Introduction to my book Harmonic Origins of the World

Over the last seven thousand years, hunter-gathering humans have been transformed into the “modern” norms of citizens (city dwellers) through a series of metamorphoses during which the intellect developed ever-larger descriptions of the world. Past civilizations and even some tribal groups have left wonders in their wake, a result of uncanny skills – mental and physical – which, being hard to repeat today, cannot be considered primitive. Buildings such as Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza are felt anomalous, because of the mathematics implied by their construction. Our notational mathematics only arose much later and so, a different maths must have preceded ours.

We have also inherited texts from ancient times. Spoken language evolved before there was any writing with which to create texts. Writing developed in three main ways: (1) Pictographic writing evolved into hieroglyphs, like those of Egyptian texts, carved on stone or inked onto papyrus, (2) the Sumerians used cross-hatched lines on clay tablets, to make symbols representing the syllables within speech. Cuneiform allowed the many languages of the ancient Near East to be recorded, since all spoken language is made of syllables, (3) the Phoenicians developed the alphabet, which was perfected in Iron Age Greece through identifying more phonemes, including the vowels. The Greek language enabled individual writers to think new thoughts through writing down their ideas; a new habit that competed with information passed down through the oral tradition. Ironically though, writing down oral stories allowed their survival, as the oral tradition became more-or-less extinct. And surviving oral texts give otherwise missing insights into the intellectual life behind prehistoric monuments.

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Agni, the Indian God of Fire

Those new to Ernest McClain and his The Myth of Invariance, should know this book was a seminal work for anyone in my generation, that opened up a Pythagorean vision; of how number operates in the domain of harmony. This world of harmony can be numerically defined in a quite extraordinary and specific way and we, as human beings, can receive it through our mind whilst also through the senses. This relates to the unusual fact that, whilst all notes can be doubled in frequency through the number two, with a perfect consonance, a new population of notes is then opened up, within an octave, of intervals that are also harmonious, through the use the two next prime numbers: three and five. Thus music, so effective upon the human heart, can build a world of meaning, sometimes referenced in myths as sacred numbers, written through understanding harmony as fundamentally generated through numeric transitions within music.

In 2008 I prepared a summary of Ernest McClain’s statements about Agni because, in the midst of the perfect symmetry of musical harmony lies something new, born to the world opposite its beginnings and endings. I originally made the pdf below for my friend Anthony Blake, part of our attempt to study the origin of creativity within the existing world. It appears that something important comes into being at the centre of this issue of octaval harmony, just as we ourselves come into existence in the middle of the universe, as conscious beings, conscious then of our incompletion.

It occured to me to include this in an email to Ernest and, all in, he said in reply “I can’t imagine anyone improving on your few pages” and “Put it out now on your own website stamped with my approval”. Please enjoy this transmission from the centre of the octave:

What Ernest McClain says about Agni in The Myth of Invariance:

Visit Ernest McClain website: Musical Adventures in Ancient Mythology. In the section of online documents, his books are available for your to study as links to pdf downloads.