Alfred de Grazia: from political science to Quantavolution (2)
by Anne-Marie de Grazia
This is the text of a paper which I was to give at the Conference CELESTIAL CRISIS & THE HUMAN RECORD in Toronto (May 16-19), which in the end I did not attend. The paper remained undelivered. I take this occasion to thank once more the organizers, and especially Andrew Fitts, Bill Mullen and PLANET AMNESIA for having offered me this opportunity to speak about, and reflect upon Alfred, and I hope that, for those who attented and for the many more who are genuinely interested in Alfred de Grazia's work, reading it in the text, as I wrote it, and without having to suffer through my uncouth presentation, will easily make up for my absence.
Anne-Marie de Grazia, Naxos, June, 2016
...That same year as he sold The American Behavioral Scientist to Sarah Miller, who thus inaugurated her SAGE Publications, 1965, Alfred de Grazia launched The Universal Reference System, another pioneering enterprise, the first computerized reference system in the social sciences, which is actually itself an off-shoot of The American Behavioral Scientist. I am quoting here from an article by Brock Clifton in Library Trends (1967):
The leading exponent - and practitioner - in the area [of computerized reference] however, has been Alfred de Grazia, professor of government at New York University and founder-editor of The American Behavioral Scientist, originally entitled PROD: Political Research, Organization and Design (...). In 1960 he wrote: “The gentle lady who gives you your library book may soon be as rare as ‘pop and mom’s’ corner grocery store. The reason is the same; just as the chain stores and supermarket have taken over food supply and distribution functions, new forms of organization may soon supplant the traditional library system and the library research techniques used by present-day scholars and librarians.” Through the early 1960’s de Grazia made the American Behavioral Scientist a forum for writings on bibliographic and data problems in the social sciences. By 1963 he had developed a “Topical and Methodological Index,” a special social science classification system consisting of some 250 terms emphasizing methodological and theoretical approaches and adaptable to computerization.
All this goes to show that Alfred’s involvement with Velikovsky, which continued unabatedly until Velikovsky’s death in 1979, by no means meant that he abandoned his other activities, or that he was ostracized in the years following the publication of The Velikovsky Affair. In the contrary, he struck out on the path of innovation and, in keeping with his own nature, he did so in many directions.
Now, when entering into the electric field of Velikovsky, so to speak, Al entered into contact with several areas of knowledge with which he had been only distantly involved before. And here I must point out an anomaly concerning his background, contrasting him with many of Velikovsky’s supporters: he and his brothers had grown up practically a-religiously, as sons and grandsons of immigrants from Sicily in Chicago.
Because of his flamboyant Italian name, and of his large family, Alfred has been almost automatically stereotyped as a Catholic. Factually, nothing could have been farther from the truth. His father was a staunch secularist and republican (again, in the meaning of the Res Publica), who had left Sicily precisely in order to get away from the stifling influence of the Catholic Church, and he insisted that his sons be spared any religious education at all. He was an acknowledged agnostic, and this is the “creed” in which his four sons were brought up.
Which is not to say, of course, that they did not swim freely in the particular religious and cultural environment of Chicago of the first half of the twentieth century, taking it all in, just as they took in jazz through all their pores - and a certain dose of anarchism to boot. As an adolescent, Alfred was a shining boy-scout in an Episcopelian organization, collecting pennants and awards. They loved him there and were much intent on keeping him. At the University of Chicago, he got his first brush with Catholicism, studying Thomas Aquinas, whom he came to almost revere.
Alfred married Jill Oppenheim, whom he met at the University of Chicago, and who belonged to a prominent Jewish family from New York. And the unexpected event was that Jill converted to Catholicism after their marriage, with the full support of her husband who, maybe because he grew up outside of religious pressures and constraints, was totally open-minded and committed to absolute religious freedom. As the children grew up, he himself joined in the rites of Catholicism and in the Catholic “culture,” yet without stricto sensu adopting the faith, and he took his First Communion at forty, together with his eldest daughter. He writes in his journal on April 19, 1960 (Easter Monday):
Why do I say I am Catholic. Because now the whole immediate family is Catholic and the social harmony in the family is considerable.
