Blood and Flowers: The Aztecs
April 22, 2011

“Will I have to go like the flowers that perish?

Will nothing remain of my name?

Nothing of my fame here on earth?

At least my flowers, at least my songs!

Earth is the region of the fleeting moment.

Is it also thus in the place

where in some way one lives?

Is there joy there, is there friendship?

Or is it only here on earth

we come to know our faces?”

     – Ayocuan, Nahua poet, (c. 1490)


[26] “Oh come with Khayyam, and leave the wise

To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;

One Thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;

The Flower that once has blown forever dies.”

[48] “While the Rose blows along the River Brink,

With old Khayyam the Ruby Vintage drink:

And when the Angel with his darker Draught

Draws up to thee — take that, and do not shrink.”

–Omar Khayyam, Persian poet, (c. 1120) “Rubaiyat,” (Fitzgerald, tr.) 


“We will pass away. I, NezahualCóyotl, say, Enjoy!

Do we really live on earth? Ohuaya ohuaya!

Not forever on earth, only a brief time here!

Even jades fracture; even gold ruptures, even quetzal plumes tear:

Not forever on earth: only a brief time here! Ohuaya ohuaya!”

–Nezahualcoyotl, Nahua poet, (1402-1472 ce.) “The Flower Tree”



Excerpt from 500 Nations (CBS):


AZTEC POETRY: Information and Translations

 The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire: Getty Villa Exhibition

CHINAMPAS: The Original Aztec Aquaponics!



Self-Sacrifice and Sustainability: The Hero Twins of the Popol Vuh
April 16, 2011

“Then again they sacrificed themselves. One of them would die, surely throwing himself down in death. Then having been killed, he would immediately be revived. And the Xibalbans simply watched them while they did it. Now all of this was merely the groundwork for the defeat of the Xibalbans at their hands.”

Chris Hedges: Throw Out The Money Changers!

” If we are to save our country, and our planet, we must turn from exalting the self, to subsuming of the self for our neighbor. Self-sacrifice defies the sickness of corporate ideology. Self-sacrifice mocks opportunities for advancement, money and power. Self-sacrifice smashes the idols of greed and envy. Self-sacrifice demands that we rise up against the abuse, injury and injustice forced upon us by the mandarins of corporate power. There is a profound truth in the biblical admonition “He who loves his life will lose it.”

“Life is not only about us. We can never have justice until our neighbor has justice. And we can never recover our freedom until we are willing to sacrifice our comfort for open rebellion. The president has failed us. The Congress has failed us. The courts have failed us. The press has failed us. The universities have failed us. Our process of electoral democracy has failed us. There are no structures or institutions left that have not been contaminated or destroyed by corporations. And this means it is up to us. Civil disobedience, which will entail hardship and suffering, which will be long and difficult, which at its core means self-sacrifice, is the only mechanism left.”

Learning From History: The Collapse of Complex Societies
April 15, 2011

Preamble: A Brief History of Complexity with David Christian

[From] Backed by stunning illustrations, David Christian narrates a complete history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the Internet, in a riveting 18 minutes. This is “Big History”: an enlightening, wide-angle look at complexity, life and humanity, set against our slim share of the cosmic timeline.

Dr. Joseph Tainter,

“The Collapse of Complex Societies”

Tainter, Joseph, The Collapse of Complex Societies, Cambridge, MA, Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Dr. Patricia McAnany on ‘Questioning Maya Collapse: A Reconsideration of Apocalyptic Narratives  (podcast)

McAnany, Patricia (Ed), Yoffee, Norman (Ed), Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire, Cambridge, MA, Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Questioning Collapse challenges those scholars and popular writers who advance the thesis that societies – past and present – collapse because of behavior that destroyed their environments or because of overpopulation. In a series of highly accessible and closely argued essays, a team of internationally recognized scholars bring history and context to bear in their radically different analyses of iconic events, such as the deforestation of Easter Island, the cessation of the Norse colony in Greenland, the faltering of nineteenth-century China, the migration of ancestral peoples away from Chaco Canyon in the American southwest, the crisis and resilience of Lowland Maya kingship, and other societies that purportedly “collapsed.” Collectively, these essays demonstrate that resilience in the face of societal crises, rather than collapse, is the leitmotif of the human story from the earliest civilizations to the present. Scrutinizing the notion that Euro-American colonial triumphs were an accident of geography, Questioning Collapse also critically examines the complex historical relationship between race and political labels of societal “success” and “failure.”

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