Monthly Archives: March 2013
By Alex P. Vidal
Despite his failure to annex the World Boxing Organization (WBO) 147-lb crown, Ruslan Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KOs) deserves to be put in line next versus Manny Pacquiao (54-5, 38 KOs).
In the eyes of some fans who did not score the bout but were excited to watch the Russian perform like Joe Frazer and Mike Tyson, Provodnikov should have been declared the new WBO welterweight champion last March 17 in Carson, California.
But in the eyes of the three judges and some ring experts, Timothy Bradley Jr. (30-0, 12 KOs) clearly dominated the hard-hitting Russian challenger in their 12-round championship tussle that evoked memories of the Julio Caesar Chavez vs Sergio Martinez WBC 160-lb fracas last year.
Bradley was lucky to escape defeat even as he eked out a unanimous decision win to retain the title he wrested on a controversial decision from Manny Pacquiao on June 9, 2012. The unbeaten Bradley, who became the first fighter to upset Pacquiao in the United States since Erik Morales, was on the verge of losing by knockout when saved by the bell in the final stanza.
He won 114-113, 114-113 and 115-112 on the score sheets of the three judges.
Bradley secured the hairline win when he used lateral movements and “sweet” science to pile up points in the 7th, 8th and 9th rounds where he was able to damage Provodnikov’s left eye. The man who rose to stardom after beating Pacquiao looked like a kindergarten pupil being harassed by a street toughie on his way home in the first and second rounds.
Provodnikov’s heavy blows in the second round nearly put Bradley to dreamland. Bradley was saved by the bell twice–in the second and 12th rounds. Bradley was nearly entombed in the final assault where he hit the canvas due to exhaustion and late reaction from Provodnikov’s hooks and wallops and was counted by referee Pat Russell. Ten more seconds and Bradley would have gone!
There’s no doubt Provodnikov, 29, has the capacity to blow away Bradley, 29, in a rematch. But if Top Rank CEO Bob Arum intends to revive the career of the 35-year-old Pacquiao, the best move is to pit the Filipino buzzsaw versus the deadly Provodnikov either in July or September.
If Provodnikov will roll past the seemingly deteriorating Pacquiao, a rematch with Bradley will give him instant fame and big money. A knockout win over Bradley will qualify him for a duel with Floyd Mayweather or Juan Manuel Marquez.
Provodnikov’s style attracts big fans and big promoters. He fights like a bull and attacks with both fists loaded with molotovs. Pacquiao, who failed to deck Bradley despite his superiority in experience and speed, would love to brawl with the heavy hitter from Beryozovo, Russia, who stands five feet and six inches like the Filipino lawmaker from Mindanao.
Although he moves like Ricky Hatton, Provodnikov has the heavier bombs and his left is as deadly as Marvelous Marvin Hagler’s left. Whether he is using his brain in the ring remains to be seen. Pacquiao brutally pulverized Hatton in two rounds because aside from not using his common sense, he did not have the superior power capable of neutralizing if not sending fear in Pacquiao’s heart.
Provodnikov eats his opponent’s punches and is not intimidated by cut and blood. He is a legitimate warrior in the league of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Kostya Tszyu, Vinny Pazienza, Orzubek Nazarov, and Arturo Gatti. But his menacing stance and power are not enough. He must penetrate Pacquiao’s well-guarded defense and send a signal that he can do what Juan Manuel Marquez did when the Mexican dynamo finished off Pacquiao with a single blow.
Since Bradley would be a common denominator, Pacquiao knows Bradley was never in danger of being blasted to smithereens when they rumbled for 12 rounds. Against Provodnikov, Bradley hanged in the ropes, groped in the darkness and skidded on wobbly legs each time the Russian customer pummeled him with razor and hammer.
“We would like to live as we once lived, but history will not permit it.” JOHN F. KENNEDY
By Alex P. Vidal
Alfred Adler’s “What Life Should Mean to You” will have to take a back seat to pave the way for the more illustrious and more realistic epic poem from Mesopotamia which is among the earliest surviving works of literature.
