Many thanks to Wendye and Café Babylon for allowing me to post this small piece.
The maori haka is famous for its use at the beginning of rugby games, and sometimes other places as well, such as ceremonies to welcome important visitors to the marae. This particular version, put up by a Russian site no less, is the classic and maybe original haka, though many other types came to be used as tribes moved about New Zealand and took territory or not, often after terrible conflicts with very gruesome outcomes. (ISIS has nothing on our maori ancestors.) Even in the wars with the British, whose weapons one would think vastly superior, maori fought the invaders to a standstill. The Treaty of Waitangi was born out of this, a time when the chiefs met as equals with British officialdom to parlay.
Have a good look at this haka. The words that stand out are: It is death! It is life! The story that goes with this chant is that the original composer, Te Rauparaha, much like the composer of the American anthem, Francis Scott Key, was in prison when he wrote the song, quite literally down in a pit, filling himself with the volition to get out of there, (which I imagine he did.)
(Part One is here.; Part Two is here)
(‘david playing his lyre’ by juliania)
Now from ‘a little Plato’ to ‘a little Bible’. I take a very short cut. I shall proceed directly to the second writing in the sand by the one often addressed publicly as Teacher by his contemporaries, whose name is Jesus, the name still often heard from our lips, when we feel strongly about something and at the same time feel free with our language.
I find this a remarkable phenomenon, namely, that we occasionally feel free to express what’s in our hearts with his name. It seems to reveal, in spite of our intentions, that at heart we are not indifferent to him, but rather touched by him — one way or another. And that I find as something to wonder at after all these centuries.
The writing in the sand takes place in Jerusalem, in the Temple that traces its origin to King Solomon. Matthew, the writer of the first gospel, also traces the genealogy of Jesus, his bloodline, to exactly the same source, King Solomon. He does not hesitate to spell it out as follows: “David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah.” That is to say, by another man’s wife, whose name is Bathsheba. I find this an astonishing prelude to Jesus being in this Temple in Jerusalem, as he faces one particular woman caught in adultery.
Now I am ready to consider the writing in the earth that he does with his finger in the Temple in Jerusalem, (John, Chapter VIII.)
From Lyre to Script
(Part One is here...)
It is here in the Pythagorean Script that something written takes precedence over something voiced, down to the letters of the alphabet that are visible to us on the pages of Euclidean geometry, next to points, lines, figures, solids. It’s their position on the page to our eye that counts, not the sound that goes with them in the spoken word.
[This three-part essay is an address given by tutor Michael Ossorgin to the graduating class of St. John’s College in Santa Fe in 1974. He titled it Two Writings in the Sand. I have only changed the address by giving a new title, and headings for each of the three parts. Otherwise it is as he gave it nearly forty years ago. I have thought it good to present it here, with many thanks to wendyedavis for her help, in hope that the lookouts and observations unfolding within may point, in these most difficult times, to our newly arriving dawn.]