History 104A, November 23: Humble—to be or not to be!


               Welcome here for the few of you who have arrived waiting for your


          hunger day tomorrow, Thanksgiving.


          Q    Did you read today's comic?


               THE PROFESSOR:  That was today, Boondocks.  My big comic on


          today's paper though was this guy who is, who's filmed with Fremont


          pulling a two ton truck with his penis.  Did anybody see that in


          today's news?  They're going to do a show on one of the stations in a


          couple of months called penis envy.  Another guy is lifting weights


          with his penis.  Now, I know, but this was in Fremont.  There's a


          whole Chinese form of Marshal arts that's centered around the penis.


          And before he pulled the truck with the tape around his testicles and


          penis to pull this truck, his partner kicked him with a karate kick


          right in the testicles so he wouldn't feel it.  There are strange


          things in history, and so why should we wonder about some of those


          hermits like Semus Steelus (phonetic) who lived on top of a poll for


          30 years in his faith for Christ, or the people during the medieval


          period who beat themselves to get rid of the evil within themselves


          after the black plague.  In any case, I don't think that's a sign of


          modern times.  I think that's more of the ancient times, if you will.


          What the hell is breaking all these chairs?


          A    That was Gabe from last period.  He sat up.  He just sad like


          this and --


               THE PROFESSOR:  And it cracked like that?


          A    Yeah.



               THE PROFESSOR:  Not that big, they're just old.


          A    This one is broken too.


               THE PROFESSOR:  Wow.  I've seen them break off, but that looks


          like somebody gave it a karate kick.


          A    No, he didn't.


               THE PROFESSOR:  In any case, we were talking about some of the


          transition to the early modern period, where to from here, and


          identified of course the forces of nationalism, capitalism, science,


          and the faith in the individual, and in a sense the individual


          breaking away from the sense that they are to learn only from God and


          that God has directed them to do everything.  Don't get me wrong, it


          doesn't introduce atheism, although atheism has always existed but


          people don't talk about in societies.  What it does is, change the


          view of God's rule in life and in nature.  By the time of the


          enlightenment, the view of intellectuals towards God is known as Deism


          which is the sense that God set the universe in motion and stepped the


          aside, wound it up like a clock.


               However, one of the other signs of the modern world is diversity


          in religion.  What I'm really referring to is western civilization


          because we're going to be entering the renaissance.  And there are


          three renaissance men that we tend to talk about that they don't often


          see as renaissance men, but they are in the same period, yet we


          actually set up different time periods for them.  Obviously with the


          renaissance we often identify, Leonardo DeVinci, and then of course


          the other three Ninja turtles -- Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello



          and sphincter.


          A    I haven't watched television in years and yet I still know them.


          A    He's 300 years old.


               THE PROFESSOR:  I was playing with sphincter, with the name.


          Never mind.


               The other individual who will be part of our emphasis is Martin


          Luther.  Again, not Martin Luther King Jr. who, as we sort of alluded


          to and mentioned previously in passing and as we're dealing with


          again, is the individual who opened the door to a break in the


          uniformity, if you will, of Christianity in the West.  And of course


          one of the signs of the modern world is the diversity at least the


          western modern world in Christianity; translation, Protestantism.


          Martin Luther is within the renaissance period.  And we will identify


          how he is a renaissance person and falls within the pattern, even


          though when we discuss him and with the nice little peripheral vision


          of historians boxing things in, it's called the reformation or the


          Protestant revolution as some refer to it.


               The third individual again, very much a renaissance man and very


          much part of the ideology that we're going to talk about of the


          renaissance period, is Christopher Columbus or Christopher Colon


          which translates to Christ the colonizer.  Interesting name.


          Q    What -- is that his real name?


               THE PROFESSOR:  We don't think so; but again, we're not really


          sure.  We'll talk more about that later.