He was politically active in Catholic circles. Jill at the time was under the sway of French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, who lived in Princeton. At the very time when Alfred became first involved with Velikovsky, he did so too with the Belgian Dominican Father Morlion, the founder of the Pro Deo movement, an anti-communist movement sponsored by the Vatican and with a decidedly ecumenical outlook, striving to catch intellectuals, which was running its own university in Rome. Pro Deo enjoyed the full support and benediction of Henry Luce, the boss of Time & Life, Inc. and of C.D. Jackson, Al’s former boss in psychological warfare and special assistant to President Eisenhower, who put Felix Morlion in touch with him. (C.D. Jackson was instrumental in the creation of the Bilderberg group). Morlion had views on Alfred becoming the leader of the Pro Deo movement in the United States. Another revealing journal entry – revealing not only about Alfred’s attitudes to Catholicism - reads (May 15, 1960):
I have never been truly a Catholic and can only conceive of myself as one in the future by a rewriting and reinterpretation of doctrine to the point where it could more easily be a "monstrous heresy" than a "brilliant translation" to those who rule the Church. I told Father Morlion that he must regard me as less of a Catholic than I am rather than more of a Catholic than I am, if he is to let me feel comfortable. I also said that I believe he has his hands on a truly great concept of a university, of research, and of activity. I feel that I should take up the challenge of this task. I run the danger of disturbing a horde of my acquaintances of the past who are locked in the academic liberal-rationalistic-atomistic death-embrace. But I have never fallen in love with this ideology, and therefore, like all who ever in history have stood by while a mean faith has put out the eyes of its believers, I am free to think that by the inner flame of truth and the beacon lights of history, some way of life will appear more sane, humane, reasonable, and joyously productive. The petty misunderstandings, the many slights and suspicious epithets that go with renunciation of the Social Science Club's prerogatives, will not deter me for more than thirty minutes from accepting Father Morlion's mission. I simply must decide whether it is a true and good mission, whether it can and will come into being and, whether I have the qualities and control to master it.
He finally decided against it. Not without them having taken several trips to Venezuela, Paris and Rome together. Clearly, being a Catholic did not sit well with Alfred. It is hard to imagine him having any relation with a world ruled by dogma, unless it be in order to dismantle and study this dogma, or the dogmatic view of the world. He is acknowledging that much in his journals.
Father Felix Morlion with Roberto Rossellini
The peak of his Catholic activities came when, together with members of the American Jewish Committee under his friend David Danzig, he visited Pope John XXIII as a member of a Jewish-Catholic delegation - engineered by Father Morlion - asking for the removal from the Catholic liturgy of blatantly anti-Jewish content in the Catholic liturgy. He continued his activities in what was, in essence, Cold War psychological warfare, also writing several classified manuals for the CIA, as I have mentioned already. He was also, at that time, a delegate to UNESCO.
The corollary of his agnostic education was that, when Alfred met Velikovsky (or Father Morlion, for that matter), he was by no means steeped in the knowledge of the Bible. At the very least, he did not know any more about the Bible than he did about Greco-Roman antiquity. And he was reading the Bible as a social scientist. And this is the prism through which he also read Velikovsky’s works.
Yet, as Al became ever more involved with the “contents,” rather than with the reception, of Velikovsky revolution, while remaining widely busy with his other endeavors, he became convinced of the truth of Velikovsky’s theories and they started to inspire him to do research of his own, which I must say Velikovsky did not welcome too much, as he perceived Alfred’s usefulness to him and to his cause to be in defending him against his enemies, and not in setting forth ideas and theories of his own, albeit along the lines of the ideas which he had pioneered. Velikovsky craved recognition from established scholars and scientists, of which he received some. Whereas Alfred, who was an established scholar, craved nothing more than to leave academia behind and expand his fields of action and of knowledge. The fact is that the Velikovsky revolution had come to him, as to many others, as a true revolution, that is, as a liberation.
I will give here another excerpt of his journals, a very moving one, which shows his disposition, reaching early middle-age, and with an enormous amount of life-experience already behind him, a few months before meeting Velikovsky:
Heraclites vs. Parmenides - the theme of my days. How to keep the full-rigged schooner's sails up and neat in the gale. The thought of death would not dismay me now. So many breezes have stroked my cheeks & ruffled my hair. I have touched so many events and ideas. I am for the sergeants who used to shout at the hesitant recruits: "What's the matter, you bastards, you want to live forever?" Not that I am tired. I am full of plans and thoughts. But I also feel that I am completed. An imperfect job to be sure - let us say that my original investment has been returned and I am speculating on profit.
(Beaux-Arts Hotel, 8 july 1960 NYC).
