Wednesday, December 9, 2015

We forget, so we tell small lies to remember

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Along with writing all the time I am trained as a historian.  In the US there is very little respect for most higher education, and the least respect is reserved for academic work that doesn't result directly in high paying labor.  I was/am a believer in the education of the universal being, and so, my work was meant to educate my mind, stimulate my creative soul, and perhaps lead me to a career.  I did attempt to work in various jobs, finding enjoyment in perhaps one.  But, when I was a stay at home father, I had time and a computer, and the internet which allowed me the opportunity to write, for print and for my own development.  At first I thought I would be a restaurant and movie reviewer, but, I found out that honest reviews of restaurants get you fired from reviewing, and your archive deleted.  Then came the realization that movie reviews never work unless you matter to people, since with the internet there are now millions, not exaggerating, millions of reviewers.  And whatever I wrote got lost in the miasma of the internet.  Then I began to formulate a plan, to write for businesses, regarding the products they sell.  This worked, somewhat.  It also led me to write for more venues.  I mention all of this not to make anything I've done more important or better than it is, just to point out, that my path to being a poet/historian has been long, and arduous.

I have come to believe in a number of theories of time, and human development that cannot be proven, and have very little evidence for their existence.  While I live in a world that is rapidly losing its mind, it seems, there are two different groups informing us how we should think.  Those who trust only in logic and evidence, and those who believe in what might be known as faith, and mythology.  What I am about to say will not satisfy either group, because their is no established story wherein the myth will jump out and demand to be told.  But what I will say will have no evidence to prove that it has happened or could have been the path that history followed.

I believe that humans have been intelligent and lived within "cities" or "villages" and farmed for far longer than the last 5-10 thousand years.  I believe that humans have been intelligent for nearly the length of their existence, having various peaks of culture, and disasters and wars wiping out the evidence of their high points.  The loss of evidence is not through secret conspiracies, but rather, catastrophes that wipe out all evidence of existence. 

But something does remain in the few survivors.  The legends of the great warriors, the epic events, the facts of the important cultural collisions, are kept alive in stories.  In the Bible the story of the Nephilim seems out of place, but it is a memory of a past age of men.  Humanity is far more ancient than can be proven, and the various myths that are shared in each culture are evidence of memories of the past, and not a recent past.

Yes, there is no evidence of this.  But I believe this is how we create our stories of myth.  And in those myths we can see some very interesting things.  Some point to pyramids in Asia, Africa and Central America proving some connection of cultures.  Perhaps it does.  I am not suggesting such.  All I am saying is that legends of giants, of monsters, of great warriors and their feats, are all explained when you place them in a context of million years of shared stories.

The stories of King Arthur capture something similar.  When Rome left the British isles a Roman trained Briton rose up, at first he was simply a war king, but he ascended to King of all the Britons.  The presence of Gwynifer, Lancelot, and so many other portions of the legend came so much later, that the story is not one that has been cast in solid metal.  It is flexible, because of the manner in which it was first compiled, and then added unto.  Legends are like that.

LANCELOT by Geoff Evrard and myself took two looks at the character Lancelot, from different angles.  I included the betrayal of Arthur by wife/queen Gwynifer and Lancelot but not the later portions of the Malory legends of Lancelot fighting against Arthur.  I didn't find it persuasive in the original, and less so if you include Lancelot, as he was, in the Grail quest.  I very much enjoyed writing my portions, and dealing with both sides of the book.  The publisher was not much to behold, but I am happy to have done the work I did, with the people associated with the book.

“Somewhere in the world there is a defeat for everyone. Some are destroyed by defeat, and some made small and mean by victory. Greatness lives in one who triumphs equally over defeat and victory.”  ― John Steinbeck, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights

Arthur, Rex Eternus was a work to consider the many legends of the king. The Britons had been abandoned by the Romans, and the Saxons were crowding their lands.  One king stood up and led the remnants of the Roman Britain and reforged Britain, as Camelot, under the rule of Arthur and Excaliber.

On a lonely sword leaned he,
Like Arthur on Excalibur
In the battle by the sea.

G. K. Chesterton in The Ballad of the White Horse (1911)

The Quest of Arthur: The Holy Chalice is a book about love, and the quest for the Grail, which was a symbol of two things, the presence of Christ in us, and between two people, a bond of communion.  It is blessed by a beautiful cover by Jason Moser.

Why is all around us here
As if some lesser god had made the world,
But had not force to shape it as he would,
Till the High God behold it from beyond,
And enter it, and make it beautiful?
--Arthur, in The Passing of Arthur by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

King of Ages is an Anthology that follows a theme: If Merlyn and Arthur are eternal, and never die, what can you imagine outside of Arthurian times, where they might appear.

"At that time, the Saxons grew strong by virtue of their large number and increased in power in Britain. Hengist having died, however, his son Octha crossed from the northern part of Britain to the kingdom of Kent and from him are descended the kings of Kent. Then Arthur along with the kings of Britain fought against them in those days, but Arthur himself was the military commander [dux bellorum]. His first battle was at the mouth of the river which is called Glein. His second, third, fourth, and fifth battles were above another river which is called Dubglas and is in the region of Linnuis. The sixth battle was above the river which is called Bassas. The seventh battle was in the forest of Celidon, that is Cat Coit Celidon. The eighth battle was at the fortress of Guinnion, in which Arthur carried the image of holy Mary ever virgin on his shoulders; and the pagans were put to flight on that day. And through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the power of the blessed Virgin Mary his mother there was great slaughter among them. The ninth battle was waged in the City of the Legion. The tenth battle was waged on the banks of a river which is called Tribruit. The eleventh battle was fought on the mountain which is called Agnet. The twelfth battle was on Mount Badon in which there fell in one day 960 men from one charge by Arthur; and no one struck them down except Arthur himself, and in all the wars he emerged as victor. "

Anonymous author 
First historical mention of Arthur
From the  Historia Brittonum

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