The Timepiece of Humanity

1   b   c   d   e   f   g

Stephen Lauf

The Timepiece of Humanity
The Calendar Incarnate

Duality 1
Duality 2
The Metaphor
The Timepiece of Humanity
The Gauge
Chronosomatically Contemplating the Naval

1 a : measurement esp. accordinging to some standard or system   2 a : an instrument for or means of testing b usu gage : an instrument for checking or measuring a paricular dimension of an object d usu gage : any of various instruments usu. provided with a graduated scale or dial for measuring or indicating quantity

"...then again, in the human body the central point is naturally the navel, For if a man is placed flat on his back, with his hands and feet extended, and a pair of compasses centered at his navel, the fingers and toes of his two hands and feet will touch the circumference of a circle described therefrom. And just as the human body yeilds a circular outline, so to a square figure may be found from it, for if we measure the distance from the soles of the feet to the top of the head, and then apply the measure to the outstretched arms, the breath will be found to be the same as the height, as in the case of plane surfaces which are squares."
Vitruvius (Morris Hicky Morgan, trans.), The Ten Books on Architecture (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1960), p. 73.

The Gauge

Referring to the human body as a model of humanity's total experience is similar to the Renaissance notion of the body being a "microcosm of the universe." Like Renaissance humanism, the Timepiece of Humanity considers the human body representative of something greater that itself, that is, the continuum of time. The notion of relating the body to ideals, however, extends further back than the Renaissance. The ancient Greeks carefully considered the nature of harmonic numbers, proportions, and "perfect" geometric forms, and these principles found their way into Greek art. The Doryphorus (the Spearthrower), a sculpture by Polyclitus, is known as "The Canon" because it embodied the correct proportions of ideal male form. The so-called Canon of Polyclitus set the standard of the Western tradition's male nude image, even though there is no knowledge of the proportional system Polyclitus used. Another standard of ideal human form came from the ancient Roman writer, Vitruvius. In the third book, of his Ten Books on Architecture, Vitruvius describes how the human body can manifest both a circle and a square, the two most perfect forms. This passage was written in the first century A.D., but had its profoundest effect during the Renaissance. There are a number of drawings, from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, that depict a man within a circle and square, of which Leonardo da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" is the finest, and most famous, execution of the principle.

If within a four square you make a circle which touches the four sides of the said four square, and without the said four square another circle which touches the corners marked a,b,c,d, then the outmost circle must be once again as great as the innermost; and then if about the greatest circle you make another four square as C,D,E,F, then the two four squares must in like sort be once as great again as the other.
Sebastiano Serlio, The Book of Architecture (Westbury: Benjamin Blom, Inc., reprinted 1970).

1 : a mark or depression in the middle of the abdomen, marking the point of attachment of the umbilical cord or yolk stalk : UMBILICUS   2 : the central point or part of something : MIDDLE

The Timepiece of Humanity continues the tradition of relating the human body to ideal form, and, in particular, elaborates on the body's relationship to circles and squares1. There is a little known geometric principle where the combination of a circle and a square facilitates the drawing of a second circle or square exactly twice the area of the first circle or square. For example, if a circle is tangent to the four inner sides of a square, a second circle, touching the four corners of the same square, is exactly twice the area of the first circle. Likewise, a second square, whose four sides are tangential to the second circle, is twice the area of the first square. This progression can go on infinitely, both outwardly and inwardly: each new circle or square will be either double the area of the circle or square before it, or half the area of the circle or square after it. The diagram itself is also visually satisfying, presenting a single point of origin and an endless expansion. It suggests the ripples created by a stone thrown into a pond, as well as, the solar system's concentric orbits.

In laying the foundation of its gauge, the Timepiece of Humanity applies a sequence of circle/square progressions to the upright human body. The sequence starts with a circle and square equal to the height of the body, progresses inward, and, by default, centers on the crotch. The first revelation of this novel diagram is the obvious difference between it and the Vitruvian man. In the Vitruvian man, the circle and square are independent of each other, while, in the Timepiece, the circles and squares are interdependent and create a network centered on a single point. The two systems also differ in their focus: Vitruvius' center, for the circle at least, is at the navel, while the circles and squares of the Timepiece are centered on the body's crotch. Since the navel has a well-established correlation to the "middle," the Timepiece goes against tradition by proclaiming the crotch as the center.


Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, drawn c. 1509, epitomizes the Renaissance emphasis on the individual; the human figure manifests the direct creation of "perfect" geometric forms and symbolizes the ideal of a harmonic universe. The Timepiece of Humanity offers an alternative view of the human body's relationship to "perfect" forms; a series of interrelated circles and squares, (where each successive circle and square is exactly double the area of the preceding circle or square), reveals an otherwise imperceptible morphological order when superimposed with an upright human figure.

When fifteenth-century writers spoke of deriving architectural forms from the human body, they did not think of the body as a living organism, but as a microcosm of the universe, a form created in God's image, and created with the same perfect harmony that determines the movement of the spheres or musical consonances. This harmony could not be discovered empirically, since it was an ideal unattainable in actuality, but it could be symbolized mathematically. Thus the ideal human form was expressed either in numerical or geometrical formulae: numerical proportions were established for the body that determined simple relationships between the parts and the whole (e.g., head:body = 1:7) or the body was inscribed within a square or a circle or some combination of the two, sometimes with the navel exactly in the center. Architectural proportions and forms could then be associated with these formulae..
James S. Ackerman, The Architecture of Michelangelo (Baltimore: Penguin Books Inc., 1970), pp. 38-39.

...The so-called canon of Polykleitos is not recorded, and the rules of proportion that have come down to us through Pliny and other ancient writers are of the most elementary kind. Probably the Greek sculptors were familiar with a system as subtle and elaborate as that of their architects, but we have scarcely any indication as to what it was. There is, however, one short and obscure statement in Vitruvius that, whatever it meant in antiquity, had a decisive influence on the Renaissance. At the beginning of the third book, in which he sets out to give the rules for sacred edifices, he suddenly announces that these buildings should have the proportions of a man. He gives some indication of correct human proportions and then throws in a statement that man's body is a model of proportion because with arms and legs extended it fits into those "perfect" geometrical forms, the square and the circle. It is impossible to exaggerate what this simple-looking proposition meant to the men of the Renaissance. To them it was far more than a convenient rule: it was the foundation of a whole philosophy.
Kenneth Clark, The Nude (Garden City: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1956), p. 36.

The second revelation of this diagrammatic gauge is the system of corporal order that is otherwise imperceptible. Each of the body's major elements and demarcations correspond directly to the points of circle/square juncture. The position of the knees, the testicles, the navel, the nipples, the arms, and the head all relate to the geometric network. The sequence of junctures, likewise, corresponds to aspects of the human body's internal makeup. The ovaries relate to a juncture, as do both the upper end of the intestines and the transitional membrane of the diaphragm. This order of the circle/square system is not exclusively related to the body, however. The same imperceptible order can be found in examples of art and architecture, as well as within the immediate cosmos.2 When the circle/square diagram is applied to Greek sculptures, Palladio's Villa Capra, and even Leonardo's Vitruvian man, there is again a direct correlation between the circle/square diagram and the physical makeup of each example. Likewise, the geometric system of consecutive circles and squares corresponds to the distance between the orbits of some planets in the solar system. The unseen presence of the circle/square geometry within these examples appears to express not only a forgotten knowledge, but also a natural order that is greater than the geometric principle itself.

As the basis of the Timepiece gauge, each circle/square juncture represents a shift in the human body's morphological and physiological phases--critical points of concentration, as well as points of significant transition. Since the Timepiece equates the human body with the continuum of time, the circle/square junctures must also concur with historical points of concentration and transition. This requisite correlation between circle/square junctures and critical transition points in history is the key that renders the calibration of the Timepiece gauge possible. Matching the date of a specific turning point event to a specific juncture point on the body will first manifest the exact amount of time, in years, between a selected juncture point and the center, and second it will automatically determine the years corresponding to the other circle/square junctures. A series of juncture years, furthermore, enables an investigation of whether, or not, each newly derived juncture year, likewise, concurs with a historical turning point event. If a series of years corresponds to a series of transitional events, the position of the years relative to the body can then be considered the first calibrations of the gauge, which will ultimately provide a scale of years, centuries, and millennia.

