Brief biographical sketches of each of the authors are reprinted here. These sketches are adapted from the introductions given the speakers during the Cultural Amnesia Symposium.
It is my honor to introduce tonight's speaker, Immanuel Velikovsky. A few in this audience know Dr. Velikovsky very well indeed and need no introduction. Some others know a good deal about him and about his work and very little introduction is required. So my remarks will be directed mainly at those who know something, of his work but perhaps not very much of the man himself.
Immanuel Velikovsky was born in 1895 in Vitebsk, Russia; the youngest of three sons of Simon Velikovsky, businessman and Hebrew scholar, and Biela Grodenski, a fluent linguist. Moving to Moscow he enrolled at the Medvednikov gymnasium where he excelled in Mathematics and Russian and graduated with a Gold Medal in 1913.
He then proceeded to Montpellier in Southern France to study Medicine, sojourned briefly in Palestine, then enrolled for further medical studies at the University of Edinburgh. Home for the summer vacation in Russia at the outbreak of World War 1, he graduated in Medicine from the University of Moscow in 1921.
For the next three years Dr. Velikovsky lived in Berlin immersed in scholarly publishing, and attempting, among other activities, to establish a Jewish academy. There he met and married Elisheva Kramer, a young violinist, who happens to be with us at this conference today.
In 1924 the Velikovskys moved to Palestine where he practiced first as a general practitioner, and later as a psychoanalyst in Jerusalem, Haifa, and TelAviv. During this period he commenced research on Freud's heroes, Oedipus, Akhnaton, and Moses.
To further his growing commitments to this research Dr. Velikovsky and his family visited New York in the summer of 1939. Influenced to remain in America through the forces of world events as well as the course of his own research, he became interested in the theme of catastrophes that he identified running throughout his studies of ancient records.
From 1940 to 1950 he researched and wrote Ages in Chaos and Worlds in Collision. In 1950 the latter volume was first published by Macmillan; and in 1952 Doubleday published the first edition of Ages in Chaos. In 1955 Earth in Upheaval appeared, and in 1960 Oedipus and Akhnaton.
Currently Dr. Velikovsky resides in Princeton, New Jersey, where more scholarly works are in various stages of preparation.
But such a simple and sketchy recording of dates and places leaves so much unsaid about the distinguished speaker at tonight's session, and it lacks the basis for insight into his works. For example, it does not adequately describe a young lad maturing in a household steeped in learning; his mother-tongue Russian, mastering Hebrew at four, German at six, French at seven, Latin at twelve, and finally English - the eventual language of his famous publications.
Nor the goals of his father, transmitted in part to the son, to recreate Hebrew as a living language, to redeem Israel, and to found a Jewish academy.
Nor does the skimpy record reveal the ambitious youth repeatedly denied admission to the University of Moscow because of his Jewish ancestry, only to enroll in the Free University in Moscow maintained by dissident professors who had resigned from the Imperial University in protest against violation of academic freedom.
Nor the rebel who once abandoned studies to explore with religious passion the ancient ruins of the Holy Land. Nor does it portray the young intellectual who with burning zeal co-published a series of volumes of the works of outstanding Jewish scholars, assisted by Albert Einstein, who edited the scientific section, and encouraged by Chaim Weizmann, later to become the first President of Israel.
Nor the early papers on Freudian psychology written by the over-burdened practicing physician in Palestine.
Nor does my sketchy biography depict properly the excitement and stimulation of the discovery of the Ipuwer Papyrus, the key that unlocked the Egyptian record of catastrophe.
Nor the eleven years of persistent painstaking search for worldwide evidence of cataclysm; first into the library in the morning, last to leave in the evening, with no sabbaths or holidays permitted.
Nor the laborious and meticulous recording of notes from more than 4,000 volumes for Ages in Chaos alone.
Nor does it depict the reluctance to plunge into inevitable conflict with astronomers, but the equally inevitable conviction of the cometary origins of cataclysm.
Nor the notorious attempts to suppress publication of his results and conclusions.
Finally, neither does it begin to suggest the intellectual excitement that the examination of Velikovsky's works and ideas have engendered at this University of Lethbridge.
