Sunday, October 16, 2022

Whistle, Hiss and Shush: The Serpent Eats Its Own Tail

I've been revisiting my phonetic alphabet recently, mainly with a view to compiling all my blog posts on the topic into one book-like PDF. I have toyed with the idea of writing an actual book on the topic, however I think the flow of the blog articles works much better than a book ever could. You can follow the journey from start to finish.

Obviously these journeys and questions never have a true ending, it's more just that you reach a natural point for an intermission. With that in mind a few loose ends are worth commenting upon.

The main one concerns the snake-like letter S.

We noted before that the S sound was essentially a Z sound with a "push of air" (we kept the S symbol though as it was suitably snake-looking). Keeping it turned out to be fortunate as I'd forgot about the "Sh" sound - as in the word shush.

With the other letters we've been using the letter H as a way of amending the core consonants - to add that push of air. For example, to create the P sound in our new alphabet we use B + H - as we deemed P to be the B consonant with a push of air.

So in our P-less alphabet the word push would be rendered bhush.

Following this logic S would also be a Z with a push i.e. Zh. However, we really need that H to lift the S/Z sound into the Sh sound.


The Sh sound really is quite unique. It's very similar to hissing, but it's a bit more whistle-like. It's almost a hiss approaching a whistle if that makes sense. (As I often say; making these sounds with your own mouth really helps. Just reading the words and symbols from the page doesn't quite convey the actual sound made, nor the mechanics utilised by the mouth.)

When I was thinking about all this the word whistle itself couldn't fail to strike me. It has the W at the start - the very mouth shape we make when whistling. Plus it contains the word, or rather the sound: hiss. W-hiss-ling. (There really is a certain beauty to how logical our language is.)

Anyway, as noted, it was very fortunate we didn't throw out the S symbol to render S as Zh.

In theory we could've used multiple H letters to make the Sh sound - to emphasise the sheer amount of "air pushed out". Zhhhhuzhhhhh! As opposed to zhuzh - which would just give us something that would sound like sus. That would perhaps be a tad too whacky though - even by our standards.

So we'll have to keep Sh as it normally is in the English language, and have S as just a normal S - with no way of differentiating between the slightly different Z and S sounds we have in English.

I think this is probably fairly fine though, and fittingly it brings us right back to where we began this entire blog series. In that very first Constellation Consonants post the letter I chose to remove was Z. Precisely because it was so underused and superfluous ..and as I said in that article we won't miss Z once we get used to not having it :)

Finally: The Actual Alphabet

I've knocked up a final image listing the letters we were eventually left with once everything unneeded was stripped out.

(The final alphabet - click to enlarge)

Again, there's no true ending to these investigations. In fact, it would be really interesting to look further into how pitch is naturally used in language. For instance the way lower vowel sounds are often used to signify things that are low (and also big), and how higher sounds are often used to signify things that are high (and likewise things that are small).

The words low and high being good examples in of themselves. Low having a deep "O" sound and high having a higher "I" or "eye" sound. Hill and hull (or hole) also spring to mind. A hill being an upwards hump and a hull or hole being a downwards one. It makes perfect sense that we would naturally gravitate towards language that mirrors the actual mechanics of the sounds made. These things are ingrained in the fabric of reality. A thick bass guitar string makes a deep bassy sound, whereas a tiny high E string gives a high pitched one. So the association between low and big and high and small is commonly rooted in experience. Just look at words such as tiny and teeny-weeny and then compare them to words like huge and enormous.

This natural musicality of language seems quite underexplored and underappreciated to me. So if we do start a fresh page of notes and observations that could be the place to start.

For now though I think we can leave it there.


[The complete pdf book can be downloaded for free from here:

As can the work Birth Family Tribe Love Sex Apotheosis ]

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Journal Notes: August 2022

This is just a short journal-style post to make a few notes. I haven't posted like this on this blog for a while, but it really is a handy way of keeping track of information. The notes relate to topics touched upon on here before.


Firstly we have this quote concerning Giordano Bruno. It's from George Abbot (1562 - 1633), who mocked Bruno for his view that the Earth was in motion. Abbot later went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury.
"[Bruno supported] the opinion of Copernicus that the earth did go round, and the heavens did stand still; whereas in truth it was his own head which rather did run round, and his brains did not stand still"
I thought this was interesting as it illustrates how uncommon belief in the heliocentric model was at the time.

This then led me on to the following little titbits of information.

