Captain Cook’s “Discovery” 250 Years On

Hugh O’Neill

Captain James Cook (1728-1779) by Nathaniel Dance


Abridged from a lecture by Professor Bernard Smith (1916-2011)

The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interr’d within their bones.”
Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 2

That’s one way to start isn’t it, but in Cook’s case it misses the point rather badly. Because his bones were not properly interred, they were carried around for over forty years in a reliquary bundle at Hawaii (at the carnival time of the god Lono, the time of the god’s harvest festival) as a sign that the god had returned, and a sign perhaps too that the god was now an Englishman.

In Cook’s case, both the good and evil aspects of his astounding achievements have been keenly debated since his death. Cook’s three Pacific voyages had immense consequences because they changed the world so radically that their good and evil consequences continue to be debated e.g. is modern industrial society a blessing or a curse? We enjoy the benefits even as we become increasingly apprehensive as to the costs. Cook was unquestionably a great formative agent in the creation of the modern world.

Amidst the collapse of the colonial empires, it is highly important that Cook and his achievements be seen and judged in a less Eurocentric fashion e.g. Cook discovered little in the way of new lands, that wherever he came he found people already settled for centuries, that his discoveries could even be described as a useful eighteenth-century English legal fiction. The peoples he encountered in the Pacific provided him, through trading, with the provisions essential for the successful prosecution of his ventures.

The discovery of the world is really a subject for pre-historians. Cook was not a discoverer of new lands in any fundamental sense. He was the highly successful and highly efficient leader of three scientific research teams, a communications man, instrumental in bringing a mixed bag of goods, ironware and syphilis, written language and centralised government, and much more, to the Pacific.

Cook helped to make the world one world – not an harmonious world as the men of the Enlightenment had so rashly hoped, but at least a more interdependent world. His ships began the process of making the world a global village.

Nor must Cook be viewed as an innocent agent of history. Already by the Second Voyage he was well aware that he was bringing evils as well as benefits to the Pacific. He became aware how the Polynesian desire for iron tools and nails, for example, was beginning to break down their traditional moral values – he grasped the connection between trading and syphilis.

He did what he could to minimise such evils but, as he knew, it was beyond him. Sometimes he could behave with great brutality – as when his boats were at risk, sometimes, as in the annexation of New Zealand and Australia, his desire for patriotic achievement may have exceeded his instructions.

Yet when his actions in the Pacific are assessed in both human and moral terms it can still be said that he behaved better than any who came from Europe before him and better than most who came after him to convert, trade and conquer; he was the leader remarkably able and successful scientific teams. For it was these men who provided Europe with its first intellectual and visual conceptions of the Pacific world. Furthermore it was these artists and scientists who were the first to realise that the problems and the significance of culture-contact would in the end become of greater importance than the imperial ambitions of possession and occupancy.

Cook’s voyages posed sharply the problems of living in a multi-cultural world. He did what he could to face the daunting problems of living in such a world. Today we are still learning to face the kinds of problems he had to face daily in the Pacific.


“The proper study of Mankind is Man”
Alexander Pope

Professor Smith (above) quoted Shakespeare’s eulogy for Caesar – the ultimate challenge to historians: to see beyond the constraints of our own cultural and political prejudices requires an attempt at self-awareness. Furthermore, we can apply different lenses (and mirrors) to examine the Human Conditions of past and present to think about hierarchies intrinsic to notions of culture, race and political systems.

Despite what Professor Smith says about God being an Englishman, Cook’s father was a Scottish farm labourer in Yorkshire (thus Cook had a chip on each shoulder). His father’s employer paid for Cook’s primary education, but thereafter, Cook was an autodidact, determined to better himself despite the obstacles of class and wealth. By diligent perseverance, Cook rose in the hierarchies of both Merchant and Royal Navies to be appointed leader of these global expeditions. Cook cared for his men, as evidenced by no deaths from scurvy, the plague of seafaring: he ‘tricked’ his crew into eating the anti-scorbotic Sauerkraut by saying it was reserved for the officers and gentlemen i.e. too good for sailors.

In general, Cook respected other cultures and their hierarchies; however, his draconian judgement, obsessive materialism and cultural insensibility (whether exacerbated by his physical or mental condition) led to his death. Before Hawaii, Cook had taken to punishing petty theft with the wanton destruction of canoes and homes, incarceration, flogging and the removal of ears. His attempt to take a king hostage against the return of one of the ship’s boats, led to the fatal confrontation on Kealakukea beach (14th Feb 1779). Cook’s crew responded by shooting 30 Hawaiians. The more lasting damage to the Hawaiians was sysphilis from subsequent European contact which (according to G W Bates’ 1854 estimate) reduced the population from 500,000 in 1779 to 90,000. Leprosy gained a foothold in the 1830’s.

Cook’s ‘discovery’ of Australia gave Britain a dumping ground for unwanted petty criminals. Those first settlers looked down upon the Aboriginal population (who had preceded them by some 65,000 years) and wiped-out the Tasmanian aborigine. When sugar plantations required cheap labour, aborigines were duly enslaved and people-trafficking (“Blackbirding”) became a profitable business throughout the Pacific. The same notions of racial superiority and entitlement which permitted such atrocitities still drives current Australian Foreign Policy to imprison refugees from Western Wars in offshore concentration camps, oblivious to international law. Pacific Islands have suffered the worst of colonial exploitation and their subsequent use as military bases or nuclear weapons testing grounds remains an abomination

Perhaps there were two sides to Cook’s character, which is indeed an all-too Human trait. Robert Burns’ “Man’s Inhumanity to Man, Makes countless thousands mourn!” was written in 1784, just 2 years before he almost embarked for a position on a Jamaican plantation. Can we not listen to those better angels of our nature? There is one such better angel who hails from Hawaii and wishes to bring the spirit of Aloha and respect for Mankind: Tulsi Gabbard is running for US Presidency in 2020, but her pacifism will lead to her destruction by the media, all owned by the masters of war.


