Thursday, January 28, 2016


I wonder the point of life when love is the most important thing and it is so very hard to keep.  I wonder when I get older if I will say, I have solitude, but without love it is loneliness.  I love my wife, I love my son, but the hold upon life and love is so tenuous, so fragile, it could be lost in a second.

Life or Death is not for you to choose

It is written that the last enemy to be vanquished is death. We should begin early in life to vanquish this enemy by obliterating every trace of the fear of death from our minds. Then can we turn to life and fill the whole horizon of our souls with it, turn with added zest to all the serious tasks which it imposes and to the pure delights which here and there it affords.

Felix Adler

For certain is death for the born
And certain is birth for the dead;
Therefore over the inevitable
Thou shouldst not grieve.

Bhagavad Gita

Timor mortis morte pejor
(The fear of death is worse than death)
Robert Burton

I was told by doctors on four occasions that I should have died from what I've faced.  If I had maybe life would be better for some people, or maybe it would be worse, I do not know.  Destiny is something I am told by various people doesn't exist.  Some people choose to believe that we create our own destiny, others believe it lays waiting for us to find it and fulfill it.  Based upon the knowledge that I should not be here, for a number of reasons, I wonder why I linger.  What is waiting for me?  Why was I allowed or kept from death?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Not exactly nice guys


The Anti-Hero could be defined as an lead character, often as a presumptive hero, who does not possess heroic qualities.  He or she is not courageous or noble or moral, the goal for them is survival or some other selfish target.  They are possessed of ambiguous morality, often being as flawed, or frankly, evil as the antagonist they fight.  The role they play is an archetype of hero, that is turned upside down.  In some cases this is meant to be a means to expose the ultimate human foundation of any "hero" but sometimes it is just a means to tell a story.  The lack of moral tone can be attractive to some readers, who tire of the hero being ever so good.


The character was painted into existence by Frank Frazetta and was seen fighting bad guys, but, his red glowing eyes and menacing look, let you imagine, he was more pissed than being heroic. James R. Silke was one of the first to bring Death Dealer's tales to life in story.  And the stories are vivid, wildly entertaining and well written.  I would hesitate to call Death Dealer an anti hero, in that the helmet is the cause of his actions.  He is Gath of Baal, and wears a cursed helmet that makes him the bearer of the form of the God of Death.  His actions, thereby, are not his own.  We see him taking many lives, and not many good people dying by his hand.  These books were well written and I recommend them, but they are hard to find and expensive.  So happy hunting.


Michael Moorcock is a very bright writer who writes stories to examine the motives and weaknesses of his lead character, Elric of Melnibone.  He is an elf or elf like Emperor of an ancient people and land, and his sorcery and skill in battle are augmented by his resort to calling upon evil Gods, elementals of power, and an unique sword that drains souls.  He is described as a weak, pale albino, with deeply introspective fears and wonders.  He is selfish, and hateful.  But, he is also a creature of his time and people, so, at some points he is kind, he is capable of love, and he is also seemingly cursed.  These books have been collected in many forms, I love those shown below, with Michael Whelan covers.


Karl Edward Wagner wrote numerous tales, edited some works by greats, such as Robert E. Howard, and his most acclaimed work surrounds his Anti Hero, Kane.  The attraction to the character Kane is rather the opposite of what was just said about Elric.  Kane is handsome, powerful, brilliant, and he is curious, and that makes him try to find powerful items to make him more able, in his quest to become the most powerful man upon the planet.  He doesn't suffer from weakness, he is powerful in sorcery, swordplay, and darker arts of magic.  Wagner wasn't, apparently, interested in telling the stories to follow a weak young man into a powerful older king.  He was showing the reader the mind of one who was powerful, and wanted more power.


