continued: part 2

Mime-Version: 1.0
Date: Fri, 4 Jul 1997 23:14:44 -0700
From: Charles Cameron
Subject: Re: Review of Sacred Art of the Earth (Revised)
Cc: jlm@TWICS.COM, negenter@WORLDCOM.CH

John McCreery writes:

> I think, then, of a project described as a grammar of magical 
> spaces and find myself reflecting that the power of particular 
> sites is, perhaps, like the power of particular poems, something 
> more than grammar alone can encompass. I want to know more 
> about that grammar, but I also wonder about the numen that 
> eludes its rules.

Christopher Alexander's work, *A Pattern Language* (OUP, 1977), is just such a grammar of spaces, and his companion volume *The Timeless Way of Building* (OUP, 1979) addresses the "numen" -- which Alexander refers to as "the quality without a name", and thinks is the most important singular property which a building may possess. Interestingly , in "The Poetry of the Language", one of his prefatory notes to *A Pattern Language*, p xli ff, Alexander compares his pattern language approach to poetics in some detail.

I think John might also be interested in two books by Yale art historian Vincent Scully: *The Earth, the Temple and the Gods: Greek Sacred Architecture* (Yale, 1962, revised, Praeger, 1969), and *Pueblo: Mountain, Village, Dance* (Viking, 1975).


Responding to John's review of Korp's book, Nold Egenter writes:

> we have to become open for relational systems of cognition.

I think this is a crucially important point, and my own work based on Hermann Hesse's "Glass Bead Game" is designed for this very purpose. Bringing this back to the topic of sacred spaces... Hesse writes:

::  Knecht had been nurturing an idea for a Glass Bead Game which 
::  he now decided to use for his first ceremonial Game as Magister. 
::  The pretty idea was to base the structure and dimensions of the 
::  Game on the ancient ritual Confucian pattern for the building of 
::  a Chinese house: orientation by the points of the compass, the 
::  gates, the spirit wall, the relationships and functions of buildings 
::  and courtyards, their co-ordination with the constellations, the 
::  calendar and family life, and the symbolism and stylistic 
::  principles of the garden.  Long ago, in studying a commentary on 
::  the I Ching, he had thought the mythic order and significance of 
::  these rules made an unusually appealing and charming symbol of 
::  the cosmos and of man's place in the universe...

I wonder whether John, Nold or any other interested party could direct me to documentation on this "ancient ritual Confucian pattern for the building of a Chinese house", and if possible to a commentary on the I Ching which talks about it. We know that Hesse was familiar with Richard Willhelm's work, and I would imagine this reference to a Confucian house pattern referenced in an I Ching commentary must have come from Willhelm -- but I have been unable to find any such reference in the Willhelm / Baynes version of the I Ching from Bollingen.

Any help in clarifying this matter would be much appreciated.



Charles Cameron
hipbone games:
mirror site:

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Mime-Version: 1.0
Date: Sat, 5 Jul 1997 21:17:39 -0700
From: Charles Cameron
Subject: Re: Review of Sacred Art of the Earth (Revised)
Cc:, negenter@WORLDCOM.CH

John, Nold, Maureen, all:

Maureen -- just saw your note as I was posting this, hope to reply soon...


Thanks for your reference to the Book of Rites, John.

As I said, Hesse specifies the *I Ching*, but since he knew Willhelm and was interested in things Chinese in general, it's quite possible that Willhelm mentioned the *Li Ching* to him and he thought he heard *I Ching* -- it's presumably a harder mistake to make in Chinese, when you're attuned to tonal variations, but a non-Chinese speaking Swiss-German might not notice the difference...

You write:

> Do I take it from your e-mail address that you may be trying to
> create your own version of The Glass Bead Game? I'd love to see
> what it looks like.
Yes indeed. There's actually something of a movement to design playable variants on Hesse's Game: as Lewis Lapham said in a Harper's editorial a couple of months back, it "lends itself so obviously to the transcendent aspirations of the Internet..."

My own "HipBone Games" are Glass Bead Game variants played on simple boards of the sort which mathematicians would call "graphs", and you can find my "rules" on the web at:

There's a complete HipBone game at

with moves linking Chaturanga (early Indian Chess), dicing in the Mahabharata, the Atlantis myth, the ball court at Chichen Itza, Nichiren playing Igo, Christopher Alexander again , Masonic rites, and Krishna Lila. You might enjoy reading it, and following along on the board which you'll find at the very bottom of the text, after the final move.

Another attempt at a playable GBG is William Horden's "Intrachange" -- a specific blending of the I Ching with Chess, both of which Hesse mentions in his novel. See:


Now the above is in answer to your question: but I'm also aware we're drifting off-topic, and would like to bring us back by asking about your comment:

> The game sanctifies the space...

and Nold Egenter's

> ceremonially dressed Shinto-priests playing with a small
> wickerwork-football...
Nietzsche, looking at his and our mythically-disoriented times, asked himself:

::  What sacred games shall we have to invent?
Any comments on games and the sacred from an anthropological perspective would be much appreciated...




Charles Cameron
hipbone games:
mirror site:

- 07 -

Mime-Version: 1.0
Date: Sat, 5 Jul 1997 22:37:37 -0400
Reply-To: mkorp@AIX1.UOTTAWA.CA
Sender: Anthro-L
From: mkorp@AIX1.UOTTAWA.CA
Subject: football stadiums and numen
Comments: To:

Anthro folks, if I may...

I have been hesitating to jump in because...well, you all might not think it seemly. But even more because it is wonderful to reading the words of people sight unseen clear across the continent, the ocean, from sea to shining sea O blessed Internet. What an age of miracles we live in. So, thank you, Scott, John, Charles, Nold for all your considered thoughts on SACRED ART OF THE EARTH. Drinks are on me (a good single malt) and I hope we may meet one day. I am indebted to you.

I finished writing SAE four years ago, and two publishers ago, and one lawyer, and one lost grant ago and who-knows-what-all-these-delays meant-in-terms-of-job-viability (probably not much, I think). There are photographs in SAE and those who have the book will note they are beautifully reproduced on a hard finish paper. That was the sticking point with the publishers. I mention this because it is important. Authors are generally responsible in their contracts with publishers for obtaining the copyright permissions for all illustrations. More and more professional artists and photographers want their work reproduced on a hard finish gloss paper. They will give their copyright permission rather easily if you can assure them this will be the case. Publishers however prefer photo-offset. It is cheap. It's just fine for line drawings; it may not be for photographs.

This matters because you cannot demonstrate the value of a visual and spatial analysis a site-specific earthwork without some photographs of those sites. Were I to do this book over again, I would also include line drawings in order to take the reader through the photographs structurally as I do in my classes when I am waving my hands about, drawing on the blackboard, dancing my students through the terrain.

But I didn't know that four years ago.

I also did not know how people would read the book. There is a thread which is beginning to loop itself around, and "football stadiums and numen" will do as well as any for me to open up the discussion further.

Nothing wrong, in fact, with the idea of the football stadium as a possible site for sacred place experience. It might be for someone. Need not be for all. In fact, there is a droll bit of satire in which the football stadium is the site of a sacred event. It's a tv production Australian Broadcasting did entitled "Babakiueria" and I use it all the time in my classes. Sacred events are identified from the anthropologist's pov as taking place in betting parlors (divination), in the stadium (blood sacrifice)... you get the point. But I also tell my students we study these events seriously in Religious Studies (my field) as instances of "civil religion" although the more usual examples of civil religion are Confucianism, Leninism, American patriotism...etc.

The morphology of path, boundary, center, centering point, domain, point of view are intended to provide a way for people to understand that those supposedly ineffable experiences--feeling all the world is centered there in that spot, for that moment, in a hyperreality, a supra-reality, if you will--those experiences can be discussed. For a very simple reason: all these experience take place some place and those places are physical sites.

What I wanted to do--and in religious studies this is bold, you must understand--is smash the category of Christian mystic, Muslim, Buddhist mystic, etc. open in order to allow for non- theistic, non-creedal religious responses to be taken seriously. Artists took these responses seriously (be they native or non- native). I wanted to find a way for scholars to pay attention to work that was being done all around us everywhere because it seemed to me to be a "new sacred art."

Now, we get to the numen part. Well, that's a matter of belief isn't it? Myself, I think it is normal for the human mind to work in this way. I also think it is a good thing, too, and we could do more to teach people how to notice where they are, how to find their way home. You see, stuff like the Solar Temple, and Heavens Gate scares me silly. I know we are going to see even more of it, too. I have paid some attention to the physical settings contrived by such groups. It's important to know how to analyse them. When you can analyze an experience etically, even your own stunning experiences, you take control of its meaning. But when you cannot, you are vulnerable to another's interpretation. Could be dangerous to life and limb.

