Thinker Speaker

All humans of normal intelligence can learn any language, provided they start at a young age.  After the age of five or six, a child can almost never become perfectly fluent in a language, and the ability to learn it can completely disappear soon after that.  After puberty, it is almost impossible to perfect the pronunciation of a second language.” Gene, Peoples, and Languages, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza.

Do we speak because we think, or do we think because we speak?  The superiority of the human mind is wrapped up in the mystery of human language.  Did we become smart because we can talk, or can we talk because we are smart?

To Noam Chomsky, we speak because we think, and we think . . . linguistically . . .not because it helps us speak, but because it helps us think.  Life is about events, with characters and actions situated in the past, present, and future, and so is our thinking.  We function in networks of social connection, with goals of survival, reproduction, cooperation, and deceit.  We live stories, and so we think stories.  Our minds are literary.  We are playwrights, with ourselves always one of the characters.

For Chomsky, speech came later, an output of thinking, like a printer to a computer.  Unlike for thinking, there are physical constraints on  how speech can be delivered, so for Chomsky, speech is less than thinking.  By allowing sharing in the thinking with others, speech increased the power of thinking, and the two –  thinking and speaking  – then mutually reinforced each other, enlarging our intelligence, and our scope of  collective action.  We vanquished the Neanderthal, who were bigger and stronger.   They probably had less thinking and therefore less speaking.

Noam Chomsky started linguistics in the 1950’s, when the human mind was thought to be essentially cultural, and development was learned.  He noted the ease and speed with which children acquire language without specific instruction, and how they accumulated words far faster than memory could explain.  In his ground-breaking work, Syntactic Structures, he suggested that there must be a ‘language acquisition device’ in the human mind, a universal, innate and hard-wired brain module that gets primed into function by  exposure to speakers in the early years of childhood.

This was at last a scientific theory of nature and nurture in human nature.  It launched the field of brain science, and up-ended the foundations of social science. He is the sixth most cited person in scientific literature, of all time, just behind William Shakespeare.

There is variability in converting thought into speech.  Noam Chomsky, himself, is a master.  No one can speak more clearly, more comprehensively, or more spontaneously his very complex thinking about very complex ideas,  or enunciate streams of information as they support reasoned conclusions and opinions than Noam Chomsky.

Politics is a different matter.

This great linguist theorist of  innate human nature is a . . .  radical socialist anarchist. Famous for his ruthless repudiation of behaviorism, he believes in a completely rationalist . . . indeed behaviorist . . . notion of human political nature!

Math and Truth

How is it possible that mathematics, a product of human thought that is independent of experience, fits so excellently the objects of physical reality?”  Albert Einstein.

In 1939, at Cambridge University, Ludwig Wittgenstein was lecturing on the Philosophy of Mathematics.  By this time, with messianic certainty, he was adamant that mathematics was just a lot of linguistic convention, a bunch of tautologies based on definitions and word play.  He thought that seeking mathematical proofs, along with the quest to develop a mathematics without inconsistencieswas fruitless.  Wittgenstein, teaching mathematics,  was essentially against mathematics.

At the same time, Alan Turing, perhaps the most important mathematician of his time, was also at Cambridge, teaching a course in mathematical logic. He was also a student in Wittgenstein’s class.  He had proven certain mathematical truths that would eventually be very important in code breaking during the war, and to the future of computer programming. He could not agree that being mathematically inconsistent didn’t matter.

The real harm of a system that contains a contradiction, will not come in unless there is an application, in which case a bridge may fall down or something of the sort.

Turing and Wittgenstein debated each and every class.  The other students  were bystanders. Wittgenstein would cancel class if Turing didn’t show up.  Turing gradually realized that Wittgenstein saw debate, itself, as meaningless. He eventually stopped going to the class.

The Vienna circle philosopher, Moritz Schlick, told his friend Albert Einstein of his allegiance to Wittgenstein’s thinking, finding all philosophy ‘superfluous’ and all metaphysical thinking meaningless.  Schlick was the dean of the Vienna school of  ‘logical positivists’, philosophers who tried to believe that only in observation, verified by experiment was true.  They just did not believe that thinking, itself, could lead to truth.

Einstein, like Turing, could not agree.  He studied the philosophers Kant and Mach enormously helpful in finding truth.  He continuously defended the role of both experiment and theory in scientific advancement.  It was not one or the other. All living creatures used thinking in some way!  Concepts, as well as facts, theory as well as data were necessary.

