Monday, October 11, 2010

some time back

some time back, the gods was sittin’ around watchin’ the goin’s on on earth and somebody of ‘em noticed what-all the people was up to and got to thinkin’ and then says, “ya know, the people’re just like us. they got all we got, but they just ain’t figgered it out yet.”
well, ever’body there, the gods, thought about it and seen it was so and then they started to get distressed.
“oh me, what’ll happen to us if’n the people figger out they’s just like us? they won’t worship us or sacrifice no mo’.”
“me-dammit! we gotta do somethin’!”
“sweet mother of me, what’re we to do then?”
well, they beat it about for awhile and come to the conclusion that the only thing they could was keep the people ignorant of their potential godness and the way to do that was to hide the knowledge someplace really hidden where the people would never ever find it, but where was that to be?
“we could bury it in the ground.”
“no, that won’t work. they’s tillin’ and minin’ and rootin’ around and no matter how deep we put it, they’d find it.”
“we could sink it in the ocean.”
“no good. eventually they’ll dig up all they can in the ground and then they’ll start lookin’ under the water. it’d take longer, but they’d find it.”
“well, then, let’s put it up in the air so high they can’t reach it.”
“oh, fer me’s sake, it ain’t nothin’ to fly! they’ll figure that out soon enough and then they’ll be all up in the air. we gotta think of someplace to hide the knowledge where they won’t never find it.”
the gods talked about and stewed and fretted and worried it over like a dog on a bone, but they couldn’t think of anyplace to hide the knowledge from the people. finally, they gave up and then one of ‘em says, “let’s go talk to God. He’ll know what to do.”
so they went to talk to the main god, the biggest, wisest, ultimatest of them all. they explained the problem: how to hide from the people the knowledge that they were of the same substance of the gods, in the same form as the gods and essentially, the same as the gods. where could that information be stored away for safe keeping for all time. the great God thought about it for a bit and came up with the answer.
“put it inside them. they’ll never look there.”

