Monday, December 10, 2012

Nightingale Suicides and Defenestrations

"How very little can be done under the spirit of fear." 
~ Florence Nightingale

It is well-known that the British woman Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820 – August 13, 1910) was the founder of modern nursing.

Few today realize that Nightingale was also a celebrated English statistician, and a pioneer in the visual presentation of information and statistical graphics. She refined the newly invented visual form of showing statistics, the pie chart (invented by William Playfair in 1801), into her polar area diagram, or what is today occasionally called the Nightingale rose diagram. Nightingale called a compilation of such diagrams a "coxcomb." She was constantly looking for linkages, and her work in mortality rates and sanitation, whether among Crimean War soldiers in field hospitals or of rural peasants in India, won her praise.

Nightingale's work, carrying a lantern around at night to check on the battlefield wounded in Crimea is legendary. (The Crimean peninsula is located just south of the rest of the Ukrainian seacoast and west of the Russian region of Kuban. The name Crimea takes its origin in the name of a city of Qırım (today's Stary Krym) which served as a capital of the Crimean province of the Golden Horde. Qırım is Crimean Tatar for "my hill." The ancient Greeks called Crimea Tauris (later Taurica, Ταυρική in Ancient greek), after its inhabitants, the Tauri. The Greek historian Herodotus mentions that Heracles plowed that land using a huge ox  -"Taurus" - hence the name of the land. Herodotus also refers to a nearby region called "cremni or 'the Cliffs'" which may also refer to the Crimean peninsula, notable for its cliffs along what is otherwise a flat northern coastline of the Black Sea.)

Today, Nightingale might be regarded as a sychromystic. Certainly, her name is powerful, as I shall try to demonstrate in this essay.

Florence (="flowering, in bloom") is a name due to the city in Italy where she was born. But, as is relatively well-known, Nightingale's surname has its origins in that of a bird.

The Common Nightingale or simply the Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), also referred as the Rufous Nightingale, is a small passerine bird that was formerly classified as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae. It belongs to a group of more terrestrial species, often called chats. None are found in the New World, and North Americans generally think of the name "Nightingale" in association with nursing.

But the bird is a key to understanding the underlying meaning carried in the general references associated with "Nightingale."

Wikipedia has important pieces of information that impact on this discussion:
Common Nightingales are named so because they frequently sing at night as well as during the day. The name has been used for well over 1,000 years, being highly recognizable even in its Anglo-Saxon form – "nightingale." It means "night songstress." Early writers assumed the female sang when it is in fact the male. The song is loud, with an impressive range of whistles, trills and gurgles. Its song is particularly noticeable at night because few other birds are singing. This is why its name includes "night" in several languages. Only unpaired males sing regularly at night, and nocturnal song is likely to serve to attract a mate. Singing at dawn, during the hour before sunrise, is assumed to be important in defending the bird's territory. Nightingales sing even more loudly in urban or near-urban environments, in order to overcome the background noise. The most characteristic feature of the song is a loud whistling crescendo, absent from the song of Thrush Nightingale. It has a frog-like alarm call.

The Common Nightingale is an important symbol for poets from a variety of ages, and has taken on a number of symbolic connotations. Homer evokes the Nightingale in the Odyssey, suggesting the myth of Philomela and Procne (one of whom, depending on the myth's version, is turned into a nightingale). This myth is the focus of Sophocles' tragedy, Tereus, of which only fragments remain. Ovid, too, in his Metamorphoses, includes the most popular version of this myth, imitated and altered by later poets, including Chrétien de Troyes, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, and George Gascoigne. T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" also evokes the Common Nightingale's song (and the myth of Philomela and Procne). Because of the violence associated with the myth, the nightingale's song was long interpreted as a lament.
The Common Nightingale has also been used as a symbol of poets or their poetry....Virgil compares the mourning of Orpheus to the "lament of the nightingale." Source.
"Any mortal who is infuriated by his wrongs 
and applies a medicine that is worse than the 
disease is a doctor who does not understand the trouble." 
~ Tereus by Sophocles, before 414 BCE.

So let's look at some recent intriguing deaths and their links.

I was doing research on "Nightingale," over this last week and the weekend, when the news hit last Friday (December 7th) that nurse Jacintha Saldanha had died by suicide. She was the nurse at the London's King Edward VII Hospital who initially patched a prank call to another nurse. It turned out it was from morning radio hosts in Sydney, Australia, Mel Greig and Michael Christian. They impersonated Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles to try to pry out information on the health of Prince William’s pregnant wife, Kate Middleton. Saldanha, 46, who was born in India, was found dead three days after the pranking. No method of suicide has been revealed.

Nightingale = nursing. Alright, that was a weird sync. There is more to this than meets the eye, I predict, and it has been a news story that seems certain to increase suicides, a la' the copycat effect. This real possibility is already being discussed in Australia, where a suicide alert has been issued.