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Chris Williams
Chris Williams
Mar 13, 2019 2:09 AM

“The same notions of racial superiority and entitlement which permitted such atrocitities [sic] still drives current Australian Foreign Policy to imprison refugees from Western Wars in offshore concentration camps, oblivious to international law.”

Complete BS of course – a typical bleat from the left about any country with the temerity to try and protect their national sovereignty is a “racist” (what a tired self-flagellating trope this has become!). Stick your racism where it don’t shine sucker! The fact is, Australia has been accepting unprecedented numbers of refugees through its humanitarian program for decades – especially since its admittedly stupid decision to sign up to US wars in the middle east. What it refuses to do – “racial superiority and entitlement” have ZERO to do with it – is wreck its orderly humanitarian program by letting in illegal queue jumpers as Europe and the US (thanks to the Democrats) have allowed destroy their societies.

Hugh O'Neill
Hugh O'Neill
Mar 12, 2019 4:17 AM

Great discussions. And I thought Pythagoras invented tangents. I had floated RLS and Robert Burns, but someone threw a Shakespeare which [Alexander] Poped all my bubbles…
History is indeed argument without end, and it is too precious a gift not to be shared widely. The proper study of Mankind is Man. A man’s a man for a’ that. RLS defence of Fr. Damien of Molokai is another great tangent for another day.

Mar 11, 2019 4:29 PM

It never ceases to amaze me how many of my fellows of European extraction become quite defensive when the brutal history of Western colonization, genocide and occupation is the topic of discussion. As a second generation Polish American I’ve often had people tell me that they “didn’t own slaves” and “didn’t kill Natives” if this topic is even broached. Of course these generally well intentioned people, so willing to distance themselves from our rather unimaginably brutal and sordid collective history, have no idea about more current brutalities such as the recent decades of the “Boarding School era” in America (and the other settler colonies). If they did they would know that decade after decade Native children were removed from their families for years at a time, forbidden to speak their only language, shorn of their traditional spiritual beliefs, clothing, foods, all social and cultural moorings, and then subject to rampant physical, emotional and sexual abuse on top of this cultural genocide. All indoctrinated to become good little “Christians” and taught that their Native heritage and identity is shameful.

I’m 67 years old and this was still occurring well into my lifetime here in the States. As a social worker in Alaska I knew and worked with many Alaskan Native peoples who had been sexually abused as children during their stay in State sponsored, church run, Native boarding schools. This is not some “ancient history,” these wounds of our racist colonial mentality remain unhealed to this day. A Native Alaskan co-worker in the mental health field was shocked to attend a Christian church service in the mid-1990’s during which the white minister implored his Native congregation in a small village to bring in all of their Native artifacts, clothing, masks, art work, anything cultural so they could burn them together – since by definition they were “off the devil” as being part of the culture before Christianity arrived.

Canada’s Aboriginal Healing Project found that there were boarding schools in which literally every Native child had been sexually abused. Every child. I personally worked as a therapist in a Native village in which multiple generations of children had been sexually abused by one Christian cleric who was of course never brought to justice. This barbarity continued well into my lifetime. Here in America the government has never been willing to even open the door to examining this very recent cultural genocide. Instead from Americans one hears only racial slurs (“drunken Indians”), and the mantras of denial, (“I didn’t kill any Indians”), in lieu of even the most basic humane understanding of our shared history and shared trauma – with all that such an understanding might entail.

When I tell fellow white people about the beauty, and the rootedness in the balance of the natural world, of the many Alaskan Native cultures and peoples I have known, people often think I’m being romantic in some way. More than once I’ve hear the phrase “the myth of the noble savage” uttered to explain that we in the West, with our worship of “progress” and mindless “consumption” who are now ravaging the planet, are the earth’s true “nobility.” Yet, never in my experience do we of European extraction, with our self-deluded talk of “humanitarian interventions,” and our “duty to protect” and our “spreading democracy” lies to justify our latest slaughter of non-white populations somewhere in the world – never do I hear the very appropriate phrase – “the myth of the noble white man.” I now use that term quite freely when the inevitable denial and delusions emerge in the course of any conversation here in the States that might reference our brutal colonial history, that has never really ended, only morphed into new forms and new self-deluded lies.

Perhaps current generations in the West (should “civilization” survive long enough) will comfort themselves with their own parallel mantras: “I didn’t kill: “Iraqis, Afghani’s, Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis, Palestinians, Panamanians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, Nicaraguans – perhaps soon Venezuelans – Iranians – N. Koreans?”

Mar 11, 2019 5:16 PM

” generally well intentioned people, so willing to distance themselves from our rather unimaginably brutal and sordid collective history,”
Historically such people have been ‘distanced’ from history by the simpler device of not allowing them to exercise and political power.
Most ordinary people have only functioned as the agents of those who have taken decisions. Thus in O’Neill’s story, the ships’ crews either carry out the policies predetermined by their rulers or act, when without guidance, as they believe they are expected to.
To be specific, regarding the issue of education and indigenous peoples, these policies originated in the ideology of imperialism-largely the fruit of the Scottish ‘enlightenment’- which taught that humanity evolved through a series of stages nomadic, agricultural, commercial, industrial and that it was merciful to propel nomadic people into the industrial age, from hunter gatherer to proletarian. Convinced that this was true and that intellectuals/priests and the ruling class that they worked for ‘knew what they were doing” ordinary people acceded to a system that they regarded as cruel. Just as the system of which they were a part was cruel.
In other words we can only hold people, ruled by others, responsible only in the sense that they had the alternative of organising a revolution against the system that governed them, and employed them in immoral capacities. Instead they, having been educated to do so, went along with what they were told was inevitable and beyond their capacity to influence.
People do nasty things, even to the extent of ruining their own inherited planet, because the first rule of the ideology to which they are subject is that what is, is inevitable. In some versions because God thus orders it. In others because such is human nature or biologically ordained.

