THE EXPERT WITNESS: Sufficient affluence/sustainable economy


Economics for everyone (episode nineteen) – Talks with tribal elders

By John F. Sase, Ph.D.
Gerard J. Senick,
senior editor
Julie G. Sase, copyeditor
William A. Gross, researcher

“As we walked through deep pine forests / on a silver winter’s morn /
We talked with tribal elders / in the most subdued of tones /
Of how the houses of the old land / had all scattered to reform /
In this new world, at a new time, / in this new land we call home /”

—John Sase, “Silver Winter’s Morn,” Aessence (Freezer Theatre Records, 1975)

In this episode, we continue with the theme of History, Legend, and Myth (HLM) that we introduced in our previous episode. In response to the noise leading up to, surrounding, and spread during a most profound national-election season, I (Dr. Sase) decided to focus on the HLM that I know best by addressing the evolution, spelling, and pronunciation of a handful of old names. We call this study Onomastics or Onomatology. I suspect that, like me, most of us begin such a study out of curiosity regarding our surnames.

I returned to contemplating the HLM theme following the low-grade pronunciation of the family surname of Senator Benjamin Eric Sasse (R) of Nebraska by President Donald J. Trump who said it sarcastically to sound like “ass.” Wolf Blitzer of CNN scored at the high-end with his pronunciation of the Sasse name Shaw-se (lower case “a” and “e”). In humility, I have come to accept most pronunciations of my surname. To quote the short story “Mercantile Drumming,” published in the Republican Farmer and Democratic Journal (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) on 10 July 1833, “You can call me what you wish, but just don’t call me late for dinner.” It seems much more comfortable for everyone to pronounce the surname “Sase” as rhyming with the surname Case (long “A” as in “suitcase”) in North America.

Since kindergarten, I have survived a range of pronunciations of my surname. Since joining, International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG), and other DNA-research sites, I have reviewed “The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales” by Sir Bernard Burke (Harrison, 1884); “The Armorial General” by J. B. Rietstap (Reitstap, Holland, 1861, 1884, and 1887); and related works. From these sources, I have learned to discern various pronunciations regarding the speaker’s ancestral homeland rather than my personal preferences.

Now I have come to accept most pronunciations.

Oral History

Most of my knowledge of early family history comes from my father and my paternal grandfather. The latter arrived in the Au Sable Valley in Michigan, just north of Tawas from the region of Eastern Bavaria, Bohemia, and Moravia in 1885 when he was eight years old. Early on, my grandfather grew up in the area around the lumber-camps in the valley and learned much of the lay of the land from his playmates, who belonged to the region’s indigenous tribes (Chippewa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi). Another memorable piece of my early education came while standing along the shore of Tawas Bay. Here, my father pointed out a bright star that the Native Americans called “Tawas.”

In more detailed lessons, the evolution of “tribal” surnames from Europe and other continents was taught to me through a long oral tradition that my family’s male ancestors kept alive. Many aspects of these lessons remained vague and confusing until I began to explore pre-Pythagorean sources of music, mathematics, and general philosophy. The writings on this subject that influenced me include Marcus Vitruvius in “De Architectura” (Rome, 20 BCE); and Andrea Palladio in “The Four Books of Architecture” (1570 CE); Otto Eduard Neugebauer’s works on Egyptian and Babylonian mathematics, including “The Exact Sciences in Antiquity” (Princeton University Press, 1952); and Antonio T. de Nicholas in “Four-Dimensional Man, The Philosophical Methodology of the Rigveda” (Dharmaram College, 1971). For those interested in these intertwined subjects without delving too deeply, I recommend “Sacred Geometry: Philosophy & Practice” by Robert Lawlor (Thames & Hudson, illustrated paperback ed., 1982).

Acronyms and Circles

An acronym is a word or a name formed from the initial components of a longer term or phrase; usually, the acronym uses individual initial letters, as in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). In some instances, surnames have developed to identify the trade or process in which a family is involved. Much older names like Butcher, Baker, Hunter, and Fisher have an “r” or an “er” added to the identifying word. Others, such as Hoffman or Chapman, relate to a place or to a type of work. A man who worked on a hoff (farm in German) would use the name Hoffman, while one who worked for a mercantile concern (chap) might use the name Chapman.

Some old names such as Koenig (King) originated as tribal positions in much earlier times. According to Sir James George Frazer in his massive work “The Golden Bough” (Macmillan, 1890), the surname King describes one who serves as the priest, shaman, and medicine man of the forest and who communes with the tree spirits. In more practical terms, the King would protect and ration the trees for cutting as needed to build habitats, boats, and other wooden products. After cutting down a mature tree, the King would paint a red “X” on the stump. The parties involved could use this mark to estimate the circumference of the tree for valuation in trade.

Other older names seem more complicated because they originated as clusters of words pronounced in full. Eventually, our human ancestors discovered that acronyms constructed of simple symbols served them better in their early attempts at writing. This approach appears when there is a structured interrelationship among a series of names in a familial/social structure, such that they could be organized and graphed in forms to which we refer as “the Seed, the Flower, and the Tree of Life.”

In the following example, surname analysis represents a condensed explanation of what I learned orally from my father, grandfather, and others. The acronymic surnames have survived through the ages because of our ability to regenerate extinct lines through Line Breeding of distantly related pairs of humans and animals that we can trace back to one common ancestor.

For illustration, let us begin with symbols described by Plato. Humankind has known about so-called “Platonic solids” since antiquity. Some observers have suggested that individually carved stone balls that were created by the late Neolithic people of Scotland used these same shapes. Earlier people relied upon these shapes to symbolize the Universe as a whole as well as the four collective elements of Sea (water), Air, Fire, and Earth.

We begin constructing interlapping circles with one that resembles the stump of a tree marked by the red “X” emblazoned on it. The division of the Universe into four sections provides a representation by which the Universal Consciousness unfolds into Sea, Air, Fire, and Earth while allowing the further development of the less-apparent Core of the planet. The surface upon the Core separates into areas of two-third Sea and one-third Earth. Air exists mostly above the surface of Sea and Earth.

Suppose we envision the development of the camp of humankind as a series of overlapping, interlocking circles. In this case, we can create an “X” that generates a central fire by taking two hard, dry sticks; notching the center of one; and then rapidly rubbing the other stick across the first at a 90-degree angle. This process ignites embers that feed a series of tinder, such that the two large pieces of wood provide the base for building a massive fire (I’m that glad I joined the Boy Scouts!)

We now have basic symbols that represent Sea, Air, Fire, and Earth, which serve to develop the Core of humankind. Also, the verbalization of Sea-Air-Fire-Earth takes much less time than writing out the words in most languages. Therefore, let us consider the evolution of letters that emerged as elements of the Anglo-Saxon language. The following table represents an abbreviated characterization from older through newer as seen in dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other varied sources.

In the first row, we find our symmetrical “X.” The older letter “E” in the first row reminds me of plants or trees growing upward from the surface. Rotation leads us down to the character that we currently recognize as the letter “E.” The first version of the letter “A” reminds me of a person raising his or her arms upward above the head, reaching higher into the Air. This version also resembles vectors extending from the Core through the curved surface of the Earth (lost ancient knowledge?) The first version of “S” reminds me of a jagged wave crashing leftward against a cliff onshore. The image mellows to a calmer horizontal wave associated with a single point. The third characterization of “S” with a dot remains in use today throughout many parts of the world. The pronunciation produces a “sh” sound, which sounds like the Sea.


(Continued) ...