Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Evolution of morality concepts. Migrations from religion to secular. Vices change with agenda, institutional demands.

Vice by Agenda.

How have morality tales, exhortations changed over time.  Despite repetition, they have not worked well. We sense that people are as bad, or greedy, or wrathful, or exploitive, or conflict-mongering, as ever despite centuries of admonitions of deity demands, and punishments. So who has benefited? The institutions that roll on?  Will there be a stop.  Here, explore the transitions of moral ideas in  1) religion (people of the Book overall) laying out required personal behavior, to  2) fairy tales, fables, stories of rewards, cleverness, ferocity and luck; to  3) secular art and admonitions expanding which vices should concern us, in a world governed by now-tainted institutions and money-making preoccupations. And are they really secular. Deep concerns are not surface, merely intellectual.  Details of the evolution of ideas of vice are at FN 1, FN 2. 

1. Religious tales, warnings, lists of bad behavior.

Despite claimed deity demands, nobody has much improved in religions of the Book. The line-up to hell must remain long, and grim.

With lists of inclusions and exclusions in hand, many who did not reform their ways were put to the sword, however, or, just got fleeced or shamed. Time has made little difference. Fear is the main weapon, fear of dreadful consequence. Beheadings and rapes and tortures of some today are like the beheadings and rapes and tortures of yesteryear in earlier branches of Christendom. See http://worldwar1worldwar2.blogspot.com/2010/11/westerm-ethnic-violence-timeline-put.html.  There are harsh enforcers of  Commandments and lists of vices (Seven Deadly Sins and the like). See the various sins and prohibitions listed at FN 1.

The lists begin with the necessities for people living in a formed community, Proverbs, and Ten Commandments.  The lists change, when there is not one community being addressed, but a new diverse community is being forged -- as in the New Testament post-Christ era with Paul's letter to the Galatians.  Lots of new bad acts.  There, dissent becomes a pejorative, and strife itself is a danger.  Then, hundreds of years later when there is a strict canon of the newly forged Christian Church, attention then goes to the individual. The list further narrows and becomes rote, almost, as it repeats through Dante. Meanwhile,  Church violence and fanatics took about 1500 years to play out their drive to kill off the opposition. 

2. Fairy tales and fables.

Fear is also central to fairy tales that lived on long after history of forced conversions to Christianity: fear of the dark, the dark woods, the closet, the bad behavior of trolls and stepmothers and entities like Baba Yaga. The clever prevailed. Quests rewarded the persistent and the brave.  But none of them changed behavior, except to kill off a giant, perhaps. Fate remained in charge.

Grimm's Fairy Tales, Briar Rose, joy of the king followed by vengeance of the thirteenth wise woman, Only a small softening of the doom foretold. My NY 1909, Arthur Rackham illustrator, edition.

Obstacles did cow little children into obedience for a time, and made conformists of adults who indeed avoided the path going by the enchanted well, but adults otherwise kept their own vices. Fairy tales: explore http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.html/.  Other forms, like fables and parables, may affect some individuals for some time, but the systems remain intact. See http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/society-and-culture/moral-of-the-story/153.aspx

3.  Secular and money-making.

With that history, and neither religion or fairy tale able to change systems, try a more secular adjustment to the lists of acts and sins, to expand and include those broader institutions, cultural moneymakers and not just wayward individuals.  Can that make a difference:  is there another motivator other than an angry deity or warts. Will the ideal of protecting children change adult behavior.  Will stories of rewards work if tried just one more time.

Turn to the 2001 sculpture by Mihail Chemiakin, Mikail Shemyakin:  children as victims of adult vices, Moscow. 

This modern and child-focused presentation shows adults in or promoting addiction, prostitution, theft, alcoholism, ignorance, false teaching, indifference, promoting violence, sadism, loss of memory, child labor, poverty and war.  Not the usual seven deadlies, but addressing institutional or overall cultural behaviors as well as the individual.  Conditions are included, such as poverty; which perhaps properly only becomes a vice when one chooses to fail to exert, but that is a stretch and usually justifies the self-satisfaction, entitlement, supremacisms of the better-off.  Some, like loss of memory, can mean a condition without voluntary acts, but it can also mean the mindset that refuses the memory of history. Can it?

Sculpture, Mihail Chemiakin, Mikail Shemaykin, Moscow: Children, victims, adult vices.