Mar 11, 2019 9:36 AM

Good piece. Thanks.

Mar 11, 2019 2:03 AM

“Cook’s ‘discovery’ of Australia ”

Even though those quotation marks point to the Aboriginals it still is not factually correct: The first known landing in Australia by Europeans was by Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon in 1606. Later that year, Spanish explorer Luís Vaz de Torres sailed through, and navigated, Torres Strait islands.[1] Twenty-nine other Dutch navigators explored the western and southern coasts in the 17th century, and dubbed the continent New Holland. Wikipedia

Missing is that poor white people were also kidnapped by the Anglo elite: crimping and impressment were common practice in London or Liverpool. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghaiing

Mar 11, 2019 1:30 AM

I was taken aback by the praise for Tulsi Gabbard for President. It looks like she deserves the praise but i have seen it too often now that what happens after an election doesn’t have much to do with the intentions (genuine or otherwise) expressed in election campaigns. Nothing will change through Presidential elections. I don’t know what can be done but clinging to the belief that Presidents can do anything is silly. The apparatchiks will never let him/her.

Mar 11, 2019 1:56 AM
Reply to  Wilmers31

Gabbard is just another synthetic establishment puppet. Her cursory queationing of US aggression and imperialism won’t last long. And she won’t get anywhere anyway.

Hugh O'Neill
Hugh O'Neill
Mar 11, 2019 4:14 AM
Reply to  Wilmers31

Hi Wilmers. Nobody who is anti-war will ever be elected POTUS (or indeed PM of UK) because the Establishment will not allow it, even if a hypothetical 100% electorate desired peace. The problem therefore lies not with the candidate, but the system, on which point we are in agreement. Of all the candidates thus far, only Jill Stein and Tulsi Gabbard have had the courage to challenge the war state. It may be ‘silly’ to hope that sanity might prevail in the age of nuclear weapons, and thus I stand guilty as charged. One irony of Hawaii is Pearl Harbor: when the US electorate was anti war (can you imagine such a time?), FDR struggled how to change them into pro-war. The only way was to provoke Japan into attacking first, thus the “Day of Infamy” was conceived well in advance. As Mark Twain wrote: History rhymes. When Philip Zelikow wrote his paper “Catastrophic Terrorism” in 1998, he stated that the US would need another “Pearl Harbor” to allow the administration to fight the wars of our choosing (I paraphrase). “Shock & Awe” applies equally to the bombed as it does to the prior mesmerising of Joe Public with a stream of propaganda.
Whilst Tulsi may never reach the highest office, she does deserve some respect for daring to challenge the narrative.

Mar 11, 2019 4:33 AM
Reply to  Wilmers31

You’re not the only one. The notion that Gabbard could represent the people of Hawaii is farcical, any representative who isn’t an indigenous Hawaiian is a ‘representative’ of the Empire, not a representative of Hawaii. I cannot comprehend why it is that allegedly ‘lefty’ uasains just cannot grasp this.

Few are aware of the murder and rape at the behest of a cohort of US senators paid off by capitalists which brought about the invasion and theft of the nation of Hawaii, true, but even among those who do know their history, apologies rather than solutions are all that is ever offered.
It’s the same old same old in that just like everywhere else, from Palestine to Aotearoa, big banks hold paper on the vast majority of purloined assets and neolib pols are even less prepared to risk a fight with the banks than conservative parties are – not that conservatives ever frequently acknowledge the need for reparations..
As I get older weak-kneed neolib ‘apologies’ strike me as far less honest than a “fuck you!” from an unrepentant greedy redneck. Both are despicable but the greedies’ determined unrepentence is at least somewhat honest.

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum
Mar 11, 2019 1:25 AM

Plenty of white, middle or upper class ‘heroes’ but rarely do we read of working class, indigenous people or folks who chose to work with, and not against, the original inhabitants and the natural environment.

Mar 11, 2019 9:25 AM
Reply to  Fair dinkum

“Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong” by James W. Loewen, a sociologist. It critically examines twelve popular American high school history textbooks against actual documented historical accounts with regard to a few significant events in American history.

It reads well and has a lot of examples of history that did not get told and is not known – both positive and negative. Also shows the way society operates in ways that are more nuanced than ‘evil bastards’ theory.

Mar 11, 2019 12:08 AM

Good article. OffGuardian is looking great!

Is there anything that can be done, so comments do not vanish due to ‘beyond-our-control’ reasons?

Mar 10, 2019 9:49 PM

The Maori are a proud people, proud of their caretaker role in a land that Pakeha (the rest of us who go to their land to live or to visit) have only despoliated. So where are all the moa?

comite espartaco
comite espartaco
Mar 10, 2019 9:22 PM

Thirdworldist racism, aka multiculturalism, is a shallow one way street that can only fool those who are already halfway into foolery. To think and say that European explorers (as those of other nations, if the logical argument is to be followed), did not ‘discovered’ the regions they did, shows a complete misunderstanding of the historical situation and an ideological bias of Negative Eurocentrism of the worst kind. The dull and unthinking revisionists of racist multiculturalism, cannot understand that the European exploration of modern times changed the whole human game, linking and opening to the WHOLE world regions until then separated or with ‘limited’ horizons. Besides, if the Thirdworldist ‘argument’ was to be taken to its logical conclusion, nobody, not even the local or ‘native’ peoples, would have discovered anything, since they also were ‘immigrants’ (especially in the Pacific) or they displaced some other natives and, in any case, many rocks, animals and plants were already in the ‘discovered’ places, making a joke of multiculturalism and its histories or, rather, absurd tales.