Physics is an attempt to construct, conceptually, a model of the Real World, as well as its law governed structure.  You will be surprised by Einstein the metaphysician, but in this sense every 4 and 2 legged animal is, de facto, a metaphysician.”

Turing’s legacy is computers, Einstein’s is space travel.

Computers that have  logical inconsistencies of programming will crash.

Space ships, traveling over a billion miles to encircle and land on asteroids, with inaccurate calculations of fuel and trajectory will crash.

The SpaceX robot-guided Falcon 9 rockets ride into sun-synchronous orbit, deliver satellites to geo-synchronous orbit at the speed of a bullet, and then return, decelerating from a velocity of 120,000 feet per second to a velocity of zero, in a matter of minutes, landing, intact, on a platform that is 60 square yards in size, floating at sea.

Mathematics, a product independent of human experience, is the pilot.

Tc(t)=Kpe(t)+Ki∫t∘e(t)dr +Kde(t)

Time and NOW

What then is time?  If no one asks me, I know what it is.  If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.”  St. Augustine.

Everywhere in the archeology of Earth, in the pyramids of Giza, the stones of  Stonehenge, the observatory of Chichen Itza, and the temples of Macchu Piccu, humans have worshiped the heavens. But not the sun or the moon or the stars themselves.  No, we have been worshiping their periodicity.  We have been worshipping, with reverence and gratitude the mysterious truth of nature . . . the past informs the future.  This truth, we seem to know, is our essential gift for existence.

And. . . throughout our history, we reject, vehemently, insults to tradition or esthetic violation of accumulating pattern and order, such as atonal music, dada art, and radical revolution.

And no surprise. This is the essence of life,  memory to see the patterns of the past to predict the future and adapt to change.  Rocks either smash or get smashed.  Life can get out of the way.

And yet, science isn’t sure that time actually exists, outside of our minds.  With modern cosmology, time is part of SpaceTime,  a codependent coordinate with space, not an independent entity. In our experiance, we don’t actually see time, walking in the woods, we see change.  What drives change?  It was a life scientist, Charles Darwin, not a physicist, who, with his demonstration of evolution, written in the fossil record, who proved that the changes of the past accumulate and influence the future.  Isn’t this proof of time?

We undeniably experience past, present, and future.  Only life has memory, and only memory can know time.  Our nose smells something real, sound waves, our eyes see something real, light waves, our consciousness senses time. Consciousness is the sensory organ of time. Some believe that time only exists in conscious life, that that is the role of consciousness, to create the illusion of time. And so we evolved a sensory organ for something that doesn’t exist . . . ?

Suppose indeed that human beings travel through life as in a “time ship” that like a spaceship has a prow and a stern and room inside for us to move around“. Nicholas Humphrey, A History of the Mind.

Why have the illusion?  Would evolution create such an organ as consciousness to perceive an illusion?

One physicist, Richard A. Muller, in Now, the Physics of Time, suggests that time very much does exist, and moves forward in the ongoing expansion of SpaceTime that has been happening since the Big Bang.

 “Just as space is being generated by the Hubble expansion, so time is being created.  The coninuous and ongoing creation of new time sets both thearrow of time and its pace. Every moment, the universe gets a little bigger, and there is a little more time, and it is this leading edge of time that we refer to as now.” 

NOW may be what rides the crest of this wave of new space-time of our expanding Universe, and we, with our conscious awareness, unique riders on this surf.

 

 

Anti-Philosophy

After all, he seems to have a lot to say about what can’t be said.”  Bertrand Russell.

Ludwig Wittgenstein came from a  very wealthy family of Vienna, in the time before WW I, a family of musicians, professors, and  suicides. He went to the same grammar school as Adolf Hitler.  His sister was painted by Gustav Klimt, and helped Sigmund Freud escape the Nazis.  He fought in WWI, reading Tolstoy’s Gospel in Brief, while voluntarily manning the point, the most dangerous position, on the front.  Beethoven was his hero.  He was precocious in math, and obsessed by logic.

He would scrutinize his own thinking to find the hidden assumptions that underlie all thinking and the subtle ways that logic fails to be logical.  He would puzzle over the use of  words in speech – what is subconscious to most of us –  and search for  hidden patterns.  He wanted to know how we know, what we know, what can be known.

“Sometimes my ideas come so quickly that I feel as if my pen is being guided.