Will a verbal call to action work? Chemiakin has tried.  It has not worked yet, even in its city, Moscow -- or ours, if this were here.  The plaque is left to rot.  Children may well be victims of adult vices. So?  Read his words:

Chemiakin's words:
'I created the sculptural composition Children are the victims of adults' vices as a symbol and a call for action to save the living and the future generations. For many years it has been declared and pathetically exclaimed: "Children is (sic) our future!" However, it would take volumes to write down all the crimes of the society against children. I, as an artist, call upon you with this work to turn your beads backward to hear and behold all those sorrows and horrors our children have to suffer nowadays. All sensible and honest people should stop and think before it is too late. Don't be indifferent! Fight and do your best to save Russia's future.'
 The figures in Moscow's installation echo fairy tale and religious concepts as well as the ever-present cash in money bags, or underlying the motivation. Money at the root of all. If that is the case, it is fruitless to attack the behavior without the motivation behind the promoter. 

 We have defenses, say the vices, the promoters of the addiction, prostitution, theft, alcoholism, false knowledge, ignorance, indifference (what difference can I make?),promotion of violence, loss of memory (or choice not to learn from the past?), sadism, child labor, poverty, war.  We need the money, even if the kids see it, the kids will rebound (maybe), we were stressed, we were forced to do it, we can't endanger our own families and lives by taking as stand for others (Indifference). There's money to be made, as all the bad-acting adults and those who foster the bad acts (custom, institution) attest; and that's the way of it, is that so.

Is this the lesson in this morality tale:  that indeed money reward and advantage to self is the only lasting promise that changes people, not threats of hell.  If so, how to deflect it to promote behavior that benefits all, or at least, the children,here blindfolded while vices watch and wait, with open arms. Use money wisely, perhaps, and in that direction.  Can we then let the children see, and be proud.  Details of the sculpture in Moscow: see http://russiaroadways.blogspot.com/2015/08/children-are-victims-of-adult-vices.html.

 Why the indifference?  It is the central vice, the tall one in the center, like a cross.  Is there no money to be made in fighting losing battles?  Is it easier not to see, to hear.

4..  Thoughts:

As to religion, has Theo left the room. And all those old sins made money for the religions who collected for getting people off the hell list. Now the religions come up short on cash while the money is being made by those engaging in vices or promoting them.  Religion won, in that its adage of money at the root of evil has proven true; it has lost because it dropped the banner.  The banner of highlighting need for change has passed to the roughly secular world, is that so.
The fairy tales also did nothing to change systems, but only to reward the clever children who overcame. Meanwhile, adults continued to starve them, leave them in the woods, slice and dice them.

So the institutions and the mega-financiers and any others who foster vices to protect their own interest have been the winners.  Can any approach turn the tide?

FN 1.   This is a long collection of the lists, not easily seen on mobile devices.  Come back to it, and examine especially old meanings of old texts, and how they change with the agendas of the institutions.  Favorites: a)  the instruction of the father, but the law of the mother.  B7 here.  Why does that get whited out? Guess. and b) adultery gets prohibited early on, sex between a married person and someone not his wife , although the word usually translated wife is really just woman -- thanks, Jerome, who translated the old Hebrew for woman to mean uxor in Latin, and all copied from there.  Point:  fornication is not barred until much later.  Even Paul in Galations only hits on adultery. Two unmarried folk, fine? Until when?  Fine hobby, this: The religion migration, sins, prohibitions, religious history, Western people of the Book.  

The prohibitions early mirrored the deity commandments -- here using a literal translation source, not because the terms here in translating old Hebrew are true above all others, but use the word for word to show the intricacy of old syntax, the difficulties inherent in translations, see  http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/OTpdf/exo20.pdf for the Hebrew Old Testament; and its corresponding Greek New Testament for the New.


A.  Deuteronomy 5:21ff Commandments.

Very close to Exodus. Exodus 20 Ten Commandments:  See http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/OTpdf/deu5.pdf; and then http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/OTpdf/exo20.pdf.

Here the roughest of summaries of topic from the Exodus cite, for purposes of comparison with later lists of sins, seven deadly etc.

How to act, an individual, within your community.

