Apr, 10, 2015

Excerpts From the Journals of Carl Sagan: 1969-1979

   
X
04/10/2015

Excerpts From the Journals of Carl Sagan: 1969-1979

December 14, 1969

The caudal bone is near the genitals. I bet the musculature for wagging a tail involves some of the muscles in sexual activity. Are dogs and cats sexually turned on when they wag their tails? Note how nicely this correlates with the nature of the beasts—the dog sexually excited when happy—the cat is annoyed or irritated.

December 20, 1969

What are Christmas tree ornaments really about? Imagine living in pagan Europe—why do we add small spheres to trees? The spheres are clearly symbolic fruit—if not oranges, then apples, pears, etc. At the winter solstice ceremony we remind the trees of their fruit to ensure such food at the end of the winter. We don’t want the trees to forget—we like fruit. We choose midwinter for the ceremony—that’s just about when the trees are likely to forget.

What is the significance of loyalty, particularly political loyalty? Is it merely support of present policy as enunciated by present political leaders? Short term objectives may work in contradiction to long term objectives. Today’s treason may be tomorrow’s orthodoxy. And may there not be higher loyalties—some would say to mankind, some would say to individual conscious, some would say to God?

Othello talks about “a pearl worth all his tribe.” In principle, could there be an object on Earth worth all our planet? In both cases possibly only if “there exists” an external economic system. Interesting plot for story: such an object accidentally lands here, 2 different groups seek it ruthlessly.

How about a serious answer to Hitler’s contention about laws being invented for the protection of the “weak?” Immediate power and the seeds of long-term power may not reside in the same individuals.

Hypothesis: Freud’s psychological insights were not due to great courage and self discipline; they were due to cocaine. Tests: (1) was he using cocaine into his psychoanalytic period? + (2) is cocaine a means, an entry to the unconscious as other hallucinogens are. Note how perfect a German-Hegelism word “psychoanalyst” is. Stinge’s story on schizophrenia—Lester (one about Orlando Furioso). Note what a cocaine proselytizer Freud was—if not proselyte syndrome.

December 21, 1969

Othello talks about “a pearl worth all his tribe.” In principle, could there be an object on Earth worth all our planet? In both cases possibly only if “there exists” an external economic system. Interesting plot for story: such an object accidentally lands here, 2 different groups seek it ruthlessly.

Santa Claus lives in the frozen north, drives reindeer, mysterious distributes gifts, and is surrounded by elves. What is he? He’s an oversized Norse elf!

God used to make the flowers open and close. Now he’s in another line of work.

What does the phrase “Viet Cong” mean in Vietnamese? It’s not entirely a Western fabrication, because it appears on N. Vietnamese stamps. Nevertheless, it is used rather than “NLF” because of the barbaric and racist undertones—Congo, King Kong (Hitler’s favorite movie, by the way). And the phrase “NLF”—the political arm of the Viet Cong—what other group do we turn around that way? The Bundestag—the political arm of the Wehrmacht. The Falangists—the political arm of the Spanish army. Nicaragua—the political arm of the Somoza family. It’s an attempt to deny any political legitimacy to the NLF. Also: Describing penetration of perimeter defense at American air base is called a terrorist attack even if only aircraft are destroyed. But dropping napalm on women and children somehow we never describe as a terrorist attack. We don’t really realize how far we are from a free press.

Also note what we call everything else. China is called Red China or Communist China. But State Department calls Taiwan China. Also, “East Germany,”“North Korea,” etc. Also note difference between the short usages “Russia” and “America,” the first constrictive, the second expansive. Also, in describing crimes, not how often beards or unkempt hair are mentioned where possible. I never see a crime report in which the suspect has a crewcut or a redneck. Do you? Language, propaganda, and the Media.

January 10, 1970

The 1970’s seem like the future, not the present.

God used to make the flowers open and close. Now he’s in another line of work.

Is there a real inherited difference in ability in mathematics : look at the number of people who just can’t get the hang of it and how long it took even so simple an idea as a limit or analytic geometry to evolve. If it’s not genetic what’s its linkage?

January 12, 1979

What is circumcision really about? In Genesis 17 it is the mark of the covenant between God and the descendants of Abraham. What does God do for this payment? He promises a multitude of descendants and nations, the land of Cannan, and promises he will remain their God. In return the foreskin of all males is to be removed! Why? The circumcision rite of a Jewish boy is called the “berith” or “briss,” Hebrew for “covenant.” It’s done on the 8th day. Why 8? On the 6th, God said no, and the 7th he rested; this is to stress the importance of the covenant.
There are many possible signs of such a covenant—e.g facial tattooing. Why was circumcision adopted? What God gives in exchange is fertility. Was there any belief that circumcision produces fertility? Does it? Might it produce a less sensitive glans penis and longer coitus? Even so, how does this have anything to do with fertility? And how could anyone have known about it?

- Transcribed and edited by Heather D’Angelo

The papers, journals and personal effects of Carl Sagan are currently available in an online exhibition courtesy of the Library of Congress: The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive