There’s nothing new under the sun

I’ve always like Ecclesiastes.  The ennui can be a bit much, but it’s a good reminder that humans, like other animals, fall into patterns, and that the earth abides:

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

Sometimes we need to remember that, although we are each individuals with a divine spark and the capacity for greatness, we’re also part of a greater whole that has been here before and that will be here long after each individual is gone.

If you’re wondering why I’m waxing poetic (and waxing Biblical), it’s because I’ve been at a bit of a loss lately when it comes to posting.  Part of this is because even I seem to have an upper limit on written output, and between writing for Mr. Conservative morning and evening, and doing legal work for a client in the middle of the day, both my fingers and my brain are tired.

But the real reason I’m not writing so much is because there’s not much to say other than what I’ve said before:  Obama is feckless; Islam is dangerous; Europe is antisemitic; schools are propaganda factories; borders are porous; Republicans like to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory; the media is dishonest; ObamaCare is a disaster; blah, blah, blah.  Here we are at Wednesday of this week, and I haven’t read anything in the news that strikes me as new or different from anything last week, or the week before.

And so I’ll leave you with a song and the hope that, either the world perks up or my brain does, or both:

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  • Michael Adams

    Does anybody know, or would anybody like to know, why some of those words were in italics?  Well, I’m glad you asked  They are words inserted by the translators, to make sense of what was said in Hebrew, and also Greek, which those languages did not need. It’s my understanding that   Hebrew had no verb for ‘to be.,’ so is is always in italics. I do know for certain that Greek had a being verb, but only used it on an occasional whim. Just thought I’d throw that out there as an interesting geewhizzery.

  • Leah

    I know exactly how you feel. I am so burned out on the real world these days. I’ve retreated into a lovely lala land.
    So please, keep posting your MR. conservative posts here, and we understand. You need some lala time off yourself.

  • 94Corvette

    There is a great book by Rabbi Harold Kushner, “When Everything You Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough” which is his expose on the book of Ecclesiastes.  He poses the question of what in this time of wealth beyond any previous generation, we have the greatest emptiness ever.  This is one of those books that I read nearly quarterly to keep myself grounded.  

  • Ymarsakar

    Evil is not new or interesting. It is just evil. It just is.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Those that learn the lessons of History are doomed to watch others repeat them.

  • Charles Martel

    I’ll be 65 at the end of this month. Birthdays are a time, especially as you grow older, to take some stock and ask yourself if you’ve learned anything.
    What I have learned is that Book is right to cite Ecclesiastes. Human nature, despite what the Marxists and other solipsists insist, does not change. We all are ambulatory examples of ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny, except that in this case the terms apply to each of us an individuals reliving a sort of universal story, and the stages and chapters in it. 
    Obama, in way over his affirmative-action head, resorts, as most of us would, to the reassurance of simple and undemanding pleasures, such as playing endless rounds of golf or plotting who’s going to win the NCAA basketball tournament. He seeks respite from responsibilities he is clueless about and unprepared for, and that, as 94Corvette poses above, do not bring him satisfaction.
    I don’t begrudge him his escapes because I understand that despite his pretensions to the contrary, he is only human, not superhuman. Sometimes you just have to go somewhere where even if what you do there is a sort of pretend, it’s a harmless pretend. In that way, I’m like Obama. I like to go to a place where things make perfect sense.
    In my case, that place features the great wit and insights of Book, Danny, the Mikes (Devx and Adams), jj, Sadie, Old Flyer, Ymarsakar, Earl, Caped Crusader, and all the wonderful others who make this site one of the best on the Web. For awhile I get to believe that maybe America in 2013 isn’t such a hopeless and careworn place.