1) no gods to replace the face of Elohim. [Does that version, if correct, suggest it is acceptable to make the face of Elohim, just not to put another god's face there instead?]
2) make no carving or other representation of heaven, earth, waters under earth;  do not bow down to any such representation or serve them.  [Does that suggest it is the bowing down that is the problem, not the making a representation?] I Jahweh Elohim am a jealous God who visits depravity of the fathers on the sons on third and fourth generations of those hating God and doing kindness to those loving God and following instructions
3) do not use name of God for futility
4) remember the sabbath (rest here is traditional)
5) glorify your father and your mother
6) not you shall murder (A specific form of kill. Does not say do not kill)
7) not you shall commit adultery (sex of a married person with a person not his or her spouse) [so sex among unmarried persons is ok? go, tell it on the mountains]
8) not you shall steal
8) not you shall answer in associate of you testimony of falsehood  [associate , not neigbbor. These were nomads, not in fixed dwellings so as to have neighbors?]
10) not you shall covet house of associate of you not you shall covet woman of associate of you [the term is not "wife", as found also in Genesis, no "wife" -- word is "woman" - no marriage contract? just purchase of property?] and servant of him and maidservant of him and bull of him and donkey of him and any which to associate of you.

B.  Further lists and prohibitions. 

 Old Testament Proverbs 6:16-20; the seven abhorrences.  Visit http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/OTpdf/pro6.pdf.  Literal translation, find no concern with sex at all -- must be elsewhere?

1)  "abhorrence of soul of him eyes ones being exalted" (proud look);
2) "tongue of falsehood" (lying tongue);
3) "hands ones shedding blood innocent" (hands that shed innocent blood);
4)  heart one-engrossing devisings-of lawlessness (a heart that devises wicked imaginings) [is lawlessness always wicked?];
5)  "feet ones-making-haste to to-run-of to evil" (feet that are swift to run into mischief);
6)  "he-is-puffing lies witness-of falsehood (false witness) and  
7) one-sending (forth) quarrels between brothers" (sowing discord among brethren);
  • Then find (emphases added): a prohibition not just against disobeying instructions of the father, but of the law of the mother:

 "preserve-you son-of-me instruction-of father of-you and must-not (be) you-are-abandoning law-of mother-of-you"
 [So, culturally and religiously,  the father gives instruction but the mother lays down the law -- not patriarchy, that?]  Read on about other prohibitions againast exploiting weakness of the men, diatribes against evil women, etc. 


C.  New Testament Paul's Epistle, Galatians 5:19-21 (see http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/NTpdf/gal5.pdf) literal translation and that offered as the narrative translation.

 These go beyond personal behavior required as a member of a community.  Here, community standards as a new group of Christians were still evolving and conformity to what conformity the leader said is needed to be a Christian is laid out. To be feared are internal divisions.  See FN 2 for dictionary and other definitions sources:

1) No adultery (sex with someone who is married, unless you are married to the person) (note no prohibition on fornication?)
2) No prostitution (sex for money).
3) No uncleanness.  (follow religious laws for cleanness).
4) No wantonneses. (no infliction of pain or suffering on others, no recklessness)
5) No idolatry. (no worship of an object as though the object were God).
6) No drugging, enchantments (did non-Christians, indigenous cultures, engage in these in rituals?).
7) No enmities (no deep-seated antagonisms.
8) No strifes (Greek ereis) (conflict?).
9) No boilings (jealousy)
10) No Furies (no endlessness, punishments and jealous raging, from the Greek Furies)
11) No strifes (Greek eritheiai) (factions) (divisions or dissensions)
12) No two-stands (Greek dichostasia) dissensions again?
13) No sects (Greek haireseis) (preferences?)
14-17) No envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries

The narrative that evolved from these terms increasingly focus on doctrine and are later the basis for further demarcations on degree of sin: idolatry, sorcery, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, "and such like".[3] Since the apostle Paul goes on to say that the persons who practice these sins "shall not inherit the Kingdom of God", they are usually listed as (possible) mortal sins rather than capital vices.


D.  Post-canonical.  The 4th Century.  Evagrius Ponticus

Evagrius Ponticus was a monk who wrote out a list of eight as evil thoughts. See www.religionfacts.com/christianity/lists/deadly-sins/.
And lust is included, but not words for adultery or fornication.

 Ranked from least to most serious in terms of increasing fixation on the self, are
1)  gluttony,
2) lust (intense desire, pleasure, sensuous appetite, see http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=lust&searchmode=none),  What if you don't act it out?
3) avarice,
4) sadness (despair, despondency?) (NEW),
5)  anger,
6). acedia (negligent torpor, listless not caring),
7)  vainglory (ostentatious vanity),  (NEW) and
8) pride.  No sloth, no envy, but he adds the sadness and ostentatious vanity.

