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Re: Sad News: Martin Bernal

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  • gregdoudna
    I am very sad to hear of the death of my M.A. advisor at Cornell, Martin Bernal. He was a courageous and good man, who sought to give voice to some overwritten
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 19, 2013
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      I am very sad to hear of the death of my M.A. advisor at Cornell, Martin Bernal.
      He was a courageous and good man, who sought to give voice to some
      overwritten in history.

      Few graduate students are privileged to have as their advisor someone
      directly likened to the devil himself in a serious review in the pages of
      the New York Review of Books. This happened a few weeks after Bernal became
      my advisor. Bernal's "Black Athena" work argued that modern scholarly views
      of the "Greek miracle", the virgin birth theory of classical Greek civilization
      from which Western civilization derives, came out of 19th century racism and
      was distorted. Bernal sought to revive an older model, which he argued
      classical Greeks themselves held, in which Mycenean Greek civilization had
      antecedents from the Near East and Egypt, and that later classical Greeks
      were in some continuity from Mycenean Greeks, and not the de novo virgin
      birth cultural miracle severed from near eastern and African input that
      served 19th century framing of Western self-understanding.
      In the review in the New York Review of Books, the
      classicist reviewer quoted the passage in Milton's "Paradise Lost" in which
      Lucifer (= Bernal) ascends to assault the throne of God (= received truths).
      A cartoonist's drawing or caricature of Bernal accompanying the review
      had pointed Spock ears on Bernal, to assist in the analogy.

      Some ANE'ers may be interested in an autobiography Bernal published
      in 2012, Geography of a Life. Witty and fascinating and filled with
      insights, here Bernal gives the back story to his work with Black
      Athena as well as his earlier life, his grandfather Sir Alan Gardiner,
      his education in China, comments on the sociology of scholarship,
      and so on. In my opinion this is the most interesting book
      that Bernal produced.

      Bernal played a pivotal role for me at Cornell. I admired
      his courage and civility in public life and experienced his compassion
      and decency in private life.

      Gregory Doudna
      Bellingham, Washington




      --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, "Charles E. Jones" <cejo@...> wrote:
      >
      > Via Agade the following links
      >
      > The Ithaca Journal carried this obituary and sad news at
      > <http://tinyurl.com/n7eazf9>:
      > [A wiki page about him, with links, is at
      > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Bernal>]
      > [Go there for access to guest book]
      >
      > Some long term members of ANE-2 and the old ANE will remember that he was a member of that list and an occasional contributor. Not mentioned in the obituary is the fact that he was the grandson of Sir Alan Gardiner
      >
      > -Chuck Jones-
      > New York
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