[extropy-chat] humor: evil eye

Amara Graps amara at amara.com
Tue Oct 31 06:31:02 UTC 2006

spike wrote:

>Yesterday the local bookstore had Richard Dawkins as a guest for a lecture
>and book signing.  An excellent talk it was, a most wonderful time was this.
>The usual transhumanist suspects met for dinner afterwards.  Since the talk
>was about superstition, it seemed appropriate that Amara showed us a good-
>luck talisman known as the Evil Eye.  It was a curious object that actually
>looked a bit like an eye.  I was unclear on what it meant to give someone
>the Evil Eye until she pointed out that the object actually functions to
>scare away evil spirits, bringing good luck to the bearer of the device.

The evil eye is an ancient tradition in Turkey. (Usually when I see it
around someone during my travels, then I know that they have a link to

The evil eye is a superstition that probably goes back a thousand+
years. It's everywhere you go in Turkey, that symbol is far more
pervasive than mosques. Every restaurant has an evil eye or two, it is
hanging from the mirrors in people's cars, tacked to the sides of
buildings, worn as earrings, as a part of good luck necklaces on babies...

Here is a short history:


Religion is mixed in Turkey, the evil eye is just another clue. If you
visit, you'll find Christian churches scattered throughout the
countryside.  Kids playing in school yards are watched by mothers
wearing anything from full veil to mini-skirts. The most sacred mosque
in the Moslem world Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (a Christian church which
burned down a few times in riots, was rebuilt and 1000 years later
converted to a mosque)


displays on the ceiling of the dome the symbol of Allah next the
frescoes of Madonna and Child with Christian mosaics scattered here and


>  Spirits might be a bit like people in which the moral status is far less
>  clear, perhaps a 50-50 mixture of good and evil.  Surely as a companion
>  talisman to the Evil Eye we need another device for dealing with these
>  ambiguously moral spirits.  In keeping with the alliteration of evil eye, I
>  propose the Neutral Nose.

Spike, you can find your neutral noses in the Museum of Noses serving
Pincio Park in Rome.

In the gardens of Pincio Park Pincio are ~245 busts, representing
important Italian personalities. The first 60 busts were there since
1851-1852. During the initial establishment of the statues/busts in the
park, there was a war between the 'Stato Pontificio' (the Pope) and the
'Repubblica Romana', which decided that the Pincio had to be embellished
by those busts representing important Italians but not religious

Recall that in ancient Rome's time, a favorite past-time was to knock
off the Emperor's head of the relief sculpture on the Arch of Constantine.
This favorite Roman past-time has not subsided through time, as
Roma-Italians today like to knock off and/or steal heads and noses
of the busts in Rome's parks. From the very beginning (1852) of the
busts' placement in Pincio Park, Romans have vandalized those busts
stealing those noses.

For example, from 1998-2000, ninety-eight stolen noses were replaced
at the cost of 1,300 euros for every each nose. A depository of
noses (casts of noses) was established in Rome, for that purpose. In
other words, Rome has a Museum of Noses for those statues in the
park that are missing a nose or head or two.



Amara Graps, PhD      www.amara.com
Istituto di Fisica dello Spazio Interplanetario (IFSI), Roma, ITALIA
Associate Research Scientist, Planetary Science Institute (PSI), Tucson

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