He was perplexed by the riddles of self reference in logic, the great stumbling block in Bertrand Russell’s attempt, in Principia Mathematica, to derive all knowledge from first principles of logic. Is the set of all sets that don’t include themselves, also a set?

He became anti-philosophical, convinced that philosophical questions were merely linguistic puzzles, and that language, with all of its mixing up of perceptions and conceptions,  hopelessly impaired thought. Truth can only be known by experience, not with thinking, and only shown, with art perhaps, but not with words. Thought and speech are mere ‘social games’ for living a social human life (something, sadly, he himself was not much able to do).

“Whereof one can not speak, thereof one must remain silent”.

With his spooky certitude, and mesmerizing stare, he was considered brilliant. For a time, he was thought to have eclipsed all of conventional philosophy.  He was lionized.

John Maynard Keynes:  “I have met God, he arrived on the 4:30 train.”

He lived an eccentric, solitary life, much of his time in a remote cabin in Norway. At one point he gave away all of his enormous wealth, and lived thereafter in near poverty.  He feared going mad, that he might commit suicide. Three brothers did.

He suffered a constant solipsism, an oppressive self consciousness,  haunted by a loss of self connection.  Is my thinking about myself also my self?

He was a disorder of self reference, like the paradoxes of logic that so obsessed him.

Insanity and genius are not the same thing.

“He has penetrated deep into mystical ways of thought and feeling, but I think (though he wouldn’t agree) that what he likes best in mysticism is its power to make him stop thinking.”  Bertrand Russell.

Peace in thinking is the wished-for aim of those who philosophize.”

He was trying to think his way out of thinking too much. He didn’t succeed.

 

 

Coastal Journey

Our solar system is not a perfect clock. There have been 16 ice ages in the past million years.

“Small variations in the tilt of the Earth on its axis and variations in the planet’s elliptical path around the sun are all that is necessary to plunge the planet in and out of the freezer. ”   Tim Flannery.

Some 120,000 years ago, modern humans migrated out of Africa, and we kept going, first into the middle east, then on to southeast Asia, with a detour down into Australia, then up the eastern Pacific to the Bering Strait,  and finally into North America.  By 15,000 year ago, we reached the tip of South America.

We evolved in Africa, from a hairy, tree climbing, social primate ancestor.  Somehow, over time, we lost most of our hair, gained a lining of body fat, developed upright walking, a descended larynx that enabled speech, special sweat glands for  thermal regulation, and a diving reflex for swimming.  We became like sea mammals,  more suited for water than the forest or savannah.  Dolphins are our close cousins in intelligence and communication, the whale is the only other mammal to have menopause.  Where and when this happened is a mystery. The Afar Triangle of northeast Africa, on the way out of Africa, may have been a vast, flooded wetlands.  We may have had to swim our way out of Africa.

We followed the coastlines, along the beaches and up rivers, as sea gatherers and fishermen.  Food was plentiful, rich in value, and easy to harvest.  The travel and protection were easier.  We love the beach to this day.

Our journey was during a perilous geologic time.  A warming earth was melting ice, rising sea levels, lifting and shifting tectonic plates,  causing earthquakes and volcanoes. Released by the loss of the weight of the great ice sheets as they melted, continental plates heaved up, and the moon pulled stronger on the increasing tidal waters.  The Pacific tectonic plate, being the largest and the thinnest – only 2.5 miles thick –  moved and cracked the most, aggravating the ‘ring of fire’ of volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunami’s that pound all the coasts of the Pacific Ocean.

As modern humans arrived along the South East Asian coast, some 70,000 years ago, the shallow, continental Pacific Sundra shelf  waters were flooding, and a great volcano –  perhaps the greatest ever volcano – Toba – in Indonesia on the island of Sumatra, erupted.  The massive blast of volcanic dust blackened the sky, creating a volcanic winter and  mass extinction.  Human life all the way  back to northern Africa was nearly extinguished.

The surviving humans were pushed inland and north, and eventually into the New World.  Floods, tidal waves, receding waters, and exploding volcanoes filled their prehistoric consciousness.  This has carried on to our day, in the creation stories of the world, told by their descendants.

The myths are not myths, they are history.

In the beginning the world was in water, and there was darkness.  And then light came to the sky, and then the sun appeared and separated the earth from the sky.

