Sunday, April 27, 2014

Byzantine History Made Easy (audio)

Pat Macpherson, Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly; (Off-Ramp)
Archangel Michael (Buddhist Sakka, King of the Devas), 1300-1350 AD, Constantinople, tempera and gold on wood (Gift from Istanbul, Byzantine & Christian Museum, Athens).

Byzantium: Heaven and Earth and Constantinople, too
Buddhist Messiah Maitreya (WQ)
What civilization lasted 1,100 years, almost into Columbus’ time, that hardly anyone thinks of as a civilization? Byzantium.

It was a Yelp-5-Star civilization that bridged ancient times to modernity. And it’s now showing at both of the Gettys in Los Angeles.
First the Romans took over the Greeks. Then, 800 years later, the Greeks took over the Romans. [Messianic Buddhism-influenced] Christianity came into the mix, and the result was the magnificent Byzantine Empire, which once spread from North Africa all the way to Crimea (Ukraine).

  • Greco-Buddha, Gandhara
    Greco-Indian Buddhist empires: Bactria, Seleucid, Sogdia, Gandhara
  • Ancient Greece: the Buddhist monk and King Menander I (Milinda) In the land of the Bactrian Greeks, there was a city called Sagala, a great center of trade. Rivers and hills beautified it, delightful landscapes surrounded it, and it possessed many parks, gardens, woods, lakes, and lotus-ponds. Its ruler was King Milinda (Menander I), a man who was learned, experienced, intelligent, and competent, and who at the proper times carefully observed all the appropriate Brahminical rites, with regard to things past, present, and future. As a disputant he was hard to assail, hard to overcome, and he was recognized as a prominent sectarian teacher. One day, a large company of Buddhist saints (arhats) living in a well-protected spot in the Himalayas sent a messenger to Ven. Nagasena. He was dwelling at Asoka Park in Patna. They asked him to come, as they wished to see him, to have him go dispute the Greek king. 
While Western Europe was collapsing during the Dark Ages, Byzantium was a world center of art, literature, and culture. Yet, its story is largely forgotten in the deep dark gap between ancient and modern history.
"Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections" is at the Getty Villa through August 25. "Heaven and Earth: Byzantine Illumination at the Cultural Crossroads" is at the Getty Center through June 22, 2014.
Aphrodite, 1st century (NAM)
In a bid to remedy this, the Getty is hosting a rare doubleheader called Heaven and Earth. The art from several Greek museums is on display at the Getty Villa, while the manuscripts are at the Getty Center. This has never happened before. Nor has any art of the past millennium ever been shown at the classically dedicated Getty Villa.
Why now? Not that the recovery of the civilization of Greeks who called themselves Romans isn’t much overdue. But the new consciousness or awareness of this rich and tumultuous Byzantine culture seems to spring from Greece itself.
Buddha, 1st century (Guimet)
“It was always there,” said Peter Poulos, an American-born official of the Bernaki Museum. “There are wonderful Byzantine churches all over Athens, built over almost every ancient pagan temple.”
But in recent years, modern Greece has rediscovered this mighty culture that endured far longer than the glory that was Classical Greece. Byzantium continued that glory. That’s one reason Modern Greece wants to share this heritage to the world.

The Getty Villa has on show more than 160 ikons, sculptures, and other works of art, many of which illustrate Byzantine art’s connection to... The intricate passages of this great art through the medieval world were indeed truly byzantine. Some of the most fascinating stuff here shows the Byzantine effects on the art of Central Asia [land of the Shakyas, the Buddha's relatives]... LISTEN

RIP Mike Atta: Hardcore punk founder, guitarist for OC band
The Middle Class may have invented hardcore, an important genre of punk rock, but to say they invented it implies intent.
"It's not like The Middle Class guys, who were all teenagers at the time, like 15-17, who had barely discovered punk, and kinda taught themselves to play. What they had heard was that punk was loud and fast, and be kind of crazy. So with that in their heads, they just started playing loud and fast, there was nobody around to tell them, 'Hey, you're playing too loud and too fast!'" - Chris Ziegler, editor and publisher of LA Record.
In any case, this group of teens from Santa Ana (Orange County) was doing something nobody else was doing, and they were successful and influential. LISTEN
  • Off-Ramp is a lively weekly look at Southern California through the eyes and ears of radio veteran John Rabe (from Pasadena's KPCC FM). News, arts, home, life... covering everything that makes life here exciting, enjoyable, and interesting.

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