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- 1 Bodhi Tree
- 2 Merger discussion
- 3 Indigineous Peoples
- 4 Axis Mundi in a Sacred/Profane Context
- 5 "All cultures?"
- 6 "Axis Mundi"?
- 7 Eternal or Not, A Return
- 8 Sources
- 9 Islamic tree
- 10 "Modern Storytelling" section should be deleted
- 11 Japan
- 12 Sceptre and axis mundi symbolism
- 13 Geographic pole
- 14 File:Romania 20060512 - Tirgu Jiu - Coloana fara sfarsit.jpg Nominated for speedy Deletion
- 15 Middle Earth
To my knowledge there is not the concept of axis mundi widely accepted in buddhism. In any case bodhi trees are not considered to possess any such metaphysical significance, it's simply the tree under which Buddha happened to have gained enlightenment. I have thus removed the reference to bodhi trees as the axis mundi in buddhism.
- It seems implausible to think of the location of the Buddha's enlightenment as being a mere incidental detail. The name of the tree provides the very name of the Buddha, after all. It is, I think, a mistake to think of details in mythology as incidental by-the-ways. These symbols are rich and full of significance.
- I'm a little confused by your comment that the Bodhi tree "provides the very name of the Buddha, after all," given that Buddha is simply Sanskrit or Prakrit for "awakened one," and Bodhi is Sanskrit or Prakrit for "awakening." Really, the life of the Buddha "provides the name of the Bodhi tree," if anything. That said, maybe the Bodhi tree does serve a psychological role analogous to the Axis Mundi in indigenous religions (though I'm not very familiar with the concept behind Axis Mundi.) Is the role of the Bodhi tree as being analogous to the Axis Mundi of other religions commonly accepted among experts?
You can't draw a line and say 'This tree is a world centre and this tree isn't.' Any tree mentioned prominently in a story or shown in an image will suggest the axis mundi role. In some instances the symbolism is just more developed than others. No, the bodhi tree does not have the same role in Buddhism that, say, the World Ash does in Scandinavian myth. It functions as an attribute of the Buddha. The tree suggests that the Buddha himself is the axis mundi.
Which he is. The figure of a medidating person is a world axis image--as my original, more comprehensive article pointed out. I began with mountains, worked down to columns and trees and temples, and ended with the human being as axis mundi.
It was a carefully ordered discussion but I see now that only a bleeding stump of it remains. Freddie Kruger has been busy on this article.
- I'm not aware of a World Tree in Buddhism, despite the importance of trees in symbolism. That said, I would not want to see a "World Tree" article combined with "Axis Mundi," as the Axis Mundi is one version of a "World Tree" myth archetype. That would be like combining combining the article on the "Trickster" archetype with the article on "Loki." Several cultures have a World Tree-like myth, including the Mayans, which is enough reason to see one article about World Trees in general, and seporate articles about individual myths like the Mayan tree. Kevingarcia 22:35, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
- imo you've got it backwards here- the axis mundi is not one version of the world tree, but the world tree is one version of the axis mundi archetype. the axis mundi manifests as a staff, a tree, a vine, a ladder, etc in various cultures; it is what ties the worlds together and that through which one travels between the worlds. accordingly, it would seem that the world tree, one form of this, is in fact a subset of axis mundi. so it would be more like putting loki into trickster than trickster into loki.
- although i don't have strong feelings either way regarding the merger, the world tree article does sort of seem unecessary. Sort of like having an article on "Hungarian trickster myths". On the other hand, if the article can be more than a list and more than a simple redundancy of what is in this article, then it should stand on its own- as should hungarian trickster myths, were that the case.