SAE was discussed in April in a panel discussion at a regional meeting of the AAR in Buffalo. Two of the presenters pointed to what John calls "numen." Why, asked one, hadn't I named it? The other presenter thought I had, albeit subtly. I found this startling, and I still do. It seemed to me that they had read (with high approval, too), a book I did not know I had written. The third presenter, fortunately, read the book I believed I wrote (and he liked it, too).

I'm still flummoxed about this. When I wrote a poem, I always thought I knew what it was about. When it was published, however, it always seemed something had happened to it. The poem became something else--much bigger than I could possibly have imagined I was doing. Maybe this book is like that...maybe print and proper paper makes magic??

Or, maybe this is the answer: you remember the old problem in first- year philosophy class about the tree falling in the woods when no one is there...? Is there a sound? I have always answered that one, "no, there has to be someone to hear--sound waves are not sound without a receptor." Others would answer the Q. differently. Is there a numen? No, I don't think so, not without a human mind to call it that and "make it so."

I did assign chaps.2-4 to my intro methodology students this past term. They used those chapters beautifully to analyse sacred place elements they perceived in two films shown in class: "PowWow Highway" and "Jesus of Montreal". That's just what I wanted out of the book. (They also liked reading it, too!)

thank you all again....and, guess what! SACRED ART OF THE EARTH is a staff selection in the July/August UTNE READER.

ps/ Vincent Scully's work has been a strong influence on me. Both of the studies Nold mentions are cited in SAE.

Best to everyone!

Maureen Korp, PhD
University of Ottawa

"Stay calm, be brave, wait for the signs." Tom King, Dead Dog Cafe

- 08 -

Mime-Version: 1.0
Date: Sun, 6 Jul 1997 15:37:57 -0400
Reply-To: mkorp@AIX1.UOTTAWA.CA
Sender: Anthro-L
From: mkorp@AIX1.UOTTAWA.CA
Subject: Re: Hockey and numen
Comments: To: MCBlueline@AOL.COM

I did not discuss ritual and performance parameters in SACRED ART OF THE EARTH, although one might have. I do get into some of this in another ms, EYE OF THE ARTIST, whose proposal I have been shipping around to publishers. So far, no takers. In that ms, my concern shifts to how artists find these places and the role of vision in their lives. There were 120 artists who participated in this study (open-ended questionnaire with 19 in-depth interviews). I'm pretty confident of finding a publisher one day. It has no specific photographic requirements, thankfully.

But....there's plenty of people in religious studies who have noted the role of sport in contemporary life. Two articles in particular (with a short excerpt) will give you a sense of the inquiry.

Aitken, Brian W.W. "The emergence of born-again sport," in studies Religion/Sciences Religieuses, vol.18, nr.4, pp.391.405.

Sinclair-Faulknew, Tom, "A puckish reflection on religion in Canada," in Peter Slater, ed., Religion and Culture in Canada, pp.383-405.


"The last two decades have seen the growth of a symbiotic link between evangelical Christianity and high-level sport in North America. Today most professional teams hold group devotions before games...And Paul Henderson, sure one of the saints of Canadian sport for his unforgettable final-game heroics in the 1972 Canada-Russia hockey series, is now a born- again evangelist....this new religious movement, while having roots in that part of North American Christianity which gives a primary value to a 'born-again' experience, has more to do with what Robert Bellah has termed 'civil religion.'"p.391


"And finally, hockey is indeed a 'Canadian specific,' the source of a sense that I as a Canadian am better than Americans, though not so wealthy, and better than Europeans, though not so cultured....The first- level analysis offered here suggests that hockey is more than a game in Canada: it functions as a religion for many, and does so at the expense of its own playfulness." p.400-401

(small disclaimer: I do own a maple leaf flag, small, it's also a linen tea towel and that amuses me. I bring it out every Canada Day. I don't watch hockey. I do think Donovan Bailey is "the fastest man" and I thought it a hoot when the Canadian athletes managed to fill up the TV screen during the Olympic closing ceremony with what has to have been the biggest maple leaf ever made....what could the NBC cameras do but focus on it last summer?!! Johnson's pretty admirable, too.)

best wishes,

Maureen Korp, PhD
University of Ottawa

"Stay calm, be brave, wait for the signs." Tom King, Dead Dog Cafe

- 09 -

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