John Norman in his real life was a professor of philosophy.  He wrote the counter Earth planet Gor into life with the adventures of Earth man Tarl Cabot.  Cabot was initially horrified to see humans used as slaves, and violence and ancient codes of honor ruling the planet.  But eventually, after a time spent becoming Gorean, he too adopts the practices.  The later books of the series become more explicit in slavery, sexual domination, and cruelty.  The author has said that Gor is a place that the theories of Nietzsche and Freud are played out.  The strong rule the weak, and sex becomes a highly ritualized form of exchange of power. 

Friday, January 22, 2016


"Is it possible that intelligent life forms visited Earth thousands of years ago, bringing with them technology that drastically affected the course of history and man’s own development? Presented in the 1968 bestselling book Chariots of the Gods, by Erich von Daniken, the theory of "ancient aliens" rocked people’s beliefs in mankind’s progress. Ancient cave drawings of strange creatures, remains of apparent landing strips in Peru, and Indian texts that describe the "flying machines of the gods" were just a few of the odd archaeological artifacts cited by von Daniken as proof that ancient astronauts were well known to our ancestors. Produced with the exclusive cooperation of von Daniken himself, Ancient Aliens launches all-new expeditions to seek out and evaluate this evidence, with a concentration on discoveries of the last 30 years, including unusual DNA findings on man’s evolution and newly decoded artifacts from Egypt to Syria to South America. It is a balanced investigation into a theory some believe cannot be true, but many agree cannot be ignored."


DISCLOSURE:  I have a Master's Degree in History and Political Science.  From my studies, and understanding of the courses I've taken, I understand that Ancient Astronaut theories are not a history based thesis, nor are they of archaeological based thesis.  

SECOND DISCLOSURE:  I find Ancient Aliens to be interesting, and that is enough for me to watch it, when I have.  I do not spend much time watching television however.

I have noticed announcements that Ancient Aliens has reached 100 episodes.  This is a magic number for syndication purposes, with 100 being the number of episodes needed to assure a proper rerun ability.  However, with the advent of the internet, home media, and other changes since the height of syndicated television series being monetary cash cows.  This degree of success, however, is not anything to laugh at.  In the day of many different options competing for your entertainment dollar, 100 episodes is a hit.  And the subject matter is interesting, and for reasons that I'll go into, it struck upon a vein in modern culture.

The world of believers of Ancient Astronauts and Ancient Aliens began in earnest in the early 1970s.  But the world as a whole became attracted to antiquity and weird happenings perhaps with the discovery of King Tut's tomb and all of the bullshit regarding curses.  While I do not believe in curses, I am very interested in antiquity, so for my part, new discoveries of ancient cities, bodies, monuments are always fascinating.  Other discoveries became part of the world of pulp fiction, with adventures happening in the tombs of the lost civilizations.   The movie serials often used the settings of the lost worlds, but, even with Indian Jones movies, that isn't the same as suggesting aliens visited humanity prior to the recording of history.

(For the record, while you cannot really say that people were wrong in feeling that the curse was real since they have their own "feelings", drawing conclusions based on facts are a much different matter.  Even then, however, in the case of King Tut's Tomb, there does seem to be a higher rate of death than normal.*)

Dawn of Ancient Astronaut Theories and CHARIOTS OF THE GODS 


Erich von Daniken is something of a puzzle for people who think his ideas are interesting but are not convinced.  His earlier life involved theft and deception.  Personally I am unsure if that actually does have anything of value to tell us about his later life and work.  Detractors will certainly think so.  True believers will think not.

However, with his work, Chariots of the Gods, Daniken struck a vein in western culture.  The late sixties and early seventies were years of cultural upheaval and change.  Religions faced crashing attendance while universities found students striking for more individuality over group think activities and teaching.  Daniken set fire to thought with his argument that many of the mysteries of the world could be answered if you look at the ancient texts and read them without challenging the author.  For instance, "This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel." (Ezekiel 1:16), to Daniken this meant that Ezekiel had experienced a UFO and possible alien abduction/visitation.  The writing style Daniken utilized was rather genius.  Instead of creating new paradigms and arguments, he uses the information presented, and asks, how, why, wouldn't this, rather than taking a position, he presents evidence, and then says, this is what it looks like to me after reading the scriptures.  Daniken thereafter wrote many more works, and is considered by many of the people who believe, to be a father of the theory and the community.


Zecharia Sitchin was a promoter of the hidden giant planet theory that has just recently been revisited.  He used the discoveries of Sumerian cultures in both image and language to explain how the people from that planet, called Nibiru, came to earth to take resources.  To work the earth they used forced labor, but finding the labor not good enough, they turned to dna splicing to create a hybrid of alien and primal pre-human.  The result of new human was marked with an enormous leap in brain size, and organized behavior that had not previously been seen.  Sitchin used the major scriptures of various religions to demonstrate how these religious stories are actually myths telling us about what happened, through ancient eyes.  The general argument made against Sitchin's works is that he took literal what was figurative, his language interpretation was often wrong, and he used language to support his position rather than use actual facts i.e. "it can not be doubted that".  His work does tell a fascinating story, and whether or not it actually happened, it could be the basis for a wild movie, or comic series.


Although he passed away far too soon, Philip Coppens offered a wide variety of educated notions about the implications of ancient finds and connections, cross the globe and perhaps into space.  Often in episodes of Ancient Aliens his appearances and comments were the most cogent and interesting.  I find his writing to be the most elegant of the assembled Ancient Astronaut theorists. 

* (Stats borrowed from WIKI)   Deaths popularly attributed to Tutankhamun's "curse".
The tomb was opened on 29 November 1922.

Lord Carnarvon, financial backer of the excavation team who was present at the tomb's opening, died on 5 April 1923 after a mosquito bite became infected; he died 4 months and 7 days after the opening of the tomb.

George Jay Gould I, a visitor to the tomb, died in the French Riviera on 16 May 1923 after he developed a fever following his visit.

Prince Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey of Egypt died 10 July 1923: shot dead by his wife.

Colonel The Hon. Aubrey Herbert, MP, Carnarvon's half-brother, became nearly blind and died on 26 September 1923 from blood poisoning related to a dental procedure intended to restore his eyesight.

Sir Archibald Douglas-Reid, a radiologist who x-rayed Tutankhamun's mummy, died on 15 January 1924 from a mysterious illness.

Sir Lee Stack, Governor-General of Sudan, died on 19 November 1924: assassinated while driving through Cairo.

A. C. Mace, a member of Carter's excavation team, died in 1928 from arsenic poisoning

The Hon. Mervyn Herbert, Carnarvon's half brother and the aforementioned Aubrey Herbert's full brother, died on 26 May 1929, reportedly from "malarial pneumonia".

Captain The Hon. Richard Bethell, Carter's personal secretary, died on 15 November 1929: found eating poison in his bed.

Richard Luttrell Pilkington Bethell, 3rd Baron Westbury, father of the above, died on 20 February 1930; he supposedly threw himself off his seventh floor apartment.

Howard Carter opened the tomb on 16 February 1923, and died well over a decade later on 2 March 1939; however, some have still attributed his death to the "curse"

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Artistic Exiles and Outcasts


Etymology-- Middle English exil, from Old French essil, exil, from Latin exsilium, exilium ‎(“state of exile”), derived from exsul, exul ‎(“exiled person”).

1. The state of being banished from one's home or country. 
2. Someone who is banished from one's home or country.  

The world does not gladly suffer fools, nor does it suffer geniuses.  Many of the greatest minds developed their genius, or creative spirit in isolation or solitude.  In doing so they have created new ideas, new outlooks and theories, and new art that could never have come from anyone else, until that artist or mind created it.   Many times the genius or creative does so not in a great effort to help or save society, nor to become famous or wealthy, but instead, to announce themselves, and to express what they are.

There are artists who are forced to leave their country due to the political backlash against their work.  There are geniuses who leave their country in self exile out of disgust or frustration with the response they've received.  Many are bright or talented beyond measure, but are so different, so iconoclastic that they never can fit in.  Many times the work of a genius mind or creative talent is accepted with joy by the audience.  And the creator of it is horrified by the demands of joining or being forced to be adulated by the herd.  Artists are often hoping for a response, but not looking for stardom.  Many introverts fear that response. 


"In Genesis 16:12 of the Bible, defines figuratively an outcast. "And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.""  Borrowed from Wiki

The life one leads within a community or outside of one is often lived within boundaries of normal.  The artist is at once gifted as a reporter of life, but often forced to live outside of it, either in punishment or as an outcast, one who is looked upon with distrust or worse, disgust and scorn.


Bobby Fischer was America's greatest chess player, the greatest mind about chess for decades.  And when he defeated the Russian champion of it, he was expected to become a multi year winner, and media star.  But not only did Fischer eschew the spotlight, he tried to disappear, and when forced out of hiding made numerous egregious statements, many being anti-Semitic.  He left the US when he was going to be sanctioned for playing chess in a country that was undergoing sanctions.  He never returned, and spat upon the US documents of citizenship, passport, and comments regarding his choices.  He remained a genius, but many saw him as both an outcast, and a self exile.

Ezra Pound was a great poet, but one who did not view the world from the same lens as most anyone else.  He was fixated upon ideals of purity and antiquity, the role of imagism, time juxtaposition, and allegory/metaphor playing deeply in his work.  He chose to leave the US for England, then mainland Europe, where people would have a similar outlook, or at least acceptance of his views.  As he lived, his views took upon a more troubled aspect, that Fascism as demonstrated by the Italian state under Mussolini could offer a firm society where the arts were patroned by the state, and people had lives that were tailored to become apt workers of the state.  And then he made that worse, by adopting the anti-Semitic words of other Fascists, that the reign of Mussolini mostly avoided.  Pound used his fame to help Italian fascists, and was considered by the US to be a traitor.  He is said to have gone insane during the time he was kept in cages waiting for trial.  But insanity is always a means of declaring an artist to be "out of step".  Late in his life Pound deeply regretted his views regarding Jews, but never really disavowed Fascism so clearly.

Ovid was the greatest or one of the greatest poets of Rome.  His work covered areas of legend, myth, and love.  He was greatly talented, far ahead of his time regarding his style, his devotion to craft, and was popular as an artist.  But he did something that the state did not like.  The state being the Emperor Augustus.  No one actually knows in the present what it was that caused this problem.  But it was a problem. In one of the great questions of literary history, he was sent by Emperor Augustus into exile.  And there in a remote province on the Black Sea, he remained until his death.

Ovid was exiled for reasons he and Augustus knew.  Perhaps as Ovid said, the exile was a mistake, and perhaps a poem struck Augustus wrong.  But the result was, a person so greatly devoted to the greatness of Rome, was cast out.

JMW Turner painted an image of Rome following the exile of Ovid, which cleverly shows the setting of the sun, the dying of the bright light, and dulling of the Roman state as a result.

Yukio Mishima was a pen name for a wildly talented writer, Kimitake Hiraoka.  He wrote poetry, essays, fiction, plays and was considered a very fine writer, with a few personal kinks.

He was fascinated and fixated upon the Samurai ideal.  He believed in many political beliefs that were out of step with the post World War 2 rebuilding generation.  While the West helped the Japanese rebuild after war, Mishima chafed at the neutered role of the military, Japan being forbidden from acts of war to the point that their military was called the "Self Defense Force."  He believed that Japan was becoming disconnected from its powerful, unique, and glorious Samurai tradition.

He also created an illusion about himself that he too was a samurai.  He used weightlifting to perfect his body into that of the warrior's perfect image.  He used his body in modeling, and to attract men similar in his outlook, as well as his bisexuality.  He created a small personal army, of sorts, and believed it was groups like his that would remind Japan of its role in the world.  At the same time, he smoked western cigarettes, drank foreign alcohol, wore European tailored suits, and was a world traveler.  He was a special kind of outcast and exile, he created an image and personae of a person who Japan was ready to leave behind.  The world paid well for the ingenuity of Japan, and war cost money, and killed young lives.  Mishima was an anachronism and one that sounded foolish the further Japan grew, and the louder Mishima became.