Despite difficulty in squaring the report of Luke ii, I, with other records of Roman history, interpreters tend to agree that Jesus was born from four to seven years B.C.--i.e., "before Christ." The source of this anomaly is the reform of the calendar by Dionysius Exiguus, who set the date of "the incarnation of the Lord" as the year 753 after the founding of Rome. But Herod, into whose reign the Gospels place the birth of Jesus, died about 749 according to Roman reckoning, or 4 B.C.; and the census mentioned in the Christmas story of Luke seems to have happened in the year 747 by the Roman count, or 6 B.C. Somewhere between 4 and 7 B.C. is as close as modern research has been able to come in attempting to fix the date of Jesus' birth, and 4 B.C. is most commonly given.
Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, "Jesus Christ," in Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago: EBI, 1969), vol. XII, p. 1016.

renaissance   2 usu cap : of, relating to, or typical or suggestive of the transitional movement in Europe between medieval and modern times beginning in the 14th century in Italy, lasting into the 17th century, and marked by a humanistic revival of classical influence expressed in a flowering of the arts and literature and by the beginnings of modern science

Christopher Columbus was an Italian-born navigator who sailed in the service of Spain and "discovered" the New World--America. Columbus sailed from Palos, Spain on August 3, 1492, with three ships: the Santa Maria (the flagship), the Nina, and the Pinta. He landed on, what is now Watling Island in the Bahamas, on October 12, 1492. He returned to Europe, at Lisbon, Portugal, in March, 1493. Columbus made three subsequent trips to the New World and back to Europe between 1493 and 1505. As a result of his "discovery," the New World became part of the European world.

Martin Luther was a German theologian and the father of Protestantism. Luther became indignant over the doctrine of Indulgences, whereby Catholics could buy forgiveness for their sins, bringing much revenue for the Church in Rome. When a Dominican friar came to Saxony to preach Indulgences, Luther posted his famous 95 theses on the door of the Palast church at Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. The 95 theses unleashed a storm of controversy throughout Europe, and ultimately lead to Luther's excommunication from the Church on January 3, 1521.

Nicolaus Copernicus was the Polish astronomer who revolutionized science and radically reordered the structure of the universe with his heliocentric theory. His classic work, On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres, challenged the geocentric cosmology accepted dogmatically since the time of Aristotle and proposed that a rotating Earth revolved with the other planets about a stationary Sun.
The publication of the heliocentric theory marked the beginning of the scientific revolution, and legend holds that Copernicus received a printed copy of his treatise on his deathbed. He died on May 24, 1543.

The first step in calibrating the gauge, however, is to establish the position of the center firmly. Traditionally, Christ's birth is at the juncture of B.C. and A.D., where the first year of Christ's life corresponds to the year 1 A.D. Historiographic research, however, no longer agrees with this tradition, and current thinking places Christ's birth near the beginning of 4 B.C., December 25, 5 B.C. This chronological "inaccuracy" has no detrimental effect on the Timepiece, but it does necessitate the addition of four years to any time interval representing the "distance" between the center and the number of a year at a circle/square juncture. A chronological system without a year "zero," however, does present a slight problem. The year "zero" does not exist because the day before January 1, 1 A.D. is December 31, 1 B.C. This is an unfortunate way to measure anything since the elimination of zero complicates any simple calculation dealing with positive and negative numbers. Consequently, after the addition of four years to a year A.D., one year must then be subtracted to arrive at the exact amount of time between the center and any given year A.D. The Timepiece accepts 4 B.C. as the center, and adapts to the required mathematical adjustments.