I think that, far from having been “led astray” by Velikovsky, as some well-meaning friends and members of his family tended to think, he had felt that he had reached the limits of his own field by that time, limits which he had always restlessly tested, as we can see from his various highly original forays, such as the Universal Reference System. He would be turning fifty at the end of 1969.
And, it must be said that, striking out for new terrain in the field of knowledge and political action, he found himself also highly in tune with the world around him, which had turned into one mighty questioning machine. Everything was being put in question, at the end of the 1960s and in the early 1970s. In the middle of Greenwich Village, where he taught; in his very home in Princeton, where his family had exploded into pacifists, human rights activists, hippies, Marxist scholars, and dodecaphonist composers. All, they believed, were in rebellion against “the Father…”
With all his children having left the house, Jill and he decided on an amiable divorce. Which liberated him also physically. (Thus exemplifying some of the advantages of starting families at a young age, a trait more common in his generation than in those that followed.)
He struck out boldly:
He wrote the book Kalos: What Is To Be Done With Our World?
In it he is putting his powers of analysis and his pragmatism as a political scientist at the service of a visionary, utopian thinking to promote the possibility of a beneficial, harmonious (i.e. kalotic) world revolution. Man is undergoing already immense and accelerating changes, why not direct them in a good way? I quote him:
Thoughts of the greatest changes should not frighten and freeze mankind. Unmotivated, uncontrolled, and unguided, still man is already changing greatly. All things are in flux, said Heraklites; all things are in flux, because all things are full of gods.
Change is of the essence of things; directed change is the greatest challenge of the future.
In the very last days, and even hours, of his life he was putting some finishing touches on his Kalos theory. He gave it the name KALOS COSMOS.
KALOS is a Greek work signifying both “good” and “beautiful.” COSMOS is a Greek word signifying both “people” and “world.”
He defines KALOS as a possible and visionary plan for a determined group to address problems of planetary, local and individual scope.
To start implementing the ideas of KALOS, he created in 1971 THE UNIVERSITY OF THE NEW WORLD in Sion, in the Swiss Alps of Valais, in the Upper Rhone Valley. He brought a group of distinguished and idealistic teachers there, and a group of wild and rebellious students. He brought Velikovsky and his wife Elisheva there. It is the only university in which Velikovsky ever taught. His wife, Elisheva, taught sculpture.
Unfortunately, the experiment was a resounding failure. There are many reasons to this, and there is no need to go into the details here because the fact is, simply, that success was compromised almost from the beginning because of one unexpected event, outside Alfred’s or anybody else’s power: in the very first weeks after teachers and students arrived at their location in Haute-Nendaz, the Swiss Central Bank re-evaluated the Swiss Franc which appreciated by nearly 20% in relation to the US Dollar – with ups and downs, the re-evalutation would reach over 30% in the following months, all the funds available to the University were in US dollars, and were slashed in one fell swoop by 20%, it would later go down by 40%. So that there may have been significant other reasons which could have caused the failure of the project, but they are difficult to analyse properly, as the enterprise was doomed practically as soon as it started. Less of an utopist than Alfred would have thrown in the sponge and left in a hurry.
It remains a fascinating experience, an archetypical “sixties” experience, the story of which remains to be written. In fact, Alfred thought to write it for decades, and I have a full large drawer of archives which he kept ready for doing the work. It is one of the few projects he did not manage to go about. There still exists a remarkable pamphlet explaining the aims and means of this revolutionary experiment.
After the failure of the University of the New World, he continued teaching political science at New York University, and continued publishing, but he also pursued his investigations into ancient catastrophes and started weaving them into a comprehensive system of explanation of the past. He decided to take an early retirement in 1977, while still continuing to teach some courses and keeping his faculty apartment in the Silver Towers, as well as working for the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington.
This then was the time (1977-1984) when Alfred was writing and publishing the Q-Series. Why did, in the end, the influence of Velikovsky prevail over others that were shaping his thinking then? What was it about Velikovsky that put him in a dominant position in regard to Alfred – a dominance which was more often challenged than not? As a Russian Jew, with “historic” ties to Palestine, then to Israel, and to the most advanced intellectual life in Europe in the first decades of the century, Velikovsky inevitably would have been a fascinating person for a political scientist and a social scientist. He was also an undeniable possessor of this important and elusive quality called charisma, which had become so important in the study of political power. But most of all, I think, Velikovsky was an innovator and a psychoanalyst, roaming fearlessly in the world of ideas, ready to skewer almost every dogma coming his way. Oedipus and Akhenaton, the book which introduced Alfred to Velikovsky, was more than anything the work of a psychoanalyst. As an irrepressible fount of bold, original and outrageous ideas, Velikovsky could not be matched (except, possibly, by Alfred himself…) and represented a royal road of escape from the “liberal-rationalistic-atomistic death-embrace” of academia, this one more “mean faith that put out the eyes of its believers.” That he represented a conflation of Russian madness and Jewish wisdom, legitimized with the scientific seal of psychoanalysis - itself a most controversial science - would largely suffice to explain that Alfred would have found Velikovsky, the man, irresistible. There was also, undeniably, a great friendship and affection between them.
