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NOTICE

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Eclipse



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.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Not exactly nice guys

ANTI HERO

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.

DEATH DEALER

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

GODS FROM SPACE



Literal Interpretation of Myth

"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

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

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.


PHILIP COPPENS

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"



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.'

OSCAR WILDE


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)