If we want to know the real meaning of life, we must read The Epic of Gilgamesh, written about 1,500 years before Homer wrote Iliad and Odyssey. Preserved on clay tablets and deciphered in the last century, The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story about the adventure of the great King of Uruk in his fruitless search for immortality and of his friendship with Enkidu, the wild man from the hills.
We can always raid all the bookstores in the world and stumble into the latest research made by the world’s best psychologists and even modern transcendentalists and existentialists, but none can compare to The Epic of Gilgamesh that also narrates the legend of the Flood which agrees in many details with the Biblical story of Noah.
The story centers on a friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu, a wild man created by the gods as Gilgamesh’s equal to distract him from oppressing the people of Uruk. Together, they journey to the Cedar Mountain to defeat Humbaba, its monstrous guardian. Later they kill the Bull of Heaven, which the goddess Ishtar sends to punish Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. As a punishment for these actions, the gods sentence Enkidu to death.
This story comes from an age which had been wholly forgotten, until in the last century archaeologists began uncovering the burned cities of the Middle East. Until then the entire history of the long period which separated Abraham from Noah was contained in two of the most forbiddingly genealogical chapters of the Book of Genesis.
The later half of the epic focuses on Gilgamesh’s distress at Enkidu’s death, and his quest for immortality. In order to learn the secret of eternal life, Gilgamesh undertakes a long and perilous journey. He learns that “The life that you are seeking you will never find. When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping.”
If not the best literature ever written, the cycle of poems collected that rounded the character of Gilgamesh that carried back into the middle of that age, deserve a place in the world literature.
In an essay, Arthur Brown wrote, “We read The Epic of Gilgamesh, four thousand years after it was written, in part because we are scholars, or pseudo-scholars, and wish to learn something about human history. We read it as well because we want to know the meaning of life. The meaning of life, however, is not something we can wrap up and walk away with.”
To see for ourselves the meaning of a story, Brown said “we need, first of all, to look carefully at what happens in the story; that is, we need to look at it as if the actions and people it describes actually took place or existed.”
“We can articulate the questions raised by a character’s actions and discuss the implications of their consequences,” Brown added. “But we need to consider, too, how a story is put together — how it uses the conventions of language, of events with beginnings and endings, of description, of character, and of storytelling itself to reawaken our sensitivity to the real world. The real world is the world without conventions, the unnameable, unrepresentable world — in its continuity of action, its shadings and blurring of character, its indecipherable patterns of being. The stories that mean most to us bring us back to our own unintelligible and yet immeasurably meaningful lives.”
“I need more sex, OK? Before I die I wanna taste everyone in the world.” ANGELINA JOLIE
By Alex P. Vidal
My late friend, publicist Edwin Alcozero, swallowed the report hook, line and sinker that the author of I’m OK-You’re OK, the book that “changed the lives of millions” in the 70s and 80s committed suicide; thus, he cast doubts on the “pioneering” efforts of Dr. Thomas Harris in the field of Transactional Analysis, efforts that have already revolutionized therapy procedures throughout the world.
“Everyone is going gaga over this book but, unfortunately, the author committed suicide and his credibility suffered a big blow,” Edwin lamented.
Before Edwin’s shocking disclosure of Harris’ alleged suicide came, Atty. Ernie Dayot had already recommended to me this book when we were inside the book sale store in the Robinson’s mall. Dayot, the “Socrates of Iloilo,” goaded me to read the book and compare the views of Segmund Freud, Somerset Maugham, and Eric Berne (founder of Transactional Analysis) on the impression of human nature which has been expressed mythologically, philosophically, and religiously.
In the United States, I discovered that Harris’ death was a hoax. The American psychiatrist from Sacramento, California died of natural cause on May 6, 1995 not of suicide. I failed to relay the story to Edwin who died in Iloilo City, Philippines in 2008.
Harris translated startling theories into easily-understood language and adapted key ingredients of successful behavior change into practical advice, after helping countless numbers of people help themselves establish mature, healthy relationships.
He observed that there have been many reports of a growing impatience with psychiatry, with its seeming foreverness, the high cost, its debatable results, and its vague, esoteric terms.