The records do report this concluding remark by Dr. Velikovsky to a graduate college forum at Princeton University, and I quote
"Imagination coupled with skepticism and an ability to wonder - if you possess these, bountiful nature will hand you some of the secrets out of her inexhaustible store. The pleasure you will experience in discovering truths will repay you for your work; don't expect other compensation, because it may not come. Yet, dare."
Ladies and gentlemen, I present Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky.
- Owen G. Holmes
(The University of Lethbridge)
It is not an easy task to introduce so eminent a scholar as the one I am to present now. To do justice to the excellent records and achievements of Dr. Alfred de Grazia would deprive you of at least half the time allotted for this session. For example, just some of the universities with which Dr. de Grazia has been affiliated at one time or another include: Chicago, Minnesota, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, Rutgers, Bombay, Istanbul, and Gothenborg. So I will not go into detail.
As a political scientist, Dr. de Grazia is well known for his work, Public and Republic, and more recently, Politics for Better or Worse, published last year. But Dr. de Grazia is more than a political scientist. His interests in other disciplines and activities are well attested by works such as he produced when publisher and editor of The American Behavioral Scientist; creator of the Universal Reference System; his book Kalos, which incorporates some of his own thoughts for future world order, and, of course, editor of the important volume The Velikovsky Affair, published in 1963.
Dr. de Grazia is currently Professor of Social Theory and Political Psychology at New York University. Now, as to his personal data, I can tell you that he was born in Chicago and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from The University of Chicago in 1939 at the age of 19. His military career began at the rank of Private and moved through to the rank of Captain. His family background, he has told me, includes an uncle by the name of Charlie, "Kid Lucca," who won the Canadian Boxing Championship in 1910 in nearby Calgary.
While I could go on for quite some time adding interesting background points for you, I feel I should cut this introduction short and let the eminent speaker speak for himself. I'm sure all of you will enjoy his talk.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure for me to present Dr. Alfred de Grazia.
- F. Q. Quo
(The University of Lethbridge)
John MacGregor obtained an honours degree in Art History at McGill University. Following this, he went to Princeton, where he spent the years 1966 to 1971 qualifying for a Masters Degree and completing the course requirements for the Ph. D. degree. During these years Mr. MacGregor also conducted research in Morocco and in Germany.
Mr. MacGregor's studies have included various aspects of Psychiatry and Psycho-analysis. In 1967 and 1968 he studied with Dr. Rollo May at Princeton. Following this he was a guest at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka. He underwent analysis with Jolande Jacobi at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, followed by intensive Freudian analysis in Montreal.
Mr. MacGregor is a member of the American Society for the Psychopathology of Expression. His teaching activities give us some indication of his interests and of his competencies. He has lectured on the history of Chinese Landscape Painting, Chinese Art and Archaeology, Theoretical Investigations into the Art of Children, and Introduction to the Study of Art and Psychiatry. Without further introduction, I present you John MacGregor.
- George Sanderson
(Saint Francis Xavier University)
I am very pleased to be here to introduce one of our speakers today. I am also pleased to take part in this conference as a member of the Department of History and the University of Lethbridge. This is not because I have come here either to praise Dr. Velikovsky or to see him buried, but rather because I Support an old tradition, which goes back to New Testament times at least. when en the matter of Christian preaching by the apostles was raised before the Jewish Sanhedrin, one member of that body, Gamaliel, made the point that if what the apostles taught were true, it would prosper; if it were not, it would fail. And I would say much the same thing: if what Velikovsky has to tell us is true, it will stand, if not it will fade away. But only through conferences such as this will we be able to ascertain what the truth is. John Milton once said: "Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties"; while John Stuart Mill pointed out in his famous work On Liberty that if only one among all men presents a new and novel idea, even though it be heresy to some, it should be given a full hearing. I hope, therefore, that we are within the spiritual tradition of those two great men when we examine the ideas of Velikovsky and not the man himself.
I am proud that the University of Lethbridge has sponsored discussions respecting Dr. Velikovsky's ideas so that we will have the opportunity to listen, to evaluate and to reason. And, therefore, with that in mind, I hope you will give your attention and due respect to our next speaker, Dr. William Mullen.