What started me down this road was that on December 5th, I heard from a correspondent (Dave M) about a suicide, which seemed a little unusual.

A Serbian government statement said on Wednesday December 5, 2012, that Serbia's Ambassador to NATO, Branislav Milinkovic, 52, died by suicide by leaping from a busy parking garage platform at Brussels Airport on Tuesday night, December 4th. A diplomat who could not be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media said Milinkovic suddenly jumped from the 26- to 33-foot-high (8- to 10-meter-high) platform while waiting with the Serbian delegation for foreign ministry officials due to hold talks with NATO officials. 

"His motives are a mystery. Three diplomats who knew Milinkovic said he did not appear distraught in the hours leading up to his death Tuesday night," reported the AP.

What happened to Milinkovic was not technically a defenestration, but the combination of a politician and the fall from a high location quickly brought to my mind some infamous defenestrations from history.

Defenestration, specifically, is the act of throwing an individual (or even something) out of a window, usually from a location above ground level. Historically, the word defenestration was used to refer to an act of political dissent or political murder or suicide.
The term originates from two incidents in history, both occurring in Prague. In 1419, seven town officials were thrown from the Town Hall, precipitating the Hussite War. In 1618, two Imperial governors and their secretary were tossed from Prague Castle, sparking the Thirty Years War. These incidents, particularly in 1618, were referred to as the Defenestrations of Prague and gave rise to the term and the concept. Source.
Self-defenestration (autodefenestration) is the act of jumping, propelling oneself, or causing oneself to fall, out of a window.
What I found interesting, as to the timing of Milinkovic's "suicide," was it came the day after Showtime's broadcast of Oliver Stone's newest episode of The Untold History of the United States on the Cold War.

Stone's program had several internal links, some of which were probably on purpose, and others may have been more synchromystic, about defenestration. (And then Branislav Milinkovic's fall occurred.)

Early in the program, Stone was discussing WWII covert operations in Ukraine. At that point in the program, in large letters, Nightingale was flashed on the screen. It was not too clear what the exact significance of the prominent lettering was, but I figured it was some kind of foreshadowing. [I looked it up later and found it was the code name of the Ukrainian Nazi elite unit Nachtigall (Nightingale) Brigade, which James Forrestal would help to smuggle to the United States after World War II.]

Later, the Oliver Stone episode told of how on March 10, 1948, the Czechoslovakian minister of foreign affairs Jan Masaryk (pictured above) was found dead (below), dressed in his pajamas, in the courtyard of the Foreign Ministry below his bathroom window. The initial investigation stated that he died suicide by jumping out of the window, although from the beginning some believed that he was murdered by the ascendant Communists, during the Czech coup. A new criminal investigation discovered and confirmed, recently, from the trajectory of Masaryk's fall and other evidence, that he was thrown out of the window. He had, indeed, suffered from a defenestration, so well-known in that part of the world.

James Vincent Forrestal (February 15, 1892 – May 22, 1949) too died by death from a window. 
Forrestal was the last Cabinet-level United States Secretary of the Navy and the first United States Secretary of Defense. Forrestal was the man inside the government who would oversee the establishment of the CIA. And as I mentioned above, the sneaking of the Ukrainian Nazi Nachtigall (Nightingale) into America.

Stone's documentary television program spent some time telling parts of the story of Forrestal, including the bizarre tale of Forrestal's "suicide," which involved his falling from the window of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

In the early morning hours of May 22, 1949, Forrestal's body, like Jan Masaryk's, clad only in pajamas, was found on a third-floor roof below the 16th-floor kitchen across the hall from his room.
Again, with Nightingale projected on the screen, Stone, as the narrator, noted that Forrestal, right before he died, was writing down a poem from Sophocles' tragedy Ajax - and then stopped when Forrestal came to the word nightingale:

Fair Salamis, the billows’ roar,
Wander around thee yet,
And sailors gaze upon thy shore
Firm in the Ocean set.
Thy son is in a foreign clime
Where Ida feeds her countless flocks,
Far from thy dear, remembered rocks,
Worn by the waste of time–
Comfortless, nameless, hopeless save
In the dark prospect of the yawning grave....
Woe to the mother in her close of day,
Woe to her desolate heart and temples gray,
When she shall hear
Her loved one’s story whispered in her ear!
“Woe, woe!’ will be the cry–
No quiet murmur like the tremulous wail
Of the lone bird, the querulous nightingale

Some have read what Forrestal left behind as an implied suicide note. Others have considered it some kind of warning, linked to the Nazi unit he had help get into America. We may never know.
In a new form of art ("Conspiracy Theory Opera") presented to the public between 2000 and 2007, The Defenestration Trilogy, three chamber operas, were created by Evan Hause.
The three defenestrations that Hause details are those of James Forrestal (d. 1949), Frank Olson (d. 1953), an army chemist who worked for the CIA in America's early biological warfare program, and Edwin H. Armstrong (d. 1954), the inventor of F.M. All three died by relatively mysterious falls from windows.
Hause's opera about Forrestal is entitled Nightingale, a two-act performance, scored for strings at its core (with some winds, piano and percussion).