Alfred has never been psychoanalyzed himself, but psychoanalysis had loomed large in his life, it had boosted the New American Social Science born at Robert Maynard Hutchins' University of Chicago, of which Alfred was a pure product - it had been central in the teachings of his mentor, Harold Lasswell and, it goes without saying, important in the fields of propaganda and psychological operations.
There is no doubt in my mind that by this time in his life, Alfred was eager to broaden his scientific scope. He had published some thirty books in political science, he felt that he had “paid back the principal,” and he had found in Velikovsky’s idea a model for him to start earning his “interests,” which one might also call “having fun.” Having accepted Velikovsky’s theories of past catastrophes, he developed his model of the schizoid human mind catastrophized into self-awareness, in his books Homo Schizo 1 & 2.
It may not be irrelevant to point out that he finished the article in Naxos, on April 17, 1978, and on that same day decided to drive into town over the muddy roads on his motorcycle – the roads were in such bad shape that he had told me to go on foot part of the way and that he would be waiting for me at the dyke; as he had not reached there yet when I arrived, I went looking for him, and found him in rather bad shape, having taken a fall, and he was trying to right his motorcycle. I ran to a nearby farm and the farmer drove us to town together with the motorcycle in a cart, behind his tractor. We wondered if the accident may not have been a warning from Yahweh. For almost two weeks, Alfred insisted that his leg was only sprained. He finally accepted to take the boat to Athens, and to have an X-Ray taken, which showed that it was broken in three places… His leg was put in a cast, we returned to Naxos, he hobbled about for a few days and managed to break his cast…
The figure of Moses represented for him the perfect crossing between Velikovsky’s catastrophism and political science. It was the catastrophist explanation of Exodus, more than anything else, that had made Velikovsky famous. If Alfred fully accepted and acknowledged Velikosvky’s catastrophic scenario, he went far beyond it into domains that Velikovsky was too cautious to ever tread - probably the only taboo that he knew - and the book turned inevitably into a challenge of Velikovsky, even on the personal plane, yet Alfred did not quite see it that way.
Whereas the creative spark for Velikovsky’s whole work had originated in his desire to prove Freud’s last book, Moses and Monotheism wrong, Alfred embraced Freud wholeheartedly. For him, as for Freud, Moses must have been an Egyptian of princely and priestly status, although he did not make him, as Freud did, a late devotee of Akhenaton, Velikovskian chronological revision oblige. This double status would have made of Moses the equivalent, in our terms, of both a politician and a scientist: probably Alfred’s secret ideal of a person. He was also in agreement with Freud on his second thesis of Moses and Monotheism (or, more accurately, The Man Moses and the Monotheistic Religion), far more controversial even than the first: that what had prevented Moses from entering the Promised Land was not the will, or the whim, of Yahweh, but the fact that he had been assassinated before by his own people at Kadesh, in the wake of the massacre he had ordered at Beth Peor. This insight had come to Freud from the German biblical scholar and archaeologist Ernst Sellin (he was an excavator of Jericho), who had found that, although the murder itself had been censored from the books of Exodus, tell-tale clues had been “forgotten” in the book of Hosea, as well as various clues in Numbers, Deuteronomy, Kings II, Deutero-Isaiah, etc.