“To many people it is like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there,” Harris warned. “The magazine and mental-health associations say psychiatric treatment is a good thing, but what it is or what it accomplishes has not been made clear. Although hundreds of thousands of words about psychiatry are consumed by the public yearly, there has been little convincing data to help a person in need of treatment overcome the cartoon image of psychiatrists and their mystical couches.”
Harris said one difficulty with many psychoanalytic words is that they do not have the same meanings for everybody.
“The word ego, for instance, means many things to many people. Freud had an elaborate definition, as has nearly every psychoanalyst since his time; but these long, complicated constructions are not particularly helpful to a patient who is trying to understand why he can never hold a job, particularly if one of his problems is that he cannot read well enough to follow instructions,” he explained.
According to Harris, “there is not even agreement by theoreticians as to what ego means.” Vague meanings and complicated theories have inhabited more than helped the treatment process, he added.
Harris cited Herman Melville’s observation that “a man of true science uses but few hard words, and those only when none other will answer his purpose; whereas the smarter in science…thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things.”
Harried added that “the vocabulary of Transactional Analysis is the precision tool of treatment because in a language anyone can understand, it identifies things that really are, the reality of experiences that really happened in the lives of people who really existed.”
The most important question we will ever have to answer probably is, “Are you OK?” wrote Harris. Right now, whether we are aware of it or not, Harris said all the relationships with the most important people in our life “are strongly influenced by a combination of how you feel about yourself (OK or not OK) and what you think of them (again, OK or not OK).”
“The future starts today, not tomorrow.” POPE JOHN PAUL II
By Alex P. Vidal
As a former member of Society of Saint Vincent De Paul (SSVP) and Children of Mary (COM), I became familiar with the activities and religious order of the Jesuits or members of the Society of Jesus known for their work in education especially founding of schools, colleges, universities and seminaries; intellectual research, and cultural pursuits, and for their missionary efforts. They give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes and promote social justice and ecumenical dialogue.
As a Jesuit, Pope Francis can be also called as “God’s Marine.”
The tag has something to do with the military background of Ignatius of Loyola, founder of Jesuits, and members’ willingness to accept orders anywhere in the world and live in extreme conditions.
Pope Fancis is a member of a society engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations on six continents. The society’s founding principles are contained in the document Formula of the Institute, written by Ignatius of Loyola.
Here’s a primer on Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, who became the first South American Pope courtesy of Timee’s Olivia B. Waxman:
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Dec. 17, 1936.
He has four brothers and sisters. His father was an Italian immigrant and railway worker, and his mother was a housewife.
Prior to becoming Supreme Pontiff, he had been Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998, and a cardinal since 2001.
Before becoming Archbishop, he taught literature, philosophy, theology, and psychology.
He also has a philosophy degree from the Catholic University of Buenos Aires and a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires.
In 1958, at the age of 21, he decided to enter the Society of Jesus, and started studying to become a Jesuit priest.
As the Archbishop of Buenos Aires he turned down the opportunity to live in the palatial Archibishop’s residence, opting for a spartan apartment instead.
He cooks his own meals.
He takes the bus.
He only has one lung. His second got infected when he was a teenager, and it had to be removed.
An email chain once alleged he “never smiled.”
After Argentina legalized gay marriage in July 2010, Bergoglio described the new law as “a scheme to destroy God’s plan” and “a real and dire anthropological throwback.” When the legislation was still being debated, he called it “a move by the father of lies to confuse and deceive the children of God.” Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said Bergoglio’s comments were “really reminiscent of the times of the Inquisition.”
Bergoglio also called gay adoption “discrimination against children,” charging that the practice was “depriving [children] of the human growth that God wanted them given by a father and a mother.”
Shortly before the 2005 Conclave that ultimately elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, a human rights lawyer filed a criminal complaint against Bergoglio, accusing him of having been complicit in the 1976 kidnappings of two priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics, by Argentina’s military dictatorship. Bergoglio, who had been superior of the Society of Jesus of Argentina at the time, completely denied the claim.
“Money cannot buy peace of mind. It cannot heal ruptured relationships, or build meaning into a life that has none.” — RICHARD M. DEVOS
By Alex P. Vidal
When survey results show we lagged behind by a mile in the mayoral, congressional and gubernatorial races, there is no peace of mind. When there is no food on the table, there is no peace of mind. When monthly bills are stockpiling and there is no immediate cash available to settle them, there is no peace of mind.