Upon finishing his final work of his The Sea of Fertility tetralogy, the Decay of the Angel, he sent the manuscript to his editor.  He then prepared for his final act.  He gathered his closest comrades in his secret army, and strode into a colonel's office at a military base.  They kidnapped the officer, barricaded themselves inside, and demanded an audience with men from that unit who were training.  The unit was called out, and for a while Mishima harangued them about Japan, the world, Samurai ideals, and destiny.  In response he was called Baka-yaro which means asshole, or fool.  Mishima realized he was an exile within his own people.  He began his final act, Seppuku.  He took his Katana sword, bent down in the hara kiri fashion, and ripped open his bowels.  His second officer was unable to complete the ritual suicide, as planned, but another did so, and then to Mishima's second who was likely, his lover.  Japanese people were neither horrified, nor confused, but the world couldn't understand at all what was going on.

But the Japanese understood, even if they were not sympatico, what he was saying, they simply didn't wish to return to the past.  He had stated, more than once, "I want to make a poem of my life."  With his last act, he became a legend, rather than a writer.

Josephine Baker was different than others on this list, not for her gender, but for her race.  She was beautiful, talented as a dancer, and had a burning inside to perform, in a certain fashion, but would not be able to do so in her homeland.  She sought that stage, and found it in France.  While there is racism in France, and Europe in general, she was perceived as exotic, rather than simply a negro.  She was given money, and achieved fame, for her talents, rather than be limited by her country's outlook upon race.  It was not unnoticed by American blacks that she was a success.  And few scorned her for her choice.  They all understood the system that kept black Americans from becoming as successful as possible.  And when she finally returned to America, she did so as a star from Europe, than a returning American, coming home.

Many people who venture out to comedy clubs, in America do not realize that the R rated, or even X rated humor they are hearing would have been next to impossible without the struggle of Lenny Bruce.  He made some very clear comments about the world, used humor and black humor especially to punctuate his commentary, and he was crucified by obscenity laws, over aggressive prosecutors, and a society that had a Constitution and Bill of Rights, but apparently Freedom of Speech wasn't really for real.  Lenny Bruce challenged the country by what he said, some loved his work, many never heard his work but hated him with some degree of fire.  He was not a saint.  But he did cause Americans to think about, what does it actually mean to allow free speech.  He was an outcast, he was not beloved until much, much later.  But by challenging the passive, conservative society, he allowed others to speak without fear of arrest, for ideas.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

To Be Greek Mythologically Literate

My original text began with a diatribe against the improper use of the word "Myth".  But since that would be foolish without a proper definition and context, I should begin here instead.  The word itself is derived from Greek mythos (μύθος), which is "story".  The word story then is expanded in terms of how we understand it, within a context, of a story told to explain, or to understand a larger truth.  Creators of the story do not presume literal interpretation, nor do they aim to be scientific.  However, the creation of myths is a cultural thing, and can become a religious or spiritual event.

I have heard for the last twenty years or so that myth equates lie.  That is such a travesty.  I am not a genius, nor have I read all the great works of human history and literature.  But "Myth" does not equate "Lie".  It is one of the vulgar misunderstandings of the present of the purpose of the works of the past.

The point of this is not to scold the language devolution.  It is not to scold people for not reading the ancient writings or myths.  But, to understand some of the greatest stories of all time, it helps to know the original works being referenced.  Cultural literacy is a term that refers to knowing the important events of your culture, and how they work within the framework of life.  Greek culture is probably not your own, but Western Civilization likely is your culture.  So, try reading some great myths, and then some great books.  Maybe you'll be amazed.

Sisyphus was punished, and was made to bear a rock or boulder to push or carry up a steep hill every day, only to have it roll down at the end of his labors, every single day.  Albert Camus wrote using the character of the mythic story to show how humans in our labors might well feel the same way.  We might wonder the point of existence, the value of our life, and why we struggle.  Camus suggested that we live in an absurd world, without instructions, and that through our own struggle and mental clarity and definition, WE make the world less absurd.  He says "You must imagine Sisyphus happy".

Atlas comes into closer view, as a Greek legend, but with more clarity via Virgil, a Roman.  His work the Aeneid featured the journey of a people from Troy across the Mediterranean, to end up in Rome.  He explains that Atlas's name means Long enduring.  And his name is very apt.  Atlas was a titan, a race of giants who competed with the gods and heroes for dominance of the Mediterranean world.  The titans lost a battle with the gods of Olympus, and for siding with the titans he was punished.   Zeus condemned Atlas to stand upon the Earth and hold the Heavens on his powerful back and shoulders.  Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged as a novel to demonstrate her political and social views in a context of story.  It was not an allegory, but presenting her views in story form.  (Kind of like a myth, right?)  Her view was that human freedoms trumped the need of group safety.  As such her "Objectivism" is shown as a reasonable answer to "Collectivism"  The title refers to Atlas being well being of man, essentially, being weighed down with regulations, and finally overwhelmed, shrugs and fails.

Poseidon was the Greek God of the sea.  He was given the wild, ruthless nature of the sea, as well as the serene glory that the sea can also be.  Many Greek cities held him as their patron deity.  The fabled city of Atlantis was also said to be his home city.  The Poseidon Adventure featured a large ocean liner that is overturned by a "rogue wave" on New Year's Eve.  Rogue waves are the domain of an angry Poseidon, by the way. The title is therefore playing upon the fact that naming a ship, who ventures into the sea, the domain of Poseidon, by the God's very name, to be an act of sacrilege.

Prometheus was a titan and deity in Greek mythology who was the creator of mankind and its greatest benefactor.  He gave mankind fire stolen from Mount Olympus and fought along side of Zeus versus Chronos and the Titans.  Prometheus Unbound speaks to the unchaining Prometheus from his punishment (having been chained to a rock and having birds eat his liver).  The first writer of a story about Prometheus Unbound was Aeschylus, and that was a collection of three plays. Shelley's work is a closet play never meant to be made for stage.  In Shelley's work Prometheus is released from chains.  He was also freed within the work of Aeschylus, but his version was happier.  Zeus and Prometheus are made to reconcile. Not in Shelley's work, in his work, God and Titan are not reconciled because Zeus has fallen, and mankind and Titans have risen.  That is, it is a comment upon the world we live in, that WE have reconciled and freed Prometheus, our benefactor, by our learning, thinking, and advancements. 

'Never regret thy fall,
O Icarus of the fearless flight
For the greatest tragedy of them all 
Is never to feel the burning light.'


Icarus flew too close to the sun, his father had fashioned wings from feathers and wax, and had warned him, the sun would melt the wings.  The story is long suggested to be a warning against hubris, the false beliefs in oneself, and such.  I also believe it is about the dangers of youthful risk taking.  His father was a genius.  It is probable, perhaps a guess on my part, that Icarus was a dick, but, maybe a genius kid who was a dick.  So he said fuck that advice, I am flying.  Imagine being a kid, 16 years old, told don't go over 55 or the car would explode, and having a highway that is empty of traffic in every direction.  You are free to speed, but do you.  The answer is of course, up to you, or up to your risk tolerance.  I love this mythic story.  It is multi-layered, and I take all of its layers to heart.

I have not read this book, so I cannot offer a concise reading of it, but ...