- --Heah talk 07:28, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
- At the same time, you could hardly call the Mayan tree a version of the Greek Axis Mundi. Because the name "Axis Mundi" is Greek in origin and refers to a Greek myth, I would not use it as the base term (unless all other trees were inspired by the Greek original). Because that is not the case, I would rather use a region-nuetral term like "World Tree" to refer to similar myths in different and unrelated parts of the world. Similarly the Great Flood page ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deluge_%28mythology%29 ) is not called "the Genesis Flood" or "Noah's Flood" because it refers to more than just the Judeo-Christian story. Kevingarcia 22:35, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
- I don't understand the connection between the language of the term and the cultural-specificity of the term that you are making. Using your logic, wouldn't "World Tree" or "Great Flood" only be applicable to versions from English-speaking cultures? BTW, "axis mundi" appears to be Latin in origin from the period when the initial scholarship was done, though we could certainly move it to "world axis" if that appears to be a consensus, though "axis mundi" certainly seems to be the more common version. It is thus not a case of Greek vs Mayan, but if the world tree cosmological concept is a subset of the world axis cosmological concept. From everything I know of the subject, admittedly being no expert, the answer is yes. - BanyanTree 23:34, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
- Fair enough. I can't claim to speak either Latin or Greek (and after I'd signed off the computer it donned on me that I called a Latin phrase "Greek"). My point though was not the language but religious connotations. My understanding - and I am no expert either - was that the term "axis mundi" came from a pre-Christian belief in Europe, one of those brought from Greece into Rome. "World Tree" is certainly an English phrase, but is not directly connected to any faith in that sense. It is a phrase used by later researches to describe concepts from various older religions. My basic question though is: does the phrase "axis mundi" properly describe Wacah Chan and Yggdrasil? Kevingarcia 03:59, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
- Axis mundi is a academic term. I first came across it in a survey course of world relgion reading Mircea Eliade. It is not connected with any particular culture or region, as is clear from the article. If you wish to use as the basis of your argument that "axis mundi" refers only to some specific region, I would need to see sources that state this, as I reject the assertion on its face.
- Within Europe, the Middle East, and India it appears to have originated in the hypothetical Proto-Indo-European religion of the early bronze age, way before the Greeks emerged. However, there are numerous examples that independently emerged throughout the world, as is clear fromthe article. The world tree that shows up as Yggdrassil, Jievaras, and other world trees originates with this earlier religion. - BanyanTree 13:17, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
- I submit to your valid points. I still feel that non-Western cultures should be included in any World Tree/Axis Mundi article, but the title of the article, clearly, could go either way. So "Axis Mundi" is fine with me. Kevingarcia 07:24, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
I understand what you mean about shamanic practices, but it is wrong to say it plays a more excplicit role with indigineous peoples. The statment doesn't make any sense, indigineous peoples is just a term to connote a group of people who were native to a given land, without any reference to the area you are talking about there is no such thing as indigineous. The indigineous peoples of some areas do not even have shamanic practices.- Moshe Constantine Hassan Al-Silverburg | Talk 00:27, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
- I also understand your point, but i think people understand what is meant when the term "indigenous peoples" is used here. Saying something like "primitives" would perhaps more properly denote what is meant, but of course there's a million reasons we can't use that word.
- For lack of a proper word, perhaps the "indigenous" reference can simply be left out? ie, "often plays a more explicit role in cultures with animist backgrounds and/or utilizing shamanic practices"? that seems to get the point across without introducing innacuracies . . . So i'm going to put that in. Sound ok?
- --He:ah? 05:41, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
======Axis Mundi on a Buddhist Stupa The Axis Mundi is located at the top of a Stupa where the umbrella is formed to promote the notion of the merging between heaven and earth.
Axis Mundi in a Sacred/Profane Context
I'm wondering if it would be helpful to make more mention in the article of the axis mundi concept as it relates to secular modern society. Eliade's work on the Sacred and Profane would be an excellent jumping off point, and I think is important as young readers (just remembering back to my first crack at Eliade in a Performance Studies class at uni) try to understand the concept from an ancient/indigenous/religious perspective. --user:nhansen
The "background" section states that the axis mundi occurs in "all cultures." This seems to be a pretty extreme blanket statement, espescially without any sort of attribution. I would lean towards its removal or qualification in absence of very solid source material. Bolddeciever (talk) 23:53, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
- I agree, but the problem is spread throughout the entire article. I've flagged the article for now as I'm unsure of how to proceed next. Almost every claim in the body could be flagged for requiring a citation, but that's moot because the entire thing reads as if it was written from within a fictional universe. This thing requires a major re-write, but I don't feel comfortable attempting that task myself. Matt Deres (talk) 02:34, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree as well. From what I have learnt from anthropology materials I do not believe it occurs in all cultures. Besides that its a very "American Centric" viewpoint. I believe anthropologist from other parts of the world may disagree with such genralizational statements. I agree this article needs some major re-write but its a huge and complicated artcicle that I dont feel comfortible attempting the task myself either. The person (or persons) who originally wrote the article should start giving citation of their sources. Alot of it I feel is suspicious information comming from pop culture fiction and not from athropological academic sources.