The next step is to choose a specific circle/square juncture and then attempt to link the junction with a specific historical date. The first circle/square juncture beyond the center and corresponding to an obvious physical feature occurs at the navel. Although it is not the center of the Timepiece, the navel is, nonetheless, a point of high concentration, and analogous with the very beginnings of human individuality. The navel was also symbolic during the Renaissance, when it did represent the center of the body. The Renaissance was an era of high concentration in artistic developments and scientific discoveries, and human individuality is also one of the era's underlying features. The navel and the Renaissance share a mutual association with both concentration and human individuality, and this metaphorical conjunction provides the perfect link for testing the Timepiece gauge. A number of specific events around the year 1500 are worth considering as the date that may correspond to the circle/square juncture at the navel: Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1492; Leonardo da Vinci drew his Vitruvian man in 1509; Martin Luther established Christian Protestantism in 1517; King Henry VIII established the Church of England in 1533; and Nicolaus Copernicus published his heliocentric theory in 1543. Of these events, the discovery of the New World, Protestantism, and the heliocentric theory are the most transitional. The discovery of the New World manifested a tremendous shift in humanity's perception of the world; Luther's "protest" manifested a tremendous shift in Christian belief by cutting the umbilical cord with Rome; and the publication of the heliocentric theory manifested a tremendous shift in humanity's perception of the world's position in the universe. Because of the qualifications just mentioned, 1492, 1517, and 1543 become calibration "test years" for the Timepiece gauge, and the following three diagrams present the calculated results of each year:

An investigation of each newly calculated circle/square juncture's historical significance is now in order. For a juncture year to concur exactly with a significant event is, of course, preferable to even a very low degree of tolerance. The Timepiece of Humanity cannot, however, avoid the necessity for at least some tolerance, because its gauge is, to begin with, centered and based on an inexact date--Christ's birth. The proximity of a "test" circle/square date to a historical event, although important, is, nonetheless, secondary to whether, or not, the event manifests a shift, for humanity, from one phase to another. The historical event, if there is one, must be of a transitional nature, and hopefully at least one of the series of years will coincide with a high number of historical turning point events. The following three tables list the historical events linked to each set of calculated juncture years:

2. Each example here is superimposed with a diagrammatic series of circle/square junctures, and the direct relationship between the examples and the diagram is self evident. In the case of the orbital rings of the solar system, progressive circle/square junctures occur between the orbits of Venus and Earth, Mars and Jupiter, and Saturn and Neptune.

Polyclitus' Doryphorus

Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man

Andrea Palladio's Villa Capra

Part of the Solar System:
The outer red circle represents the orbit of Neptune, with the next inner red circle representing Saturn, etc.

1492 C. Columbus "discovers" the New world. 1517 M. Luther begins the Reformation on October 31. 1543 N. Copernicus publishes De revolutionibus orbium coelestium.
1055 Cleavage between Roman and eastern churches becomes permanent. 1072 Excommunication of married priests. 1091 Pope Urban II proclaims the first Crusade.
745 743 - Buddhism becomes state cult in Japan. 757 755 - Donation of Pepin. 770 774 - Charlemagne confirms the Donation of Pepin.
526 523 - Dionysius Exiguus calculates his"Easter Tables" which forms the basis of the current Christian centered chronology. 535 538 - Buddhism is introduced into Japan from Korea. 544
371 372 - Buddhism is introduced into Korea. 377 383 380 - Theodosius I establishes Catholicism as the state religion of the Roman empire.



379 385 387 - Plato founds the Academy. 392
534 536 - Cyrus II of Persia frees the Jews from Babylonian Captivity. 547 387 - Plato founds the Academy. 551 Birth of Confucius
550 - Birth of Buddha

Most of the juncture years adequately synchronize with critical historic events, and the events themselves are persistently of a philosophic or religious nature. For example, one list includes the birth of Kung Fu-tzu (Confucius) while another list includes Plato's founding of the Academy in Athens, and, as to their importance, both events are practically synonymous with the origins of eastern and western philosophy. Likewise, there are many dates, from all three lists, that correspond to crucial points in Christianity's growth and development, and, of course, this is noteworthy because each list includes the birth of Christ as a given. The lists, however, also disclose a number of important religious events apart from Christianity. One list contains the birth of Siddhartha (Gautama Buddha), and dates on all three lists correspond to the subsequent spread of Buddhism. All these events are extremely promising in terms of establishing the Timepiece gauge, but the overall significance of the events collectively is that they are not at all random. Most of the events fall within interrelated groups and there is the emergence of a strong pattern involving origins, growth, and development.