Ernst Sellin’s book, though, did not exist in an English translation at the time Alfred wrote God's Fire, nor does it now, as far as I know. (It has been translated into French for the first time last year!) Alfred needed to read Sellin’s original, the 1922 Mose und seine Bedeutung fur die israelitisch-jüdischen Religionsgeschichte, and he sent me to the New York Public Library to find it and makes photocopies. The fact was, the Library did not even have it available in book form! I had to read it on microfilm, and copy the relevant passages by hand, and then translate them…
Moses was a dream figure for a political scientist to examine, and he also had an awesome psychiatric dimension. He was the very example, in Al’s eyes, of the sublimely sublimated schizophrenic. He was talking to God, that is, to his own split-self. And he created, out of these “conversations,” a God, a religion and a whole people, endowed with maybe the greatest power of endurance in history. In the same time, he would have been as advanced a scientist as any in his time, capable of working, replicating and probably improving the Ark of the Covenant, in which Alfred saw a capacitor for static electricity. He was a negotiator, a political and religious revolutionary, a leader of a people and a law-giver, a teacher, a war leader, a down-to-Earth manager, a planner and doer on a grand scale, a propagandist, a manipulator, a despot, a bloody tyrant. He was not, interestingly, a priest, maybe because he knew that he himself was God… He was enormously potentiated by the unleashing of a cosmic catastrophe of vast proportions which, if it was a recurrent one, as claimed by Velikovsky, he may have anticipated and “understood,” and therefore, in a way, “directed.” The biblical narrative lends him enough specific, even “counter-intuitive” traits (shyness, stuttering, frustrated rage…) not to mention a very muddled circumcision story, to make it highly likely that indeed, under the name of Moses, a particular, and peculiar, individual was being remembered… His final achievement would have been his murder which, through the dynamics of suppression, catalysed a tremendous guilt feeling in his people and, by extension, in all monotheistic religions, which has now lasted well over three and a half millennia.
God’s Fire was the second of the ten books of the Quantavolution Series published, it came out shortly after Velikovsky’s death, in 1980, and there is no question that it represented, for Alfred, an act of lovingly “killing the Father.”
To understand how insufferable, how outrageous Velikovsky’s catastrophic theories had been to the scientific establishment, we must understand that the “state” of the Earth sciences was very different then, in the 1950s, when Velikovsky’s work was published, from what it is today, and that this state endured through the 1970s and most of the 1980s.
This state has been called “uniformitarianism” (“The present is the key to the past”) and “gradualism” (geological change occurs slowly over long periods of time) and the idea that cataclysmic events of vastly greater power than those observed at the present time played any significant role in the formation of the Earth’s surface was altogether rejected. It held the Earth sciences, and concomitantly the human sciences, in its iron grip for 150 years, beginning in 1830, with the Principles of Geology of Charles Lyell. It was backed strongly by a belief in the “immutability of the heavens” which harked back as far as Aristotle and was mightily strengthened by the great “Scientific Revolution” of the 17th century, a fruit of the Renaissance, with Copernic, Galileo, Kepler later Newton, Laplace, etc. who discovered and established the principles of celestial mechanics which revealed themselves, indeed, in the form of immutable mathematical laws.
To give a very succinct overview - this enormous progress, the Scientific Revolution, provided one of the foundations of the intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment which, particularly in France, where it largely originated, but not only there, strove to free the mind from the shackles of religion. It shifted faith towards a disincarnated, remote, and in the same time wise and “humanist” god, whom the French Revolution would come to honor as the “Supreme Being.” The “Supreme Being” was way beyond inflicting catastrophes as punishment upon mankind, as the God of Judaism and Christianity had been. The “Supreme Being” accommodated himself fairly easily, even, with atheism, towards which many of the best French minds in the XVIII century were bending.
At the same time, with the scientific mind opening wide to observation and enquiry, the signs of past catastrophes began to be recognized – what we call the fossil record came to be studied, at least one universal flood was now recognized to have occurred. Very important here is a young genius (1722-1759) – he died at 36 – Nicolas-Antoine Boulanger, who had studied mathematics and civil engineering, and who developed the theory that both “religion” and “despotism” developed in early societies as a reaction to natural catastrophes, such as the Deluge, the traces of which he recognized in the mythologies of numerous cultures. Boulanger is not as well-known as he should be, as none of his writings were published during his life-time (some of it is still unpublished), but his ideas were powerful and influential, because he was a member of the circle of the Encyclopédistes around Diderot and D’Alembert, he wrote the article “Déluges” in the Encyclopédie, and his idea of a traumatic origins in catastrophes of both religion and political authoritarianism were among the most discussed in intellectual circles, before the French Revolution.
Whereas the French Revolution emancipated French science once and for all from the grip of religion, especially thanks to the subsequent educational reforms of Napoleon, this was not the case to the same extent in Britain, where the weaning away from religion took longer and was more painful. In Britain, catastrophists espoused the view that God intervened directly in determining the history of Earth and catastrophism remained connected with religion. Instead of the Flood explaining the creation of religion, as Boulanger had opined, for the "natural theologians" of Britain, the incontrovertible physical signs of the Flood proved the Bible right. And this in part explains the rejection of catastrophism by British scientists, who strove, just like their colleagues in France and in Europe, to free science from the grip of the Church and of religion.
