Tag Archives: Karl Marlantes

Five common realities – facts en logic 16

Carla and Man are waiting for Narrator to walk by the covered Vasari Corridor along the river Arno via the Pont Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti.

Feiten en logica 16a[1]

“After we had yesterday briefly looked into the role of a Bodhisattva in the mind of a warrior, I had to consider what active role a Bodhisattva can fulfil as warrior in a conflict or war. Do you have an idea?”, says Carla.

“I think that a Bodhisattva will try to take care within the possibilities and circumstances. During the Second World War, several Japanese Zen masters were – as young men – conscripted as young men in the Japanese army. In their brief biographies they mention among others meditating while standing guard [2] during their obligatory military service. I hope that they as Zen monks have fulfilled their role with compassion during battles and skirmishes; the concise biographies leaves this – perhaps wisely – unmentioned. The metaphor of Indra’s Net has within the brilliance of glass pearls also a deep darkness.

In the brilliant glare

Of the pearls in Indra’s net

Flashes the darkness

There is Narrator”, says Man.

“This covered walkway from the Palazzo degli Uffizi via de Vasari Corridor [3] and the Pont Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti shows the endeavor of the Medici family during the first half of the 16th century to the outside world.

Feiten en logica 16b[4]

By the acquired possession and wealth, the family could walk – sheltered against weather conditions – from their new residential palace outside the city to their Palazzo degli Uffizi (or their working palace) in the city. At the beginning of the 16th century, the de Medici family had come to power again in Florence around 1512 A.C., and Giovanni de Medici had been elected as pope in 1513 A.C.. Hereafter Giovanni – as Pope Leo X – to his brother written: “God has given us the Papacy, let us now enjoy it“. [5]. As a Pope, Leo X had been a disaster, as a renaissance Prince a success; he commissioned Michelangelo – coming from Florence – to redesign and finish the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and he ordered an extremely expensive carpets series for the Sistine Chapel [6]. To finance this luxurious lifestyle, he introduced indulgences within the Catholic Church: by donations to the Catholic Church, the giver could shorten the time in purgatory for the beneficiary – for example deceased family members. As a response, on 31 October 1517 Martin Luther distributed his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” in Wittemberg in Germany [7] that became the start of the Reformation. After his death in 1521, Pope Leo X was succeeded by Pope Adrian VI – coming from Utrecht in the Netherlands – who inherited an empty Papal Treasury and was also not welcome in Rome: he died in 1523 [8]. In that year, Giulio de Medici was elected as Pope Clement VII; by his clumsy and undiplomatic actions he caused the spread of the Reformation in Northern Europe and  the excommunication of King Henry VIII in England. His attention was focussed to art and culture; he commissioned Michelangelo in to build the Medici Chapel of the San Lorenzo Basilica in Florence – that we had visited a few days ago.

I tell these historical facts during the construction of the Vasari Corridor and the Pont Vecchio, because the building style reflects the hope of a continuous bridge for the de Medici family to the riches of the world. We know that herewith also the voidness for the de Medici family – in the form of vanity – and the decline of the Papal pontificate had started [9]; herewith as well the Catholic Church had fallen in a deep crisis”, says Narrator while they walk to the middle of the bridge.

“The word bankrupt [10] has started around that time on this bridge. When a trader could no longer meet his obligations, the counter (or “bank” in Italian) whereon he traded, was broken”,  says Carla.

By the Via de Guicciardini they walk to Palazzo Pitte.

Feiten en logica 16c[11]

“This palace had been built in the 15th century as the residence of the merchant Luca Pitti. In 1549 the Palace had come in the possession of the de Medici family where after members of the family have lived here to the extinction of the family in 1737. The palace became a treasure house in which the different generations of the family collected many of their paintings, jewellery and luxury possessions [11]. In addition, the family wished to show with this palace the grandeur of a nobel family to the outside world. During our tour we will see that the design and interior especially aims at impression of the visitor. Here shows the warrior his conquests to – a select part of – the outside world. Let us go inside”, says Narrator.

Feiten en logica 16d[13]

After the visit to the Palace, Carla, Man and the Narrator are sitting on a terrace on the Via della Sprone.

“in my eyes, Palace Pitti is a transition from the Renaissance to a different time, and for us a connection between “Facts and Logic” within the emerging reason in the Renaissance to “Intensities and Associations” in the personal development by religion, art and science, that we will visit in Amsterdam as the next stage on our Odyssey to “Who are you””, says Man.

“During our visit to the Palace, I was reminded of a passage from the Icelandic Egils saga centered on the life of the 10th-century farmer, warrior and poet Egill Skallagrímsson [14].

‘Thus counselled my mother,
For me should they purchase
A galley and good oars
To go forth a-roving.
So may I high-standing,
A noble barque steering,
Hold course for the haven,
Hew down many foemen.’