Mar 10, 2019 10:14 PM

There is nothing to be proud of in this historical record.
Every effort was made to exterminate the Australian aborigines and this came close to success. Shooting parties were organised hunting the natives like rabbits, with women providing picnics.
An ancient and fascinating culture posing no real threat to the European invaders was ruthlessly destroyed. The impact on indigenous peoples throughout the Pacific was devastating, with few if any positives. They had so much to offer in terms of knowledge of an alien environment, in return for manufactured goods. But contact followed the same inevitable pattern of exploitation, racism and virtual or actual extermination, justified on Darwinian grounds.
In the New World, the European Genocide claimed over 100 million victims. The slavery and exploitation led to incalculable human suffering. Every European power, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, even tiny Belgium, committed multiple genocides in its African colonies and further afield. That in the Belgian Congo alone with 10 million victims, in horrific circumstances.
The historical record should be recognised for what it is, and accepted without excuses or prevarication. It doesn’t matter that similar massacres have been committed by Mongols, or Turks, or Japanese.

You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
John 8,32.

Jules Moules
Jules Moules
Mar 11, 2019 12:45 AM
Reply to  mark

For many people, if not most, it’s nothing to do with pride. Or even guilt. I am, literally, beyond all that nonsense.

I can no longer fit my modern mind into the mores, attitudes, social constructs or constraints of an 18th century Englishman (or Frenchman, or German) than I can put myself into my father’s shoes. Yes, I can attempt to understand and, yes, I can exercise sympathy for his victims at the same time as exercising empathy for Captain Cook’s or my father’s situation.

But I am not him. Nor am I Captain Cook. I am, in these matters at least, blameless: an innocent victim of my own unintended circumstances. I would no longer attempt to declare a continent Terra Nullius than I would attempt to declare a black man a field nigger.

In short, I have no guilt. I have no residual shame: I have nothing to feel shame about in these matters. Revisionism, frankly, stinks. Especially when the consequences of such intellectually bankrupt thought leads to me apologising for my very existence.

And that I will not do.

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum
Mar 11, 2019 1:32 AM
Reply to  Jules Moules

‘History is written by the conquerors’
Until that is corrected we will continue down the slippery slope of self destruction, hubris being our fuel.
Guilt is a waste of energy.
Truth diminishes ignorance.

Mar 11, 2019 11:39 AM
Reply to  Fair dinkum

The purpose or purposes that invoke history are generally support or justification for a present identity or established order. In this sense history is made or framed in the present as the persistence of a selected past into the future that thus denies the unfolding of presence free of asserted or guilt and conflict.
That is Orwellian observation – though he dramatised the destructive nature of using projected evils as power to subjugate the human spirit and left his reader under the stamp of such a doublethink.

Revisiting the past has to be sceptical or curious as to whether ‘accepted history’ (personal or collective) is true. Otherwise it is lived from and defended as if reality itself.

Revisioning can be merely the shifting forms of the same pattern or a true revisiting of the framing definitions from which such patterning logically follows – even from insane foundations.

Visions are necessarily perceptual and interpretive in terms of symbolic meanings but they can reflect alignment with truth so as to restore truth to conscious creation.

Because we think of creation as material forms, and invested meanings, we do not realise that a split mind (that knows not what it does) is just like the CIA – in that it gathers ‘intelligence’ as data outside without questioning its own – along with the true source.

However it began or whoever is believed or accused of ‘starting it’, grievance of denial, becomes a hidden source of justification for power as destructive.

In physics, it is understood that energy is never destroyed so much as transformed and that action brings an equal and opposite reaction. Under narrative or mythic identity, we operate as if a partiality could or should be whole. But whatever the shifting dreams of our story about our self, the physics is what operates – unless and until a release of the reactive assertion, to realignment in presence – of which we are living expression together because nothing truly exists in isolation – an island to itself.

Mar 11, 2019 2:12 AM
Reply to  Jules Moules

There’s no need to apologise or feel guilt for anything you were not involved in and occurred long before you were born. Indeed, people like Blair posturing and apologising for slavery just reveal their own megalomania – as if they can take the sins of the past on their shoulders like Christ himself. But that doesn’t stop you recognising what happened in the past for what it was. That the British Empire was just an extortion racket involving mass murder, racism and exploitation, not something that was in some nebulous way benevolent or altruistic. Like most or all empires in history, something that benefited a tiny gilded elite in the home country, the Robert Clives and the Cecil Rhodes. That’s all. No more than that. Just cut out the lies and the BS and the self deception. Just don’t gloss over or airbrush away the past. Like the genocide that was committed in Britain’s first colony, Ireland, against white people, and which has never been taught in schools.

Mar 11, 2019 12:01 PM
Reply to  mark

Freedom from guilt is not only joyous as the qualities of being directly felt, but the extension of these as the spontaneous or natural result of acceptance.
Investment in guilt’s conviction always has a pay-off somewhere, and projects to other minds as the wish to get rid of it – or at least the major part – so as to claim a ‘relative innocence’ of moral superiority or self-reinforcement.