-Bill- January 24, 2008
Looks like this debate has been going on a while, but I felt compelled to chime in and say that I feel the article vastly over-states the 'ubiquity' of this concept.
The axis mundi (also cosmic axis, world axis, world pillar, columna cerului, center of the world) is a ubiquitous symbol that crosses human cultures
'Ubiquitous' means 'all-present', and the implication of this is that all human cultures have this symbol/idea somewhere in their mythos. This is, well, it's over-stating things by a big step... to grab just one example, I'm pretty well familiar with Maori and Polynesian myth. The only way it would be possible to find an 'axis mundi' in Maori myth would be to vastly over-simplify interpretation until every story with a tree in it has an 'axis mundi'. It simply wasn't a concept they had, it wouldn't make sense in their world view.
Derivations of this idea find form in the Rod of Asclepius, an emblem of the medical profession, and in the caduceus, an emblem of correspondence and commercial professions. The staff in these emblems represents the axis mundi while the serpents act as guardians of, or guides to, knowledge
I'm sorry but, what the... !!?
It's generally accepted that the Rod of Asclepius is likely to have represented a rod which was used to extract tapeworms from the rectum! (Or maybe guinea worms from under the skin). This practice is still used by medicos in resource poor medical centers in developing countries. Tapeworms, once they grow long enough, emerge from the rectum. A skilled person can wind the worm around a rod and extract it. I've seen it done. The medical 'staff' with one 'worm' (not two) wrapped around it was very likely nothing more than simple advertising that the doctor was skilled enough to remove tapeworms (or guinea worms) (it's a very tricky operation, you don't want the worm to break). Even the wiki article on Dracunculiasis mentions this as a plausible/probable origin (note that I'm stating 'probable' but not certain--we can't be certain what the origin of the symbol is, that information is lost in time, but the tapeworm explanation makes a lot more sense given what we know about how and where the symbol was used to advertise doctors residences).
I apologize if I'm off-base, but large parts of this article read to me like someone's personal set of theories that haven't been well backed up, thought-out or researched.
And how does Dante's Divine Comedy support a statement on Shamanism? And isn't it more likely that Rapunzel's tower represents a *tower*--an object that is difficult to climb, a thing that treasures or prisoners are kept in? Or given the more ribald early versions of the fairy tale (in which Rapunzel asks the witch why her belly is growing after the Prince visits, the tower might--maybe--have been part of a crude penis joke). In Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack *cuts the beanstalk down* -- what sort of world axis or tree is that? I'm sorry and I'm going to stop ranting before I actually become insulting, but it feels like the source(s) the article is based on have more or less decided that anything tower- or tree-like is an 'axis', and uses this 'evidence' to support a very broad theory.
I guess I suggest more reworking is in order. Either make it *much* more clear that more than one or two scholars support the interpretations given in this article *or* rework it down to a much leaner and more sensible piece of work.
Right. That's my end of rant. I'm not comfortable going through and editing or changing the article myself. I simply don't think I have sufficient background with the material to do so. But, if there's an ethnologist or anthropologist out there who feels up to the job...
-Chris- April 19, 2010
Odd. You say the text needs citations but seem never to have checked the sources already mentioned in the citations.
The base article was essentially mine. I expanded the original entry I found, showing more applications and citing references. My intention has been to return to the entry and document each detail more thoroughly. My plan has been to use Mircea Eliade's books as the main source material together with the French studies I cited. I will not be able to get to that before summer 2008, but I have the materials assembled and their content is reflected in what I've provided so far.
Bill: familiarity with Eliade's books and the scholars cited in the article will put to rest any suspicions about "pop culture fiction." As the Penguin guide was written by French scholars and Mircea Eliade was a Romanian scholar doing research on Hindu shrines, it will also ameliorate your concerns about an "American centrism."