               And of course with Christopher Colon/Columbus we are entering



          another period of time that overlaps but another period in the history


          book called the age of exploration.  And so the diversity of religion,


          a factor in the modern world, and tied to that the western


          intervention, the western violation of the prime directive, the fact


          that the world moves into a western nature.  European history bams


          world history.  And again, we talked about this the other day, what we


          are entering is a period where the rest of the world is coming back


          and saying screw you West, we've got a culture that we want to spread.


          And so we're seeing definitely a reactionary period or, I don't know


          what you want to call it, but it's certainly a movement to restore and


          expand other areas in the East, if you will, to bring about a change


          from what we would call the modern world or modern society that began


          with the age of exploration.  These are factors that really help us to


          understand the history we're going into, the early modern period, but


          certainly the modern period itself.  And I think that's certainly


          important enough to deal with.


               The first of the era is a all encompassing one called the


          renaissance.  And once again, I identified that the renaissance is a


          period of emphasis on the individual and on man, a very important


          element of the period of time because it does change art.  Art now


          emphasizing similar to the ancient world in part, humanity.  And the


          flatness of art that is symbolic of the medieval period similar of


          course to symbolisms in Egypt now creates a new form of sculpture now


          becomes truly three dimensional rather than flat.  And painting is


          reflective of the way people actually look body and face and perhaps



          soul rather than the spirit that comes through in the art that's hung


          in the churches during the medieval period.


               The renaissance period -- dates will vary.  Historians differ,


          not only on dates, but what period it was, what it really did, when it


          lasted, when it ended, if it ended, like anything else.  But again,


          traditionally, the historian dates the renaissance from 1350 to about


          1550.  In other words, 200 years, if you will.  The 1350 date is used


          because we begin to see around that time a certain sense of what we


          call the looking back to Greece with the new establishment of learning


          or the new learning of Greek as a language and finding many more Greek


          works or searching for Greek works that were available certainly


          preserved in the Muslim world.


               The renaissance means, literally the word means rebirth.  The


          concept is a rebirth of Greek and Roman lifestyle, a rebirth of the


          Greek and Roman language, a rebirth of the Greek and Roman art and


          architecture and certainly literature.


               There are those who identify the renaissance with the beginning


          of science, technology.  However, as we identified, much of that is a


          growth coming out of the Romans.  And I would say many, if not most of


          the renaissance scholars, see the renaissance in more of humanistic


          terms, humanism.  When we talk about taking a humanities course, we're


          talking about English literature.  What else is included in


          humanities?  Western civilization is used in contrast to a science


          class.  So culture is part of the humanities.  And humanism is the


          movement of the renaissance.  Now, again, when we use the term



          humanism today, I think we think of people who are going out to work


          for human beings, who will go into the slum, who see poverty,


          illiteracy and disease as something that needs to be done away with


          that put an emphasis on human beings being superior to all other


          animals, I suppose, and in a sense perhaps God-like.  The word secular


          humanism is a word used by fundamentalist Christians often, especially


          in the Bible belt, to refer to the concept today that they see people


          seeing themselves as God-like because they emphasize their own


          capacity to achieve.  And the theme of the renaissance was, in a


          sense, men can do all things if they will, rather than men can do


          things that God wills.  And that is a difference perhaps in the


          humanism today in that it's not the sense that men can do all things


          if they will, but aiding humanity.  Renaissance people are not big on


          charity.  They were not big on getting rid of poverty, literacy and


          disease.  It was basically a study and worship, if you will, of the


          classic, the classics being the Roman and Greek literature.  And of


          course from this came from many studies and of course a lot more


          knowledge.  One of the famous ones I mentioned earlier was by Valla


          who found out that the church's use of the so called donation of


          Constantine, that document that indicated that when Constantine


          controlled Rome, he left a will when he died -- and I believe he died


          in 337 CE -- that will gave Rome to the Catholic church, Christian


          church as its city, as in a sense establishing the papacy.  He gave


          them the territory around Rome.  And that document had remained in


          Christian lore, if you will.  But Valla, in his study of Latin and the



          use of Latin over the centuries, was able to prove without carbon


          dating, which they didn't have, but by the language usage that that


          document was written in the 900s, that it was, in a sense, a forgery.