When health is deteriorating, there is no peace of mind. When we lie and it remains under wraps for a long period of time, there is no peace of mind as we will languish in guilt. When we fabricate issues against our rivals, friends, classmates and office mates, there is no peace of mind. When we harbor hatred towards Facebook friends for no apparent provocation or casus belli there is no peace of mind. When we are at odds with our loved ones, there is no peace of mind.
Without peace of mind we can hardly start anything or pursue something and perform productive activities as this psychological baggage will bedevil us wherever we go like a Sword of Damocles.
When he was a young man, Dr. Joshua Liebman, author of a great inspirational bestseller, Peace of Mind, made a list of things he would like to have. The list was long and included such things as health, love, talent, power, wealth, and fame.
He showed the list around, asking others for their opinion. A wise, old friend of the young man’s family looked the list over and said, Joshua this is an excellent list. It is set down in a reasonable order. But it appears, my young man, that you have omitted the most important element of all. You have forgotten one ingredient, lacking which, each possession becomes a hideous torment, and your list as a whole an intolerable burden.
And what is that missing ingredient? Joshua asked. The wise, old friend replied by taking a pencil and crossed out Joshua’s entire list. Then he wrote down three words: Peace of Mind. That young man, Joshua Liebman, later became the author of the inspiring book which has sold millions of copies.
Peace of Mind answers a vital need. It correlates discoveries in the science of psychology with the eternal verities which have been handed down by generations of prophets and great religious leaders. Dr. Liebman explores the many factes of human emotions and reveals how, in the inward quest for peace of mind, the penetrating visions of psychology are an indispensable ally.
In his “word to the reader”, Dr. Liebman wrote: “Many men far wiser that I are at work today planning social and economic change. For their creative labors, every thinking person must be grateful. We must join with them in the struggle to obtain a common victory for economic, industrial, and political democracy through the world. At the same time it should be recognized that the healthier society must be built by healthier human beings!
“The average person is at moments consumed with feelings of guilt about his relations to those closest to him; he wants to love people but feels withdrawn, rigid, and somehow frozen. At other moments he grows afraid without knowing exactly why he is afraid; he is particularly confused and unhappy when he faces the loss of a loved one or confronts the thought of his own death.
“Many religious books only conspire to make him feel more guilty and more sinful while many psychological books, although trying to reassure him, merely add to his inner confusion by making him feel somehow that he is a ‘case history’ in abnormal psychology. People keep their troubles and worries often too much to themselves because they do not know where to turn for wise guidance.
“Personal experience plus rich and varied contacts in my ministry led me to believe that a book written by a religionist explaining just what modern psychology has discovered about human beings, why we sometimes hate ourselves and hate others, why we grow afraid, why we lose faith in life and a God, might be of real help to perplexed moderns. This science also tells us what we can do to change ourselves and our mental attitudes in relation to our own personalities and in inter-relations with other human beings.”
“Whoever thinks of stopping the uprising before it achieves its goals, I will give him ten bullets in the chest.” YASSER ARAFAT
Aside from the bloody shootout that killed more than a dozen armed men, there is no other similarity between the most recent Sabah uprising and the Bay of Pigs disaster in 1961 that nearly cost John F. Kennedy his presidency of the United States of America.
While the Bay of Pigs invasion was logistically financed by the United States government through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the ragtag 200-strong Royal Army loyal to Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III did not have the imprimatur from the Philippine government. In fact, the Aquino administration appears to have connived with the Malaysian government in ensuring that the Sultanate who claims ownership of the oil-rich Sabah can not succeed in trying to win back Sabah for the Philippines. At least, not yet.
The Bay of Pigs Invasion, known in Hispanic America as La Batalla de Giron, was an unsuccessful military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the paramilitary group Brigade 2506 in April 1961.
