Digital Planetarium Project was really transformative. I and my kids had a memorable “virtual space” experience.