i got the above anecdote from a book titled simply living – the spirit of the indigenous people which i picked up for $.90 at a local thriftstore, which is where i get books – thriftstores, used bookstores, the free book stand downtown. i assume the deity which i pray to sends information my way when i need it and it frequently appears in book form. sometimes it seems completely fuckin’ random and i might believe it was if i believed anything was random which i don’t. i think the source of the story above was a mexican indian. i dunno. find the book and look for it. or look in that dusty old bible, genesis 1, unless i’m much mistaken, is where the serpent speaks to eve and tells her something to the effect of if’n ya eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will become as god is, italics mine and there ain’t no apple in the bible in case you were wondering, ain’t no fuckin’ apples in the levant unless they’re imported. and let’s hear now take a gander at that talkin’ snake business.
ya ain’t gotta invoke the archeological record or the physical fact that snakes ain’t got voiceboxes to go pokin’ holes all up through the creation stor(y/ies) in genesis, that’s fer sher. the story don’t hold water. for one thing, there’s two different versions, one in which adam and eve are created at the same time (2) and one in witch eve is made later (1). and then there’s the numbering of the days. a day is the amount of time it takes for the earth to orbit the sun (or the sun to orbit the earth, if ye prefer), but the earth and sun weren’t made until the second day, so how could there be a first day if there was no earth and no sun, both of which must exist for there to be a day by definition of “day”? try takin’ genesis literally and thou’ll find thyself having to force thineself to believe all manner of bullshit that cain’t be believen without a shitton of effort. now, other handin’, if ye taketh it as a metaphor, then all contradictions and internal illogics lose any relevance and the onliest quest(ion) becomes, well, what then is the metaphor a metaphor for? and though they be infinite possible interpretations of this said and same, i’ll now propose one.
when is anybody ever innocent? has ye ever lived in a state of ignorance is bliss? when ya neither knew nor cared the difference betwixt male and female? when ya ran around naked in the yard and somebody else took care of all the cares and fed ye and sheltered ya and you nary had to work nor toil nor spin? has thet e’er been?
well, fur moist of us it has and fir sum of us it still is, cf. the lil’ sprat what’s runnin’ around, swingin’ a teddy bear, hollerin’ and terrorizin’ the dogs when she ain’t conked out, they’re-angels-when-they’re-sleepin’. aye’n thet little grrrl is neither eve nor adam, but both and serpent as well for the serpent is the symbol of nature and also of changing time, which is nature-all, for the serpent slides on its belly and hath no limbs to divert its chi and the serpent sheds its skin to be born again as the moon sheds its shadow as the earth turns to spring as the spirit slips its bonds to return to the source. sssso the sssserpent sssslips into the garden via the body’s own being, being a ssssymbol of the inevitability of growing up, which issss the end of innocence, the beginning of toil, not all of a ssssudden as in genessssissss, but gradually and sssslow, unless ye happen to be the da’ what’s watchin’ the wee’n ssssprout up’n e’erday sssseems sssshe’s taller and quicker and growin’ faster than y’re quite confortable with, sssseems like yesterday sssshe fit in the palm of yr hand. aye an’ i’m what’s the god in this story, sayin’ “whoa, slow it down, bonny bairn, no hurry to get growed”, but i know ‘tis inevitable an’ ‘t’wouldn’t stop it if’n i could, but understandable what fer tha lord said to hold off on thet verboten frucht. aye, an’ i change the diapers an’ sooth the skunned knees and provictual the bananananaas and’ve read peter rarebit ‘til i olmost witsh herr magregor’d catsh the bastard bunny and i giveth doon the law, “thou shalt eateth thine beans before thou shalt hath stra’berries”, “thou shalt not hit the dog with thy stick” &c and great and terrible is my wisdom and far-reaching my eye which seeth what has been hidden and discerneth what would be kept secret (i know who put the socks in the dogs’ waterbowl).
and aye, in the fullness of time, she will become as I AM THAT I AM, moor or less and whither she’ll know it is her own shiny green rock to find. (i’m gonna tell her whar to look.)
now, this’s the bibble we’re talkin’’bout, wherein patriarchy is the pattern and the earth is a fallen woman witch’s why ‘tis all aboot the faraway farther who art in heaven paralleling the human father off in the fields or factory by day only comin’ home to walk in the cool of the evenin’ and the garden of maternal delights bein’ not merely relegated to a subordinate posit, but excised from the story altogether. ‘nother traditions dost nay relegate all that is carnal to the realm of the wicked, nor also so malign the matearthnal as to make maturity a fall from, but to assign to age the assemblance of ascent, such thet the initiation into adulthood is humandatory. you can’t be a child forever an’ why would you wanna be? shore, them’s some drawbacks to growling up, getting yer bread by the sweet of yer brow and the pangs of childbirth, to mention the top 2 gender roles in the time/space of genesis’s genesis, but ‘tis only by the accumulation of age’s wisdom that conscious religioning can occur, that being the reconnection with that which from one has been unconnected from. so, the lil’ punkinhead’s maw should have a place in the story or mayhap she’s nay concerned, halving her own mythology, but as we proseed forward with the recreation of a myth from whence we can build a reconnected world, that being somewhat of what i’m putting firth as a desirable destination, let us nay neglect to include the veneration of the mater in the generation o’ the matter.
‘n’ so, thou so’n’so, the serpent spake the sooth and too, tis’ i am that i am still ascending kundalinilike up’n the charnal chakras to the top o’my own awakening and the becoming as god is is still becoming for the myth is always in the present tense for all tenents, wee babes, toothless hags and middlin’s as well. becoming as god is is our raisin d’eating and reason for beating and the serpent of the garden is the impulse of our growing toward knowing tha’ the farther was ne’er not near nor the dam damned and we’ve been reconnected to thar from whence we t’was always with. an’ the serpent is in us and of us as we art of’n the earth as the snake on a-belly crawls and rattles to hissper sweet nothings in our ears.
inquire within.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