Compared to the later Seven Deadly Sins, where is sloth? envy?
  • Sloth. Then again, spiritual sloth was part of acedia, see http://www.deadlysins.com/history/, so in that sense, sloth was included as a mental state, perhaps a discouragement, just not referring as we may to physical laziness slugabed.  
  • Envy:  sometimes seen as sadness at the good fortune of someone else, so in that sense, sadness may include it here, see Philokalia (4th-15th Century texts from Greek, do an overview at Wiki)
E.  6th Century.  Pope Gregory's list ranks seven flaws from least to most serious by a different criterion: The criterion of Pope Gregory is whether the act offends against love.  Gregory's list:  pride (including vainglory), envy, anger, sadness (including acedia, the torpor), avarice, gluttony, and lust

F.  1265-74.  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica.  Sins take on an intellectual life of their own, a mind-dance, apart from the sinner and effect on others, see http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2072.htm


G.  1308-21 or so. Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy :  traditional list, see http://www.danteinferno.info/7-deadly-sins.html

See overviews, generally list stays in same parameters, see Wiki for Seven Deadly Sins. Why not just love your God, if that is your bent; and love your neighbor as yourself? 


H.  Children are still victims of adult vices, despite the words and the teaching. Is it time to shelve the seven deadly sinss, and move from deity wrath to practical consequence: Focus here on needs of children, not benefits to adults, or behavior to be taken as rote.

"*** For the wrong that rouses our angry passions finds only a medium in us; it passes through us like a vibration, and we inflict what we have suffered.” –George Eliot, Janet's Repentance, 1860, at page 142.  Excerpt is from Scenes from Clerical Life, a collection of three stories.

Go back to the Moscow monument, children paying for bad acts of adults, has deep roots in religion, from the western Christian conservative (see http://carm.org/bible-difficulties/genesis-deuteronomy/do-sons-bear-sins-fathers-or-not) to the Orthodox also grappling with the issue, see http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=25371.0/.   Here, see the cultural idea move from the religious context, into the visual secular.

Cultural concepts like these do not necessarily take the form of tales told through generations, but are ideas of moral admonitions or insights that may begin as religious admonitions or warnings, then cross cultural boundaries, through applications of science and art. 

One Orthodox reference notes (in a post disputed for plagiarism, not the issue here) notes larger categories for many of these: forgetfulness, negligence, sinful craving. See


