The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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Sunday Prayer


The composer John Tavener, who died on November 12th, once said many artists were good at leading the listener into hell, but that he was more interested in showing the way to paradise.  John Rutter describes Tavener as having the “very rare gift” of being able to “bring an audience to a deep silence.”

While Tavener’s earliest music was influenced by Igor Stravinsky and Olivier Messiaen – often invoking the sound world of Stravinsky, in particular Canticum Sacrum, and the ecstatic quality found in various works by Messiaen – his later music became more sparse, using wide registral space and was usually diatonically tonal. Tavener recognised Arvo Pärt as “a kindred spirit” and shared with him a common religious tradition and a fondness for textural transparency.

In 2003 Tavener composed the exceptionally large work The Veil of the Temple (which was premièred at the Temple Church, London), based on texts from a number of religions. Identified by Tavener as “the supreme achievement of my life”, it is set for four choirs, several orchestras and soloists and lasts at least seven hours.


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You Tube Video of the Day

In his article in the Statesman Russell Brand reiterates that he is “utterly disenchanted” with the current political system and imagining its overthrow is “the only way I can be enthused about politics.” He concludes that adhering to one concept or another is not enough, that our consciousness itself must change.  In order to survive in this “spherical ecosystem” we need “a unifying and in – clusive spiritual ideology.”  Brand believes that unlike the agricultural revolution which took thousands of years and the industrial revolution which took hundreds of years, “the Spiritual Revolution has come and we have only an instant to act.”

To genuinely make a difference, we must become different; make the tiny, longitudinal shift. Meditate, direct our love indiscriminately and our condemnation exclusively at those with power. Revolt in whatever way we want, with the spontaneity of the London rioters, with the certainty and willingness to die of religious fundamentalists or with the twinkling mischief of the trickster. We should include everyone, judging no one, without harming anyone. The Agricultural Revolution took thousands of years, the Industrial Revolution took hundreds of years, the Technological Revolution took tens, the Spiritual Revolution has come and we have only an instant to act.
Now there is an opportunity for the left to return to its vital, virile, vigorous origins. A movement for the people, by the people, in the service of the land. Socialism’s historical connection with spiritual principles is deep. Sharing is a spiritual principle, respecting our land is a spiritual principle. May the first, May Day, is a pagan holiday where we acknowledge our essential relationship with our land. I bet the Tolpuddle martyrs, who marched for fair pay for agricultural workers, whose legacy is the right for us to have social solidarity, were a right bunch of herberts if you knew them. “Thugs, yobs, hooligans,” the Daily Mail would’ve called them. Our young people need to know there is a culture, a strong, broad union, that they can belong to, that is potent, virile and alive. At this time when George and Dave pilfer and pillage our land and money for their oligarch mates, at this time when the Tories are taking the EU to court to stop it curtailing their banker pals’ bonuses, that there is something they can do. Take to the streets, together, with the understanding that the feeling that you aren’t being heard or seen or represented isn’t psychosis; it’s government policy.
But we are far from apathetic, we are far from impotent. I take great courage from the groaning effort required to keep us down, the institutions that have to be fastidiously kept in place to maintain this duplicitous order. Propaganda, police, media, lies. Now is the time to continue the great legacy of the left, in harmony with its implicit spiritual principles. Time may only be a human concept and therefore ultimately unreal, but what is irrefutably real is that this is the time for us to wake up.
The revolution of consciousness is a decision, decisions take a moment. In my mind the revolution has already begun.

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Nanos Valoritis on Literature and Poetry

Here’s a poem of his — “Endless Crucifixion” — from the late-20th century.

Nanos Valaoritis (b. 1921) is a widely acknowledged Greek poet, novelist, essayist and translator. After completing his studies in Athens, London and Sorbonne, he moved to London in 1944, where he translated modernist Greek poets from the 1930’s and contributed regularly to avant-guard literary reviews. He frequented London’s literary community, meeting poets such as T.S. Eliot, Stephen Spender, W.H. Auden and Dylan Thomas. In 1954 he moved to Paris where he met André Breton and participated in the activities of the Surrealist group. After his return to Greece he became the editor of numerous collective volumes and reviews, introducing Surrealist and Beat poetry and literature to the Greek audience. He has taught Creative Writing and Comparative Literature at San Francisco State University, while his own books have been published by City Lights Publishers. He has been awarded by the American National Poetry Association, a prize that has been reserved for Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, etc. In 2004 he received the poetry prize of the Athens Academy of Letters and Science. He is married to the American surrealist painter, Marie Wilson.


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Visit British Museum Website to Play 5000 Year Old Senet Game

Senet game

From Egypt
New Kingdom, 1550-1069 BC

Board games were very popular among all levels of society, especially the game of senet, or ‘passing’. The game was first played in the Predynastic period, and a form of it is still played in Egypt today.

Senet could be played with highly decorated sets, plain sets or simply on a grid of three rows of ten squares scratched in the dust or on a stone. Each player had a set of seven pieces. The players threw sticks or knuckle bones to move around the board via the squares indicating good or bad fortune. The object of the game was to safely navigate all the pieces off the board, while preventing the opponent from doing the same.