Or adapted to Palazzo Pitti:

“Encouraged by my parents,

Who won for me

Capital and power

To go out robbing.

So may I stand high,

Above the earthly turmoil

To eternal heaven,

And crush all opposition”.

For the inhabitants of Palazzo Pitti, the tool in the form of “weapons and people” as extension of the Viking Warrior – who still stood at the front of the battle order himself – was already replaced by the tool “capital and power” of the modern distant Warrior. The modern Warrior has withdrawn himself from the turmoil of battle; he stands as a solitary ruler high above daily life. This lone fighter beats the opponents at a distance with a “clean kill” [16]; in reality of daily life this manslaughter is always very grubby with the stench of decay. In Amsterdam, I hope being able to show more hereof. Palazzo Pitti is for me deathly and stilled in the hang to – the classic pitfall of the Warrior – lasting exceptional glory”, says Carla.

“So true. At your view of the solitary ruler, I am reminded of the Almighty God in heaven. Does the Christian Divine Trinity also have this classic pitfall of the lone fighter? I read somewhere that even Gods are engaged in a struggle for survival. In Amsterdam we will investigate during “Intensities and Associations” inter alia the personal relationship with God – and its consequences – within Christianity after the Protestant Reformation. How may a Bodhisattva get around this classic pitfall? By humility? I do not know. Shall we – tonight during the last supper on this part of the quest – look back on our short visit to Florence? We can also make some plans for the continuation of our Odyssey”, says Narrator.

“That’s all right. I suggest that this afternoon we go our separate ways”, says Man.

“That is good”, says Carla.

[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponte_Vecchio

[2] For example: Wetering, Janwillem van de, De Lege Spiegel. Amsterdam: De Driehoek, p. 40; in English: The empty mirror

[3] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corridoio_Vasariano

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corridoio_Vasariano

[5] Source: Norwich, John Julius, The Popes, A History, London: Chatto & Windos, 2011, p. 279.

[6] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paus_Leo_X

[7] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maarten_Luther

[8] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paus_Adrianus_VI

[9] See also: Norwich, John Julius, The Popes, A History, London: Chatto & Windos, 2011, p. 279 – 298.

[10] Bankrupt is in Italian Bancarotta – derived from “banca” meaning counter, and via latin “rupta” that is a conjugation of the verb “rumpere” meaning “to break, to disrupt”.

[11] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Pitti

[12] Source: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Pitti

[13] Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Pitti

[14] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egils_saga

[15] From chapter 40 of Egil’s Saga. Source: http://sagadb.org/egils_saga.en. See also:  Marlantes, Karl, What it is like to go to war. London: Corvus, 2012 p. 69 – 70

[16] In the mind of the warrior a “clean kill” – with an effortless blow of two knuckles of the fist – is aesthetically preferred above clubbing with a stone. Even more aesthetically is shooting with a fine shotgun from a distance in a duel, or in our modern times with a laser gun. In our century this led to a president who personally gives orders to kill opponents by computer-controlled  drones in other countries. See also:  Marlantes, Karl, What it is like to go to war. London: Corvus, 2012 p. 71 – 72


Five common realities – facts en logic 15

“I think that we have finished our conversation about the paradox within the mind of the warrior in ourselves too abruptly. Although at an earlier age and in another way, I have known the euphoria of the conqueror. As young girl, I had caught a grasshopper in a matchbox. I felt an unknown joy; I would never be lonely any-more, because I would always have a companion in my life. When I had shaken the box, I could hear my grasshopper. The next morning the grasshopper was death. This was my first real loss in my life; herewith I lost my innocence: this started my decay. When I look at the Palace of the Medici, I am reminded of my matchbox”, says Carla.

Feiten en logica 15a.jpg[1]

“I had read somewhere that the family of de Medici – after a short exile from Florence – had wished to use its influence behind the scenes in the 15e centurary and purposely had wished to have a low profile to the outside world. The outside of this palace – build in commission of Cosimo de Medice – shows this strive [2]”, says Man

Carla, Man and Narrator enter the palace.