          And so again, that was part of that classical learning and tradition


          that comes through the renaissance.


               Tied to men can do all things if we will is another form of


          renaissance mentality that certainly ties to Martin Luther and


          certainly ties to Christopher Columbus and certainly ties to da Vinci.


          Braggadico, Americans hate braggarts.  It's a negative word in this


          country.  We're taught we're supposed to be humble.  Don't let it go


          to your head the coach says to the kids when he does a good job in the


          game.  You know, the reality of the situation is that -- and I hate to


          say it -- great people aren't humble.  This is why Mohammed Ali was


          hated.  He got out there and told everybody what round he was going to


          knock somebody out in and he bragged about it.  That was quite


          different from Joe Lewis who shuffled along, I tried hard, yes, I won,


          type of thing.  But Mohammed Ali, disliked for his braggadocio and


          also for his refusal to enter in the military during the Vietnam War,


          was just awarded the medal of freedom given by the president.  And of


          course it was given by President Bush, which was interesting within


          itself.  By the way, just to deal with that sense of being humble, I


          mean, I grew up with that just like many other people.  And I could


          never understand why, if I put in for scholarships, I never got them.


          You feel if you've done hard work and a straight A student you could


          get some dam money.  People could say, okay, you came from a wealthy



          family?  But No. 1, it wasn't true; and number two, most academic


          scholarships aren't based on wealth.  And finally, in graduate school


          I applied and I was really pissed by this time and I was absolutely


          saying -- what I used to write was yeah, I try hard, I think I deserve


          it, look what I've done, maybe you'll give me a scholarship.  And when


          I got to graduate school I wrote, look, I deserve it.  You're not


          going to find a better candidate, see how great there are or words to


          that affect, and I got it.  Now, again, the difference being that we


          see braggarts and people who are saying things often that aren't true.


          When we talk about braggadocio in the Italian, the renaissance sense,


          we're talking about people who say what they've accomplished, who


          identify honestly.  They don't go beyond it.  They just use words that


          expand on their accomplishments, their achievements.  And as I


          identified before, they even paint their portrait in the background


          of -- Michelangelo putting themselves in the Sistine Chapel.  Cellini


          putting themselves in his sculptures.  How many of you have portraits


          painted of yourself?  How many have big pictures, photographic


          pictures hanging on the wall that you've put up, not your parents?


          See?  We don't have that sense.  But in Italy, everybody did.  How


          many of you write diaries so in the future you'll be known when you


          write your book?  One.


          A    I also put a lot of our generation.  We don't even like having


          pictures taken.


               THE PROFESSOR:  That's because they're taken by your parents.


          A    No, I mean, by anyone.  You even go up to a friend times and say



          let's take a picture.  No, my face is ugly.


               THE PROFESSOR:  Because there are so many cameras out there you,


          think it's just burned out about taking pictures?


          A    Everybody is going to have a different reason.  Maybe they just


          feel like they don't look good that day.


          A    They don't lose their souls.


          Q    Do Americans really believe that it will steal your soul?


               THE PROFESSOR:  I'm wondering perhaps without thinking about it,


          it's a psychology base of parents today having cameras and constantly


          shooting their children in every event they go on, all these thousands


          of pictures.  It's an interesting fact of life.  How many of you feel


          that way; you don't like feel taking your picture?  I have a portrait


          of myself that was painted of me.  I hang it over the toilet bowl.


          That's a good place for it.


          Q    So that you can see it or --


               THE PROFESSOR:  So that I can see it.  Instead of having a mirror


          there, I look at myself.


          Q    Are you on the toilet in the picture too?