FN 2.  Roots of words.  Translations - all have agendas, in that the translator has a variety of choices.
1) adultery;
2) prostitution (in translation this money-making in sex becomes the more general fornication, any sex outside of marriage, a different matter);
3) uncleanness (morally impure, not permitted by religious law) (no change);
4) wantonness (wantonness means willingness to inflict pain and suffering on others, recklessness, see http://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/ ): this changes to lasciviousness in translation, meaning specifically lewd or lustful, see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lascivious)
5) idolatry
6) drugging (enchantment). Enchantment idea can be positive, see http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/enchantment?s=t/  This becomes witchcraft; see craft of witches, deriving magic from evil spirits, see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/witchcraft
7) enmities.  This deep-seated animosity accelerates into hatred;
8) strifes.  This becomes a reach of authority to include not just conflict, but variances, to include mere divergences, anomalous behaviors even if they are not conflict-ridden
9) boilings (jealousy). This becomes emulations, newer? desire to equal or excel others, old: a jealous rivalry, see http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/emulation, 
10) furies; this becomes merely wrath.  In the Greek (and Roman), the Furies were Allecto, Tisiphone and Megaera, or Endless, Punishment and Jealous Rage:  "female spirits of justice and vengeance" originating in the primeval, not the later usual creation of gods and goddesses, who could drive evildoers mad. They punished in the world, and tortured in the underworld. See http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Fi-Go/Furies.html
11) factions, another form of strife. This becomes, magically, seditions and heresies both -- suggesting an already formed ideological structure permitting no deviations.  These are clearly later in time, when there is a formed canon, rules against which inclusions and exclusions can be measured and enforced.
11) two-stands (?) or dissensions;  not separately translated. Greek "dichostasiai". Looks same as 'standing apart' or divisions.
12) preferences, or sects.  Not translated; and the rest also are using unchanged translations:
13) envies
14) murders
15) drunkenness
16) revelries
17) and the like
Sculptor and artist Mihail Chemiakin (Shemiakin) is known all over the world today thanks to his hard-working and talented nature rather than to a scar on his face. However, his scar might be a sort of an original token of his art: works by Mihail Shemyakin display deliberate imperfections of their characters, whether you take a wide range of his whimsical long-nosed and humped monsters of homunculi or the sculpture of Peter the Great with a disproportionately small head.
Misha Shemyakin was born in Moscow on May 4, 1943. He grew up in the Eastern Germany where his father served as a commandant, and his mother was an actress. Upon returning to his homeland in 1957 Mihail Shemyakin entered the Repin Art School in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) attached to the Academy of Arts.
Vladimir Vysotsky &  Mihail Chemiakin From 1957 to 1971 he lived in Leningrad. Mihail studied at the Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in Leningrad, but was expelled for reasons of ideology. However he went on studying by himself by copying old masters in the Hermitage. In Soviet Russia he participated in six exhibitions all of which were cut short on the second or third day of display. In 1971 he was driven away from the USSR.
For ten years Mihail Shemyakin lived and worked in Paris – that’s where he attained fame. It was in Paris also where dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov acquainted Shemyakin and Vladimir Vysotsky who later became close friends. During that Paris period, in the 1970s, Shemyakin made a great many recordings of Vysotsky singing in his art studio. The famous Vysotsky’s albums from the collection of Shemyakin are re-released till date.
Children as the Victims of Vices of Adults (Moscow) The art of Mihail Shemyakin started returning to Russia in 1989, with his first personal exhibitions in Moscow and Leningrad. His most famous works in Russia today are monuments in St. Petersburg: the double-faced Sphinxes on Robespierre Embankment, the monument to Architects-Founders of Petersburg (at the graveyard of Sampsonievsky Monastery), and the monument to Peter the First by the Peter and Paul Cathedral. In Moscow everyone knows his sculptural composition ‘Children as the Victims of Vices of Adults’ on Bolotnaya square in the city centre.
Monument to Peter the First in Petersburg Monuments and sculptural compositions by Mihail Shemyakin have found place in New York (‘Cybele: the Goddess of Fertility’), Paris (‘The Carnival of St. Petersburg’), and Venice (‘In memory of the 200th anniversary of the death of Casanova’). He is also the author of the gravestone to actor Saveli Kramarov, a Russian emigrant in San Francisco and the monument to Manevich in Petersburg graveyard.
The Gardener Besides, Shemyakin created a memorial to professor Harold Yuker (‘Dialogue between Plato and Socrates’) which is located in the university campus in Hempstead, New York, the USA, and the monument to Peter the First in London.
Mihail Shemyakin is working with a wide range of techniques. His creations vary in themes from theatrical works to metaphysical research.
Besiegers of the City He has created the series ‘Carnival of Saint Petersburg’, ‘Still-Life’, ‘Metaphysical Head’, ‘Angels of Death’, and has recently been working on the sculptural project ‘The Cocoons’, and the sculptural composition ‘Kings and Executioners’ to consist of 50 figures. Besides, the sculptor is preparing a monument to Russian seamen for San Francisco.
Mihail Shemyakin is a participant of over 500 exhibitions and the honored doctor of five universities. His works are displayed in museums and private collections in many countries of the world, including Metropolitan Museum (New York), the State Russian Museum (St. Petersburg), and the Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow).
Since 1995 Mihail Shemyakin has been working in cooperation with ‘The Gallery of Alla Bulyanskaya’. In the 2000s apart from painting and sculpture activities in Russia, Shemyakin conducted his own TV programs and staged a new version of Tchaikovsky’s ballet Nutcracker, for which he designed the costumes, masks and decorations and even worked on the libretto.
Mikhail Shemyakin Mihail Shemyakin is a real workaholic: he is working days and nights, and on several projects at the same time. He is completely immersed in work and if it were possible Shemyakin would have probably abandon sleeping.
Nowadays the artist is living and working in New York and visits Russia for some creative needs. He has recently given up smoking.
- See more at: http://www.russia-ic.com/people/general/s/214/#sthash.lABEm813.dpuf
The concepts recur, change with agendas, drive to push an ideology. What are the real fairy tales.

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