“In the 15th century the well-off in Florence were aware of the periodic floods of the Arno River, therefore they had their living areas on the first floor. This palace resembles the Ark of Noah [3] from the book Genesis in the Old Testament. In this palace an image was available of all wealth and of everything of value within the de Medici family. Everything in this Palace is a miniature reflection and a reminder of the conquests of the family in the outside world. When the tide goes well, then the reflection and the memory will be brought back into reality. This Palace shows the inner world of the family in all its wishes and with all its expectations”, says Narrator.

feiten en logica 15b.[4]

“In this hall Luca Giordano [5], the aspiration of the familiy – displayed within this palace – shows God-like traits. The paintings on the ceiling of this hall resemble the ceiling paintings in the churches of this city.

feiten en logica 15c.[6]

The second dynasty of the Medici family is depicted by the painter Luca Giordano as a mirror image of the heaven wherein Cosimo de Medici – as the Central father-god – enthrones above his two sons and his brother. Here shows the inner of the prevailing “warrior” the ambition to at least match the Christian Divine Trinity, if not to take the place of God”, says Man.

feiten en logica 15d.[7]

“That is evident. At the height of his power, a warrior feels invincible and supreme: the warrior evades the world of mortals; the warrior can conquer the whole world. At the same time, the world of the warrior is dehumanised; care for the environment and the empathy for living beings and humans disappears. A state of euphoria – a perception of uniqueness and omnipotence, self-centredly focused on the warrior, his compagnons and the world for which they exist – arises. This state of euphoria can be recognised within Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa when they shot arrows with joy at everything that tried to escape from the fire in the Khandava forest, within you Narrator when you as a young warrior with a militia in Central Africa shot at everyone who tried to escape from a burning village, and within Karl Marlantes [8] when he – as lieutenant at the American Marines during the Vietnam war – let the air forces drop napalm on the jungle with Vietcong fighters [9]. ” says Carla.

feiten en logica 15e.[10]

“”The hel are the others” [11], had Jean-Paul Sartre written in one of his plays, maybe also because the others limit the warrior in his omnipotence – and thereby in his freedom”, says Man.

“You explain my feelings of joy and exhileration during the shooting at all and everyone who tried to escape from the burning village very well. But after this euphoria I felt shame and fathomless emptiness. In the first part of our Odyssee to “Who are you” [12] – at the description of the Peloponnesische war – we noticed on on-going cycle of honour/power – pride – wrath – revenge [13] among the parties concerned. In my experience we must add to this cycle “shame and emptiness” that simultaneously is an antipode to honour and power. In the time of my forefathers, the combatants in the old India took their spoils of conquest – usually stolen cattle within the cattle cycle – to their home village. There the loot was shared with everyone during a big feast. Showing the victory to the world was more important for the warriors than the victory itself [15]. After the feast an emptiness began to arise together with an emerging shame about aimlessness. With honour/power as antipode to this emptiness/shame, an urge arose for new conquests to confirm and maintain the inner and outer ego of the warriors. The conquest – or wealth in our time – creates at the same time an emptiness and a lack of something. Wealth creates a lack of richness that is not yet conquered. This hall reminds the living warriors within the family de Medici to the worldly riches which they must defend and expand, and to the richness of the Godlike Kingdom of Heaven that they still do not possess”, says Narrator.

“In this reasoning lies a truth. The decline begins after a conquest, because there is something to defend; the imperator must always conquer more for safeguard what he already owns. From the possession of wealth arises the need for more lasting wealth; also the imperator is subject to the law of nature called “greedy little pig”. Is there a difference between men and women?”, says Man.

“There is a study on the role of women in Mahābhārata. In the Mahābhārata a warrior only acquires immortal fame when fallen on the battlefield at the time women mourn him in shrill cries and weep over his life boasting his former beautiful appearance [16]. The women of the warrior caste put their men into action; the warriors are monomaniacal executors of the wishes of their women. When all warriors are deceased within the Kshatriya caste, the women go to the Brahmins to procreate new warriors. Women have their own role in the mind of the warrior”, says Narrator.

“Don’t we all have a role within the mind of the warrior? What do you think of the Gods and the Bodhisattvas?”, asks Carla.

“Also they, also we”, says Man.

“That is true. Shall we tomorrow – on our last day in Florence – visit Palazzo Pitti where the family of de Medici showed its splendour and magnificence to the outside world”, says Narrator.

[1] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Medici_Riccardi

[2] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Medici_Riccardi

[3] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah%27s_Ark

[4] Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Medici_Riccardi

[5] See also: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galleria_di_Luca_Giordano

[6] Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Medici_Riccardi

[7] The Apotheosis of the Medici: Cosimo III sat central between his two sons and his brother below him, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi. Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galleria_di_Luca_Giordano

[8] Source: Marlantes, Karl, What it is like to go to war. London: Corvus, 2012 p. 40 – 41

[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viet_Cong

[10] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napalm

[11] In the play “Huis clos”. See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Paul_Sartre

[12] See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 200 – 209

[13] See: Lendon, J.E., Song of Wrath – the Peloponnesian war begins. New York: Basic Books, 2010 p. 9

[14] See cattle-cycle in: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012

[15] See also a contemporary observation by Hannah Ahrendt in: Keen, David, Useful Enemies – When waging wars is more important than winning them. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, p. 9

[16] Source: McGrath, Kevin, STR Women in Epic Mahābhārata. Cambridge: Ilex Foundation, 2009, p 25