While I agree with mark – I also recognize a personal and cultural inheritance and acquisition of beliefs, judgements and social conditioning that frame and distort my perceptions and responses in often unconscious and self reinforcing patterns that are destructive because they are not true. I want a way to bring these to light without invoking the ‘blame game, of power struggle set against exposure of anything that will be useful to ‘enemies’ or to the undermining of the power to maintain possession and power in terms of directing guilt of weakness, invalidity, unworthiness or hateful intent.

My sense of undoing guilt – is to face it and own what is revealed mine by reactions that reveal some correspondence. What I accept, I can revisit and change, but what is denied in attempt to hide is put beyond power of healing by the very assertion of the power to export or project blame.Thus we ‘create’ from shadow-self as half a wit in false witness believed as power and protection.

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar
Mar 10, 2019 8:59 PM

If there is one lesson from history of the past 2000 years, it is that narcissistic psychopaths prone to delusional bouts of megalomania, racial superiority, calculated culling and generalised ignorance beyond the cunning of brute force warfare will unfortunately prevail over those whose humility and understanding of the complex reality of their place on earth renders them too kind to be genocidal warmongers any longer.

It happens at every level of society. Right now, ignorant thugs expect free supply of intellectual insight from those they treat as slaves. They masquerade as doctors and educators, owe their status to joining the fascistic Security Services and are so incapable of basic emotional decency that a society run on such principles would relegate them to the lowest of the low.

You will find this in all major Western nations I am afraid.

Religions were created as solaces for those who recognised such travesties of reality and needed a way to remain functioning having created children. Of course, the higher echelons of such religions become infested with the same nonsense and the consequences are now starting to become public.

The chance to create localised ‘Gardens of Eden’ become smaller as the world becomes every more closely interconnected.

But it can still be done by those capable of independence, self-sufficiency and sufficient humility to view traditional ambition as a dead end for fools.

Mar 11, 2019 10:43 PM
Reply to  Rhys Jaggar

“Religions were created as solaces for those who recognised such travesties of reality and needed a way to remain functioning having created children.”

Good to know. I wasn’t around when that happened. Did it work or did they need to keep on with the aspirins as well?

Mar 10, 2019 8:11 PM

If the Script of the world is seen AS a script – then is it seen from the view of an identity within it.
The nature of the Script has indeed been one of separation or segregation and subjection or each other in struggle for power or simply survival as subjects.

My understanding is that fully owning the script as a script is its release to an awakening script – which is in the world but not of it and active in willingness to a reintegrative purpose.

The segregative or forgetting script is the polarised shapeshifting of good and ill, win and lose, loved and hated. None of which are truly founded, and yet are experienced and suffered real by our investments in them.

The fear and division script casts a fragmented personae ‘outside’ itself and substitutes a mind of filtered and distorted perception over direct recognition within living presence. Its dissociation is also it resort to ingenuity of secrets and lies from itself as well as in masking relations with others. Yet as a chosen or accepted sacrifice or denial of the heart’s knowing, is it the realm of choice between the mask and the reality – ONCE the masking is revealed AS mask – rather than passing off as true and being defended as such.

And so awakening from fear-framed ‘choices’ that all serve the same script, is the stirring of the willingness to challenge or question accepted reality and prepare or be prepared toward the ‘coming forth’ of a true expression amidst a world of lies.

The vacillation between these two is the love-hate alloy running through our human experience – for a conditional love can turn to hate in a moment where such conditions are lost or ‘betrayed’, and a conditional hate can be released in a moment of true recognition to a greater love that was otherwise forgotten and beyond belief.
Likewise a conditional love can expand through trial and challenge through a commitment to faith in such a living truth – even in temptation to hate, hurt or separate and deny the other.

The growing of a consciousness that operates persistently and consistently from such a willingness is witnessing to the script of healing, awakening and reintegration. While the ‘ego’ script can mask in the forms of spirituality – its does so as a self-evasion – because that IS the nature of a self-forgetting or self-rejecting purpose – and can only do so as the illusion made real to itself, and reinforced in a like purpose with others.

The attempt to make illusion real is in effect a war on reality – given power of energy and attention. Indeed to en-trance attention under the casting of its spell of the loss of wholeness to a sense of conflicted struggle – which of course includes the wish to regain or restore what was lost. This has the core elements of a phishing ruse or false flag at its core.

But the willingness to release the purpose of such a futility unrecognised is NOT its damnation or destruction, but the aligning of learned abilities to a revealed or reawakened purpose in service of a greater love than a mind in self-illusion can imagine and the rendering of such service is the reintegration or reconciliation of self, other and world to terms of love’s embrace. And this is ‘done’ through us by virtue of getting out of our own way rather than trying to do it by our ‘self’. Perhaps that is the key point; releasing investment in a lack, fear and guilt defined sense of self and world opens to a spontaneity or synchronicity of recognition that cannot itself be packaged and used by a loveless intent. Though the forms CAN be grasped at as if to marketise or weaponize a ‘better sense of self’.

I watched a vid about the movie Cloud Atlas recently – which is a film in which two themes were identified running through various lifetimes of repeating patterns. The resonance and recognition of beauty, and the predatory fight and flight mechanism/identity loop. The film (six ‘overlapping’ stories in one shifting script) tends to retain the frame of a battle of good and evil – but the Good is the true recognition of the word made form – and the evil is a false witness or worth-ship given to something ‘else’. So there is no battle between truth an illusions – but while both are given worth – illusions will battle between themselves while truth is forgotten.

