Humbaba’s Axiomata

The master of the universe

That is the title they gave

That’s what they say

when they pray, but

They’ve got it all wrong

It isn’t the master at all

It’s the mystery

Of the universe which

Demands your fear, and care,

And respect,

Attention, said Humbaba

Guard of the Great Cedar Forest

Hacked to death by Gilgamesh

And Enkidu, with the aid of Utu/Shamash

This is your civilization, he says,

Your myth, your law,

For Utu also gave the law to Hammurabi

The Code, from codex, from caudex

A tree trunk, in your sacred Latin —

But there are two trees, two tablets,

That of Hammurabi

And Sophocles’ Antigone’s

Unwritten code

The unwritten law and the written

Order and the just

The two trees, they also symbolize these

Tree of life, living, flowing — Physis

And Nomos, the law of tradition,

Order, authority, force

The positive, written law, from nemein:

To seize, to take, and allot, and exploit
Taking, extracting, depriving

The common, the community

Is what makes private property

Concentrating value, valere,

Taking the health out and leaving the sick

The Great Cedar Forest

The Great Bull of Marduk

The bull of the market

Bulldozers of progress

Leave wreckage, and profit

The latter for only a few

None for you
From nemein comes the nomeus,

The shepherd

Who raises the flocks and docks

Their tails and devours their organs

And chomps their chops

The shepherd who rules

By the unrestrained rod

Snapped from the Tree of Dogma, yet

The Tree of Life, Physis,

Produces the physician

Who attends

Provides care, brings health

Health known as Yos in Vedic

The root of the Latin word ius

Which means justice
Two trees, two laws,

Order and justice

Shepherd and Physician

And what did Saint Augustine say,

Your bishop,

Your Saint, by the way, not mine,

Says Humbaba

What did he call

The “Invisible doctor”
Two trees, two laws

One true, one false

One just, one unjust

Of interest, perhaps,

Is the fact that your Jesus —

Your Jesus, not mine —

Is dressed in both costumes

Isn’t that right?
Jesus the healer, restorer of sight

Provider of ease, and food, and wine,

Conditions of health

Material justice, care, the serpent

The symbol of healers

His symbol as well

The Ophites — and yet,

he’s not the true healer.

Because he’s half shepherd

He isn’t quite kosher —

Asclepius, however,

We’ll get to him later
The tree of knowledge is power,

says Bacon, to torture, he says

Let’s fashion some rods

From its branches, for weapons

But what does the mystery tell us instead?
The mystery, the mystery’s

A negative theology

We only can know it

As that which is unknown,

As doubt

Which compels us to move with care
No, we can’t access

the true divine word

But we can dismiss what is truly absurd

From further contemplation
Which do you value

The Great Cedar Forest alive?

The conditions of health?

Healthy air?

Or the great cedars dead

Value as power?

Or value, valere, as justice as care?

2021-04-06 | articles 2015 | English |