That said, the article that remains today is a bloody stump of what I originally provided. The references have been chopped out, numerous examples cut, at least three illustrations cut, a cross-cultural list of examples cut, and the entire last half of the discussion missing. An effort that started as an invigorating launch into vast seas and broad horizons now leaves me feeling a bit like the protagonist of Hemingway's 'The Old Man and The Sea.'
I appreciate all participants' interest in and discussion of this article. I take every suggestion seriously and would make use of these in preparing a more thorough version. Before proceeding, though, I will now want some assurances that any article I take the trouble to submit again will get some protection from the drive-by feeding frenzy. Comparative religions is a fascinating area, but sharing information here is doomed to failure unless we build a hedge against those who simply dislike seeing their favourite religion compared to anything.
Alton.arts 2008 March 12
To Alton: Mircea Eliade has been criticize by academics. You can read wikipedia submission of him and the academic criticism of his works. Anthropologist Alice Kehoe has criticize his work on shamanism (see Shamans and Religion: An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking) No it doesnt put aside any suspicion of pop culturalism. Not really.
Alton said "...sharing information is doomed to failure unless we build a hedge against those who simply dislike seeing their favorite religion compared to anything."
First of all I dont think this is necessarily the case here (of dislikes of seeing "favorite" religion being compared) . I believe criticism should be allow. The article becomes nothing but POV, unbalance or becomes ones own personal propaganda if criticism isnt allowed. (There are many wikipedia articles with criticism in them.) Furthermore I'm against any forms of censorship. And or cyber bullying tactics. IMO In order to get a better article one needs some criticism and input from others.
My concern was not over comparison of religions but rather over sweeping generalizations which may not necessarily be true and the concern of cultural centricism. I believe facts should be seperated from fantasy (in particular "Western" cultural fetishism of other cultures or religions.)
(Honestly I have to wonder if "shamanism" has become the 'New Noble Savage'???)
[As for American centricism I could just as well said Western or cultural centricism (for a lack of better word at the time). I suppose ethnocentricism might be a better word to have used.]
Second of all I compel to ask: Whose culture is examining/investigating/labeling/judging another culture? Who is doing the comparison? Your putting on rose tinted glasses looking at another culture (one still carries all the unconcious or concious conditioning of one's environment, societal values, biases, religious upbringing etc). Its still centric regardless and is subject to biases and filtering. Thats my point.
I believe the field of anthropology in general for some time has been haunted with controversies. I believe my concerns are legit.
2008, June 18
You misunderstood my complaint. My annoyance was with the apparent excising of huge swaths of text in the article itself, not to the discussion here. (It turns out that the missing material was deleted by accident and has since been restored. No harm done.)
2008 Dec 18
I would like to know where does this term originate? I am sceptical that all cultural anthropologists uses this term. I believe it may only be Michael Harner (or at least he started this term) that uses this term?
January 24, 2008
The term is standard.
Scholars have a habit of assigning Latin names to objects they study: meitosis, solar plexus, Tyrannosaurus rex. In this case the object of study is a symbol. Axis = axis, center. Mundi = world.
An investigation of the scholarly non-Michael Harner literature on this subject will show the term to be in common use.
Also see the discussion above.
Alton.arts 2008 March 12
I'm not looking for the Latin meaning of the term but rather specificaly which anthropologist came up with the term. I am still suspicious wether the term is used by All anthropologists (not to say wether Russian, Chinese etc anthropologists also uses this term). I would be curious to know.
--Bill-- 2008 June 10
Are you wondering whether Russian or Chinese anthropologists recognize the concept of a 'world centre' or whether they use a Latin term to describe it?
As a concept there's no one individual to trace it back to. Put the term in English and ask yourself the same qustion. Who first talked about 'the centre of the world'? For users of Latin the same situation applies.
Medieval and Renaissance European scholars used the term 'axis mundi' any time they want to talk about the centre of the world. Their documents provided the sources for Jung and other scholars in the middle of the last century who used 'axis mundi' as an anthropological term. Finding an appropriate Latin term for a phenomenon was already customary in conducting and sharing research.