 

Mindsight

Alberto Giacometti lived most of his sculptor life in a Paris apartment/studio, without hot water or a bathroom.  Brother Diego was his foundry assistant. He chain-smoked 4 packs a day, and wore the same grey, herring bone suit,  24 hours a day. He would buy a new one – same color, same style – once a year. He went to restaurants for his meals, bistros and clubs for drinks and conversation, and brothels now and then.  He was very upset when prostitution was made illegal.  He worked in his studio all night, and slept most of the day.  He married late, reluctantly, and enjoyed mistresses.  He had no children.

To Giacometti, life was magical.  He saw wonder in everything.  He believed in the intense significance of his feelings, and in the possibilities of the mysterious.  He savored primary sensation.  Attracted to the surrealists, he at first painted and sculpted as they wanted, from the psychological, the philosophical, and the political.  But it really didn’t take him where he wanted to go.  Existential angst, he realized, was not political, or philosophical, or, for that matter, anything new in human history.  And it wasn’t artistic.  He moved on.  Andre Breton, their commandant, wanted a discussion.  Giacometti escaped.  “No, that won’t be necessary”.

He discovered an obsession “to represent what I see”.  Not what his eyes see, but what he sees.

For years he tried and failed.  Constantly studying people on the street, and in conversations, he was drawn to the misfits and histrionic types, people who played out their selves, up front, unaffected.  He would pose his models for hours and days on end.  All night he would attempt sculpture,  only to destroy it in the morning, unsatisfied.

His friends and family lost confidence.  He seemed more and more a lost eccentric.

At times, having looked so long and so hard, he would feel an entranced  loss of the thoughts and identifications of what he was seeing.  The work would take  control.  Expressive shapes and proportions would emerge.

he found to his amazement, and to his consternation, that the sculpture grew smaller and smaller.  The smaller it grew, the more troubled it became, yet he could not keep if from shrinking. The sculpture itself seemed to determine in advance its appropriate size, would accept no alternative and compelled the sculptor to comply.”

Training builds creative and perceptive skill.  Practice areas of the brain become . . . swollen.

The posterior hippocampus, the area of the brain known to be important for memory, is bigger in London cab drivers than in most people.”

Attending a play in a theatre in Paris, looking at the stage and then at the audience around him, he had this realization that he was seeing differently, in some new way, “not like a camera“, but in dimensions of space and time, . . . with a strange sense of becoming.

His work became art,  sculpture with the essentials of human form, intention in posture, purpose in motion, all with an aura of being and becoming

. . . what you see with your mind.

The first and last speech

On December 13, 1963, Corliss Lamont hosted the 172nd anniversary of the Bill of Rights in Washington D. C., and presented the Thomas Pain Award to . . . Bob Dylan.

Mr. Lamont was the son of a wealthy banker, a graduate of Phillips Academy, Harvard, Oxford, and Columbia.  He had a PhD in Philosophy. He celebrated atheism.  In 1932, he visited the Soviet Union and found a very promising, enlightened society.  The secret police were “courteous and efficient and good natured“.  There were hungry people begging for food, but “most of these beggars are people who are too lazy to work, since every Russian can get a job if he wants to“.  He found “charming” the sight of head shaven, marching youth, “freed from their mothers and the bourgeoise ‘trip’ “.  He led the Friends of the Soviet Union, to “Hail the glorious achievements of the workers and peasants of the USSR – where starvation and unemployment have been abolished.” He sided with North Korea, the Soviet denial of the Katyn Massacre, and with Fidel Castro. He was a personal friend of the father of Kathy Boudin, the Weatherman underground radical.

In New Orleans, in the Summer of 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was passing “Hands off Cuba” leaflets, with copy written by . . . Corliss Lamont.

Bob Dylan, awkward, new on the national stage, ambivalent about the self-celebrating, moral preening of Important People, not wanting to offend and yet not wanting to embrace, gave a disjointed, rambling speech. “It’s took me a long time to get young“.   He  spoke of their  “bald heads“, and remarked that “I’ve never seen one history book that tells how anybody feels”. He then went on to say:  “I got to admit that the man who shot President Kennedy, Lee Oswald, I don’t know exactly where – what he thought he was doing, but I got to admit honestly that I too – I saw some of myself in him.”  This did not go over well.

Remember that many people, already, were not thinking that Oswald was guilty.  Framed perhaps, and young, and awkward, and arrogantly bold, and perilously sincere, and perhaps doomed to be forever misunderstood.  Not unlike  Mr. Dylan, . . .no?