The primary block to seeing is the belief in the world (script) as the source and nature of reality – in which or by which to validate or vindicate an ancient hate. But see! It DOES the very thing its accuses in others! It runs a self-perpetuating loop – or depletion and degradation, masking as a power of discovery and control.

the Script become enlightener by look AT it as it is – in the line of a Shakespearian play.

Helmut Taylor
Helmut Taylor
Mar 10, 2019 6:03 PM

Maybe I’m a softy, but reading your essay…. it brings a tear to my eye nevertheless. Abreath of fresh air is so …emancipating; and why did Shakespeare encapsulate the Jewish character in the persona of Shylock – for posterity?

Mar 10, 2019 10:28 PM
Reply to  Helmut Taylor

Shakespeare’s mistress was Emilia Bassano, his “Dark Lady.” She came from a very talented Italian Jewish family of North African extraction, court musicians at the palace of the Doge of Venice, and later at the court of Elizabeth I. She provided the inspiration for the Venetian settings of The Merchant Of Venice and Romeo and Juliet.

Jews were not well treated in Venice. They were confined to a part of the city in which a forge stood (“ghetto” in Italian.) Every year a leading Jewish figure had to hand over a sum of money to the ruler of Venice in a ceremony, in return for being allowed to live there. After handing over the money, the Jewish notable was required to bend over so that he could be unceremoniously kicked up the ar*e by the Ruler.

Shakespeare probably wished to reflect these realities.

Mar 11, 2019 6:53 AM
Reply to  mark

Mark, thanks for that info. So “the Dark Lady” really was a darky! And that her family were court musicians to Elizabeth confirms Shakespeare’s status as Director of a popular London theatrical company which also played at court. And links up with Shakespeare’s genteel start as writer-in-residence at a noble house.

“Shakespeare probably wished to reflect these realities”. And succeeded by a mile: Shylock is one of his deepest, most human characters; as is Portia in another direction. That whole play brims over with love of humanity, for our varied faults as well as our varied virtues. I saw it at the Old Vic, not too long after Hitler’s war and was overwhelmed, both by its unflinching realism and by its generousity of spirit.

Shakespeare’s genius trod darker paths, both before and after, but found itself again at the end, in The Tempest, because, as Dr.Johnson correctly discerned, His genius was for comedy. “Pardon is the word for all”.

Mar 11, 2019 8:55 AM
Reply to  vexarb

Perhaps comedy is the means by which to hide the deeper truths that can only be allowed to consciousness when laughed at.

The cast of mind is a reflection of its inner reality but set out as if a thing apart.

Mar 11, 2019 9:14 AM
Reply to  binra

… continued

And if all are cast from one mind and not merely the central character to our play, then all must come home to where they are if the slave should break the chain to the shadow play in Plato’s Cave.

The theme that rises from this consideration is that of guilt as usurper, power and protector – raised by others in this page commenting in terms of inherited guilt or guilt for inherited privilege and basis for disempowerment and invalidity set against vengeance as justice for past grievance.

Investment in the the self-imaged limits us to competing forms of inherited ‘meanings’ running like an overlay to a true presence, each entangled with its own shadow as some version of good and evil set in personae of imaged and symbolic substitution for the extension of wholeness that recognises itself in the act of creation and behold, it is Good!

Mar 11, 2019 12:27 PM
Reply to  binra

Binra, if you mean comedy reflects an inner reality but set out as a thing apart, I would agree. Shakespearian comedy is inner reality insofar as he saw the world through the lens of comedy. But I believe the way he projects it, through charmingly effective creatures such as Portia and Puck, has an effect on outer reality insofar as it makes us laughh where otherwise we might curse. If Shakespeare had a Jewish mistress, as Mark avers, and if Emilia invited him to meet her friends and relations, that would explain the deep (even though also comic) humanity of Shylock’s affection for his wife and his errant daughter — “My daughter! and my ducats!”; and “I had that ring from Leah when I was a bachelor”. This makes Shylock one of the most complex characters in Shakespeare; I think that in all of Shakespeare, only Hamlet has a more complex character than Portia and Shylock. Emilia obviously drew out the best in him.

That Shakespeare’s mistress was musical could also explain frequent references to music and use of music in his plays; the man obviously had sweet music in mind. Music being, according to Schopenhauer, the supremely inward art; but also the one which projects itself most into outer reality through mating calls, calls to prayer, marches and pop concerts.

“The man that hath no music in his soul / Is fit for treasons, strategems and spoils”.

Mar 13, 2019 10:49 AM
Reply to  vexarb

The King’s fool alone might venture truths otherwise forbidden.
So comedy offers a vehicle to say what cannot otherwise be said.

I am speaking to the nature of the mind as a filtering control of a projected acceptable narrative.

The ‘inner territory’ of the human heart in conflict of hope and betrayal is a script writ large on the world – where the mind is employed to hide what must be kept hidden for such hopes to be dashed again and yet again in conflict taken to its dregs.

I feel I already wrote what I meant.
I read a to me – interesting essay on A Midsummer nights dream and celestial catastrophe, encoded in a comedy of misalignments and reversals. I’m not as familiar with Shake-speare (who may be a pseudonym for a New Thought Movement) – as I intend to become.

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This could locate the rise of an intellectual Anglo-sphere in distinction from a Latin dominance associated with religious ignorance.

The thing about history is that we live IN it unawares – because we think the world is simply as we see it. The surface narrative operates a function not unlike the play or Plato’s cave shadow figures.

As with all emotion-backed invested attention, we are the script-writer and the proxy experience of the characters. That is to say – whatever is on Screen or played out – we each experience through our own camera obscura or private meanings – within the given themes.