Dr. Mullen completed his undergraduate work at Harvard between 1964 and 1968, with a B. A. in Classics - in Latin and Greek - and his graduate work at the University of Texas, between 1968 and 1971, where he received a Ph. D. in Classics. Between 1971 and 1973 he taught as an assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley, in the Departments of Classics and Comparative Literature, and in the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies. He now holds a post-doctoral Research Fellowship, and is at present Hodder Fellow in the Humanities at Princeton University.* He has done work on the Pyramid Texts from the Pyramid of Unas in the 5th dynasty, he has publications on the Odes of Pindar and translations of Egyptian Hymns and Laments, as well as articles on Dr. Velikovsky's interdisciplinary syntheses and a reading of the Pyramid Texts in the light of catastrophisms. He is associate editor of Orion, a journal of Classics and the Humanities published from Boston University, and Associate Editor of Pensée Magazine. He will speak at McMaster University next month on the subject of the Meso-American Record Myth and the Science of Catastrophism.
Dr. Mullen ...
- M. James Penton
(The University of Lethbridge)
*Dr. Mullen is now Assistant Professor, Department of Classical Studies, Boston University.
"The lunatic, the lover, and the poet / Are of imagination all compact." Thus the Duke Theseus in Act V Scene I A Midsummer Night's Dream concisely expresses his theory of the Springs of Art. It is a fortunate accident, I hope, that I lit on A Midsummer Night's Dream to introduce Dr. Wolfe, since he tells me that he is using the Dream as one of the central plays in his presentation this afternoon. Theseus goes on to elaborate his theory of the Springs of Art in a familiar passage which I would like to read to you. It goes on "The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,/ Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven; /And as imagination bodies forth/ The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen/ Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing/ A local habitation and a name." Now in context in the play it is clear that Theseus is rather ambiguous; about this approach to art, ambiguous about the nature of the poetic imagination and about the nature of its products. The Velikovsky Symposium Committee is fortunate then to have found in Dr. Irving Wolfe, a person who has been working on precisely this question, and who is able to illuminate something of this ambiguity about the nature of the creative process, that elusive thing in which we students of literature are particularly interested, and, I think, the aspect of Dr. Velikovsky's theories, which particularly attracts people in literary disciplines,
Dr. Wolfe was educated at McGill University and later at Bristol University where he took a Ph. D. in Drama; he is presently Professeur assistant, Department d'études anglaises, l'Université de Montréal; he teaches there Shakespeare and Drama, in particular, and his contemplation of Velikovsky's theories over the years has led to the formation of a theory about the sources of art, based particularly in his study of Shakespeare.
And so I would like you to welcome Dr. Irving Wolfe.
- LR. Ricou
(The University of Lethbridge)
It is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Grinnell of McMaster University. Dr. Grinnell is an assistant professor of History whose special area is the history of science. He completed his Bachelor of Science at Columbia University in 1962, his Master's Degree at Berkeley in 1964 and his Ph. D. at Berkeley in 1969.
He has had a colourful background. Prior to pursuing his academic career he tried to be a free-lance writer but, as he says, without success. After two, no doubt scintillating, years in The Signal Corps of the U. S. Army he joined the Moffatt Expedition which crossed the tundra by canoe in 1955, the films of which were shown on the T. V. program "Bold Journey". The next year, 1956, he was stage manager for the Downtown Theatre Association in Greenwich Village. Currently he is completing a book on the sociology of scientific knowledge.
The history of science can give us, I think, a unique perspective not only of the past but also of the present. And by doing so can help us understand the present. Dr. Grinnell's paper tries to help us understand what has come to be called "The Velikovsky Affair" by, I believe, fitting it into a larger historical content. Dr. Grinnell ...
- R. M. Yoshida
(The University of Lethbridge)
I think it is fair to say that when most of us speak of catastrophism we do so in past or future terms, rarely considering the implications of our involvement in a catastrophe. Patrick Doran, on the other hand, I think might best be described as a present-tense catastrophist. He has notably been involved in a survival-day project in 1970, and was also national co-ordinator of a nationwide effort to bring to the attention of the federal government the ecological catastrophes in which we are presently involved. He was introduced to the ideas of Dr. Velikovsky in 1968 through a course given at Selkirk College, and has been personally involved with Dr. Velikovsky in the pursuit of the comet Kohoutek, which he subsequently followed to Hamburg, Germany. Presently Mr. Doran is, in his own words, "keeping bees and following the new anthropology". it is the latter subject on which he will speak today. Mr. Doran ...
- Don Thompson (The University of Lethbridge)