The Sabah invaders wanted to claim–or wanted no less than a recognition from Malaysia that the Mindanao Sultanate owns Sabah and that Malaysia must ensure it is ready to return the island to its rightful landlord in the Philippine, while the Bay of Pigs attackers wanted to overthrow the administration of Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Despite efforts of the US government to keep the invasion plans covert, it became common knowledge among Cuban exiles in Miami. Through Cuban intelligence, Castro learned of the guerilla training camps in Guatemala as early as October 1960, and the press reported widely on events as they unfolded.
When news broke out that Sultan Kiram wanted Malaysia to recognize that the Sultanate owns Sabah, the 200 Royal Army were already in Sabah and recently engaged Malaysian troops in a bloody gun-battle that killed more than 15 people, as of press time.
Fidel Castro came to power in an armed revolt that overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. The U.S. government distrusted Castro and was wary of his relationship with Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev.
According to records from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (JFKPLM), President Kennedy was briefed on a plan by the CIA developed during the Eisenhower administration to train Cuban exiles for an invasion of their homeland before his inauguration. The plan anticipated that the Cuban people and elements of the Cuban military would support the invasion. The ultimate goal was the overthrow of Castro and the establishment of a non-communist government friendly to the United States.
President Eisenhower approved the program in March 1960, reported the JFKPLM. The CIA set up training camps in Guatemala, and by November the operation had trained a small army for an assault landing and guerilla warfare.
Jose Miro Cardona led the anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the United States. A former member of Castro’s government, he was the head of the Cuban Revolutionary Council, an exile committee. Cardona was poised to take over the provisional presidency of Cuba if the invasion succeeded.
Records added that shortly after his inauguration in February 1961, President Kennedy authorized the invasion plan. But he was determined to disguise U.S. support. The landing point at the Bay of Pigs was part of the deception. The site was a remote swampy area on the southern coast of Cuba, where a night landing might bring a force ashore against little resistance and help to hide any U.S. involvement. Unfortunately, the landing site also left the invading force more than 80 miles from refuge in Cuba’s Escambray Mountains, if anything went wrong.
“The original invasion plan called for two air strikes against Cuban air bases. A 1,400-man invasion force would disembark under cover of darkness and launch a surprise attack. Paratroopers dropped in advance of the invasion would disrupt transportation and repel Cuban forces. Simultaneously, a smaller force would land on the east coast of Cuba to create confusion,” said the records.
They added that the main force would advance across the island to Matanzas and set up a defensive position. The United Revolutionary Front would send leaders from South Florida and establish a provisional government. The success of the plan depended on the Cuban population joining the invaders.
The first mishap occurred on April 15, 1961, it was recorded, when eight bombers left Nicaragua to bomb Cuban airfields. The CIA had used obsolete World War II B-26 bombers, and painted them to look like Cuban air force planes. The bombers missed many of their targets and left most of Castro’s air force intact. As news broke of the attack, photos of the repainted U.S. planes became public and revealed American support for the invasion. President Kennedy cancelled a second air strike.
Library records said on April 17, the Cuban-exile invasion force, known as Brigade 2506, landed at beaches along the Bay of Pigs and immediately came under heavy fire. Cuban planes strafed the invaders, sank two escort ships, and destroyed half of the exile’s air support. Bad weather hampered the ground force, which had to work with soggy equipment and insufficient ammunition.
Over the next 24 hours, Castro ordered roughly 20,000 troops to advance toward the beach, and the Cuban air force continued to control the skies. As the situation grew increasingly grim, President Kennedy authorized an “air-umbrella” at dawn on April 19—six unmarked American fighter planes took off to help defend the brigade’s B-26 aircraft flying. But the B-26s arrived an hour late, most likely confused by the change in time zones between Nicaragua and Cuba. They were shot down by the Cubans, and the invasion was crushed later that day.
Some exiles escaped to the sea, while the rest were killed or rounded up and imprisoned by Castro’s forces. Almost 1,200 members of Brigade 2056 surrendered, and more than 100 were killed.
The brigade prisoners remained in captivity for 20 months, as the United States negotiated a deal with Fidel Castro. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy made personal pleas for contributions from pharmaceutical companies and baby food manufacturers, and Castro eventually settled on $53 million worth of baby food and medicine in exchange for the prisoners.