"FROM PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY:  A century of unwise American military adventures is probed in this perceptive study of foreign policy over-reach. Daily Beast and Time contributor Beinart (The Good Fight) highlights three examples of Washington's overconfidence: Woodrow Wilson's hubris of reason: the belief that reason, not force, could govern the world; the Kennedy-Johnson administrations' hubris of toughness during the Vietnam War; and George W. Bush's hubris of dominance in launching the Iraq War. In each case, Beinart finds a dangerous confluence of misleading experience and untethered ideology; the Iraq War, he contends, was fostered both by a 12-year string of easy military triumphs from Panama to Afghanistan, and a belief that America can impose democracy by force. (The book continues the author's ongoing apology for his early support of the Iraq War.) Beinart's analyses are consistently lucid and provocative—e.g., he calls Ronald Reagan a dove in hawk's feathers, and his final conclusion is that Obama will need to... decouple American optimism from the project of American global mastery. The book amounts to a brief for moderation, good sense, humility, and looking before leaping—virtues that merit Beinart's spirited, cogent defense. (June)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Can't predict it.

The future world is neither one I have hope for, nor a strong knowledge of the events that will happen within.  All I know is that if I were to guess, it wouldn't sound good. People tend to assume therefore, that I am a pessimist.  That wouldn't be true.  I think that overall I tend to be a realist, and I try not to get to high (optimistic) or low (pessimistic).

My son's generation has a great challenge before them.  They stand before an enormous abyss on one side, and a universe of opportunity on the other.  They cannot slip, nor do they have the luxury of time to relax or sleep, this world's disasters and worries are so great as to make the next 50 years very crucial in the history of humankind.  I believe humanity could wipe itself off the face of the earth in war, overpopulation and collapse, or virus.  We could also reach the critical period of realization where nothing further can be gained with the resources and knowledge we have.  If we do not leap into the dark, we might be stranded on our blue, beautiful planet.

I am not a person who hopes for the darkness.  I believe in hope.  But we live between hopes and fears in our existence.  Everyone does.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Bronze Age, Greece's Gods and Heroes in Graphic Novel format

In 480 BC on the coast of Greece, the invading Persian army was stopped for three days by 300 Spartans and allies on land, and Athenian led naval vessels on the sea.  The last stand of the 300 was well remembered and served as a rallying point that stirred the previously independent city states into becoming Greek, one and all.  

In university  I did one of my upper level long papers on Thermopylae and the effect it had on Greece.  It isn't easily researched because the work by Herodotus was considerably shit upon.  Later historians challenged his words, and assumed it was all propaganda and fiction.  But, it probably had as much truth as falsehood, since Herodotus did interview people who had seen the event, and he had some knowledge from others who had seen the impact of the event.

Frank Miller chose to tell a story that was fictionalizing the event, so, he chose to take moments known, and fill in the blanks.  He made some characters uglier, some sexier, some more violent.  That is, he wrote a story.  The characters on each side are brought to life in his work, first in comics, then in an amazing film.  Some people view the Spartans as fascist or ancient predecessors of Nazis.  But, telling the story of the 300 Spartans without moralizing over the Spartans world led many to chastise Miller.

His work was fiction, but it captured the martial spirit of the moment, and I love it.  Others can sit and judge, I choose to enjoy and educate myself about the reality with other accounts.  I don't really know why people can't do the same thing.  The Graphic novel, or tpb collecting all the comics I prefer over the movie, but, that is just the kind of fella I am.

For centuries scholars and readers assumed the story of the Trojan war was a myth or legend.  The story was about how a prince named Paris eloped/kidnapped a beautiful queen/princess Helen, and the people of the princess's homeland (Sparta) followed her to return her.  Troy and Greek states though DID go to war.  The site of Troy was proven to exist by an amateur archeologist from Germany, Heinrich Schliemann.  His methods were regrettable, yet, they proved that myth and legends are often born from reality.

Eric Shanower tells an enormously different story than Miller, in a far different style.  He tells the fiction of the story of the Trojan war, told first by the amazing blind poet Homer.  Shanower's art is unforgettable, perfect for the story, and emotive, and the writing is emotionally moving, and beautiful.    

The Graphic Universe is good, but does not compare in any way, shape, or form, to the previous two series.  However, if you have a child who is learning about Greece, it would be an amazing way to introduce them and further their knowledge.  (And by no means on simply this subject).

