The inversion of values can be traced back to the ancient Semitic empires of Mesopotamia, and the fertility cult worship of Inanna-Ishtar, goddess of Sex and War, the “Queen of Heaven”:
Central to the goddess as paradox is her well-attested psychological and more rarely evidenced physiological androgyny. Inanna-Ishtar is both female and male. Over and over again the texts juxtapose the masculine and feminine traits and behavior of the goddess.1
Her androgyny (also) manifests itself ritually in the transvestism of her cultic personnel. The awesome power of the goddess shows itself in the shattering of the human boundary between the sexes: “She (Ishtar) [changes] the right side (male) into the left side (female), she [changes] the left side into the right side, she [turns] a man into a woman, she [turns] a woman into a man, she ador[ns] a man as a woman, she ador[ns] a woman as a man.”2
The most vivid expressions of the goddess’s innate contradictions appear in the following passage:
To destroy, to build up, to tear up and to settle are yours, Inanna….
To turn a man into a woman and a woman into a man are yours, Inanna….
Business, great winning, financial loss, deficit are yours, Inanna….3
“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in them both, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it (…) To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality.”
— George Orwell, defining “doublethink”, 1984
Within a few centuries, the new capitalist spirit challenged the basic Christian ethic: the boundless ego of Sir Gales Overreach and his fellows in the marketplace had no room for charity or love in any of their ancient senses. The capitalist scheme of values in fact transformed five of the seven deadly sins of Christianity – pride, envy, greed, avarice, and lust – into positive social virtues, treating them as necessary incentives to all economic enterprise; while the cardinal virtues, beginning with love and humility, were rejected as ‘bad for business,’ except in the degree that they made the working class more docile and more amenable to cold-blooded exploitation.4
— Lewis Mumford, Myth of the Machine
“Today, many nations are revising their moral values and ethical norms, eroding ethnic traditions and differences between peoples and cultures. Society is now required not only to recognise everyone’s right to the freedom of consciousness, political views and privacy, but also to accept without question the equality of good and evil, strange as it seems, concepts that are opposite in meaning. This destruction of traditional values from above not only leads to negative consequences for society, but is also essentially anti-democratic, since it is carried out on the basis of abstract, speculative ideas, contrary to the will of the majority, which does not accept the changes occurring or the proposed revision of values.”
— Vladimir Putin, Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, December 12, 2013
* “And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.
He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.
And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”
Pleasures, pains and desires are by nature especially human; and from these, of necessity, every mortal creature is, so to say, suspended and dependent by the strongest cords of influence. Thus one should commend the noblest life, not merely because it is of superior fashion in respect of fair repute, but also because, if a man consents to taste it and not shun it in his youth, it is superior likewise in that which all men covet,—an excess, namely, of joy and a deficiency of pain throughout the whole of life. That this will clearly be the result, if a man tastes of it rightly, will at once be fully evident. But wherein does this “rightness” consist? That is the question which we must now, under the instruction of our Argument, consider; comparing the more pleasant life with the more painful, we must in this wise consider whether this mode is natural to us, and that other mode unnatural. We desire that pleasure should be ours, but pain we neither choose nor desire; and the neutral state we do not desire in place of pleasure, but we do desire it in exchange for pain; and we desire less pain with more pleasure, but we do not desire less pleasure with more pain; and when the two are evenly balanced, we are unable to state any clear preference. Now all these states—in their number, quantity, intensity, equality, and in the opposites thereof—have, or have not, influence on desire, to govern its choice of each. So these things being thus ordered of necessity, we desire that mode of life in which the feelings are many, great, and intense, with those of pleasure predominating, but we do not desire the life in which the feelings of pain predominate; and contrariwise, we do not desire the life in which the feelings are few, small, and gentle, if the painful predominate, but if the pleasurable predominate, we do desire it. Further, we must regard the life in which there is an equal balance of pleasure and pain as we previously regarded the neutral state: we desire the balanced life in so far as it exceeds the painful life in point of what we like, but we do not desire it in so far as it exceeds the pleasant lives in point of the things we dislike. The lives of us men must all be regarded as naturally bound up in these feelings, and what kinds of lives we naturally desire is what we must distinguish; but if we assert that we desire anything else, we only say so through ignorance and inexperience of the lives as they really are. What, then, and how many are the lives in which a man—when he has chosen the desirable and voluntary in preference to the undesirable and the involuntary, and has made it into a private law for himself, by choosing what is at once both congenial and pleasant and most good and noble—may live as happily as man can? Let us pronounce that one of them is the temperate life, one the wise, one the brave, and let us class the healthy life as one; and to these let us oppose four others—the foolish, the cowardly, the licentious, and the diseased. He that knows the temperate life will set it down as gentle in all respects affording mild pleasures and mild pains, moderate appetites and desires void of frenzy; but the licentious life he will set down as violent in all directions, affording both pains and pleasures that are extreme, appetites that are intense and maddening, and desires the most frenzied possible; and whereas in the temperate life the pleasures outweigh the pains, in the licentious life the pains exceed the pleasures in extent, number, and frequency. Whence it necessarily results that the one life must be naturally more pleasant, the other more painful to us; and it is no longer possible for the man who desires a pleasant life voluntarily to live a licentious life, but it is clear by now (if our argument is right) that no man can possibly be licentious voluntarily: it is owing to ignorance or incontinence, or both, that the great bulk of mankind live lives lacking in temperance. Similarly with regard to the diseased life and the healthy life, one must observe that while both have pleasures and pains, the pleasures exceed the pains in health, but the pains the pleasures in disease. Our desire in the choice of lives is not that pain should be in excess, but the life we have judged the more pleasant is that in which pain is exceeded by pleasure. We will assert, then, that since the temperate life has its feelings smaller, fewer and lighter than the licentious life, and the wise life than the foolish, and the brave than the cowardly, and since the one life is superior to the other in pleasure, but inferior in pain, the brave life is victorious over the cowardly and the wise over the foolish; consequently the one set of lives ranks as more pleasant than the other: the temperate, brave, wise, and healthy lives are more pleasant than the cowardly, foolish, licentious and diseased. To sum up, the life of bodily and spiritual virtue, as compared with that of vice, is not only more pleasant, but also exceeds greatly in nobility, rectitude, virtue and good fame, so that it causes the man who lives it to live ever so much more happily than he who lives the opposite life.
— Plato, Laws, Book V (732-734)
“Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninov, possibly the greatest composer of the 20th century, created the impossible, and what later was considered ‘superhuman’ – he captured the whole scale of human emotions in music. And while there is no question about the effect his music produces on us, there is a bigger question that startles us: if his music is only a transposition of his deeper emotions on paper, then how can anything of that scale, anything as big as an ocean find room in a man’s heart, and most importantly, what natural force could ever cause his soul to stir so much?”
~ Anna Novikova, Rachmaninov’s Little Russia in the Alps,
‘Our Russia’ magazine
This was my Christmas Day 2015.