Greetings to all you lovers of books!
Do you map to ONE book or from the ONE to the MANY books in your life?
Allow me to tell a story. You may copy and send it freely to whoever you
want to. (Please bear in mind that English is not my mother tongue.)
I was reading about the ancient "School" of Alexandria while trying to get
more information on Plotinus. (I will write more on him in another
I write "School" in quotation marks because it was indeed called a school
("scholastium") in ancient times. But it was rather the first
manifestation of our modern universities. The "academia"(in Greece) or
"scholastia" (in Italy) of those ancient times were each (like the
Academics, Stoics, Peripatetics and Epicureans) organised in terms of one
definite philosophy and its principles (respectively Plato, Zeno,
Aristotle and Epicurus for the schools above). But in the "School" of
Alexandria many philosophies prevailed while many things were studied
without a definite philosophy to guide it. It was rather a "market for
learning" to equip its students for a better life.
Why was this "School" of Alexandria so different from all the other
schools? Because of its library called the "Bibliotheca"! The city of
Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great on the coast of Egypt just
west of the Nile. Alexander was called the Great because of his incredible
accomplishments. His father Philip, king of Macedonia, spent the last
money in the coffers of poor Macedonia to educate his country's young men
(like his son Alexander). He hired the best possible teachers (like
Aristotle) from all over West Asia and Italy. Within one generation
Macedonia became one of the richest countries, even though by spoils taken
from other conquered countries which previously ransacked Macedonia to the
Soon after conquering Egypt, Alexander handed it (with the emerging city
Alexandria) over to Ptolemy Soter to reign over it (306-285 BC). Ptolemy
was deeply impressed by what enabled Alexander to become such a great
leader. So he began immediately to surround himself with the most learned
men possible. He also began to set up a library where all the known great
books of Europe and Asia would be kept. He preferred original manuscripts
rather than copies, although even copies was rare because every book had
to be written by hand. (Printing would be invented only some millennium
and a half later!) His own profound example inspired every subsequent
sovereign of Alexandria to keep up this expanding library.
The city of Alexandria had a Race Areas Policy right from the beginning
exactly like in South Africa during its 44 years of apartheid (more than
two millennia later). But unlike South Africa it worked for Alexandria and
brought peace for almost a millennium. The Egyptians and Arabs lived in
the north-west of the city, the Jews in the north-east and the Greeks and
Romans in the south. Soon Alexandria became the most beautiful city in the
known world, although the Romans claimed that Rome was still the most
beautiful. The Arabs and Egyptians brought books to the library from their
part of the world. Likewise did the Jews, Greeks and Romans from their
parts of the world. It was claimed that many manuscripts were even
acquired from the Far East (Chinese) and a few even from the far west
(Celts and Picts). The library began to reflect many cultures making it
unique to all other known libraries.
The great Euclid, for example, who documented in his books all known
mathematics since times immemorial as well as his own famous work on
geometry, did it from this very library! The evangelist St.. Luke who had
studied medicine and literature in the "School" and then practised as
doctor in the city of Alexandria here heard the first rumours about a
strange Teacher in Palestine who even performed innumerous medical
miracles. So he eventually left the Alexandria to learn first hand from
this Teacher. But he arrived too late. The Teacher had been crucified
because as the One he did not fit into the many. Thus Luke could collect
only stories of the Teacher, carefully winning the corn from the chaff.
Studies in the "School" of Alexandria did not focus on one particular
philosophy, but on any one of an astounding diversity of subjects like
literature, languages, mathematics, astronomy, seafaring, medicine and
agriculture. By the beginning of the Christian era the influence of this
"School" was felt all over the known world (Europe, West Asia and North
Africa). The "School" was like an octopus with tentacles running in all
directions of the world. For example, when anybody wanted to explore a
hitherto unknown part of the world, that person first went to the "School"
to find out what was already known. Some stories were even put to books of
large lakes and great rivers discovered south of the great desert (Sahara)
as well as places to the north (Arctic) where ice and snow never melt. It
is said that Joseph of Arimathea became one of the riches men ever by
getting information on all known mining deposits in this great
"Biblitheca". He used this information to explore nebulous countries like
Ireland and Germany for mineral deposits.