Consider this, even the life of Florence Nightingale remains a mystery. Why should we be surprised that anything linked to "nightingale" should be totally known?

"I have lived and slept in the same bed 
with English countesses and Prussian 
farm woman has excited 
passions among women more than I have." 
~ Florence Nightingale


Michael said...

You might want to look at the San Jacinto Monument in Texas for a pointer. The Yellow Rose of Texas and the Suicide King.

Enki said...

Earlier this evening, a co-worker, while examining a couple of lost and found items, noticed a sync. One item was a book that had been given as a gift and was signed by someone named Mary Kay. The other was a Mary Kay cosmetic. The co-worker is someone with no particular interest in synchronicity, and her bringing it to my attention seemed unusual. I had a feeling that more syncs would probably follow.

The most influential individual in the introduction of modern cosmetics to North America was a nursing school dropout who went by the business name Elizabeth Arden. Her real name was Florence Nightingale Graham. The title of the lost book is Lucia, Saint of Light, and the nightingale's scientific name is Luscinia megarhynchos. The name Lucia means "light." Florence Nightingale, who carried a lantern while checking on battlefield wounded, could be thought of as a "saint of light," and she became known as the "Lady with the Lamp."

There was a third lost and found item, by the way - a flashlight. How's that for some Lucia megasynchros?

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Regarding the Nightingale lexicon, don't forget the "Nick Nightingale" character in Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. Nightingale is the pianist character who introduces Tom Cruise to the world of Elite orgies by giving him the "fidelio" password.

Red Dirt Reporter said...

A lot going on here, Loren.
Goro Adachi, at his blog, had made special notice of the "big creepy 'split-headed' baby' surrounded by nurses at the London Summer Olympics as linked to the very suspicious "suicide" of nurse Jacintha Saldanha.
Nurses ... a "baby" ... the syncs are undeniable.
As for Amb. Milinkovic, I immediately picked up on that story and thought it suspicious, and amazing you connected it to Forrestal AND Frank Olson, both who have been in the news lately, with the Oliver Stone link and regarding Frank Olson, the Olson family, in the past week, demanding answers from the CIA as to the true cause of his death, which was officially a "suicide" from a THIRTEENTH-FLOOR window. Frank Olson was dosed with LSD.

Django said...

Compare for yourself Forrestal's handwriting and the handwriting of the poem. It's not even close.

Stone, of course, does not know what he's talking about regarding Forrestal. If you are interested and I find the time I can elaborate.

theo paijmans said...

Fascinating post Loren.

You write: "..Few today realize that Nightingale was also a celebrated English statistician, and a pioneer in the visual presentation of information and statistical graphics..."

This reminds me of Ada Lovelace (1815 - 1852), the world's first computer programmer. Among her notes is what is considered the first algorithm specifically written to be executed by a machine (Charles' Babbage's Analytical Engine).

Brilliant women. One wonders how far our world could have been if these geniuses had been duly recognized back then.

David said...

I would be interested if you could elaborate.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Celt and the first thing that springs to mind is that we have attributes and spiritual roles for birds and animals.
The nightingale:The mysterious song of the nightingale has also inspired several classic tales; most famously: "The Nightingale" by Denmark's Hans Christian Andersen and the tragic story of "The Nightingale and the Rose" by England's Oscar Wilde.
Andersen would have been aware of the earlier traditions.
Ceertain birds were psychopomps or guides to the afterlife for the dying.
Here's the lyrics to a well known song:
That certain night, the night we met,
There was magic abroad in the air.
There were angels dining at the ritz,
And a nightingale sang in berkeley square.

I may be right, I may be wrong,
But I'm perfectly willing to swear
That when you turned and smiled at me,
A nightingale sang in berkeley square.

The moon that lingered over london'town
Poor puzzled moon, he wore a frown.
How could he know that we two were so in love?
The whole darn world seemed upside down.
[ Lyrics from: ]

The streets of town were paved with stars,
It was such a romantic affair.
And as we kissed and said goodnight,
A nightingale sang in berkeley square.
When dawn came stealing up, all gold and blue
To interrupt our rendez-vous,
I still remember how you smiled and said,
"was that a dream? or was it true? "
Our homeward step was just as light
As the dancing of fred astaire,
And like an echo far away
A nightingale sang in berkeley square.
If I had to take an educated guess I would say that Noghtingale could very well be used to trigger suicide.
Note that Berkely Square is in London.

Anonymous said...

Jacinta Marto was one of the children who saw the vision of the Virgin Mary at Fatima. She died at the age of nine of influenza.

Anonymous said...

November 28, 2012 Frank Olson's sons filed suit against the CIA regarding their father's death.