               THE PROFESSOR:  It looks like, that's why I put it there.  It was


          done when I was about 26 at the time and I was running a gym in New


          York.  There was this little guy who was a pro boxer and had won the


          golden glove in Scotland.  He wanted to work out in the gym, but he


          had become a painter in New York and had been doing it in the


          expressionist style.  He offered to do a portrait of me for a


          membership in the gym.  So I said, what the hell, why not.  I'm a



          renaissance man in that sense.


               But another element of the renaissance man is the universal man.


          And by the way, we'll identify women's involvement here too in a short


          period of time.  Men can do all things if they will, also men do all


          things; meaning, that the concept of being a specialist that we live


          in, in today's modern society, was not part of the renaissance


          mentality.  The sense was that you were supposed to be a generalist, a


          universalist.  A generalist often gives the impression that you don't


          do anything well but you do everything.  The difference being that the


          universal man was good at whatever he did.  And I learned years ago


          when I was teaching high school, the old philosophy was, well, if you


          have some dummy who can't do well in class, put him in auto shop or


          let him erase the board.  The validity in the class was, if you put


          someone who was a good student in the academic class into auto shop,


          they're going to be a good student there too, even without the


          interest necessarily.  The idea often that they did well in auto shop


          was that they were interested in autos, I'm talking about the poor


          students in the academic class.  And of course the image of the


          renaissance man, the universal man was Leonardo da Vinci -- invention,


          art, music, painting sculpture.  They worked in all areas.  I don't


          know too many of our younger faculty, candidly.  I guess I've been


          isolated and, sadly to say, most of the faculty that I came with have




               The other day one of my favorite people was on campus Walt


          Halland.  He was the epitome of the universal man although sadly he



          was not the renaissance person because he didn't have the braggadocio.


          He acted in a very humble way.  While at Ohlone, he taught the history


          of sex or biology of sex and of course used to pull in or pack the


          classrooms with 160 students.  I talked about him before, how he


          started the class with everybody chanting the F word just to see if


          they could handle it.  He taught anatomy and physiology, a special


          course on the brain.  He taught a course in the birds of California.


          He taught a course in color photography.  He played beautiful


          classical piano, and I was always amazed listening to him.  In other


          words, he was talented in many areas, the concept of the universal


          man.  He has this MA/BA degree in history, and he got his advanced


          degree from Cal in biology.  You don't -- in our society, we don't


          have that respect for them in an academic sense.  I remember I was on


          a hiring committee at the university and we were hiring somebody in


          Latin American history.  Now, this guy had done research in the


          borderlands between American and Mexico.  He had done some research in


          Mexico.  He had done some research in Cuba and also in Chile and the


          attitude of the department was that he was a generalist.  He hadn't


          narrowed himself down and therefore his scholarship and his academic


          career were still immature.  When I taught at the university, I had to


          be an expert in my area which turned out to be, according to them,


          Mexican history between 1920 and 35.  If I strayed beyond those


          boarder areas, then I was not being a true scholar.  So again, while


          we enter the modern world, societies differ, changes come about.  And


          sometimes it's hard for us to put ourselves in the place of someone



          living in the 15th century.  Translation, taking it to another


          direction, there's no way people living in the renaissance period


          could be somebody reborn from ancient Greece or ancient Rome.  It was


          a different society.


               For example, in the ancient Greek society, your polis was vital


          to your existence.  And as I appointed out, the worse punishment in


          part was ostracism, would be removed from the polis, the city state.


          However, renaissance men/women, traveled from city to city.  Being


          exiled from their city was not seen as a great punishment, if you


          will, to be ostracized.  Different values.  So as one scholar said, if


          you dress a renaissance woman in her great grandparents clothing,


          she's still not her great grandparent even if she looks like her.  We,


          in a sense, we better would use the term for the renaissance, I think,


          renewal.  It was renewing elements of the classical world.  And so I


          think renewal is the term many historians are using today to reflect


          what the renaissance is.  The term renaissance itself, rebirth, was a


          word used starting at around 1350 or at least the concept was, that


          now a new world had arisen coming out of the dark Gothic period of


          time.  And among those who are known as perhaps early renaissance


          writers are people like Petrarch, Petrarch in sonnets to Laura.  He


          wrote about how we are now emerging from the darkness with culture and


          art and literature in the middle of the 14th century, 1300s.  But


          interestingly, he was writing not in Italy, but at where the new


          papacy had moved for a period of time, a place known as Avignon in


          southern France.



