Tag Archives | Mythology

“Joseph Campbell’s Vision for the Internet Age”

Picture: Joan Halifax (CC)

Beams and Struts examines the Singularity in a Campbellian context. The results are fascinating, even if you’re of a mind that Ray Kurzweil’s vision of a Geek Rapture is more wishful thinking than likely future.

Joseph Campbell would have been the first to point out the dangers of reading such science fiction as literal truth. In Campbell’s work, mythologies are never reduced to mere prophecy, belief, or individual religious sect; instead, stories often point toward underlying psychological phenomena that have universal significance and arise from a universal source, despite manifesting in specific cultural contexts. In other words, the cast of characters may change, but the essential plot remains the same. Read in this context, The Singularity could simply be a contemporary expression of an ancient mythological motif: the quest to cheat death. This theme, central to the Sumerian Gilgamesh epic, has been around for at least 3,000 years in literature.

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Eleven Scary Evil Monsters from World Religions

Picture: J.A.S. Collin de Plancy (PD)

Via Mental Floss:

Terrifying monsters have lumbered, lurched, stalked and devoured their way through many world religions for untold millennia.

They were sometimes devised to frighten for purposes of cultural control – or as mythologic personifications of harsh, inexplicable forces. In the case of the Book of Revelation, monsters often symbolized the oppressive political tactics of the Roman empire.

Today’s religious monsters might well include: a ghoulish pedophile Priest with scaly-gropy fingers; or a polyester-swaddled fire-breathing Baptist Preacher; or maybe a grinning Televangelist that spews fundamentalist bile from its jack-o-lantern head; or a shape-shifting Republican p

olitician that can somehow take the form of & draw hateful power from every pitchfork wielding mob it encounters, no matter the religion.

Now if only Sam & Dean from “Supernatural” would hunt THEM!

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Hunting the Basilisk: The Historical Record of a Mythical Beast

There’s an interesting story at The Smithsonian’s Past Imperfect blog regarding the peculiar history of the mythological basilisk. Those of you who spent your teenage years playing Dungeons & Dragons in your basement might already know what a basilisk is. However, for the rest of you, here’s a description:

The basilisk remained an object of terror long after the collapse of the Roman empire and was popular in medieval bestiaries. It was in this period that a great deal of additional myth grew up around it. It became less a serpent than a mix of snake and rooster; it was almost literally hellish. Jan Bondeson notes that the monster was “the subject of a lengthy discourse in the early-13th-century bestiary of Pierre de Beauvais. An aged cock, which had lost its virility, would sometimes lay a small, abnormal egg. If this egg is laid in a dunghill and hatched by a toad, a misshapen creature, with the upper body of a rooster, bat-like wings, and the tail of a snake will come forth.

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Batman and Shamanism

BatmanSascha Idakaar gives us an unusual perspective on Batman over at Modern Mythology:

The mask is an idea, a symbol, we could look at from a million angles. It is, even at first glance, our double, a close relative of the mirror — but it is something other than the mirror. The mirror shows us our double. A mask creates a second double atop us. It transforms rather than reveals.

At the same time, a lot of psych pop lit has been written about Batman. But I’d like to use Batman as the pop culture model of the role of the mask.

Who is Batman, really?

Is is a story about how an emotionally disturbed, very rich young adult deals with psychological trauma that he cannot let go of. Some ideas, some emotions, are things that we hold onto, and they are done with us the moment we are done with them.

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Icelandic Parliament Member Saves Giant Boulder He Claims Is Home To Elves

index.phpHere in the United States, politics rarely places much importance on the well-being of non-human living creatures, so the Icelandic parliament's concern for elves is quite touching. The Iceland Review writes:
MP for the Independence Party Árni Johnsen arranged for the relocation of a 30-ton boulder, which he believes is home to three generations of elves, from southwest Iceland to his home Höfðaból in the Westman Islands today. Arni first encountered the elves’ dwelling when he was in a serious car accident in January 2010. His car overturned and landed beside the boulder. “I had Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir, a specialist in the affairs of elves, come look at the boulder with me,” recollected Árni. “It was incredible, she had never met three generations of elves in the same boulder before...She said an elderly couple lives on the upper floor but a young couple with three children on the lower floor."
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Grant Morrison: “Gayness is Built into Batman”

BatmanInteresting takes on Grant Morrison’s own creations and the mainstream mythology he has worked in this interview in Playboy:

Grant Morrison is the leading writer of superhero comic books in this universe—and possibly some others. At DC Comics he rebooted Justice League of America into a best-seller. At Marvel he did the same for X-Men. When his magnum opus, The Invisibles—a series about voodoo, time travel and the Marquis de Sade—was in danger of being canceled, he mobilized his fans in an unusual way: He exhorted them to participate in a worldwide magic spell by masturbating on Thanksgiving Day. Yes, he held a “wankathon.” It worked—or at least sales of The Invisibles improved.

If Morrison’s personal history includes magic, wild experiments with consciousness-tweaking substances and reported alien visitations, why does he keep writing about square-jawed guys with capes? “We’re running out of visions of the future except dystopias,” Morrison says.

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Why The Rest of the World Should Tell the U.S. to F*cK Off

UnicornHere are some uncomfortable historical facts that are largely ignored, glossed over, or blatantly suppressed in most American school curricula:

1) The United States government (largely through the CIA and its predecessors) is directly responsible for the overthrow of at least half a dozen democratically elected governments around the world over the past hundred plus years.  Among these are many of our neighbors in Latin America such as Guatemala in 1954, Brazil in 1964, and Chile in 1973.  Further afield we have Iran in 1953, which is particularly ironic considering the dire straits of our present day relationship.  This list doesn’t include the toppling of non-elected governments (almost all of them replaced by brutal dictators) such as Syria in 1949 and Ghana in 1966.  It also doesn’t include direct invasion by U.S. troops such as the Philippines in 1898, Panama (first in 1895 and again at least eight more times since), Grenada in 1983, and most recently, Iraq in 2003.  Although many Americans cannot even point these countries out on a world map and remain blissfully ignorant of American interference with their internal affairs, the residents of these countries have certainly not forgotten and in many cases haven’t completely forgiven us either.  Can anyone blame them?… Read the rest

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An Overview Of America’s Urban Monsters

Atlantic Cities examines legendary mythological creatures of our country’s metropolises, including the horned Goatman rumored to hide in Ft. Worth’s Lake Worth and the tiny red dwarf blamed for all of Detroit’s historical woes. Most of these reveal more about our collective psyche and fears rather than what is actually secretly living in our midst — although a notable exception is the mole people (lower left) living below the surface of New York, who turned out to be very real, if elusive.

monsteres

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Muscles, Fire, Guns, the New Frontier and Inner City Savages! The Mythology of Eighties’ Action Films

Missing In ActionJimi Thaule writes on Modern Mythology, a retrospective, reflecting on what is to come:

“We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write “fuck” on their airplanes because it’s obscene!” —Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, Apocalypse Now

The eighties was the last decade of the Cold War, a decade dominated by the presidency of Ronald Reagan and his second term vice president George Bush – elected as Reagan’s successor in 1988. Another significant feature of the decade was the American action film, which had its golden age in the eighties and nearly died out once the Cold War ended.

As the nineties and the Clinton years progressed action films were reduced to action comedies, and only recently have we seen a resurgence of the type of action films we saw in the eighties – in particular with Stallone’s tribute film The Expendables and its anticipated sequel.

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