Monday, 17 March 2014
The Way Up Is The Way Down
The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said that, "The way up is the way down." A sublime and profound statement, although I do not think that Poul Anderson's character, Storm, had it in mind when she said, in 1827 BC:
"'I often think...that the downward turn started in this very millennium, when the earth gods and their Mother were swept aside by those who worshipped skyward.'" (p. 37)
Worshiping skyward is a downward turn? Maybe.
I have read that burial of the dead was originally associated with descent of souls into an underworld whereas cremation was associated with their ascent into heaven. My young niece knew that her father was buried and had been told that he was in Heaven. Talking about him, she suddenly realized an apparent contradiction, "He's down in the grave; he's up in Heaven..." She asked me, "How can he be down and up?" A long time before, I had been taught to differentiate souls from bodies. Talking to her, I was neither going to propagate that belief nor to contradict whatever she was being taught but I had to say something.
My answer was, "I don't know. We'll find out when we go there..." That satisfied her. But the second half of my answer, not articulated then, is (and I think that this is more likely) "...or we won't find out because we won't go anywhere."