  • Ron19

    Danny Lemieux #5:
    Fresh and new, not boring :)

  • Mike Devx

    Danny L says in #5: 
    > Those that learn the lessons of History are doomed to watch others repeat them.
    Ouch!  That’s a depressing thought.  Helpless against the overwhelming tide of ignorance!
    Well, it is true that there is nothing new under the sun, that everything we face has been faced by others at some point in history… except for the details.  And maybe the scope.  Where in the past it would take only a flood to devastate an entire civilization, now the corresponding disaster would be a nuclear war, or something requiring a larger scale.
    In our day to day lives, though, have the concerns, the struggles, difficulties, triumphs etc, *really* changed very much in the last 2000 years?  We have more toys and tools, but have we changed our essential nature?
    Here in the USA, in the last 100 years, one Party or faction rises and the other sinks and is struggling and dormant, and then vice versa.  Right now we all know where the Democrats stand, and what they stand for.  Does anyone know where the Republicans, as a Party, stand, or what they stand for?  They are fragmented, lost and drifting.  But the tide eventually shall turn.  We may need a great deal of patience, for it may take quite a while…
    Seems clear to me we (the USA) is in a period of decline.  There is nothing new under the sun: This has happened before.  But *which* is the thing that has happened before?  Decline has been followed by rebirth; but decline has also been followed by collapse.  It depends on the historical example.  Which is true for us, this time?

  • Ymarsakar

    A slightly different application would be “fools and the ignorant learn from their own mistake, whereas sages learn from the mistakes of others (history)”.
    Two guesses where most Leftist members belong to.

  • jj

    Perhaps the perfect illustration of a point I’ve made a time or two: what a collection of cliches.  (And – is that bad?)


    Timely post, Bookworm. Today is the first day of Sukkot.
    Ecclesiastes/Kohelet, often called “the preacher,” is read in the synagogue on the holiday. One traditional explanation is that Kohelet, who is writing in the autumn of his life, is comparable to the Fall harvest. We’re all reaping what we have collectively sown. (((sigh)))
    A brief Sadie story: While I was living in Israel, there was a time I was working in an import/export office. The business was owned by Orthodox Jews, who over time hired more religious rather than secular Jews, except for the sales department.  I found myself shortly thereafter among women, who were ultra-orthodox. I don’t think a month passed when one of them was not pregnant with her fourth or fifth child. Yes, they incurred stress about juggling a job and children, but I was struck by their complete calm when it came to day-to-day life of politics, threats from the rotten neighbors that surround Israel. In their world of family and work, it all had meaning for them, there was nothing to sort out and stumble over.  Tonight, I am sure they’ll all be eating in a Sukkah and rejoicing in the harvest.  AND the rest of us will be taking a time-out somewhere in La La Land to catch our breath.
    This n’ that segment:
    Michael Adams: Aramaic may not have had the verb ‘to be’ but Hebrew does.
    To be or not to be…
    להיות או לא להיות
    Charles Martel: May you enjoy the ‘Speed Limit’ birthday! Tickets be damned – Floor it and have fun!

  • Ymarsakar

    Don’t floor it. They’ll hack your car and you’ll go into a mid air spin and suddenly the government is less one potential problem child.

  • Michael Adams

    I am so glad you logged into this discussion. because I no longer have anyone as close as my computer to whom I can pose linguistic questions about Hebrew, of which I always have several. Did ancient Hebrew, i.e. the Hebrew of the Bible, have a being verb, or is that one of Mr Ben Yehudah’s contributions? Did the Bible writers omit the being verb when they thought it unnecessary, as the Greeks did, leading to all manner of confusion for twentieth century dabblers in the  language of Aeschylus, Sts. Luke and Paul?
    I know that the King James translators did not translate from the Septuagint, but from Hebrew texts. So, what’s the skinny?

  • March Hare

    One of my favorite novels is Earth Abides, written by George R. Stewart.  It’s set in the Bay Area and is a post-apocalyptic novel, with an important difference.  The apocalypse is caused by an epidemic, not war or a natural disaster.  (Okay, I guess an epidemic is a type of natural disaster.)  The title was taken from your quote above. 
    Earth Abides deals with the breakdown and rebuilding of civilization.  Stewart was a Professor of English at Cal, so much of the action is in the Bay Area. 
    It’s funny:  unlike Robert Frost in “Fire or Ice,” I’ve always suspected that it will be a lowly virus or bacteria that ends the human race, or at least civilization.