The city, its "School" and its "Biblitheca" lasted for almost a thousand
years. During its last two hundred years, it could not rely on help any
more from the Byzanthian or Roman Empires to defend itself against new
conquerors. (I will now leave out the name of the nation and the "Book"
involved so that we can play the ball and not the player.) Thus the end
came swiftly in 640 AC through the commander Amaru acting under the
sovereign with title the "Successor". The famous scholar John the
Grammarian who was one of the last to be educated by the "School" sensed
that the "Bibliotheca" was in grave danger. So when Amaru took command of
the city, John begged him to spare the thousand year old "Bibliotheca"
because it contained virtually all books known to humankind. It was the
map of humankind's mentality. It even had almost every book written by the
very people of the "Successor" on subjects like mathematics, chemistry and
continental explorations. Although copies of the recent "Book" were still
very rare, the "Bibliotheca" even had acquired one of them!
Amaru replied that it is not to him to decide what should be done with the
spoils of the conquest. But he promised John to convey his pleading to the
"Successor". The "Successor" answered somewhat along the following lines:
. The "Book" reveals that I reign by Divine Will.
. I shall decide what is best for all humankind.
. Your "School" is most famous of all schools.
. Yet it meant nothing for my people. Why?
. The "School" has too many demonial books
. which undo the holy rules of the "Book".
. All these blasphemous books must be burned.
. The remaining books not differing from the "Book"
. have not been inspired by the Divine Will.
. Thus they are inferior to what the "Book" says.
. All these corrupting books must also be burned.
. Only ONE book must be saved -- the "Book".
. Use these MANY books to fuel all public fires.
. For once they will do good service to the people.
Dear fellow learners, how long did these books provided fuel for public
utilities? The rich city Alexandria had some 40 000 rich tax payers! It
also had some 4000 public baths of which many provided hot water. It also
had some 400 public theatres of which many provided performances at night.
Hundreds of fires had to be fuelled so as to provide the public with heat
So many were the MANY books that they lasted for six months as fuel. Only
ONE book did not became fuel in Alexandria.
Cry, oh human, because those beloved books became extinct.
Cry, oh human, because mental death has come close to humankind.
The Dark Age was already hovering menacingly over Europe, West Asia and
North Africa. As a result of burning these MANY books except the ONE
"Book", he Dark Age took firm grip which took almost thousand years before
the Enlightenment could shake it off. Only thereafter could learning
become conscious once again to the "one-to-many-mapping" of the universe,
physical and spiritual.
I have decided to tell the story Alexandria, its "School" and its
"Bibliotheca" because once again death is fast coming closer to humankind.
By the year 600 AC poverty had become rampant over Europe, West Asia and
North Africa. Poverty makes most humans insane -- the poor who do not care
against destruction because they have nothing to lose and the rich who try
to protect their belongings by destructive measures. The "School" self
lost the sanity of its purpose because the essentialities liveness,
sureness, wholeness, fruitfulness, spareness, otherness and openness
became meaningless to it. Thus the "School" could not be saved, despite
the scholarly efforts of John the Grammarian and the sympathetic ear of
Amaru the Commander. The Law of Requisite Complexity began to show its
dark side -- the Dark Age became a fact.
This story is some 1400 years old. It is a story and not a lesson.
Sprengler pointed out that history seems to have only one lesson which few
have learned -- most people do not learn from the stories of history.
At present there are thousands of universities world wide operating just
as the "School". Millions of people are benefitting from having attended
them. Millions of scholars have done nobel work to advance human
understanding. But billions of humans from hundreds of peoples have became
poor beyond comprehension. Those who can afford a book or two or some
periodicals, buy stuff full of parascience, parapsychology and even the
occult. All these thousands of highest "schools" and millions of highest
"scholars" mean nothing to the billions of humans in deep want. Somehow
their noble work fails to benefit the poor. Likewise the billions of lowly
poor means nothing to thousands of highly rich. Somehow they cannot
benefit from the noble work of the scholars.