Namely that Christopher Marlowe didn't mention heliocentrism in his works - this passage comes from a work titled Christopher Marlowe by Richard Wilson:
It is true that in none of his writings - as they have reached us - does Marlowe ever mention a heliocentric universe, while his poetic imagery often contemplates a 'centric' earth and the revolving spheres; none the less, many of his critics have found it surprising and even contradictory that he did not include Copernicanism among his unorthodox and unlicensed opinions.
The next is simply an interesting bit of word knowledge. This time from a book tilted Spatial Questions: Cultural Topologies and Social Spatialisation by Rob Shields. It concerns the concept of space.
First century BCE Judaic thought adopted the Hebrew 'place', makom kadosh, as a name of God (Arabic makam 'holy place').
We've mentioned words with the double 'M' sound on this blog before, so I thought this was an interesting addition. The relation of 'space' to 'place' is also quite thought provoking. The entire passage (titled 'Space as the Sacred') from which the above quote is from is well worth reading in this regard.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Buoyant Birds: Why "Bird-Brain" is a "Bird-Brained" Insult

We appreciate the beautiful birdsong we hear in our gardens every morning, and we admire the way they gracefully glide through the air, but when it comes to intelligence birds often get a bad rap. The term "birdbrain" commonly used as an insult towards any human we appraise to be acting stupidly or dim; stemming from the basic observation that birds have small brains compared to their body size.

However, though bird's brains do look tiny compared to their size, the main reason for this is that birds have to be buoyant, in order to fly. Meaning their mass is spread out over a greater area. Birds have air sacs in their bodies, and hollow bones. They have to be super light. If you've ever looked at a plump little robin redbreast and wondered how something so portly can dance through the air with so little effort it's because they're buoyant as well as aerodynamic. They're like little balloons with wings.

If you hold a mouse or gerbil in your hand they have a bit of weight, like a little bag of sand, but a bird of similar size feels light. So it's not so much that birds have small heads and brains, but rather that they have big bodies - as the mass of their body is spread out over a greater area of space than it would need to be if they were land animals that didn't have to fly.

So birds aren't as dense as we think they are.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Spring

One day a man wanders far from his tribe. Deep in the jungle - perhaps half a day's journey from his settlement - he discovers a beautiful fresh water spring. Tired, but excited by his discovery he begins to make the long trek back home to his people. Yet as he walks he has a dilemma:

He wants to tell the rest of the tribe about this amazing discovery he's found, but at the same time he knows that if he tells all the tribe members it's likely that word will spread to neighbouring tribes, and then a neighbouring tribe may come and take control of the spring. Meaning they won't have access to it.

Therefore, thanks to this accidental discovery, he has also discovered a reason for secrecy.

A fresh water spring would be a huge strategic resource for his tribe. What is more essential than fresh water? Surely it's something worth lying for. After all, what is worse? Keeping a secret from some of his fellow tribe members, or allowing a situation to develop where they could go thirsty?

So, as he ponders the issue he finally resolves to go against his first instinct, which was to simply share the truth on his return. Instead, when he returns he doesn't tell everyone about the discovery he's made - he simply goes and tells the tribal elders.

The tribal elders are the leaders of the tribe, and they also keep other secrets. To become a tribal elder and share in these secrets a tribe member must reach a certain age, then go through a series of initiations. One of which requiring a vow not to reveal these secrets to anyone not already initiated -- on pain of death.

Our wanderer, understanding the strategic importance of the new water source he's found, shares his information with the elders; creating for them a map showing the route he took to find the spring. In doing this he helps reinforce the knowledge hierarchy within the tribe, and keeps some of his friends and family members in the dark.

However, he also gives his own tribe a knowledge advantage over the competing tribes that surround them. An advantage that could easily be lost if all the members of the tribe were allowed to share in the knowledge.

Alas, we can clearly see the practical considerations that led our tribesman to choose secrecy over revelation. Likewise we can understand why the tribal elders developed such a system for protecting such secrets in the first place (bizarre though their rituals may seem). For the tribe without a way of protecting their information - be it information about the landscape, stores of food, or battleplans - will be easy prey for the tribes that have one.

So, it appears these systems evolve quite naturally from necessity, no matter how right or wrong we may think they are in principle. It's difficult for any tribe, nation or group to be totally open in a world of threats and dangers.