The thematic continuity and historigraphic intergration of the events from all three lists precludes the need for any further "test years." All three lists qualify as gauge candidates, but the greater quantity and quality of the third list's events quickly distinguishes that list from the other two. For this reason, the sequence of years from the third list is singled out as the prime gauge candidate, however, the particulars of this list must be thoroughly considered before deciding on a gauge conclusively.

Confucius was a Chinese sage, best known throughout his life as a teacher, and ultimately the founder of Confucianism. The three most important doctrines of Confucius concern benevolence, the superior man, and ritual propriety. The best description of the concept of benevolence comes from two of his sayings: "Do not to other what you would not like yourself"; and "Do unto other what you wish to do unto yourself."

Buddha means "enlightened one" and the epitaph was applied to Siddharta Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. At age 29, Buddha left his wife and family to go on a religious quest. He sought "Nirvana," first through the instructions of two religious teachers, and then through extreme ascetic practices. Both experiences proved unsatisfactory for him, and by returning to his natural regimen, he finally gained his enlightenment.
Buddha's doctrine of the Four Truths is: that life is suffering; that the source of suffering is craving; that suffering can cease; and that right living and mental discipline can bring about the removal of suffering.

Reviewing the situation, the third series of dates establishes the distance, in years, between Christ's birth at 4 B.C. and the publication of Copernicus' heliocentric theory, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543 A.D. to be 1546 years. Additionally, these two events equate with the body at the crotch and the navel, respectively. Of the juncture years that subsequently fall into place, 551 B.C. is, of course, the most crucial, since 551 B.C. coincides with the birth of Confucius, and 550 B.C. coincides with the birth of Buddha. For the births of a foremost world religious originator and the birth of a foremost world philosopher to fall on the same circle/square juncture carries tremendous weight in terms of the Timepiece gauge. The "co-births" add a another religion, Buddhism, plus a predominantly eastern philolophy to the Timepiece's otherwise overly Christian bent thus far, and, rather than negating the original premise of the Timepiece, the addition of the births of Confucius and Buddha to the gauge renders the Timepiece more globally inclusive. The influence of Confucius and Buddha holds the same weight, worldwide, as the influence of Jesus Christ. Besides corresponding to a circle/square juncture, 551 B.C. also corresponds to the testicles, and this somatic concurrence affords a new interpretation of the meaningfulness of Confucius and Buddha along physiological and morphological lines. Their teachings come to represent the "seeds" of humanity's moral consciousness, and just as there are two testicles, there are likewise two distinct, but equal, influences. This interpretation is a fitting continuation of the Timepiece of Humanity metaphor, and provides convincing evidence that a viable gauge may be at hand.

Theodosius I (347-395) began his reign as Roman Emperor over the eastern empire in 379 and over the western empire, as well, in 392. He was the first emperor to dispense with the old pagan title of pontifax maximus, and he established Catholicism as the state religion of the empire. A law issued on February 28, 380, ordered all the peoples of the realm to subscribe to the dogmas of Nicaea, the Catholic creed.
He was the last emperor to rule the entire empire.

Charlemagne (c.742-814) became the sole ruler of the Frankish kingdom in 771 and Holy Roman Emperor in 800. In 774 he confirmed and added to the Donation of Pepin that gave territory to the papacy, laying the foundation of the States of the Church and making the pope a soverign prince. Few episodes in history have led to more discussion than the so-called Donation of Pepin, and few episodes can have been of more momentous consequences than the creation of the papal state.

usu cap : an expedition untertaken for a declared religious purpose (as recovering Jerusalem from the Muslims in the middle ages) : a campaign or war sanctioned by the church against unbelievers or heretics

inquisition   3 a usu cap : a Roman Cathoic ecclesiastical tribunal especially of medieval times and the early modern period having as its primary objective the discovery, punishment, and prevention of heresy

