On Clairvoyance as the Caduceus speaks

I believe this poem came inspired. We happened to scroll through some UFO videos which included a short documentary about extraterrestrials. I was also typing a poem onto my phone at the time, paying no heed to the narrators on screen as I wrote exactly this: “Serpents of lianas issue a curtain from trees that hide a ruin”, before the word serpent was even uttered in the documentary, until I realised they were talking about the Great Serpent Mound of Ohio. I found this momentary synchronicity quite amusing. I was imagining the ruins of a mud house in my village, overrun by the jungle.

A depiction of the serpent mound that appeared in The Century periodical in April 1890, drawn by William Jacob Baer (Wikipedia)

The Great Serpent Mound is a 1,348-foot-long and  three-foot-high prehistoric effigy mound on a plateau of the Serpent Mound crater along Ohio Brush Creek in  Ohio [1] A National Historic Landmark built by the ancient American Indian cultures of Ohio, it is an effigy mound (a mound in the shape of something) representing a snake with a curled tail. Harvard University archaeologist Frederic Ward Putnam excavated Serpent Mound in the late 19th century but he found no artifacts in the Serpent that might allow archaeologists to assign it to a particular culture. Based largely on the nearby presence of Adena burial mounds, later archaeologists attributed the effigy to the Adena culture that flourished from 800 B.C. to A.D. 100 and work is still to be done to clarify this [2]


I also awoke earlier that morning reading two paragraphs in a book in the final dregs of sleep, the second of which read something like “a Caduceus that interferes”. Utterly confounded by this weird dream, I woke up pleading with the matrix not to mangle my subconscious given I hadn’t even heard the word ‘caduceus’ that it should appear in my dream so. Perhaps it was clairvoyance of some sort, that I was to hear about the Great Serpent Mound that day, something I had never known of before either. Either way, it should have been the staff of Asclepius since there is only one serpent on that mound, not like in a Caduceus, but one does not rationalise with the matrix 😉


Images above L to R: Rod of Asclepius, Caduceus, Flag of the World Health
Organisation ~ (Source-Wikipedia)

Science fiction intrigues me and it has been a distraction during the pandemic that U.S. intelligence agencies shared declassified UFO reports during a congressional hearing in June this year but have found no evidence that the aerial phenomena witnessed by Navy pilots in recent years are alien spacecraft. Even so, they still cannot explain the unusual movements that have mystified scientists and the military. An unclassified version is expected to be released to Congress by June 25 [3] The world as we can see it, is teeming with the inexplicable; pastoral serpents, flying saucers, E.T.; consciousness and dreams.


Clairvoyance, synchronicities and all things Jungian appear intriguing. I have always wondered if the stranglehold of language has a part in this, if it constrains our conscious and the unconscious in a straitjacket of meaning that falls short of all there is beyond the realm of a rudimentary tongue or an ever changing lexicon. Does language force our consciousness down a set  tributary of thought ? Do we create our own consciousness or tap into waves of consciousness to electrify ourselves into being? I am not making this up. Here is an article by Johnjoe McFadden, a professor of molecular genetics at the University of Surrey, who actually studies if consciousness resides in the brain’s electromagnetic field, which may help explain a lot that has defied explanation thus far [4] Language could also animate consciousness in other ways, as hypothesised through the concept of linguistic relativity.


The 2016 science fiction movie, Arrival, a movie about Alien linguistics and the philosophy of language, addressed a concept called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which tries to explain that language does not only influence the way in which we communicate but also influences our behaviour and our way of thinking. Edward Sapir, a well known Emergentist philosopher of language, also says that the real world is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group [5] The Emergentist viewpoint of language expands the idea of “cultural relativism”, wherein “Language is primarily a cultural or social product and must be understood as such”, by saying, that what is thinkable for you might depend on the language you know. Dr. Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams in the movie Arrival), is a linguistics professor who is called on to lead a team of scientists in learning an alien language. and by learning the metaphors of language used by the heptapod (aliens in the film), she learns new ways of conceptualizing the world as well as discovers new ways of perceiving it [6] The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis on linguistic relativity is not widely accepted but makes for some interesting reading.


The kind of world we inhabit and how our being is animated into consciousness, is strangely the realm of science fiction even now. Until then, we can dream of the matrix, imagine sneaky adversarial craft, visualize aliens simply as depicted in movies, in fact our entire imagination hinges on what has already been elucidated for us in our contemporary although limited, knowledge. This poem spilled out simply as a tribute to science fiction, a random assortment of them too. I have fictionalised the constellations, having used Perseus instead of Draco. It is loosely based on the serpent mound I should think. The lianas actually inspired me to make fresh fettuccine this evening, I have included the recipe in the caption.

On Clairvoyance as the Caduceus speaks

In the helical there's a code, byte sized
thoughts rush into a poem as a montage

spirits onto the screen in the sepulchral;
Words I've already etched on a tablet

"Serpents of lianas issue a curtain 
from trees that hide a ruin" I wrote

while thinking of houses crumbling 
in short crust of mud. They that engraved 

hieroglyphics in sand claim 
the heavens sent forth what slithered 

from Medusa, writhing in slippery thought 
as her Beta Persei  blinked a demon rush

to engrave onto the green green grass 
of hills, a serpent that eats an egg.

They spirit the earth's pantheon, these 
mythologies interred into the appendix 

of starry faiths and Jesus sects, 
to create constellations 

of hope in the holy books, a creed
to believe until science reclaims

the story of gods, demons, the three tiers
of angels, an ark, covenant, Adam and Eve.

