Week Day

The discovery of a Peruvian pre-Inca astronomical observatory is very interesting, in that it once again pushes back the dates from which we can trace an advanced civilization in the Americas, predating the European conquest by around 1800 years.

Read about the find at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070302082441.htm

(I am pretty confident in the history we tell ourselves up to 70,000 years ago, and the one we tell ourselves from 3000 or so years ago. But the period between 70,000 and 3000 seems very sketchy to me – the period that produced Lascaux and the Pyramids and Stonehenge and the Peruvian airstrip figures. I am no bug-eyed conspiricist, but the early history of man post-taking-up-fire is fascinating to me, and I hope we know more while I am still in this life cycle – we know so little about how these ancients lived and thought.

Gurdjieff had this theory that there was only so much ‘consciousness stuff’ around the planet, and it had to be distributed to all the sentient beings. Since there are so many more of us know, we each of us have less of this ‘world consciousness’ – call it ‘noiaether’ – than the ancients would have had – therefore we are less noble, less engaged, less active in our lives, just more boring. Interesting idea – if a war or famine finishes 90% of us off, will there be more geniuses and heroes again?)

Apparently it is connected with political power – it exists within a fort – and suggests the connection between the ruler and the sun: He (or she) who can predict when the sun will turn from its solstice or have an eclipse has a powerful message for an agrarian society.

But of more interest to me was the incidental comment that there were three ‘weeks’ in the Incan month, which is, of course, a ‘moonth’ – one moon cycle, which was far more accurately tallied by the Mayan calendar than it is by our own very approximate Gregorian month. (Our month is a few days longer than the moon cycle, with the result that every once in a while we have two full moons in one month, the second one being a ‘blue moon’ that is our byword for occasional.)

Which brings us to the ‘week’ – a workaday concept built solidly into the fabric of our society – but what is a week? What meaning does it have? The 7-day period is one-quarter of the moon cycle, which was, I presume, its origin, but other than that – far away from our everyday experience nowadays – a week seems quite random. A day, a month, a year – you can see all these in the sky. A second is more or less the beat of your heart (like those other body-related measurements of an inch (the last joint of your thumb), a cubit (the forearm), a foot (obvious), a yard (tip of the nose to the end of the hand), or a mile (a thousand steps – those Roman soldiers must have had long legs). But what’s the origin of a minute? As long as you can hold your breath? Otherwise, a minute and an hour seem quite arbitrary, not tied to anything real other than our convenience.

But what was in the minds of these ancient astronomers in dividing the moon cycle into three equal 9-or-so-day periods? What sense did it make to them? Anybody have any ideas?

And how much of your life is built around a 5-day work week and 2-day weekend? The retired, the self-employed, the pre-school child – none of these have any attachments to the real day-to-day rhythm of life – they are an imposition of the industrial society mainly – I acnnot even see any agrarian sense to a week-long meansure. Thoughts appreciated.

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