Tomb scenes showing the deceased relaxing and playing the game illustrate its part in the leisure time of the rich. These depictions can also be interpreted as a reference to the fact that the deceased must find his way past many obstacles to reach the Afterlife, rather like a gaming piece on a senet board. The game was also represented in a satirical cartoon drawn on a papyrus and showing a lion and an antelope happily playing together.

You can play Senet on-line at The British Museum’sAncient Egypt website (requires Shockwave).

M. Stead, Egyptian life (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)


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How Products Get Named

Excerpted from Dr. Ong’s article The Poetry of Brand Naming in Business World On-line:

In “Famous Names: Does it matter what a product is called?” (The New Yorker, Oct. 3, 2011), John Colapinto reports that product proliferation has made creative brand-naming a growing necessity. In 1980, fewer than 10,000 hi-tech trademarks were registered in the USA; 30 years later, the number topped 300,000.

Colapinto’s piece centers on Lexicon, a California- and London-based boutique firm founded by David Placek in 1982 on the premise that a distinctive brand name confers a competitive edge. What to call a two-way device that sends and receives email wirelessly? EasyMail? ProMail? MegaMail? In the digital revolution’s early days, consumers were chary about getting excessive email; it would raise blood pressure. “Megamail,” connoting an avalanche, was out. Lexicon employs two linguists in-house and consults 77 others around the world to screen for unintended cross-linguistic gaffes (such as Chevy Nova, which means “no go” in Spanish) and unconscious resonance of particular sounds (which imply meanings across multiple languages: “p” uses the lips, and is slower and more luxurious than “t” which uses the tip of the tongue; “b” sounds even more reliable).

A Lexicon project begins with free-association Mind Maps on a board — diagrams of brainstormed words branching out from a central theme. For the two-way device, teams worked on “things that are natural,” “fresh,” and “enjoyable.” The creative process plays with stimuli that may seem irrelevant to the problem at hand. Someone wrote the word “strawberry.” Placek drawled out the word, found it too slow-sounding for an instantaneous technology. Someone else wrote “blackberry,” which pronounces faster and has two “b’s.” Choosing among hundreds of options comes down to a combination of instinct, abstract reasoning, and client idiosyncrasy. In this case, the client decided that fruit lowers blood pressure, black is the color of hi-tech devices, and the gadget’s oval keys look like a blackberry’s fleshy drupelets. BlackBerry (both b’s capitalized), launched in 1999, is now the best-selling smart phone.


Dr. Ong teaches marketing management and literature at De La Salle University (DLSU). The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administration. – See more here.

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Rural Folk Poetry of Afghanistan

Poetry magazine is devoting its entire June issue to Journalist Eliza Griswold and London Filmaker Seamus Murphy’s project which portrays “Afghan life through the prism of oral folk poems…”

For 10 years, journalist Eliza Griswold reported from Afghanistan and Pakistan for publications like The New York Times and The New Yorker. But she was frustrated that in pursuit of the headlines, some of her most interesting stories were left on the cutting room floor. Too often, she felt, she wasn’t able to convey the humanity and humor of the Afghan people who were living with the daily realities of war.Last year, she embarked on a project to tell those stories by collecting oral folk poems shared mostly among Pashtun women.

I dream I am the president.
When I awake, I am the beggar of the world.

The poems are called landays. Just two lines long with 22 syllables, they carry a bite. (One meaning of the word landay is short, poisonous snake.)

“This is rural folk poetry. This is poetry that’s meant to be oral. It’s passed mouth to mouth. Ear to ear. And the women have recited these poems for centuries,” said Griswold.Over the past decade, many of the landays have also expressed anger about the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan:

May God destroy the White House and kill the man
who sent U.S. cruise missles to burn my homeland.

Others are filled with sorrow:

In battle, there should be two brothers:
One to be martyred, one to wind the shroud of the other.

The article can be found here.

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The Show-Stopping Fashion of Namibia’s Herero Tribe

I just love how the boys are imitating the stiffness of the Germans. I also love that they have appropriated this dress and made it their own. The two-pronged hats represent the horns of the Herero’s cows. The women even adopt the loose gait of the cows as they walk.

Jim Naughten
Even in a continent rich with fantastic traditional garments, the Herero tribe of Namibiastands out. Photographer Jim Naughten first came across and photographed members of the tribe while traveling across Southern Africa 15 years ago. Naughten returned in 2011 with better camera equipment and produced this eye-catching series. Merrell has just published a book of the work, and two shows opened in March: at Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn, and Margaret Street Gallery in London.
The origin of the Herero dress is early-20th-century German colonization. The outfits, which at first were forced on the Herero, later became a tradition, a choice, and a source of pride and status as they made the fashion their own. Tribe members wear the German uniforms at various ceremonies, funerals, and festivals as a way of honoring their warrior ancestors.
Jim Naughten