I haven't read any work from this series.  Therefore, I can't outright recommend it, but I can say from the looks of it, it would be right up the alley of anyone interested in the mythic history of the Gods of Ancient Greece.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Plague of Sorrows.

I believe that the Jewish people are God's chosen people. I do not believe this as part of Jewish supremacist views. I do not hold Zionism as my beliefs. But I believe in God, I believe in the God of Israel, and I believe in many of the stories that others ascribe to myth.

"A myth is a sacred narrative in the sense that it holds religious or spiritual significance for those who tell it, and it contributes to and expresses systems of thought and values. Use of the term by scholars implies neither the truth nor the falseness of the narrative. To the source culture, however, a myth by definition is "true", in that it embodies beliefs, concepts, and ways of questioning and making sense of the world." Source: Wiki

Adam and Eve, the Flood, the Nephilim, all reveal stories of human origins that are shared throughout the Middle East. One story, that of Moses and the Plagues of Egypt reveals a story that I believe is true. I also believe that most of the Old Testament was told with metaphor, and perhaps too, allegory. The Jewish people were held in slavery, and Moses was raised up to lead his people from that bondage. Upon demanding the freedom of the Jewish people from the servitude to the Egyptian empire, the Pharaoh of Egypt refused. Following the refusal, Moses and his brother Aaron warned of the consequences, the wrath of God. The leaders of Egypt were told, and some perhaps believed, that they were deities. The idea that these tiny slave people could threaten Pharaoh and his great empire and army, was insane.

"O sole god, like whom there is no other!
Thou bringest forth as thou desirest
To maintain the people
According as thou madest them for thyself,
The lord of all of them, wearying with them,
The lord of every land, rising for them,
The Aton of the day, great of majesty.

How manifold it is, what thou hast made!
They are hidden from the face.
O sole god, like whom there is no other!
Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,
Whilst thou wert alone: All men, cattle, and wild beasts,
Whatever is on earth, going upon feet,
And what is on high, flying with its wings."

Great Hymn to the Aten
Author: Akhenaten Pharaoh of Egypt

The enemy of Pharaoh was not the Jews really, but their god, Jehovah. The plagues were called down upon Egypt until Pharaoh released the Jews. The final plague, the death of the first born male was the worst of the plagues. At first Pharaoh let the Jews go, his heart being swollen in sorrow. But then he allowed his bitterness decide to kill the Jews instead. The Bible seems to either discuss a parting of the Red Sea or a place called the Sea of Reeds, a deep mud filled back water swamp by Moses. Either constitutes a miracle, and I am not qualified to suggest which was more accurate in translation. The point of this all is not to suggest that I have proof of anything, but to say, as stories go, these are rather detailed plagues with very odd components to simply pull out of your ass. I believe that whenever a work is complicated and earnest in direction, it sounds true, whereas, if a work is filled with author assurances that the story really is true, it often is not. I have more thinking to do, but I'll be back with more. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Consumed by fire. What then?

When the end comes, we will be consumed, and our ash spread upon the earth.  Winds will blow our remains across the surface, and settle with the dust.  We have no control over this, it is inevitable.  So, if death is inevitable, then what?

Some people face the truth with a desire to be kind, since we all face a struggle.  Some are deeply selfish, treating others without care, because they don't perceive that they will ever atone.  Some people are kind because they live out the system of Karma, the universal principle of cause and effect. Our actions, both good and bad, return to us in the future, helping us to learn from life’s lessons and become better people. I trust in the system of Mercy and Grace.  I am not suggested that other people do live wrongly if they pursue Karma.  But I haven't seen it work.  I am saying that in my understanding, the only perfect life was Christ's, and he was executed by Rome.  By this killing he voluntarily took upon himself the sins of others, and God granted humans mercy, and grace, and invited them to enter into communion by repenting, and asking forgiveness.

I am not suggesting anyone stop believing anything they believe.  Perhaps your belief system works.  But I trust in a system that I have experienced in it working.

A further discussion on Karma or Mercy and Grace can be found here.