When there is peace on Earth all people will have access to the spring of knowledge.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

The Mark of the Beast - A Rational Explanation For Why It's So Prophetic

13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

In this age of implantable microchips and digital identities the above passage from the Book of Revelation can seem eerily prophetic. Literal believers in the bible will raise it as proof that biblical prophecy is real, and that the end times are upon us. Whilst the so-called sceptics will simply ignore it, and pretend they haven't noticed how aptly it appears to mirror the way the current world is heading.

Meanwhile, anyone in between is left a little freaked out by it..

"People have to take a mark? That they have to have to "buy or sell" things? That does sound a lot like the 'digital identity' systems governments are rolling out now. WEIRD!"

And it is weird, a little unsettling even. Especially for people that are otherwise rationally-minded.

However, fortunately for those people, there is a rational explanation for this that kind of makes sense of it all. Namely that the 'Mark of the Beast' is a timeless concept - representing a threat that exists in all eras of human history. A threat that takes on different forms according to the technology available in the era.

Tribal Bodily Markers

Tribal markers are common throughout all of human society, and can take a multitude of forms - piercings, brandings, tattoos, circumcisions and so forth. All these things can be good, bad or indifferent in of themselves.

For example, tattooing is very common around the world - both as a form of individual bodily expression, and also as a tribal or group marker. If a person freely chooses to get a tattoo, either as a personal choice or to denote membership of a particular tribe or group, that's perfectly fine and normal. However, if there's peer pressure to do so things are a little different, and often in such circumstances failure to accept the marking may come with social consequences, imposed by the wider group. So it's not quite the same as someone freely choosing to do it. On top of this, tattooing can even be used to literally tag and track people. The most extreme example obviously being the tattooing of prisoners in concentration camps during World War II.

It's similar with implantable tech like microchips. If someone freely chooses to have a microchip put under their skin that's fine. Though I personally find the idea thoroughly unappealing (just as I find the thought of tattoo needles thoroughly unappealing), I can nevertheless respect another person's freedom to do it. However, if people are being forced, coerced or pressured into doing it, then that's quite different. Then it really is the mark of the beast ..or at least the mark of a beast. As when a person's bodily autonomy is overridden like this it equates in many ways to being treated like an animal.

In fact, our attitude to animals is quite illuminating in this regard, and when it comes to the forced tagging or marking of creatures it's our treatment of animals that sets us on the path to how we treat humans. The hierarchy tends to look something like this:

animals < criminals < the general population

Animals, especially farm animals, are often tagged for human convenience. Think cattle branding with hot irons, or those little ear tags you see hanging from cows' ears. Today RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags are also commonly used - so again, if the 'Mark of the Beast' is an implanted microchip the beasts are already subjected to it.

Next in the pecking order though are criminals. Often criminals will be tagged in various ways. Today it may be ankle bracelets, in the past it was branding with irons, or the clipping of body parts, such as the ears. We generally treat our fellow humans with more respect than we do animals, but when people transgress the law society often deems that they've forgone some of their rights. So they stand only a few notches up.

However, from there it's only a small step to forcibly marking or tagging the population in general. Be it for the convenience of those in charge, or to protect society from some dangerous wider threat. We only need to look at the health mandates of the last few years to see how easy it is to go from tracking criminals and terrorists to tracking the entire population.

In human civilisation it seems the Mark of the Beast is never far away. We have this in-built urge to track, tag and control other animals and people. Especially so those in charge, who, just like parents, feel a need to keep track of their children. Both the naughty ones and the good. (Or if you're being less generous: like farmers, they feel the need to keep track of their cattle.) Either way there's a desire for order and control, and there's always the urge to use whatever technology is available to do this.

It's not too hard to imagine that in some distant, long-forgotten period of history it may have been the case that branding wasn't just reserved for the criminals and cattle. Perhaps there were times when entry into a city or a marketplace was conditional on taking a brand or mark - on the hand, or perhaps even the forehead. Maybe the mark coming in the form of a number or a name.

Again, it's perfectly natural for whoever's in control to want to keep track of things. To know where people are, who has and hasn't paid their dues. Think the 'ink stamps' put on people's hands when they enter nightclubs - it's such a simple way of knowing who's paid to get it. Who's free to come and go, and who isn't. A mark or branding on the skin (or a microchip underneath it) is an ultimate and permanent expression of this.

So this is why that above passage from the Book of Revelation feels so apt - it's because it is. However, it was also no doubt just as apt when it was first written. The danger that tyrants will impose bodily markers upon their populations being an ever-present threat.

The term 'Mark of the Beast' therefore carrying with it a double meaning. To be marked like a beast, i.e. like cattle, but also standing as a symbol for the evil empire or tyrannical regime imposing this marking upon the people - the Devil, the Beast, the Great Babylon.