On December 23, 1962, just two months after the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a plane containing the first group of freed prisoners landed in the United States. A week later, on Saturday, December 29, surviving brigade members gathered for a ceremony in Miami’s Orange Bowl, where the brigade’s flag was handed over to President Kennedy. “I can assure you,” the president promised, “that this flag will be returned to this brigade in a free Havana.”
The disaster at the Bay of Pigs had a lasting impact on the Kennedy administration. Determined to make up for the failed invasion, the administration initiated Operation Mongoose—a plan to sabotage and destabilize the Cuban government and economy. The plan included the possibility of assassinating Castro. Almost 50 years later, relations between Castro’s Cuba and the United States remain strained and tenuous.
In the Sabah standoff, Malacanang warned the Royal Army to surrender without any condition saying that “surrender is the best way at this point to preserve life.”
“For me the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable; my interest has been to convince you that you must assume responsibility for being here, in this marvelous world, in this marvelous desert, in this marvelous time. I wanted to convince you that you must learn to make every act count, since you are going to be here for only a short while; in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it.” —DON JUAN
Carlos Castaneda’s “Journey to Ixtlan” pales in comparison to “The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge” and “A Separate Reality”, the books he wrote while he was an anthropology student at the University of California, but “Journey to Ixtlan” and the lesson the Peruvian-American author has given the readers present an awesome vision of the world that is both a literary masterpiece and the gateway to a new and more profound way of thinking about ourselves, of living our own lives.
Castaneda’s third book is about an alleged apprenticeship to the Yaqui “shaman,” Don Juan. It is the record of Castaneda’s initiation into the mysteries of sorcery–of becoming a “man of knowledge”–at the hands of one of the most remarkable personalities ever to emerge from anthropological investigation: don Juan, the Yaqui brujo (sorcerer).
Don Juan’s profound insight into the nature of things and his deep, disturbing knowledge of human nature made “The Teachings of Don Juan” and “A Separate Reality” immediate classics. His brooding, powerful and vivid presence has haunted, perplexed and illuminated the lives of several hundred thousand readers.
The two earlier books were concerned with the use of hallucinogens in don Juan’s sorcery and recorded Castaneda’s experiences, sometimes searing and terrifying, as he underwent the long and ardous apprenticeship of becoming a “man of knowledge.” Journey to Ixtlan transcends these experiences to show the reader the means by which a “man of power” sees, as opposed to merely looking, and how by his concentrated “seeing” he can, indeed must, “stop the world.”
Castaneda reaches for power in a series of startling encounters with the unknown–a confrontation with death and the past in the form of an albino falcon; with the twilight wind that is really power; with a flesh-and-blood mountain lion that Don Juan attracts by using Castaneda as the bait in a test of courage; with a mountain fog that brings visions and terror in the high mountains and in the bright, arid desert.
These visions and experiences from the lessons of don Juan, the techniques and concentration and compassion of the hunter–the man who is “without routines, free, fluid, unpredictable”–finding in the world around him the power that he has learned see, use and control.
The title of this book is taken from an allegory that is recounted to Castaneda by his “benefactor” who is known to Carlos as Don Genaro ( Genaro Flores ), a close friend of his teacher don Juan Matus. “Ixtlan” turns out to be a metaphorical hometown (or place /position of being ) to which the “sorcerer” or warrior or man of knowledge without reason or thoughts is drawn to return. This is because his elevated perspective leaves him little in common with ordinary people, who now seem no more substantial to him than “phantoms.” The point of the story is that a man of knowledge, or sorcerer, is a changed being, or a Human closer to his true state of Being, and for that reason he can never truly go “home” to his old lifestyle again.
In Journey to Ixtlan Castaneda essentially reevaluates the teachings up to that point. He discusses information that was apparently missing from the first two books regarding stopping the world which previously he had only regarded as a metaphor.
He also finds that psychotropic plants, knowledge of which was a significant part of his apprenticeship to Yaqui shaman don Juan Matus, are not as important in the world view as he had previously thought.
The book shows a progression between different states of learning, from hunter, to warrior, to man of knowledge or sorcerer, the difference said to be one of skill level and the type of thing hunted, “…a warrior is an impeccable hunter that hunts power. If he succeeds in his hunting he becomes a man of knowledge.”