               At around 1304 the French king brings the papacy to southern


          France, decides we've had it with the Italian papacy and we're going


          to put the Pope in Avignon.  The 14th century, the 1300s, the Pope is


          no longer in Rome.  The papal court is in southern France.  It is a


          period known as Babylonian captivity, sort of stemming from the Jews


          being taken from Babylon in the old testament.  There we have a papal


          court that is beginning to support learning and knowledge.  And here


          Italian scholars, Italian writers go to change ideas, thoughts, et


          cetera.  In 1378 there's an attempt to restore the Pope in Rome.  And


          this church finds itself with two Popes, one in Rome and one in


          Avignon.  So it decides to compromise and they eliminate both Popes


          and create a third Pope.  And now we have, for a short period of time


          around 1400 three Popes, all claiming to be the legitimate Pope.


          Around 1415 the papacy is finally restored to Rome.  However, it is


          somewhat under the control of the church councils, the power of the


          Pope obviously is weakened.  And it is due to this Babylonian


          captivity and that power that the Pope has lost that about 100 years


          later, it's going to aid Martin Luther's reformation.


               What I want to do in a sense, sum up some of this with an article


          from "hangups from way back" that I think identify some of the


          differences and certainly reviews the concepts of what I've been


          presenting, men can do all things if they will.


               Behavior that is frowned upon by one society may be encouraged by


          another.  By studying behavior patterns of other societies, we gain


          perspective from which to understand our own.  A study of



          individualism in the Italian renaissance may help expose some of our


          own hangups.  When former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Lewis


          used to knock out an opponent in the early bounds of the title match,


          he did no boasting.  The champion who invariably mumble something


          about how well the fellow fought, that it was a great fight.  He never


          took any credit for his own fantastically fast or powerful punching of


          his boxing skills.  Joe Lewis is the epitome of the modern and


          unassuming American.  He knew the ropes of the clipping and the rules


          of the game.  As a result, he remained one of America's all time


          favorite sports figures.  Mohammed Ali, also known as Cassius Clay,


          was different.  Before scheduled audiences of his world companionship


          title, Ali would generally boast about his skills and actually predict


          the round in which he was expected to knock out his challenger.


          Frequently he would compose rhymes that ridiculed his opponents, and


          the press who make the most of it.  Ali was remarkably accurate in


          predicting the details of his ring victories.  Like Joe Lewis, he


          remained undefeated as the heavyweight world champion, the first time


          around at least.  Mohammed Ali never enjoyed the popularity of Lewis


          30 years ago, partially because of his political activity, but mostly


          because he violated a fundamental American ethics of sport, he was not


          humble.  Many Americans tended to recent Ali's boastful behavior by


          accident of birth.  Joe Lewis fit well into the mold of American


          society; Mohammed Ali did not.  With different timing, these two men


          might have experienced quite different receptions for their style of


          behavior.  If Mohammed Ali had lived during the Italian renaissance,



          he would have found a favorable reception for his proud claims of ring


          success.  Joe Lewis would have lost in the shuffle.  One of the traits


          exhibited by the renaissance men was braggadocio or brag about one's


          achievements.  Instead of being frowned upon, this trait was


          encouraged.  And that's not all.  Braggadocio was merely one


          particular manifestation of the renaissance ideal of individualism


          which helped shape so much of the behavior of renaissance man.  The


          renaissance man was supposed to develop his talents in as many ways as


          he could.  There were none of the restrictions that have been imposed


          by Greek societies.