Dylan wrote to “explain/not explain”:

“when I spoke of Lee Oswald, I was speakin of the times

I am not speaking of his deed if it was his deed

the deed speaks for itself

but I am sick

so sick

at hearin “we all share the blame”. . it is so easy t say ‘we’ an bow our heads together

I must say “I” alone an bow my head alone

when I speak of bald heads, I mean bald minds

for it is I alone who is living my life. . .nobody tells me how any of ‘m cries or laughs or kisses, I’m fed up with  newspapers, radios, tv, an movies an the like t tell me. I want now t see an know for myself an I accepted the award for all others like me who want t see for themselves an who don’t want that God-given right taken away

out! out! brief candle life’s but an open window an I must jump back thru it now

respectfully and unrespectfully, Bob Dylan”.

American Hamlet

He was just a sickly kid who loved heroes” –  Jackie Kennedy, with Theodore White, 1964.

He had a “rigid and physically distant mother”, and a domineering and  demanding father – “We want winners, we don’t want losers around here.”  Jack Kennedy, Barabara Leaming, pg. 61, 2006.

Joseph P. Kennedy, in 1962, was worth of $500,000,000.  The Kennedy’s were not just rich, they were super-rich.

It is so natural for the wealthy to be self-centered.  They are more valuable. They do have more to lose.

John F. Kennedy was self centered, and witty, engaging, charming, and a war veteran. He was famous from the start, his entire life stage-managed by his father. And he was haunted by losses – his older brother, his favorite sister, war comrades, and his own health.  He was very uncomfortable with emotional intimacy.

I once asked him why he was doing it, why he was acting like his father, why he was avoiding real relationships, why he was taking a chance on a scandal at the same time he was trying to make his career take off.  “I don’t know, really.  I guess I just can’t help it”.  He had this sad expression on his face.  He looked like a little boy about to cry.”  Dallek,  An Unfinished Life, pg. 152.

Kennedy had a sense of history, but he also had an administrative technique that made the gathering of history extremely difficult.  He hated organized meetings of the Cabinet or the National Security Council, and therefore he chose to decide policy after private meetings, usually with a single person.”  James Reston, November 22, 1963, New York Times.

That single person was almost always his brother.  In the Berlin crisis, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile crisis, and Vietnam, he was a tentative, and secretive, a reluctant leader.  The most powerful government in the world had great difficulty knowing its commander’s direction.

And the stakes were getting very high. The window of ‘opportunity’ for a ‘successful’ nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union would close. . . in November of 1963.

Mr President, you certainly can’t say that Dallas doesn’t love you!” . . . And then the plaza rang with the first gunshot. . . The first bullet tore through Kennedy’s throat, and his arms went up as if to block himself from further injury.  His wife turned to him, and just as she did, another bullet shattered his head. . . .She remembered the strange elegance of his demeanor.  “His expression was so neat: he had his hand out, I could see a piece of his skull coming off; it was flesh-colored not white.  He was holding out his hand – and I can see this perfectly clean piece detaching itself from this head. . .He had such a wonderful expression on his face.  You know that wonderful expression he had when they’d ask him a question about one of the ten million gadgets they’d have in a rocket?  Just before he’d answer, he’d look puzzled; . . .and then he slumped forward.”  Jackie Kennedy, Four days in Dallas, Bugliosis, 2009.

 

Chicxulub

Across the land, turbulent air flowing from the chilly north encounters the breezes of the hot south.  As the two fight it out over the plains, tornadoes are spawned.  Ninety percent of the worlds tornadoes occur in North America.”   The Eternal Frontier,  Tim Flannery,  2001.

Long before it became the first global human empire, North America was a climatic dynamo affecting the entire earth.

Unlike any other continent, it is a giant “inverted wedge”, 4000 miles across the in the sub-arctic north, sixty miles across in the south,  with the Appalachian Mountains to the east and the Rockies Mountains to the west.  This wedge is a giant. . . carburetor. . . funneling super-chilled Canadian air southward in winter, and warm Gulf air northward in summer, generating explosive storms, torrential rains, giant lakes, thunderous rivers, and intense seasons that have fueled an evolutionary combustion of plants, reptiles and mammals.  This includes the great forests of deciduous trees that shed their nutrient-drained colorful leaves in winter , when the sunlight is low, and reabsorb their fertilizer energy in the spring when the sun is bright.  And not only leaves, seedlings too, including nutritious, soft-shelled nuts that entice small mammals to carry them away and bury them.  North America invented squirrels.  Native american societies, too, thrived on the gathering and storing of nuts. Only in North America did inland complex societies arise that were not based on farming.