Like ‘Shakespeare’, I feel the willingness to look upon a reflection as our own – is an awakening from the struggle within conflicts set against solution. The octaves of perspective are not ‘better’ so much as levels of inclusive or exclusive identification.
Oberon and Titania at one end, the travelling players parody at the other – with the principalities of the world in between.
Integrative or unified consciousness is not setting levels against each other in seeming separation by judging against – as if to have made it so.

In a post-truth world – an inverted ‘parody of fools’ runs as if to replace the order of the princes of the world, who lose the basis of their power by seeing it in personal terms, instead of aligning to a true expression of principled service to the realm. While magics go awry at the ‘elemental’ or ‘cosmic’ order such that a loss of harmony becomes a basis for an almost catastrophic reversal – that finds at least in story – a happy conclusion.

A basis of humour – which perhaps is uniquely or significant to human, is the recognition of a fear or danger as being revealed groundless.
No less then to the recognition of release in the undoing of a false belief that never was true. But in a world that persists as investment in the lie is the art of living in the world but not of it or abiding in a perspective above the drama – but not divorced from a true relational appreciation by private fantasy given power.

Mar 11, 2019 4:13 PM
Reply to  vexarb

Yes, some people believed that the Dark Lady was actually black, but Emilia was probably more of North African/ Middle Eastern appearance. I don’t think there’s any surviving portrait of her. His sonnets to her were not intended for public consumption. I always thought Shylock was a very human figure driven a little bit crazy by inhuman treatment. Some present day Jews have criticised the play as anti semitic and refused to watch it. But I think that’s making the common mistake of confusing an author with his characters. He probably wouldn’t have had Emilia as a long term mistress if he was that prejudiced. I think if he was, he would have made some character like Iago Jewish. The only other reference to Jews I can think of is in Macbeth, where “the liver of a blaspheming Jew” is listed in the contents of the weird sisters’ cauldron. There may be something else, but I can’t think of it.

Some people have argued that his love life could be said in a way to detract from his genius. Though he was apparently a happily married man with 3 children, Shakespeare also had a long term gay relationship with the Earl of Southampton, who gave him £1,000 at a time when a skilled carpenter earned £7-8 a year and a schoolmaster £10-20. He used this to pay off the family debts and buy a share in a theatre, so in effect he had a captive market for plays he produced. Contemporary playwrights of the calibre of Christopher Marlowe and Ben Johnson argued this gave him an unfair advantage, because they had to go out and sell their work. But maybe this windfall just helped him launch his career.

Mar 11, 2019 7:55 PM
Reply to  mark

The only openly racist remark in Shakespeare that I can recall is made by his vilest character, Iago: “A black ram is tupping your white ewe”.

The only really sustained vicious no-holds-barred ethnic prejudice in any Shakespeare play that I know of recurs in the Henry plays, against the French in general and St.Joan in particular; but that was probably just an actor-manager-writer ploy to put British bums on Globe theatre seats.

Hacker: Why does Britain need Trident if it’s so useless against Russia?.
Sir Humphrey: It’s not meant for use against the Russians.
Hacker: Who then?
Sir Humphrey: Our traditional enemy. We’re keeping Trident for our next war against the French.

Hal’s Catherine is a darling, and Shakespeare’s later plays contain some endearing French characters (Alls Well) and a really noble one (King Lear).

Mar 11, 2019 9:14 PM
Reply to  Editor

I’m not sure I entirely agree with that.
The reason why people still read plays written in archaic language over 400 years ago is that they deal with human beings motivated then as now, and in the future, by factors such as romantic love, greed, jealousy, revenge, ambition, and racial prejudice, which have remained remarkably consistent over the centuries.

Mar 12, 2019 11:09 AM
Reply to  Editor

Once a term becomes a means of virtue signalling or ‘moral’ superiority by accusation in others, it shifts from whatever it may have meant.

‘Self’ (selfism would be an ideology of self), extends to and yet is received from family or group and as such self and other is not merely a body and its ind or personality but a status of equality or embrace with a relative scale of closer and further.

Families have particular ways, cultural norms and cues and manners such that we initially see others as different in ways that expand us or contract us in identity of defence and distinction.

Clans, villages, towns and nations all operate versions of norms that are established and arrived at through an alloy of inherited culture and acquired idea of presumption and belief.

The common identity that unites but always against others, may be religious, or magical in its form-symbols even when ostensibly science-based or rational, because the idea of self-other is rooted in magical associations and archetypes. Hence Big BROTHER or a tyrant as FATHER of the nation.

The manipulative identity arises from and uses an underlying structure of fear of other, as the sense of rivalry for a life in which it is believed that the other’s gain is your loss, and so he must lose for you to gain, and attack is the best form of defence. The power or self struggle shows itself in shifting patterns of dominance that consolidate to power structures in society.

Supremacism or elitism can assign to specific race or national identity with racial allies. It is elitism that effectively regards others as sub human or not human in terms of right to be or to be met and so seen as worthy of denial or withholding of life at different forms and levels.

An inverted form of elitism is in those of un underclass who need others to look down on as their claim to ‘moral’ or righteous self-specialness. And so the most powerless in a society are feared and hated as symbols of what is denied or rejected within our self.

The scientific logic of breeding as a means of managing the stock is not new to non human animals and plants and nor to aristocracy as the forging of alliance that could also forfend or check against war between families (fiefdoms). But the open programs of eugenics – which were not unique to German policy – were none the less demonised in the defeated Germans as a way to claim ‘moral’ superiority over demonic powers as the new world order post ww2 – in which we are still operating, while eugenics went underground as part of a technocratic intent to remake the human world in the image of its elites – who use every and any means of leverage as an asset or proxy to further their purpose – which includes the destruction of the old order of self, family, religion or ideology and nation or race to being remade in the image of a globalised state template or dictate.