               Again, if you recall, the Greek society dealt with the concept of


          hubris and we'll get into that.  The renaissance did, of course,


          revive some elements of classical antiquity, but it did not restore


          precisely the same conditions.  Lacking a strong sense of polis,


          renaissance men were not disturbed by exile as much as the ancient


          Greeks had been.  Lacking a hubris, excessive pride, renaissance men


          felt fewer restraints upon individual self-fulfillment than did the


          hubris-conscious Greeks.  Thus, while the renaissance was a degree a


          revival of antiquity, it was not a complete duplication of it.  During


          the renaissance, glory as actively sought.  Success was proudly


          announced loudly and often.  These behavioral traits were part of the


          accepted quest for attaining the state of well roundedness known as


          the universal man.  The universal man must not hide his talents.  He


          should feel free to boast about them.  That was a vital element of the


          spirit of the renaissance.



                    (the following is material read and not verbatim)


               The autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini is replete with statements


          and praise of the author.  They are in keeping the unabashed and


          sometimes celebrated pride felt of the renaissance men.  Cellini


          certainly achieved a lot and he does not refrain from telling us.  The


          opening line of his autobiography leaves no doubt about the absence of


          Joe Lewis time thought in Cellini.  It is a duty incumbent of every


          uprighted credible man of all ranks who have performed anything noble


          or praiseworthy to record, in their own writing, the events of their


          lives.  Besides the many statements of his own that praise his works,


          Cellini frequently reported the phrase that others uttered in his


          behalf.  For example, when Cellini had completed work on a silver


          basin, the author tells us that the French king said, quote, it is my


          realization the ancients were never capable of working in so exquisite


          a taste.  I have seen all the art peaces of the greatest artists of


          Italy, but never before behold anything that gave me such high


          satisfaction, quote.


               There were other famous Italians of the renaissance that shared


          the self-confidence of Cellini.  The great poet Dante had been ...


          For his political activities.  He was offered an opportunity to


          return, but the terms were not entirely to his liking.  Sense


          renaissance men do not share the deep sense of polis that the Greeks


          had felt, Dante who dared to take an independent stand without


          violence, renaissance values, he did just that as ... excerpt from his


          ....  Quote, can I not everywhere behold the light of the sun and the



          stars?  Everywhere meditate of the noblist truths?  Without appearing


          in gloriously and shamefully before the city and the people, my bred


          will not fail me.


               In classical Greek, that type of behavior would have considered


          arrogant and high intemperate, just as Mohammed Ali's remarks were


          considered intemperate at his time.  Dante was lucky he lived in Italy


          during the early renaissance.


               The sonnet developed by Petrarch shows Earth and personal


          developments that were missing in the middle ages.  The sonnet went


          much deeper into the love within men and king than did the lyrics when


          they were celebrating the consult of the virgin and the middle ages.


          Petrarch and a ... the author of the Cameron, demonstrated just as the


          adviser of the scientific period and the beginnings of the exploration


          phase do.  At the core of the related renaissance the common ..


          braggadocio, a dramatic visual example is provided in the work of the


          sculpture ....  In the Venus brass doors, it contains Biblical scenes


          which are engraven in less than 2-inch reliefs.


               It is not by accident that there were many individuals who


          achieved remarkable versiocity during the renaissance, nor is it


          coincident Leonardo DeVinci was an unusual person even for the


          renaissance.  His achievements are too well-known to cite here.  At


          the age of 30, his talents to the group of ... among which were in a


          place is besieged, I know how to cut off water to the trenches and how


          to contract an infinite number of bridges ... scales, ladders, et


          cetera.  Observe that da Vinci could conduct an independent number not



          just a whole bunch.  A favorite new thing for the renaissance


          sculpture was David.  David the giant slayer whose greater heights of


          individual achievement would not hope to attain than killing a giant.


               Michelangelo's David is one of the most widely renowned


          sculptures of western man.  It portrays David as the model of


          self-confidence, powerful, dignified individual.  Alberti said,


          Michelangelo sculpted it and Leonardo lived it.  Men can do all things


          if they will.


               Have a happy Thanksgiving.