The other years of the 1543 A.D. series do not correspond to any distinct bodily features, at least not on the surface, but they do correspond to historical turning point events. The beginning of the written Bible and the philosophy of Plato, both occurring around 392 B.C., mark an ongoing development, or "new phase," of humanity's moral consciousness. On the other side of the center, the year 383 A.D. is within the reign of the Roman Emperor Theodosius (379 - 395), who established Catholicism as the state religion of the empire. Skipping the juncture at 544 A.D., the Christian theme continues around 770 A.D. The reign of Charlemagne began in 771, and he confirmed the Donation of Pepin in 774. The Donation of Pepin gave the papacy actual territory to govern, and thus the pope became a sovereign prince, attaining "temporal power" in addition to his "spiritual power." The next juncture year, 1091 A.D., is four years before Pope Urban II proclaims the first Crusade in 1095. These three juncture years, 383 A.D., 770 A.D., and 1091 A.D., chronicle a steady rise, and shift, in Catholicism's "temporal power," from becoming a state religion, to becoming a state itself, to ultimately waging war. The sequence does not end around 1091 A.D., however. Although the year 1543 A.D., in testing the calibration of the Timepiece gauge, represents the publication of Copernicus' heliocentric theory, another shift in Catholicism's "temporal power" is evident during this period as well. Pope Paul III established the Inquisition in Rome in 1542, and the Spanish Inquisition, with the first burning of Protestants at the stake, began in 1543. Catholicism's ultimate "rise" in temporal power actually manifested itself as an abuse of power.

The turning point events that fall into place after equating 1543 A.D. with the navel provide the exact type of data needed to calibrate the Timepiece gauge confidently. Because this specific sequence of years and events includes the births of Confucius, Buddha, and Jesus Christ, plus the transitional growth pattern of Christianity and Copernicus' discovery of a cosmic reality, it is, henceforth, accepted as the Timepiece gauge. A full chronological calibration of the body is now possible, but that is not the only information the Timepiece gauge imparts. By highlighting the conjunction of historical and corporal points of transition, the gauge also illustrates how the Timepiece of Humanity operates. For example, adding the births of Confucius and Buddha to a metaphor centered on the birth of Christ indicates that the Timepiece of Humanity is representative of all humanity. Furthermore, the Timepiece of Humanity and its gauge illuminate how Catholicism, the religion that accepts the equation of divinity and the human body, begins to abuse its power through torturous control of its dissenting followers during the Renaissance, an era that the Timepiece gauge3 aligns with the navel because the Renaissance and the navel are both strongly associated with human individuality.

There are many that will, no doubt, disbelieve any gauge that attempts to relate specific historical events to specific points on the human body. The whole notion of a Timepiece of Humanity is admittedly unscientific, and attributing special significance to a diagram of circles and squares superimposed with a standing human figure is even suspicious. Without the gauge, however, the full extent of the metaphoric link between time and the human body, the essence of humanity, would be impossible to relate. The gauge is precisely that which transforms the human body into the Timepiece of Humanity, and, as a timepiece, the human body is capable of communicating humanity's entire story: past, present, and future. Accepting the conclusion that the distance between the crotch and the navel corresponds to the chronological stretch from late 5 B.C. to 1543 A.D. enables the calibration of a full scale, of years, centuries, and millennia, spanning the body from the feet to the head, including the assignment of specific years to all the circle/square junctures. The completed Timepiece gauge, likewise, indicates the current position of the plane of the present. The year 2000 A.D. falls between the circle/square juncture at 1543 A.D. and the next circle/square juncture at 2183 A.D. On the surface of the body, 2000 A.D. is approximately 2.5 inches above the navel, and internally the plane of the present slices through the lowest tips of the rib cage, the colon transversum, the duodenum, the kidneys, the pancreas, the lowest portions of the stomach and liver, and the joint between the first and the second lumbar vertebrae.





Quondam © 2014.05.02