Throughout the book Castaneda portrays himself as skeptical and reserved in his explanations of the phenomena at hand, but by the end of the book Castaneda’s rationalist worldview is seen to be breaking down in the face of an onslaught of experiences that he is unable to explain logically.
“At twenty a man is a peacock, at thirty a lion, at forty a camel, at fifty a serpent, at sixty a dog, at seventy an ape, at eighty a nothing at all.” BALTASAR GRACIAN
By Alex P. Vidal
The book that makes some of us feel embarrassed about our animal selves rolled off the press in the year when Bolivian guerrilla leader Che Guevara was captured; and when The Beatles released the album “Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The year when one of the Iloilo Mountain Tiger’s longest-serving members known in Iloilo today as “Mr. Bean” was born.
I’m referring to Desmond Morris’ sensational worldwide bestseller, The Naked Ape, described by Saturday Review as “a startlingly novel idea, brilliantly executed.”
No less than Morris himself, the author, who formerly was the Curator of mammals at London Zoo, admitted that in dealing with the fundamental problems of the naked ape, he realized that he ran the risk of offending a number of people. “There are some who will prefer not to contemplate their animal selves. They may consider that I have degraded our species by discussing it in crude animal terms,” wrote Morris.
“I can only assure them that this is not my intention. There are others who will resent any zoological invasion of their specialist arena. But I believe that this approach can be of great value and that, whatever its shortcomings, it will throw now (and in some ways unexpected) light on the complex nature if our extraordinary species.”
Morris explained that his book was intended to popularize and demystify science.
“There are one hundred and ninety-three living species of monkeys and apes,” Morris alleged. “One hundred and ninety-two of them are covered with hair. The exception is a naked ape self-named Homo sapiens. The unusual and highly successful species spends a great deal of time examining his higher motives and an equal amount of time studiously ignoring his fundamental ones. He is proud that he has the biggest brain of all the primates, but attempts to conceal the fact that he also has the biggest penis, preferring to accord this honor falsely to the mighty gorilla. He is an intensely vocal, acutely exploratory, over-crowded ape, and it is high time we examined his basic behavior.”
“To read Desmond Morris on the sex habits of the naked ape is disconcerting, to say the least” observed the Saturday Review. “Here the detail is specific and clinical…and the naked ape comes out of it looking very animal indeed…you read on with the mixture of discovery and embarrassment…an enlightening, entertaining, disturbing, discomforting, ego-shrinking experience.”
The book tells about man as “a creature who can write immortal poetry, raise giant cities, aim for the stars, build an atomic bomb–but he is also an animal, a relative of the apes–a naked ape, in fact.”
The Naked Ape, serialized in the Daily Mirror newspaper and has been translated into 23 languages, depicts human behavior as largely evolved to meet the challenges of prehistoric life as a hunter-gatherer (see nature versus nurture). The book was so named because out of 193 species of monkeys and apes only man is not covered in hair.
Morris made a number of claims in the book naming man as “the sexiest primate alive”. He further claimed that our fleshy ear-lobes, which are unique to humans, are erogenous zones, the stimulation of which can cause orgasm in both males and females. Morris further stated that the more rounded shape of human female breasts means they are mainly a sexual signalling device rather than simply for providing milk for infants.
He also attempted to frame human behavior in the context of evolution, but his explanations failed to convince academics because they were based on a teleological (goal-oriented) understanding of evolution. For example, Morris wrote that the intense human pair bond evolved so that men who were out hunting could trust that their mates back home were not having sex with other men, and that sparse body hair evolved because the “nakedness” helped intensify pair bonding by increasing tactile pleasure.
Morris criticized some psychiatrists and psycho-analysts that “have stayed nearer home and have concentrated on clinical studies of mainstream specimens. Much of their earlier material, although not suffering from the weakness of the anthropological information, also has an unfortunate bias.”
Sexually the naked ape finds himself today in a somewhat confusing situation, Morris explained. “As a primate he is pulled one way, as a carnivore by adoption he is pulled another, and as a member of an elaborate civilized community he is pulled yet another.”