Sixty five million years ago, North America was  two continents separated by a shallow sea, the BearPaw Sea, covering what is now the great plains.

And. . .then. . . a renegade Manhattan-sized meteor from a broken asteroid escaped the gravity of the asteroid belt, and found its way toward Earth.  It lunged in from the southeast and across the equator and crashed into what is now the town of Chicxulub, on the Yucatan peninsula. It struck with a glancing blow “like a giant golf chip shot“, at a speed of 54,000 miles per hour, digging a celestial divot straight up into the BearPaw seaway, with a collision blast of a 100 million megatons of TNT, 2 million times greater than the largest nuclear bomb ever made, exploding a hole 3 miles deep and 100 miles wide, and creating a tsunami wave . . . one-half mile high. . . that smashed the whole world.  With heat one thousand times that of the surface of the sun, the entire North American forest was ‘carbonized’ – incinerated – all the way to the Red Deer River valley in northern  Canada, and even across the Pacific Ocean to Hokkaido island of northern Japan. Fourteen genera of dinosaurs immediately became extinct. The Age of Giant Reptiles cataclysmally ended.  The lee of the mountain ranges of the Appalachians and of the Sierra Nevada and inside the Arctic Circle were the only areas of sanctuary for life.

For many, many years, debri, dust, and smoke blocked out the sun, freezing the land, and poisoning the atmosphere with sulfur and acid rain.  This was “Impact winter”,  the long “polar night”. . .that starved planetary life.

It would be centuries before the charred North America would turn green again, slowly rejuvenated by a. . . fern, Stenochlaena.

 

Natural Civilization

Fourteen thousand years ago, Siberian and Mongolian people crossed the Bering land bridge into North America. Following the ice-free coastline, they eventually found the Andes mountains, the longest linear stretch of mountains in the world.  There, unaffected by Rome or Greece, or Moses, or Plato, or Aristotle, or by any of the rest of world history, they . . . naturally . . . became the Inca civilization, the largest, most sophisticated civilization of the New World.   One hundred thousand elites controlled 10 million peasants, unified by a religion of sun worship, ruled by an emperor who was “the king, the pope, and Jesus Christ all rolled into one.” All land was state owned, peasants were granted rights to till communal lands. Taxes were paid with labor, which created surpluses of food, tools, and weapons, which were stored along the Inca road network, and which were used for times of want, for war, and for patronage.  The few ruled the many.  Natural civilization.

In 1528, Francisco Pizarro found a Bronze Age society, 2,500 years back in time. The Incas did not have writing, or money, but they had deadly slingshots, and clubs, and vast armies. The Spaniards, though, had steel swords, armor, and horses, and like tank warfare against foot soldiers, 168 Spanish horsemen conquered 10 million Incan foot soldiers.

History has been the story of men killing other men, and so also in the New World.  The Incas had been fighting a gruesome civil war for many years, ever since their great Inca chief was killed by another old world weapon – small pox.  His sons fought to the death for the throne. Atahualpa had just conquered brother Huascar and executed his entire family, and was on his victory trip to Cuzco, to be crowned Sun King, when strange boats appeared off the coast. At Cajamarca, Atahualpa crossed Pizarro’s path. He promptly executed any of his men that showed any fear of the strange horse beasts.

The Incas, it seems, did not know the plight of Montezuma and the Aztecs. They were self-sufficient mountain people, not traders with the larger world. Pizarro had been with Cortes. He enticed Atahualpa into a courtyard, and in a bloody ambush, captured him.

For ransom, Atahualpa filled the Cajamarca courtyard with gold.  Pizarro executed him anyway.  His wife became Pizarro’s mistress, and bore him two sons.

To subdue a civilization, dethrone its religion.

The last Inca Emperor, Tupac Amaru, in Cuzco before his execution, tells his people that their religion has been false.

Lords, . . . Let it be known that I am a Christian, and they have baptized me and I wish to die under the law of God – and I have to die.  And that everything that my ancestors, the Incas, and I have told you up until now – that you should worship the sun god, Punchao, the shrines, idols, stones, rivers, mountains, and sacred things – is a lie and completely false.  When we used to tell you that we were entering [a temple] to speak to the sun, when we told you what it said and that it spoke – this was a lie.

The Last Days of the Incas,  Kim MacQuarrie, 2007.