This then lead to the unjustified rejection of any catastrophist explanations, be it in the Earth or in the human sciences, an attitude which became quite rigid during the XIX century and which was still solidly entrenched at the time of Velikovsky, and holding sway when Alfred started to write the Quantavolution Series some twenty years later. This systematic, dogmatic refusal of any catastrophic explanation even when confronted with glaring evidence, even preferring to deny the evidence itself, was nothing short, itself, of a pseudo-science. And science needed to extract itself from it.
During the years of WWII, the French archaeologist Claude Schaeffer, who was working in England in military intelligence, being unable to work on his excavation sites in Cyprus, wrote a huge, synthetic work, in French, Stratigraphie Comparée et Chronologie de l’Asie Occidentale (IIIème et IIème millénaire) en Syrie, Palestine, Asie Mineure, Chypre, Perse et Caucase, using the archives of excavations at Oxford, and in which he showed the similitude of layers of destruction by fire and ash over all the sites of the Near East, even at distances of thousands of kilometres. Claude Schaeffer was a very prominent, and lucky, archaeologist. He was the discoverer, among others, of the site of Ugarit, where he had unearthed, in 1929, the first clay tablets with an alphabetical writing ever found. He was also one of the great archaeologists of Cyprus (Enkomi). Yet, Claude Schaeffer, adulated as an archaeologist, fared no better than Velikovsky when it came to the appraisal of his Stratigraphie Comparée, and his magnum opus was simply dismissed. It was found so embarrassing that, when he turned eighty in 1978, not one of the forty-odd papers in the Festschrift assembled in his honor dared to mention it.
1978, by the way, was the year when Alfred and I visited Claude Schaeffer at his home in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris. His great stratigraphical work was apt to corroborate Velikovsky’s catastrophism, and the two men had at first had a warm intellectual relationship, and Claude Schaeffer had been receptive to Velikovsky’s ideas of large scale catastrophes. But, he was still very much pursuing his prestigious career, he was loaded with honors, he had been badly burned by the reception, or the absence of reception, of the Stratigraphy Comparée, and he balked, maybe justifiably so, as he explained to us, when Velikovsky equated the biblical Queen of Sheba with Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt.
His wife was present during this part of the discussion, and I had the distinct impression that she was somehow, and had been, instrumental in holding him back for a few decades. She was the daughter of Claude Schaeffer’s own mentor, the Alsatian archaeologist Robert Forrer, to whom Claude Schaeffer remained devoted to the point of adding his name to his own. Claude Schaeffer was, secretly, much more open to out-of-the way theories and speculations in the field of archaeology than he acknowledged in his writings. Witness, among others, a copy of Jürgen Spanuth’s book on Atlantis, the original edition in German, which we found in his library in 2004, heavily annotated in pencil in his own hand, most of the annotations being favourable to Spanuth’s views.
How did we get inside his library in 2004? Claude Schaeffer made a gift of his extensive library to C.A.A.R.I. Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute. Alfred and I went there in 2004 to do research for The Iron Age of Mars, the late-comer, eleventh book of the Quantavolution Series.
Even at such a late date, 2004, the people in charge there were still largely mired in the old anti-catastrophist thinking. It was clear that the various presidents who had succeeded each other at the head of C.A.A.R.I. had all been rather hostile not only to Claude Schaeffer’s stratigraphy, but even to some of his rigorously academic work on Cyprus itself. I understood there that archaeology was a fierce and unforgiving field. We did find one small gem, though:
Humorously and candidly, one Elizabeth B. French, of the British School at Athens, in her report of a survey in 1981 at Mycenae, stated the following: „Archaeologists of my generation, who attended university in the immediate aftermath of Claude Schaeffer’s great work (1948) were brought up to view earthquakes, like religion, as an explanation of archeological phenomena to be avoided if at all possible.“
Now, if this is not a pseudo-scientific attitude…
During our seven years work on the Quantavolution Series, I have been constantly surprised at the enormous number of questions coming up, which were deliberately ignored and swept under the rug.