*The above painting is St. John the Evangelist on Patmos by Hieronymous Bosch, circa 1489.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Voyages and Travels of Sir John Mandevile

I recently finished reading a very old work: The Voyages and Travels of Sir John Mandevile, Knight.

The work was said to have originally been penned in the 14th century, by a knight from St Albans, England, called Sir John Mandevile (or Mandeville). Though the true identity of the writer is contested somewhat. The above copy which I was reading was published in 1722.

As ever I'm always somewhat doubtful about the provenance and dating of these things, but we'll leave all that to one side and just share some of the contents :)

The work primarily reports the various routes a Christian can take to reach the Holy Land. However, after this it then gives accounts from various other far-flung places. Including India, the land of Prester John, and Tartary.


Page 16/17:

On pages 16 and 17 a place somewhere in the region of the eastern Mediterranean called Salathy is mentioned. A story is told of how it was destroyed thanks to a young man who slept with the corpse of his dead girlfriend.
"..all that Country was lost through the Folly of a young Man, who had a fair Damsel whom he loved well, and she died suddenly, and was buried in a Tomb of Marble; and for the great Love he had to her, he went one Night to her Tomb, and opened it, and went and lay by her; and a while afterward returned home again; and when it came to the end of Nine Months, a Voice came to him and said in  this manner .. Go unto the Tomb of the same Woman thou hast lyen by, open it, and view well that which thou hast begotten on her .. And he went and opened the Tomb, and there flew out a Monster very hideous to see, which flew about the City and Country, and soon after the City and Country sunk down."
This was the illustration that accompanied that little tale 😅

Page 21:

A short little note here. He mentions that locally Egypt is called Canopat, and in another language called Mersine.

Page 28:

Here we get a really beautiful story about a field "that flourished very strangely" near the town of Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus.
"The cause is, forasmuch as a fair Maiden, that was accused wrongfully, for that she had done Fornication, for which Cause she was doomed to die, and to be burnt in that Place, to which she was led. And as the Wood began to burn about her, she made her Prayer to our Lord, as she was not guilty of that thing, that he would help her, that it might be known to all men, and having thus prayed, she entered the fire, and those Branches that were burning became Red Roses, and those that were not kindled became white Roses, and these were the first Roses that any Man ever saw: And so was the Maiden saved thro' the Grace of God, wherefore that Field is called the Field that God flourished; for that it was full of Roses."
No picture with that one sadly, but I think the words paint it well enough.

Page 29:

A short passage I thought was worth noting:
"The Saracens [Muslims] also eat neither Geese nor Swines Flesh: For they say, it is Brother to a Man"
I note it as I'm always interested in this idea that pigs have some human quality. Winston Churchill supposedly said "I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."

Page 30:

A picture now. This one illustrates the bible story of Abraham going to sacrifice his son Isaac. I like it as you can see God, in the guise of an angel, holding Abraham's hand back. As if to say "Don't do it. I was only testing you!"

Page 59:

A little note. A city in Tartary is mentioned called Orda. I note it simply as it sounds similar Horde.

Page 74:

Here we have another picture. It's in reference to the fabled 'men with one foot'. These fanciful people appear in many traveller's accounts of the time. Alongside 'dog-headed men', men with just one eye, and men whose faces are in their torso. In fact, I think I have some more pictures later on if I recall correctly.

In the image the man is using his giant foot to shield himself from the Sun:
"In Ethiope are such Men that have but one Foot, and they go so fast that it is great marvel, and that is a large Foot, for the shadow thereof covereth the Body from Sun or Rain, when they lie on their Backs; and when their Children are first born, they look like Russet, but when they wax old, then they be all black."
Page 76:

On page 76 when discussing a part of Inde (India), near a river of the same name (which I'm guessing is the Indus that flows through modern day Pakistan), 'green' and 'yellow' people are mentioned.
".. and Men that dwell near that River are of evil colour, yellow and green."
Page 90 ..

On pages 90, 93 and 94 respectively we come to the earlier promised dog-headed, cyclopian and chest-faced men.

That last one in particular is both amusing and disturbing.

Pages 102 + 103:

On page 102 it's mentioned that the Tartars worshipped owls and the number 9, owning to stories concerning their Great Khan (or Caane as it appears in the text). -- The appearance of an owl saves him when he's hiding from his enemies. Then later a sea parts, creating a path 9 foot wide, allowing him to cross and conquer the land of Cathay.

