Saturday, November 8, 2014

Flying with Enheduanna.

It is curious that one of the last places where you can read something in peace, today, is the cabin of a plane. There, you can find the necessary concentration to absorb the voice of the people of the past, of the poetry of long ago, today hopelessly swamped in a phantasmagoria of noise and color, full of sound and fury. It is often a faint voice, remote from our everyday experience. But if we pay enough attention, we can still hear it,

So, in a recent travel I brought with me the book by Betty De Shong Meador, "Lady of Largest Heart." It collects three hymns to Inanna written by the Sumerian priestess Enheduanna, the first named author in history. She who wrote during the third millennium before our era; more than four thousand years ago.

If you think about it, it is a great privilege to be able to read such a book while looking at the clouds from above, in the moonlight, high in the sky, where Enheduanna could only imagine her beloved goddess Inanna flying.

and I ride out
team of six in harness
pulled over sky roads
to the bounds of heaven
I come forth a queen
like cool moonlight down the breast of the sky

From "The First Poem, Inanna and Ebih", in "Lady of Largest Heart" by Betty De Shong Meador


  1. Fascinating and indeed a great privilege. The distant past can now speak to us more easily and clearly in various literary forms and ways and we can perhaps now also interpret it and reinterpret it better in the light of history. As space and time collapse into a single moment that moment is probably explosively and exhilaratingly enriching. Lately I have been reading about the life and travels of Leo Africanus of Granada who lived around the time when Columbus "discovered" America and who visited most of Northern and Western Africa and Turkey and Italy. Some of the descriptions of the desert nights as the camel caravans slowly made it through various parts of northern Africa and what are now Mali and the Azawad as the travelers sat talking to one another telling each other the stories and the poetry they knew while gazing at the stars reminds me of what you describe. I would guess that your experience on the plane was more enriching than the experiences you had on the ground prior to your departure. But humanity certainly has made a lot of progress over the past 4000 years and particularly over the past 500 !? But what happened to the deep and profound things we once knew and experienced? Lost in the distraction? Therefore the obvious answer is for all of us to fly much more while always carrying with us some ancient poetry or prose. Problems of modernity solved. (and thanks for this very nice and interesting "reminder")

    1. Thanks Max. This is the first comment to this new blog!

    2. Happy to hear that. I definitely look forward to reading and responding to "more Chimeras" . I think this first one was a great start and a wonderful way for the blog to "spread its wings and fly" but hopefully not like the Owl of Minerva, nor really like Sputnik, or the Challenger" either but that it will instead help us to bring such diverse best of our humanistic and scientific and technological heritagess together to bear, to better recognize and face and address some of those "other more fundamental and regrettably also rather pressing challenges" we now all collectively and individually face. ATVB, with the new blog, Max