Yet, even at the moments when my doubts were the strongest, I was aware of the fact, and it filled me with admiration, maybe I should even say, more than admiration, a profound esteem for what I was seeing, in Alfred, as a scientific mind at work. And by this I mean: by the rigor of the questions that Alfred was addressing, and by his refusal to elude them. „If it is only for dredging up the right questions, I sometimes thought, the whole endeavor is worth it.“ Whatever the quality of truth of his answers, they responded to a series of deeply original questions, some of which the science of the establishment was not willing to consider. And I would like to cite here Gaston Bachelard, in La Formation de l’esprit scientifique:
«The scientific mind forbids us to have an opinion on questions which we do not understand, on questions which we are not able to formulate clearly. Before anything else, once must know how to state a problem. And whatever one may say, in the life of science, problems do not state themselves. It is precisely this apprehension of the problem which marks the true scientific mind. For a scientific mind, all knowledge is an answer to a question. If there has not been a question, there cannot be any scientific knowledge. Nothing happens by itself. Nothing is given. Everything is constructed. »
Alfred was a questioner of absolute integrity. He had grasped that there were a lot of things which were accepted and were going unchallenged and which were plain wrong, and he was looking for the truth. He had no agenda beyond that, and in this, he was more of a scientist, in the ideal sense, than Velikovsky.
I knew that scientific knowledge could be very quickly contradicted by facts. I had seen it happen. An astronomy book which I was given when I was a child taught me that Venus was very much like Earth, only that it was covered by a dense canopy of clouds, which made it appear so brilliant in the sky, and that temperatures were close to those of Earth. That would have been around 1956. Little had I known then that in the United States some Jewish-Russian maverick called Velikovsky was claiming against the scientific world of the time that the surface of Venus was very hot. Ten years later, I was getting ready to go to university, and I was reading with interest articles in popular magazine stating that the Soviet Union, who was then sending its Venera probes onto Venus, was planning to grow rain forests there – should there not be any present already – so as to create, maybe within only a century or two, an atmosphere that could sustain an Earth-like biosphere and could be suitable for human, presumably communist, settlement… The following year, the probe sent back sobering information that the atmosphere on Venus is constituted of 90% carbon dioxide. In 1969, Venera 7 established that the surface temperature of Venus is 475° C.
The fact is that, although we didn’t know it at the time, the Quantavolution Series was being written at the tail-end of uniformitarianism.
This idea of a sudden, catastrophic end of the Cretaceous through the impact of an asteroid or a comet was not new, when Luis and Walter Alvarez published their conjecture. Alfred mentioned it in Chaos and Creation and in Lately Tortured Earth. The idea had been first formulated by Allan Kelly and Frank Dachille in 1953, in the book called Target Earth, which was well known to neo-catastrophists. Alfred corresponded with Frank Dachille over many years. He was a professor of geochemistry at Penn State University, and an expert on impacts of meteorites and comets on Earth, as well as on tektites, and the deformation of crystals under shock or heavy pressure. Target Earth’s thesis was that – I am quoting Wikipedia – “that one or more giant asteroids had impacted Earth, causing an angular shift in the earth's axis, global floods, fire, atmospheric occlusion and the extinction of the dinosaurs.”
There was no “synchronicity” at work here, simply the fact that the dogma of uniformitarianism had become untenable. And it exploded, in a big way, in 1994, when there occurred the collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter, providing the first direct observation of collisions of staggering catastrophic dimensions within the Solar system.
Now, University of Michigan is telling us: the water in your bottle might be older than the Sun. Maybe as much as half the water on Earth is older than the Earth itself and it is of cosmic, exo-terrestrial origin. And we also know now that masses of water of mindboggling dimensions are wheeling around, not only in our galaxy, but through inter-galactic space…
Solaria Binaria, written with Earl R. Milton, who was an astrophysicist from Lethbridge University, and member of the Royal Astronomical Society, was published in 1984. Very unfortunately Earl died in 1999, in his early sixties. At the time when Solaria Binaria was written, a few thousand binary stars were known to exist in our galaxy. We know today that at least one third of all stars are binaries. This amounts to about 70 billion binary stars in our galaxy alone. When Earl and Al were writing Solaria Binaria, not one planet was known to exist in the universe, outside those of the solar system. The first confirmed discovery of an exoplanet occurred in 1992, to Earl’s great excitement. From 1995 on, technological advances, most notably in high-resolution spectroscopy, (which was Earl Milton’s specialty), discoveries accumulated.