well, now parzival

well, now parzival went home and told his dear ol’ ma ‘bout his day and that he’d decided to become a knight and she was not at all happy to hear it which is no surprise when ya consider that she’d gone to considerable trouble to prevent that exact thing from happenin’. but she took the news as best she could, in her own passive-aggressive sort of way, mumblin’ under her breath, “oh, i always knew t’would come to this”, as she pulled down the curtains and sewed together a ridiculous get-up for parzival to wear when he went off to make his way in the world, hoping that he’d look so stupid when he got to king arthur’s court that they’d laugh him outta town and he’d come back home, tho’ she really didn’t think it’d work. and parzival threw a bedquilt across the olde plowmule and packed his bible and a change of socks in his rucksack and kissed his ma and off he went, down the ol’ plank road to become a knight. his ma stood and waved her kerchief and when he went around the bend she thought, “oh, i’ll ne’er see my boy again” and just to make sure she was right, she fell down dead in the road which is sad and tragic, but also exactly what she what she deserved. she had, after all, built her whole miserable existence around the false and wrong-headed notion that she could prevent someone else from achieving their own fulfillment. and deferred her own dreams in the process.
the world is full of people like that. people who, becos of ignorance or fear or prejudice or greed or plain old stupid dedication to their ideas of how-things-oughtta-be, refuse to take up the challenge to discover and manifest their own true, genuine, unique and god-given lives. they settle for less and less and convince themselves that they have no other choice but to make do and then they try to drag anybody down with ‘em that they can get their claws into. arguably, they may deserve pity more than hate, but there’s so goddamn many of ‘em and they’re so goddamn good at what they do, goddamn their eyes, that some measure of contempt is their due and myths ain’t very kind to ‘em. let the dead bury the dead.
parzival, o’ course, had no idea becos he was facing forward and away he went and had a few kooky misadventures and eventually found his way to king arthur’s court where he was recognized for what he was: a dumb country bumpkin with a good heart and the honest desire to become something. the student was ready so a teacher appeared and schooled parzival in the proper conduct of knightliness. he was taught some gentilities and formalities and the use of weaponries and salad forkeries and among the many details of chivalries he learnt was the importance of keeping his fool mouth shut. mind yer own business and hoe yer own row. don’t go pokin’ around askin’ a lotta questions. and keep yer armor shiny.
well, one day all the knights were at the round table, discussing their various past adventures and someone happened to make mention of the sad fact that they had been without any of same for some time, which caused all t’others to murmur their assent. adventures had been sorely missed as of late and t’wouldn’t it be lovely to embark upon one, but what, oh pray, should it be? when all of a sudden, a deus ex machina descended from yon rafters bearing upon it a most radiant and wondrous vision such as took the breath away from all and sundry, being clearly a sight most sacred and holy that none present could fail to perceive as such. and when the thing had vanished, all present agreed that what they had been shown was the sight of nothing less than the holy grail.
we are used to thinking of the holy grail as the chalice from which jesus christ drank and gave his disciples to drink at the last supper and which joseph of arimathea used to catch christ’s blood and then, rather inexplicably, took as far away from the holy land as he possibly could to great britain and there entrusted to the care of some persons of good repute to hold onto in esoteric secrecy until the 12th century or so. this was not always the case. at the time the grail stories were coming together, the grail was sometimes said cup, sometimes the platter from whence christ ate and served bread at the last supper and sometimes a big, glossy, green rock. seriously. the tales of king arthur’s knights certainly have their roots in prechristian, celtic myths and heroic legends and there is some little speculation that before the monks got hold of the material and christianized it all up, the artifact that became the grail was a cauldron which had the delightful property of always containing something to eat. this wondrous cookery turns up in myths quite frequently, food being a basic necessity and it in abundance being a symbol of the good life. all of which is fine and dandy but somewhat less important than what the grail represents and what that is is what myth is all about: the genuine, true, real and unique life of the individual. platter, cauldron or shiny rock makes no nevermind, this is about fulfillment.
so they all decided that the vision of the grail had occurred in response to their discussion and that it was a challenge to take up the quest, a challenge that they, brave, stout men of action that they was, were not about to shy away from. up they upped and saddled their chargers and girded their loins and buttoned their armor and rode they forth in gallant fashion with many a “hey” and “ho” and “devil take the hindmost” all the way to the edge of king arthur’s lands whence they encountered the great forest. and there they conferred and were all of one mind that t’would be a shame to ride into the wilderness as a group. each of them, then, would enter the wilderness alone, in the place of his own choosing, where there was no path.