We could certainly ask who first introduced the term to *anthropology.* It would be interesting to know. To some extent that will rest, of course, on how one defines the field and its historical point of origin.
Alton 2008 Dec 18
No I am not talking about Chinese and Russian anthropologist talking about a "world centre" in general. I'm talking about wether they are using the term in the context of cultural anthropology to discribe the theological religious world views held by other cultures. Is this term "Eurocentric" (or American centric)? Do all cultures really have this paradigm? Is this a term used by Western anthropologists to discribe other cultures(hence forth Eurocentric)?
You stated in an above post "This term is standard" (in the context of anthropology). I need to see evidence for this claim (from reputible athropological sources).
Modern cultural anthropology from my understanding is rather a new study. Some of the earliest founders were like Pritchard, Boas, Malinowski, A.R. Radcliffe Brown, Mead etc. I personally dont recall any of them using the term "axis mundi"/"world centre". Hence one of the reason for my suspicion.
2009, May 21,
Eternal or Not, A Return
Hey, the article came back. Thanks!
Praise be to whatever Wiki gods there be.
I'll plan to get some more references in this, including the Eliade sources.
- We can, I think, be quite sure the cutting of the article was an accident that happened while an editor refined the caption to the image in the lead, so I simply went into the article history and restored the lost stuff by copying and pasting from an older version. Since your work was there to be found, be assured that no thanks are necessary. 22.214.171.124 (talk) 03:19, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
As for sources I would like to see a diverse number of sources and not from a single source and sources from anthropologists kindly.
I believe a diverse number of opinions are also needed in this article. -Bill-
2008, June, 10
I'm finally getting around to adding the references I promised. Sorry it took so long.
Keep in mind that the citations of Gheerbrandt are citations of an encyclopedia. It's a comprehensive reference work that synthesizes information from a number of sources. Cooper's book is more of a concise dictionary.
I think we've got an entry that explains the symbol well for the non-specialist. It provides a generous amount of links to other articles that enable readers to follow up. I agree that we would be well served by adding a section that goes into more detail about the progress of anthropological research and issues of debate. I hope a qualified individual can supply this for us.
Alton 2008 Dec 18
- Speaking as a non-specialist who looked up the term here having never heard it before, I disagree that this article "explains the symbol well". My first thought was that this entire article was some sort of joke. It doesn't make any sense at all. Clearly *somebody* thinks there's some similarity between "a natural object (a mountain, a tree, a vine, a stalk, a column of smoke or fire) or a product of human manufacture (a staff, a tower, a ladder, a staircase, a maypole, a cross, a steeple, a rope, a totem pole, a pillar, a spire)." such that it makes sense to describe all these entirely different things which look entirely different using the same term, but the article doesn't say who is making this assertion or explain why they made it. The images included have almost no point of commonality, nor do the examples given. There is nothing in this article that would help somebody recognize whether something should be considered an "axis mundi symbol" versus just considering the same thing a picture of something with some aspect that is triangular or vertical or tree-like or landscape-like. Why do these things go together? What do they have in common? How does calling them an "axis mundi symbol" aid our understanding of them?