What else is needed as the sufficiency requirement for the necessary work
of these scholars? Wholeness? Only wholeness? Is only the billions of poor
in want of creativity? Will the creative endeavour of all scholars not
also be required?
The darkness are again hovering all over the world. Some call it
fundamentalism. But I want to describe it closer by "foundmentalism".
Foundmentalism is the Mental Model (in the LO sense) of . "Nothing can be
better than what I have found mentally . in the past to be the best for
all future." Since Foundmentalism prevails in our societies and even our
highest "schools", neither commanders (like Amaru of old) not scholars
(like John of old) can save our "Bibliotheca"-- the rich heritage of the
mental journeys of all humankind. There are too many leaders like the
"Successor" who act in terms of Foundmentalism.
The argumentations based on Foundmentalism are manyfold. For example:
. "Not even I will find something better than the best which I had founded."
. "None of the MANY books can help me to understand the ONE ^—book' better.
. "My understanding of the ONE ^—book' is better than the best of the MANY
. other understandings of it."
. "The Divine Will makes it my duty to judge all opinions other than mine."
. "To make my judgement clear I will burn you and your words with my words."
. "I judge your opinion to be useless because it is either inferior or different to
. "I judge your opinion to be the worst which has to be eradicated because of
. its insanity."
. "Mental essences like wholeness and openness are against the Divine Will".
. "These mental essences are against my understanding of the revelations in
. the ONE ^—book'".
. "Should the ^—book' as the ONE only discipline not attract you, then I will use
. it to whip you with MANY disciplinary actions."
How will you be able to identify (not judge) Foundmentalism? You may look
out for any of the arguments above. However, they are but words. Also keep
a lookout on the deeds which go with them. May I lift out ONE so that you
can ap it to the MANY?
. My learning is mine and mine alone.
Contemplate it with the discipline Team Learning of a Learning
organisation (LO). Learning Individuals are necessary to a LO, but not
sufficient. What is sufficient? According to Senge it is the essences of a
LO. What exactly are these essences? How are they related to the seven
essentialities of creativity?
Cry, oh human, because our universities are not LOs.
Cry, oh human, because our societies are not LOs.
Since so few Ordinary Organisations (even though full of learners like in
the ancient city Alexandria) have emerged into LOs, let us now
Cry, oh human, because our scholars and our commanders will fail.
Cry, oh human, because of increasing poverty which causes insanity.
Prof Richard Dawkins have written a compelling book "The selfish gene."
But I want to make you aware that somebody can write in some future a book
called "The lovish gene". What do I mean?
St. Peter wrote that our "gegenemenos" enables us to love each other. The
word "gegenemenos" is traditionally translated with "rebirth". But I want
to suggest another meaning in terms of our modern accomplishments on
genes. The "ge-gene-menos" refers to the "gene" of God which becomes
manifested (the "menos") in us once again (the "ge"). This "gene" of God
is "Love with no stings attached" -- the "one-to-many-mapping" of Love
itself -- Love-agape. With this "gegenemenos" we neither need to love, nor
will love or not even can love each other. We just love each other -- no
strings (even strings like need, will or can) attached. To love is the
perfect law of freedom. To love is the answer to poverty and the insanity
triggered by it. Let us become in Love-agape based on the gene Love-agape.
Let us construct the DNA of Love-agape so that its genome can become. Let
the genome of Love-agape make us wise. Let us put our learning into
service. Let us create a future in which we avoid destructions to make
others creating constructively. Let us create history which would be
fitting for writing the book "The lovish gene".
The "Bibliotheca" of the "School" of Alexandria contained much
information, gathered over a thousand years, but it all could not save its
future. Why? Information alone was not sufficient. The emergence of
knowledge out of this information failed. Thus poverty and destruction
It is now some millennium and a half later. Do we have knowledge of our
present world or do we merely act upon information of it? Billions of
desperate poor are among us. It will take many years to help them overcome
this poverty. Furthermore, any one of us can become within a few days as
poor as they are. To destroy takes little time, but to create
constructively takes much time. Let us begin now because we have no time
to spare any more.
With care and best wishes,
At de Lange <firstname.lastname@example.org> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa
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