this is crucial. several things have happened here, all of which deserve some little consideration. one thing is the deliberate undertaking of a quest. earlier, when parzival was home with his ma, the quest took him. he wasn’t looking for it, didn’t have any idea and it caught him up. here, parzival, along with the other knights, chose to ride forth, conscious of the dangers and willing to accept what happened in the course of the quest. and we also see that parzival’s earlier quest – to become a knight at king arthur’s court – having been fulfilled, placed him in the position to undertake this, his major quest. and the grail quest is exactly the major quest of any life. the quest to become a knight was a smaller, introductory quest for the real biggie. there may be many small quests, necessary steps, before the real big one becomes apparent. all of the small ones are essential. all of the minor goals must be successfully accomplished before the major one will appear. and when the major one does appear, it must be sought by the individual alone, in his/her own way. each one must leave the known realm – king arthur’s realm – and enter the world – wilderness – charting their own coarse. you cannot realize your true, real, genuine, unique selfhood strolling down a well-worn path. that might get you to the privy, but it ain’t getting’ ya to heaven.
psychologically, the wilderness is the unconscious mind, the dream mind. to delve into this realm, as do shamans and other visionaries, means travelling with the collective dream, which is the group of knights, which is the cultural myth/religion, all the way to the very edge and then breaking away from it to plunge into the unknown alone and going forth to discover what may be there.
or in the case of the young person growing into adulthood, this section may refer to the move from mom and dad’s place(s). we saw parzival leave his mother and what went down there. king arthur then became his sort-of father figure archetype and the kingdom then, the known sphere of parental control which is control but is also security. in reality, the little birds may take a measure of security with them, but they must, if they are to become actual adults in the real world, take on the responsibility for themselves, their actions and their lives.
and so they went and parzival went also, alone into the wilderness, questing for the holy grail, which was and always will be themselves. the main body of the story takes place in this questing and it jumps around from knight to knight, showing the adventures of some and the misadventures of others. some fatal character defects cause fatalities. some knights get sidetracked or discouraged or caught up in shenanigans that have no truck a’tall to do with the holy grail and let that be a lesson: its all too easy to be led astray. occasionally, two or three of the knights run into each other on the road and sit down a spell to talk about what they been up to and how’s it goin’? and that’s all fine and well, its good to share information with others along the way and enjoy a can o’ beans around the campfire, but then its back to the lonely road in the mornin’.
and when his way got rough and he was down in the dumps, parzival always had his faith and his bible, which here shows the importance of a guiding principle, a light, a resource of energy. the road is hard and strewn with many stones. the quest is oft weary and the end nowhere to be seen, nor any guarantee t’will e’er be found and what’s a young knight to lean upon when sorrow is his only companion and fatigue his only ration? whence cometh the strength to travel on if not from the example of the myth? aye and here the myth is showing the importance of the myth within the myth and the liberation of the individual thru the surrender of the individual to the influence of the myth. this sort of contrariness is to be expected, as the road to paradise is paved with paradoxes and of these, liberation via surrender is the most ubiquitous, which may seem strange to some amongst us who was raised with the concept of a stern, vengeful and law-making god of the purityrannical sort, the kinda deity that goes around smiting and blighting and sending plagues and locusts and being generally calvindictive. god doesn’t have to be thought of as a celestial cop waiting to pop out and condemn people for having unpure thoughts or striking matches on saturday. it may be and indeed it is that the “laws” gifted down from on high are less rules imposed upon us to restrict our freedom and more guidelines to help us attain to greater happiness and harmony with our fellows. f’rinstance, it has been well said “judge not lest ye be judged” and oft’ interpreted that as meaning that if’n ye look down upon an other, yer father which art in heaven shalt looketh down ‘pon ya, but mayhaps it means that if’n ye enter into the business of down-looking, you will yerself look down upon yerself and then live within the sphere of constant comparison wherein ye wilt ne’er have peace for as long as ye find an other lowlier than your sorry self, it follows that ye wilt find an other against whom ye art lesser than. hence, to ne’er judge means to be equal to all and hear, hear let us hearken to the words of one who knew well this sooth, old railroad hand, eugene v. debs:

“your honor, years ago i recognized my kinship with all living beings, and i made up my mind that i was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. i said then, and i say now, that while there is a lower class, i am in it, and while there is a criminal element i am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, i am not free.”*

and one who knows he is no better than the worst is also no worse than the best, and all are equal in the sight of god, amen. many many more examples could be shewn o’ that what has been taken as commanding being really showing of the way, but suffer this to suffice and assumeth ye henceforth that the purpose of god is always the liberation of the individual, never the condemnation of same**.
so tho’ he recognized hisself as in service to the god of his religion, parzival understood that the reason of his being was to become fulfilled thru the service of his god and that the quest upon which he was embarked, that being to seek until finding the holy grail, which was his own true fulfillment, it follows that god’s reason for being was to gift onto parzival the knowledge of the means through which his fulfillment might be found and the power to find it, thus fulfilling the purpose of god and parzival both, both of whom having the same fulfillmental purpose, namely the finding of the holy grail, here representing personal fulfillment. so god was on his side. and he knew it.

*decapitalization mine

**cf. john 3:16 &c for clear exposition of this posit.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"kali medhanit" is a mistake

“kali medhanit” is a mistake.
i was thinking of a title for this and, as is so often the case, i was drinking coffee and it occurred to me that the phrase by which the lakota called coffee at the time black elk was talkin’ to john neihardt and still today for all i know translated as “black medicine”. i’m gonna go out on a speculative limb here and guess that the lakota word or words that get translated to english as “medicine” have the general meaning of making one “better” or “stronger” which could mean a restoration to health for one who is ailin’, but could also have to do with increasin’ the power of one who is well enough which would explain why warriors go to battle in “medicine shirts” and shamans wear “medicine hats” when they’re on the job, that bein’ sometimes but not always, healin’ the sick.
so anyhow, i thought “well, kali is sanskrit for ‘black’” and then t’was no trouble a’tall to ask an ethiopian for the amharic for “medicine” which turned out to be “medhanit” after t’was rendered in roman letters. so “kali medhanit” is what it became and its a jumble of languages an’ ideas that amounts to gibberish in a way, but that’s fine too as its also a summarization of how we’s doin’ things here. sanskrit is the oldest written language unless they found an older one whilst i wasn’t payin’ attention and ‘tis the language in which hinduism and buddhism grew up. amharic is the longtime tongue of at least a buncha ethiopians, tho’ not all by a long shot, and ethiopia is a danged old country bein’ mentioned a few times in the elder testament. christianity was established in ethiopia in the first century apple dapple and the population at the moment is about 2/3 christian, 1/3 muslim and a bit o’ “traditional”, whate’er that means. they claim they got the ark o’ the covenant there. and then there’s that reference to the lakota who’re standin’ in here for the pagan/animistic/shamanic peoples so most of the bases are touched as far as bein’ touched by god and developin’ a myth goes.
but as i said, despite all that happy horseshit, it’s a mistake becos the actual sanskrit for “black” is actually “kālī” with the two lil’ lines over the vowels that i don’t know what they mean. i found that out later and ‘tis too much trouble to change it now. we’ll have to find a way to live with it as ‘tis.
“kali” without the two lil’ lines over the vowels means “weak” and “crude” and “inarticulate” and this is the meaning that is meant in the phrase “kali yuga”, a yuga being an unit of cosmological time and there being 4 of these only one of which need concern us, that being the last one: the kali yuga, the furthest in time from the creation and the worst, most debas(ed/ing) time, the end of time, the time when ev’rything is about shot to shit and gone to hell in a handbasket and that, my friends, in case it ain’t plain and obvious, is the now. this is it. we’re livin’ in the last days and the end can’t come quick enough. oh, and also, “kālī” with the two lines also means “time” so that’s prob’ly another reason people think that the “kali yuga” is the “kālī yuga”, but its not. they’re two different words. one has little lines over the vowels; the other’n don’t have.
and medhanit means “medicine”, which is just what the witch doctor ordered for this sick society, not that i’m sayin’ what i’m writing is the medicine, but i am sayin’ that what i’m writing about is. myth is the medicine i’m suggestin’.
now whilst we’s on the subject of “kali” and/or “kālī” as the case may be, there’s also a goddess by that name who is prob’ly the most misinterpreted of the whole hindu pantheon mostly becos she takes on a certainly ferocious demeanor what with the gapin’ bloody mouth and necklace of skulls and skirt of arms an’ all and the weapons in her many hands. its no wonder she’s been generally seen as a bad thing by eyes that was washed with the spittle of the bloody lamb of golgotha when they waded into india with machine guns and swords. oh, how awful. but kālī or kālī ma or kalika ain’t nothin’ bad a’tall, bein’ a representation of time, which changes and consumes all and all and ev’rything in between, no matter what. kālī ma, “black mother” is only the changing of time and that ain’t bad unless ya’s fool enough to fight it, in which case its pretty fuckin’ hard times and will seem terrible to you. if you don’t fight the changes of time, then she appears to you in another of her aspects and you can relax into the blessin’ she bestows an’ one of her hands is always unarmed and poised in the mudra of “fear not” for that reason.
in some counties, kali ma is considered the same thing as what we was callin’ “brahman” before and in other parts she is known as “bhavatarini” or “redeemer of the universe” and let’s not forget that part about acceptin’ change.
this is all about as good a short, quick example of how this shit goes on in my life as i can come up with. i go about my business as best i can, with the general assumption that if i just show up an’ make myself available, shit’ll go on the way its supposed to and there’ll be a part for me to play in it. writin’ about myth seemed like a good idea at the time as i’ve spent a few years learnin’ a little an’ i feel i got some shite to say so i prayed about it some and commenced to set out about it. an’ ideas come into my head and shit works out in ways i couldn’t’ve planned ‘cos i honestly just ain’t all that clever, like for example how just right the mistakes i make turn out to be. kali medhanit, indeed.
shave an’ a haircut,
two bits:

“of myself, i am nothing. the father doeth the works.”
- common paraphrase of john 5:30
“the myth is not my own. i had it from my mother.”
- euripides

Thursday, July 1, 2010

wolfram von eschenbach wrote parzival

wolfram von eschenbach wrote parzival around 1200 anno domini, some 15 or 20 years after chretien de troyes wrote perceval, the story of the grail. to say that somebody wrote something back in them days means that they wrote it down, literacy being something of a novelty, not that they made it up. the stories of the arthurian roundtable and the grail/graal had been around for quite a while, being passed along and refined and perfected by minnesingers with good memories long before chretien and wolfram committed them to paper. the actual king arthur was alive and kicking and yanking swords outta stones around 500 apollo dionysus, so that’s about 700 years from fact to myth.
this here writer read both works oh, around 2003 artemis diana, and i’m writing this now in 2010 alexander diogenes. i read perceval first and, becos i skipped the intro, was surprised and annoyed to discover that chretien didn’t finish it. so i had to go find parzival to find out how the story ended. i liked both, but preferred the latter. they’re both dang fine, tho’ as noted, one is incomplete, but i didn’t dwell on either overmuch and went on to peruse many other fine works of myth, legend, anthropology and various other errata in the intervening years. recently, however, i’ve begun to think and reflect on the olde tale of the boy who would be the fisher king and meanings have become more important and/or clear than seemed to have been before. this sort of thing will happen if you immerse yourself in myth. something you read will settle into your brain, outta sight someplace and come floating up to the surface at a later time not unlike the body of a drowned individual. its good to pay attention to this. this is why reading or otherwise learning this stuff is important- it comes back when its wonted. and i haven’t read either or otherwise reviewed them in preparation for this writing about them now. i’m going on memory, which is the best way i can think of to get some things wrong. specifically, to confuse the two and mix them into one, possibly getting some bits out of order, maybe even incorporating pieces of other versions of the same knight’s dream or an altogether different myth even. how’s that for sloppy writing? claude levi-strauss would rip out his curls in vexation t’were he alive to hear of it, but he ain’t, god rest his monad, and anyway, with all due respect to the inventor of the blue jean, instructor of structuralism and fastidious parser of myth, i am not in the business of detailing how countless tales of south american motherfuckers relate to the establishment of the roasted sweet potato, tho’ that is important and fascinating shit. my concern is with a vaguer and greyer area: how individuals can use myths to enrich their own personal lives. its important, in a way, to know what any given myth meant to the people who made it in their own image and lived by it, but if that myth doesn’t jump and shake for me personally, then its just a brain exercise. so, for my purposes, the mostly-remembered myth that drifts to the surface when it appears to be applicable to the events of one’s life is more important. and that’s what i’ll be working with. i encourage any/everyone to go to the sources and to check out levi-strauss’ corpus as well. i’ll be using wolfram’s spelling.
and i want to clarify something: this is just my interpretation. but its also the general interpretation, or i think so, at least. all myths and all dreams are open-ended. they can mean different things to different people just as a dream about the ocean is generally about the unconscious and/or womb, but obviously has a different inflection if its dreamed by a barefoot okie farmboy than if its dreamed by an old tar. some symbols have general meaning and these may vary from culture to culture. in asia, a dragon means wisdom, but in europa, the same serpent means holding on in an unhealthy way, clinging to the dead past. and even if you don’t know these things, you have them to some degree in the data base of your cultural inheritance, your race memory if you like, and it ain’t a bad idea to bring them out and get to know them so you can use them in your interpretations. yours truly is of german/english extraction. on a guttural level, i’m inclined to slay dragons, not ask ‘em to teach me, but if i happen to be reading something from the east, i know i’m on a different field.