- There might be something worth salvaging somewhere in this article, but I'm not sure what. --Blogjack (talk) 08:30, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
- I like this article, but agree that the start lacks any sort of compact definition that beginners can instantly assimilate. The long lists of everyday "do you get it yet?" objects at the start don't help at all. In these first paragraphs I'd expect the very strongest examples only to be mentioned, with watered-down secular takes postponed entirely until the core concepts have been sledgehammered home. The lead should start with a super-tight definition, something like "An archetypal axis mundi symbol is a grounded, climbable object connecting the earthly and the heavenly". The link between stepped pyramids and Rapunzel's hair then stands out a little more easily. K2709 (talk) 13:22, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
The sources are still not from anthropological sources. -Bill-
2009, May 23,
"Modern Storytelling" section should be deleted
The entire "Modern Storytelling" section should be deleted - it's just a random collection of fictional references to any of the dozens of essentially unrelated things listed earlier. That Tolkien mentioned trees or C.S. Lewis mentioned lampposts sheds no light on those works, those things, or the concept of "axis mundi". That the Emerald City "stands at the center of the four compass directions" doesn't make it noteworthy since *every* city does that, in or out of fiction. And so on. Sometimes a gout of flame is just a gout of flame. --Blogjack (talk) 08:34, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
A bunch of Japanese mythology articles are linking the "bridge between heaven and earth" (aka. "the heavenly floating bridge") to this article, Axis mundi. However, there's no mention of it here. Instead there's some claim that Mt. Fuji is the Japanese axis mundi (it's even the picture which this article displays biggest), which seems quite inconsistent with Japanese mythology (while Fuji is obviously Japan's most prominent mountain, the connection with the heavens was somewhere else like Tsukuba. Fuji is described like a conceited minor character, snubbing the gods and even knocking over Mt. Haku to become the tallest, but Fuji does not feature as the central axis of the world). Nor does the bridge between heaven and earth match up with the idea of world tree/axis in other cultures, after all the bridge floats from place to place like a rainbow rather than being a fixed point for all things to revolve around. (I barely dare mention Japan's heavenly jeweled spear, around which the world was created, lest someone else shallowly claim that was really the same as a world tree!) Can anyone supply citations that justify Japan being mentioned in this article at all? (Otherwise, with respect, this page comes off looking like an original synthesis - prohibited by wikipedia policy against original research, and reasonably so if the connection between the other elements here is as foundationless as these unexplained examples presently seem.) Cesiumfrog (talk) 22:42, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
Actually, I think this whole article needs to be resectioned:
- A historiography section explaining where the notion of "axis mundi" (in anthropology literature) originated. Who were the anthropologists who first used the term, which cultures were they originally comparing (and which concepts therein did they identify similarity between) that prompted inventing this more general categorisation, and how widely has the framework been accepted/adopted by other anthropologists?
- A section on the core widely accepted mainstream anthropological axis mundi. I.e., limited to the very most salient examples. Possibly with a subsection for examples that have been claimed as axis mundi by a few anthropologists but have not yet been widely identified as such by mainstream anthropology. Possibly also a subsection for modern works in which axis mundi appears explicitly (e.g., hub of discworld).
- A section on the use of axis mundi in textual analysis. This is to deal with all the examples (such as the Cathedral in Gotham City, or Repunzel's hairy tower, or just sky scrapers in general) that some individual critiques may have interpreted as representing axis mundi but which many other critiques have not interpreted as axis mundi at all. Fuji would go here. Frankly, I propose this section only to appease those that would disagree with removing such material entirely.
- I agree completely with your criticisms, Cesiumfrog. My own comment is rather omnibus vice specific in nature, and this looks like a great place to begin. This article reads like a press release for whatever company manufactures Axes Mundi. The totem pole, while not actually totemic, is heraldric, not the center of the world. Fuji-san is not the center of the world in Japan, and never has been. Yamato, Nara/Kyoto, Edo. Those are the various origins and centers in mainstream Japan, at different times. The contributor Alton has done an admirable amount of work, but along the way may have extended the idea of Axis Mundi to include nearly everything "important". If my child is the "center of my world", that does not qualify as an axis mundi, no matter how many words are devoted to that task. Haakondahl (talk) 14:17, 30 October 2011 (UTC)
Sceptre and axis mundi symbolism
Could the sceptre as one of the main regalia of any monarch have anything to do with axis mundi symbolism? Considering that kingship probably has sacral origins (priest-kings) and given the close connection of axis mundi symbolism to sacred and royal architecture, that would seem a plausible hypothesis, but I am no expert. Any experts here to comment on this? --Thewolf37 (talk) 20:58, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
From the lead: "As the celestial pole and geographic pole, it expresses a point of connection between sky and earth where the four compass directions meet." Maybe sounds good and poetic, but the geographical pole doesn't represent the connection between sky and earth, is not a point and along its axis meet just north and south not the 4 compass directions. The celestial pole, do represent the points of connection between sky and earth but not between east and west. IMHO the lead would be much better without this sentence. --Dia^ (talk) 06:50, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
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The supposed occurrences in Middle Earth were utterly wrong. This motif may exist in Tolkien's writing, but Orodruin is *not* it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 126.96.36.199 (talk) 22:36, 28 January 2013 (UTC)