The inducement to get identity from such a purpose works through the guilting or invalidating of the old – so as to provide supported correctness and social credit, against disincentives of vilification, exclusion and penalty. It does so by using our mind against us in the same lures of self-specialness as ever – but set in a technological and rationalised system of surveillance and control. In short thought is being ‘bred’ or farmed, by the invalidating or guilting into division – over and against which an transgenerational elitism operates under discipline of seeking power over feared or hated ‘others’ that are not personalised so much as identified against.

Hatred can run hot in reactive passion or cold in emotionless and psychotic indifference. The former can be triggered by associations that CAN be brought to healing of an integrated relational appreciation – where the latter is much more deeply set and defended against life itself. My sense is that the latter maps out and targets the weaknesses of hate, fear and guilt in others – as that which makes them ‘meat’ to a predatory sense of power by action – rather than wishful substitutions of such power under rules of social limit or agreement.

It is the ideas that are shared or rather given worth by using them as valid – that operate and not the individual unshared and alone. From my view the attempt to stamp out hate with hidden hate is exactly the road to hell – given currency by agreement shared.
Hates cannot be brought to light and undone when hate itself operates the ‘light’ of moral superiority.

Systemic hate is the nature of human development’s underbelly, while the attempt to counter or justify or escape it has driven all sorts of cultural ability and achievement. But love for its own sake is outside or beyond such a system, and truth loved BECAUSE it is true gives no due to Caesar’s dictate.

To the self-specialness, love and hate are two sides of one survival. And regardless the forms of such survival, is defended against truth BY war – and sacrifice – because self-specialness IS war upon the equality of being, and the sacrifice of wholeness of being to a ‘lead role in a caged mind.

To welcome the stranger in, is to give in the measure of receiving, and in such willingness is brotherhood shared in truth of a greater love – outside or beyond the ‘world of system dominance’. The sacrifice of love to a hate claiming moral superiority is the guilt that holds it in place … of love re-cognised and alive.

Biodiversity is not served by making homogenous, mono-polar and subject to services of ‘care’ and ‘protection’. And yet bio-diversity is a symbol for a truly rich consciousness of creation in all that it Is. From a true foundation, expansion is embrace extended – not domination or subjection in a contested and limited identity. There is a timing for all things, and the attempt to force others where they are not themselves willing – for their own ‘good’ is an expression of ignorance masking as moral superiority BECAUSE ignorance is seen as a nakedness of self calling loss of face. To NOT know is THE condition in which RE-cognition arises of itself of a wholeness including our brother and our world.

Addiction to the model, the system, and the self in image is fear that mind conflict generates and sets as a concealed foundation or self-evasion.

The denial of our true nature is embodied in the denial of the natural world – of our bodies, and our native abilities and therefore taken out upon natives, and nativity. A nature split against itself can only see through the lens of its own self-division – and so ‘nature’ can become a symbolic substitution and usurping denial of the truly felt, accepted movement of being – that finds cultural expression for its times and timing.

Human development is the development of a ‘consciousness’ from which a world arises.

Mar 13, 2019 1:00 PM
Reply to  Editor

Admin, no I do not think The Merchant of Venice is racist; rather, it is a deep and incisive dissection of racism under the guise of comedy. As Binra says above:

“The King’s fool alone might venture truths otherwise forbidden.
So comedy offers a vehicle to say what cannot otherwise be said.”

This is not the place for Eng.Lit.Crit; instead I shall summon a Music Critic: the great Sir Donald Francis Tovey. He names Shakespeare and Homer as the two Sublimely Inscrutable writers who Lead us ever Upward, while appearing to share our primitive prejudices. Thus according to Tovey, our Inscrutable Bard gets us to laugh at the casual racism of Portia’s silly Christian menfolk in a play about (quote) “the glorious sport of Jew-baiting”.

Mar 13, 2019 1:55 PM
Reply to  vexarb

If racism or any other hated fear projection was to be erased from our mind we would erase ourself. Not because we are the hate, but because hate is a rejection and denial of something we fear or hate to be – and attacking ourself as if to get rid of it – is the way to keep it and make it real in the forms it presents.

The fearfully ‘virtuous’ are not at rest in their being and so are beset by shadows – that must threaten their ‘asserted right to exist’ or identity-investment.

Computerised braking systems mean that we do not meet the need to learn to steer into a skid – just long enough to regain relational traction of wheels and road. Embracing our shadow is similar. We have to look at the horror or terror in order to break the spell of being defined or bound in fear – so as to look past it. If life is sanitized of evils according to those who set the narrative – then it is no longer life – but a lie posing as power of protection.

When a child develops, he or she opens new levels of responsibility and participation by moving across the boundaries that protected childhood.
The use of fear to deny the development of consciousness can seem like power until of course the utter powerlessness of one’s own lack of support becomes inescapable.

Belief in death as the power that defines life meaningless, is the basis from which to seek power for private fantasy gratification upon the body of the world. Hate seeks vindication in vengeance while claiming virtue, and set of a like reaction in polarised opposition.

Virtue-signalling – is a form of self-denial that paints itself into a corner to die …or perhaps revision EVERYTHING from a new curiosity? How invested are we in thought-control?

Mar 11, 2019 4:21 PM
Reply to  mark

Sorry, meant to say Othello.
Romeo and Juliet was set in Verona.
Probably also inspired by Emilia as a setting.

Mar 11, 2019 8:03 PM
Reply to  mark

Or simply following the Renaissance fashion for things Italian — writing sonnets and such.

Hamlet: The Tragedy of Gonzago, written in very choice Italian.