As of January 12, 2016, 2047 planets in 1296 planetary systems have been discovered. Extrapolating from this, about 1 in 5 Sun-like stars have an "Earth-sized" planet in the habitable zone, with the nearest expected to be within 12 light-years distance from Earth. Assuming 200 billion stars in the Milky Way, that would be 11 billion potentially habitable Earth-sized planets in our galaxy alone, rising to 40 billion if planets orbiting the numerous red dwarves are included.
And this brings us to The Divine Succession, about which I want to tell you more, as it is, within the Quantavolution Series, the book which joins up closest with Alfred’s original interests in social science, political science, and utopia.
In the Q-Series, Alfred posited, maybe as nobody had done before, the “truth” of the existence of the planetary gods, whose deeds were told in catastrophic myths and whom humanity had experienced first-hand. He speculated that the gods have existed, physically, and have powerfully intervened in human history and shaped human lives and institutions: they were planetary and cometary bodies which had forcefully visited their effects upon Earth. They had been endowed by mankind with anthropomorphic traits and with will and intent, as well as mighty and brutal emotions in the range of anger, vengeance and destructive urges. They certainly fully existed therefore as political agents. This was one facet of Alfred de Grazia’s religious science.
These terrible gods had deeply shaped mankind, in individuals and in groups, from the depths of our unconscious to our social organization. They had been extremely powerful material shapers of our earth and of our environment, and through our minds, of the way we lived and thought, and organized our societies.
Far from being an afterthought, the gods were a first thought. To excise this thought, after thousands of years of experience with it, was not only most difficult pragmatically; it was structurally impossible, at least as long as the origins, function, and mental structure of religion were not understood.
To forget the gods is impossible; the memory deck can only be reshuffled. To retain self-awareness without schizotypicality is a contradiction in terms. (…) Symbolism as the effect of the split self, flows naturally and cannot be obliterated.
Thus it happens that, if humans exist, god exists. God is the closing of the circle - both question and answer. But so inextricable are the question and answer that only logical artifice can distinguish and designate the two.
Man's need to control the terrible and the terror causes him to invent gods.
From this original recognition of the “religious fact,” he concludes that mankind is constitutively religious, an essential fact, which cannot be helped.
Whatever its failings, past and present, mankind continues to pursue religion. Even when most intent upon relieving himself of its falsehoods, constraints, and burdens, he exudes the divine and the supernatural, and these coagulate into habits and practices definable as religious. There are (...) causes of this incessant and probably inevitable theotropy. One lies in the delusional structure of the human mind, which must exist in the supernatural no matter how it may transform its perception into operations of abstractions and logic.
From this he concludes, in his “Catechism of The Divine Succession:"
What is known absolutely?
Nothing that matters. The absolute should be ignored because its main function is to promote absolute fear.
How should we express our relation to the cosmos?
We should relate to the cosmos by understanding it and celebrating it.
The divine on Earth is a uniquely human way of looking upon oneself and the world. Whoever studies and expresses the divine is divine.
And so, coming back to our limited earthly condition, we may ask modestly:
What needs has one? Alfred’s answer:
One’s needs are fearlessly to subsist, to experience and to be treated justly.
What duties has one? His answer:
One’s duties are to help others fearless to subists, to experience and to be justly treated.
As a coda, I will briefly mention Alfred’s work on archives.
Again, he was way ahead of his time with this idea, and by the 1990s, technology had caught up with, and outdistanced, his dreams: namely, it made possible the digitalization of archives, and eventually making them available to the public on the Internet. In 1995, we went together to present this idea to the persons managing the archives at New York University and these persons looked at us as if we had landed from Mars. I was expecting them to call for a security guard. They did not seem to have the beginning of a clue about digitalizing archives...
In 1997, on Valentine’s Day, Alfred launched the “grazian archives,” with the help of Syamala Jonnalaggada in Princeton, with the publication of his wonderful war correspondance with his wife Jill, who had died the year before. And he started putting his archive on the internet in the framework of the grazian-archives. Most of his books and his writings are now available there: http://www.grazian-archive.com It is one of the pioneering and most comprehensive personal archives sites on the Internet.
And this is by far not all that Alfred has ever done.
He has written two books of poetry, four autobiographical books, a dozen short plays, made two movies in Italian… He wrote a three volume History of the United States, American History Retold, which I have knowingly not covered here… and there are many things also, endeavors and achievements of his, which I am sure I have forgotten in this paper...
I thank you for your patience, and your attention.
Anne-Marie de Grazia