Beneath the drift of the heliacal, it's the pyramids 
that confound me still and serpent mounds and NASA 

Notes: (Make for some interesting reading)

The caduceus is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. In Roman iconography, it was often depicted being carried in the left hand of Mercury, the messenger of the gods. It is said the wand would wake the sleeping and send the awake to sleep [7]

In Greek mythology, the Rod of Asclepius, also known as the Staff of Aesculapius, is a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine. The symbol has continued to be used in modern times, where it is associated with medicine and health care, yet frequently confused with the staff of the god Hermes, the caduceus.[8]

Deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA is a molecule composed of two polynucleotide chains that coil around each other to form a double helixcarrying genetic instructions for the development, functioning, growth and reproduction of all known organisms and many viruses. DNA and ribonucleic acid (RNA) are nucleic acids [9] DNA is a double-stranded helix, with the two strands connected by hydrogen bonds. One of the ways that scientists have elaborated on Watson and Crick’s model is through the identification of three different conformations of the DNA double helix. In other words, the precise geometries and dimensions of the double helix can vary. The most common conformation in most living cells (which is the one depicted in most diagrams of the double helix, and the one proposed by Watson and Crick) is known as B-DNA. There are also two other conformations: A-DNA, a shorter and wider form that has been found in dehydrated samples of DNA and rarely under normal physiological circumstances; and Z-DNA, a left-handed conformation. Watson and Crick were not the discoverers of DNA, but rather the first scientists to formulate an accurate description of this molecule’s complex, double-helical structure. 1869 was a landmark year in genetic research, because it was the year in which Swiss physiological chemist Friedrich Miescher first identified what he called “nuclein” inside the nuclei of human white blood cells. More than 50 years passed before the significance of Miescher’s discovery of nucleic acids was widely appreciated by the scientific community. In a 1971 essay on the history of nucleic acid research, Erwin Chargaff noted that in a 1961 historical account of nineteenth-century science, Charles Darwin was mentioned 31 times, Thomas Huxley 14 times, but Miescher not even once. [10] 


Heliacal Rising: Given how Earth moves around the Sun, we have the impression that our star is drifting across the sky. When the Sun is found in a certain region of the sky, its brightness prevents us from seeing any stars in its vicinity. As the days go by, the Sun changes position, allowing the stars it was concealing to be visible again. The heliacal rising of a star is the first day when this star becomes visible again in the east in the light of dawn just before sunrise. The ancient Egyptians noticed that the heliacal rising of the star Sirius, the brightest in the night sky, would occur a short time before the annual flooding of the Nile. The heliacal rising of Sirius therefore kicked off the farming season in ancient Egypt [11]


Serpent Mound — the head of the serpent aligns with the summer solstice sunset while the tail points to the winter solstice sunrise. Ancient peoples may have used the structure to mark time or seasons.The design of the mound also matches the shape of the constellation Draco, with the star Thuban (Alpha Draconis, which served as the north pole star from the 4th to 2nd millennium B.C.) lining up with the first curve in the snake’s torso from the head. This alignment suggests another purpose for Serpent Mound: a kind of compass that helps determine true north [12]

Algol, Beta Persei, is a bright multiple star located in Perseus. It is the second brightest star in the constellation, after Mirfak, Alpha Persei. It lies at an approximate distance of 90 light years from Earth.  Algol is one of the best known variable stars in the sky and a prototype for a class of eclipsing variable stars known as Algol variables. Algol is sometimes called Gorgonea Prima, in reference to the Gorgon Medusa [13]

Lianas in the kitchen ~ Fettucine

Ingredients:

4 large eggs (room temperature)
2 1/2 cups flour (I used all purpose flour)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, some water

Method:

Mix it all in a stand mixer or by hand, pull it together with a bit of water, knead until smoot and wrap in cling film to let it rest on the counter for not less than 30 minutes. (This can be frozen or left in the fridge for use the next day as well)

Roll out on a floured surface. I did not use my pasta maker, which is a mess to clean. I rolled it by hand as I used only half the mixture, just right for two servings. Roll and cut into strips, as long or thin as you like. leave to dry on a kitchen towel.

To cook this, bring a pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil and put in the fettucine for at least 10 to 14 minutes, until al dente. This is how long it took mine to turn soft and edible, perhaps it was because I used all purpose flour. Drain and serve immediately.

You could use pesto or a tomato sauce or simply sage in melted butter. Serve liberally with finely grated parmesan or Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano.

Admire your handiwork as you eat these lianas of fettucine. My kitchen was a fine jungle today.

References:

[1]~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serpent_Mound

[2]~https://www.ohiohistory.org/visit/museum-and-site-locator/serpent-mound

[3]~https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/03/us/politics/ufos-sighting-alien-spacecraft-pentagon.html

[4]~https://aeon.co/essays/does-consciousness-come-from-the-brains-electromagnetic-field

[5]~https://medium.com/tamek/sapir-whorf-hypothesis-and-its-implications-in-the-movie-arrival-9b4b1d509dbc

[6]~http://www.cinemablography.org/blog/the-philosophy-of-language-in-arrival

[7]~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caduceus

[8]~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_of_Asclepius

[9]~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA

[10]~https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/discovery-of-dna-structure-and-function-watson-397/

[11]~https://m.espacepourlavie.ca/en/monthly-sky/heliacal-rising-sirius

[12]~https://www.history.com/topics/landmarks/serpent-mound

[13]~https://www.constellation-guide.com/algol/