  • Bookworm

    March Hare:  You are the only person I know who has ever mentioned that novel.  My dad had a copy and I read it many, many years ago.  It was kind of like the more uplifting version of “On The Beach.”  Both imagine an apocalypse, but Neville Shute sees humanity going extinct because of an atomic war, while Stewart imagines humans adapting.

  • Charles Martel

    March and Book, I have “Earth Abides” on my shelf. I agree that it was a more optimistic take on The End than “On the Beach,” and for the longest time, like you March, I thought our demise would probably be biological. Now with the supremely inept Narcissist in Chief of the United States doing his damnedest to destabilize the planet, I’m not so sure.
    Maybe what will happen is a mash-up where “Earth Abides” meets “On the Beach,” with the Arabs, Iranians, Europeans and chunks of Americans getting nuked into radioactive dust, followed by plagues atomic war lets loose. But all is made good in the end by the survival of fierce little city states with big libraries.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Dang, Hammer, you really are waxing optimistic: you left out the two other horses of the Apocalypse.


    Michael Adams:
    What’s the skinny?
    Confusion for me. Aramaic has several dialects and has changed over the millennium, like many ancient languages from the “old neighborhoods” in and around the Tigre and Euphrates. The future tense from what I can discern and understand was always there – there meaning implied with the letter “yud” which looks a lot like an apostrophe, like in the words above (it’s the third letter right to left). The letter is yud, although the smallest letter in the aleph-bet and like all the letters has special meaning beyond future tense.  
    My understanding of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda’s contribution was to bring Hebrew back to life (Ivrit chai’ya – living Hebrew) literally and figuratively. My ulpan teacher fed the class the story of Eli’s son, who was not allowed to leave the house to play outside until he spoke Hebrew fluently at home. Poor kid didn’t get to play outside until he was five. I doubt and hope the story is not true.
     Video below (one minute) on Aramaic.

  • Charles Martel

    Danny, remind me:
    1. War
    2. Pestilence
    3. Famine
    4. Democrats?

  • Ymarsakar

    Democrats may be founding members of the Leftist alliance, but they are not the only faction or members in it. There are plenty more to be worried about. Never forget those “other” war contributions.


    Charles: Weren’t they the headliners at the Apollo in the late 60’s.  I think Adam Clayton Powell was their manager.

  • Charles Martel

    SADIE, there’s a great scene in “The Buddy Holly Story” where Holly and the Crickets appear at the Apollo, unaware that it’s in deepest Harlem. When the curtain goes up and the black audience gasps at the sight of a bunch of white Texas boys, Holly smiles and says, “Well, y’all weren’t what we were expecting either.”

  • Danny Lemieux

    Hammer, it’s an easy mistake to make: the fourth horse(man) is Conquest, often confused with Horse’s *sses.

  • Jose

    Danny & Hammer,
    The 4th horse is usually translated as a gray or”pale” horse, but the Greek adjective is “Chloros”, from which we get words like Chlorophyll.  That’s why it is sometimes portrayed in artwork as green in color.  Maybe it represents inflation, or national debt.  Or just decay.

  • Ymarsakar

    I’d call it Death. Although in this case, Martin’s Demoncrats might be a better fit.

  • Danny Lemieux

    There’s another famous Sci Fi book on this them, “A Canticle for Leibowitz”. 
    The “nothing new under the sun” aptly describes socialism and its many, repeated failures. People get caught up in the “dream”, oblivious to the deeper questions of why socialism fails every time it has been tried. That is why humanity has to learn these lessons over and over again, even though it has been barely one generation since the collapse of the Soviet empire.

  • Mike Devx

    I’ve got “Earth Abides” on the shelves at home, too.  It’s a very good novel, enjoyable and well-written.  I don’t know that I would call the retreat of civilization by 4000 years to be “optimistic”, however.  I guess that is optimistic, compared to some of the other apocalyptic novels that posit the complete extinction of the human race!