i gotta repeat here that one of the main things i’m working on and working toward is the idea that myth is a human story, that all humans have some very basic things in common and that any and all myths have the potential to reveal to any and all individuals vital and important insights that they might not’ve been able to get in any other way. i, personally, have gained much from the traditions and myths of asia, africa, the indigenous peoples of the americas and the aborigeneous peoples of australia, despite being a white anglo-saxon and former protestant. i can and do and will in the course of this discourse cross the messages, if you catch my drift, but i have to use my own cultural perspective as my starting point.
where were we? oh, parzival.
parzival’s pa was a knight and whilst parzival’s ma was pregnant, he went off on a crusade or something and got hisself killed. so parzival’s ma was all heartbroke and somehow she knew that the baby in her belly was a boy and she didn’t want him to grow up and be a knight a’cos she’uz afeared he’d go get hisself killed the way his pa did and she couldn’t bear the notion so she up’n’ went off to live in the woods and have nothin’ to do with nobody and to raise up her boy all ignorant of knightliness an’ such like that. so the boy was born and his ma taught him the bible an’ how to do chores about the cabin an’ such like that there, but she never told him nothin’ about knights or kings or crusades or anythin’ about anythin’ other than bein’ a good boy an’ stickin’ close by the cabin an’ doin’ his chores an’ readin’ his bible.
well sir, one fine day, parzival was out gettin’ firewood or somethin’ an’ he strayed off’n the path which is what folks is generally likely to do in the beginnin’ parts of myths, wander off into some strange piece o’ the woods or get led astray by an errant pup or a golden ball that rolls over near the olde well. this is a common device and it represents the beginning of the path away from the known and into the unknown, which is where one has adventures. there are myths where the hero(ine) chooses, deliberately, to seek an adventure and we will see parzival do that later on, but at this stage of it, he’s still a youngster and has not had enough life experiences to be able to choose a proper quest. this is the situation for adolescents. they are about to begin the great and terrifying adventure of becoming self-sufficient, responsible adults and they have to find their own ways. there are guiding lights, of course, and parzival is one, but every individual must, ultimately, find their own way. so parzival got lost in the woods an’ was startin’ to get a mite worried about it when he encountered a road an’ as he was standin’ there lookin' about like a dipshit, down that road come somethin’ that was nothin’ like anythin’ parzival had ever seen.
there was several of ‘em, actually, maybe a dozen. they was like people above an’ like beasts below an’ they made a sound as they came like thunder and they glittered and shined like the sun on water. an’ po’ parzival was terrified an’ awed and thrilled right thru to the marrow an’ no idea what these things might be. an’ he thought of his ma an’ the bible an’ he says to hisself, “they must be angels”, on account of he didn’t know nothin’ else they could be. so he fell down on his knees in the road an’ started genuflectin’ an’ praisin’ the lord almighty.
the amazing things pulled up short when they got to the boy in the road and the leading one shouted down, “hey, you knave, what are you doing, bowing and scraping before us? don’t you know you should bow to none but god?”
“i thought you were angels.”
“what? we’re not angels! we are knights of king arthur’s roundtable!”
“but, prithee sir, what is a knight?”, remember, parzival was totally ignorant.
“a knight is a man of honour, who wears armor and rides in service of god and the king!”
now, parzival perceived that these were men sitting astride animals not unlike the old mule his ma and him used to plow their little patch of corn and taters and terbacky, all clad in shining steel and he was filled with desire to be among them.
“now, get out of our way! we are on business for king arthur and must ride on!”
so parzival got outta the danged road and the knights sped on. he stood there for some time watching the dust settle on the road and then went on to find his way home, awed by what he had experienced and knowing that he could never be at peace until he became a knight at king arthur’s roundtable.