Then on page 103 it's mentioned that four feasts are celebrated each year because of him. One on the day of his birth. The second celebrating when he was carried to Temple to be circumcised. The third is when one of his idols begins to speak. And the fourth is when his idol begins to do miracles.

Page 117:

Page 117 is a weird one - apple-smelling people.
"There is another Isle that men call Pitan, the men of this land till no Ground, for they eat nothing; and they are small, but not so small as Pigmies. These Men live with the Smell of wild Apples, and when they go far out of the Country they bear Apples with them; for as soon as they lose the Savour of Apples they die"
Page 120/121:

Finally we have some more oddities.

"And beyond that Valley is a great Isle, where be People as big as Gyants, of 28 Foot long, and have no Cloathing but Beasts Skins that hang on them, they eat no Bread but raw Flesh, and they drink Milk, and have no Houses, and they gladlier eat Man's Flesh than other"
Women with precious stones in their eyes:
"Another Isle there is Northward, where are many evil and foul Women, but have precious Stones in their Eyes, and have such Force that if they behold any Man with Wrath, they slay him with beholding as the Basilisk doth."
And lastly this tale about men specifically giving other men the right of primae noctis over their wives. Due to fears that the women would kill their new husbands (by stinging them with serpents from the body ! ):
"Another Isle is there, of fairer People and good, where the Custom is such, the first night they are wedded, they take a certain man, that is ordained therefore, and let him lie by their Wives to have their Maidenheads, and they give him a great Reward for his Pains, and those men are called Gadlybrien: For men of that Country hold it a great Thing to make a Woman no maiden: And if it be so that the Husband find her a maiden the next night after [..] the Husband shall complain of him to the Lawyers that he has not done his devoir, and he shall be grievously punished and chastised; but after the first night they keep their Wives well, that they speak not with those men.

And I asked what was the Cause why they had that Custom; and they said, heretofore Men lay with their Wives first, and no other, and their Wives had Serpents in their Bodies, and stung their Husbands in the Yard or their Bodies, and so were many Men slain, and therefore they had that Custom to let other Men have their Maidenheads, for fear of death"
Quite the tale.

The work in its entirety can be found here:

Monday, May 17, 2021

Birth Family Tribe Love Sex Apotheosis - Apotheosis/Addendum

When I originally conceived the layout for this book my plan was that there would be no final chapter, and the book would just end with the word 'APOTHEOSIS' in the centre of an otherwise blank page. However, as people reading this blog may now be expecting some kind of final conclusion I think I should probably post something to fill the space (clicking on an empty blog post wouldn't quite have the same feel or impact as turning a nice crisp book page).

My thinking behind such an ending was two-fold. Firstly, the book starts with 'Birth', but I didn't want to end with a chapter titled 'Death'. Aside from the morbidity I felt death was covered in the first chapter - with birth, death and time all forming part of the same conceptual grouping. At least as far as the things I wanted to discuss were concerned.

Then secondly I wanted to convey the sense that humanity is heading somewhere. Where, I don't know, but some sort of ascendency to some destination. Something divine I guess. In fact, my not knowing is the reason why there would be no chapter. Even with my confidence and arrogance I can't claim to know the future. Or to know if there's some higher meaning or purpose for humanity. I can't describe indescribable God. If indeed there is a God, or something approximating to that notion.

It's simply beyond me.

What I did try to illuminate in the book though is that the many dualities or dichotomies we see in life are things that are equally needed by humanity. That is, that both aspects of these dichotomies are needed. Just as a bird needs its two wings to fly.

Be it left/right politics, cyclic and linear time, tribe vs inter-tribe, or dualities of sex and gender. It's not that one side is good and the other bad, but that both can be explored. We often see ourselves as left wing or right wing, as this or that. However, these spectrums are things that we ourselves can move around on. At least intellectually. We don't have to pin ourselves down to the map, we can explore the whole territory. Taking flight in the process.

In fact, society as a whole, with its arguing factions pushing back and forth, is not unlike a single organism thinking its way through a problem. Contemplating within itself, deciding a course of action. Repeatedly rising and crashing like a phoenix as it gets the balance better or worse.

An Icarus aiming for the Sun of apotheosis, burning its wings. Like me earlier, daring to think I can know the unknowable.

Perhaps if we learn to understand these dichotomies better as individuals we can become better pilots of the bird. Guiding ourselves and wider society towards the light, even if we can't descry the destination.