becos it was born in him.
when reading myth, always identify with the main character. the main character is you. if you happen to be a female, you will most likely find yourself having to take an additional imaginary step. it isn’t that difficult to do. you are parzival. you began your life as a babe in the woods being cared for by someone who loved you and who had certain ideas about who and what you could/would/should become. at some point, you started to have other ideas. some desire to become an individual began to well up in you. this is part of growing up in the world.
in myth, the father frequently represents the higher aspect of the self, the self that the son is to grow up to be. parzival’s father was a knight: that means that knighthood was parzival’s true nature, his destiny, the role that he was created for. the myth is saying that such a thing exists for every individual: there is a purpose for you, a specific something that is yours to find and bring forth and it was there, hidden in you, from the moment of your creation. just as the resurrection from the grave was placed with the logos in mary’s womb. (jesus, of course, was the son of two fathers, god and man, so he had two birds to kill with one cross: redeem the fallen father and reunite with the holy one.) this thing, this thing inside you, is what you are called in your life to accomplish. this is the true, genuine, real authentic life for you. anything else is bullshit.
maybe you haven’t found it yet. that’s becos the time has not yet come for you to find it. these things cannot be rushed. the adventure will come upon you when you are ready for and not before, so they ain’t no point in trying to force it. you can’t hurry it up. you can, however, delay it. and the way to delay it is to not do anything until you’re sure that what you’re doing is the absolute, one, true, right thing that you’re s’posed to do. parzival wasn’t sittin’ around playin’ videogames waitin’ for his life to come a-knockin’. he was out livin’ it to the fullest of his knowledge and capacity and was ready for what happened, tho’ he didn’t know it. start where you are. embrace the reality that is yer life and engage in it. do whatever is in front of you to be done and don’t hesitate to go lookin’ fer firewood in strange glades.

Friday, June 25, 2010

death as we know it

death as we know it was invented around 50,000 years b.c.e., more or less. its impossible to determine and this writer has deliberately selected a round number. feel free to correct me. t’was in europa, around that time, according to the archeological record, people started burying their dead. and more than just sticking uncle hans in a hole and covering him up, they started placing the dead in the ground in a specific position, the foetal position, and more often than not with the head aimed in a specific direction, east, the direction of the rising sun, the dawn, the birth of a new day. and they started to place gear in the graves: tools, weapons, ornaments, clay pots containing foodstuffs, flowers. those neandertals didn’t have piles of extra resources to just go flinging useful items into graves. they buried their dead with items of great value and the best, if not the only, logical reason for this kind of behavior is that they believed in some kind of life beyond the terrestrial one. that’s death as we know it: death with at least the possibility of something beyond.*
there are two things happening with these graves. one is the foetal position, the other is the grave gear. it wouldn’t be too awfully hard for neandertals to figure out the positioning of a baby in the womb. they certainly knew what they were doing and it sure seems logical to assume that what they were doing was placing the dead body in the earth in the same pose as a baby in the womb to symbolize or facilitate the rebirth of some aspect of the deceased. whether they believed the dead would be reborn in this world or some other, we cannot know. but rebirth of some kind: in the belly of the earth and oriented toward the sun. the grave gear implies a journey to be taken. down to hel and across the river styx or to the happy hunting ground or something of that sort. some life beyond.
and at about the same time, on the other side of eurasia, on the island now called hokkaido, the ancestors of the ainu started shrining the skulls of cave bears. and these two events make sense when the distance betwixt them is put aside and that’s not hard to do. people were travelling back in them days and exchanging ideas. technological advances made their way slowly across the populated continents and ideas surely went with them. the idea of a life beyond the obvious one may have arisen in different ways in different places or it may have been carried along with new and better ways to knap spearheads and come to its physical manifestation in different ways in different places. its likely that there are graves yet undiscovered that predate the ones in europa or that they once existed but have been erased by time. either way, the formula goes something along these lines: we exist in some form after our bodies have perished; the animals that we kill for food must also continue to exist in some form.
that is big shit. that is some major conceptualizin’ that gives the lie to the idea that cavemens was a buncha grunting dummies. the cave bear shrines in northern japan, furthermore, point toward an idea common to the hunting peoples of north america, who, by the way, passed near if not thru ainu territory on their way to the bering strait landbridge a few thousand years after the beginning of the cave bear shrining, which has to do with a covenant between the people and the animals the people depend on for food. people are lousy animals, remember, so the idea goes that the game animals give themselves voluntarily to the hunter who is worthy of such a sacrifice in order that the people may survive. in exchange for this self-sacrifice, the people perform some sort of ritual. in north america, among the buffalo-hunting plains indians tribes, this generally took the form of a “buffalo dance” which ensured that the spirits of the buffalo killed this year would be reborn next year. the people get meat; the buffalo get renewed youth, again and again and so on and so on, until whitey showed up. the ainu ritual of the cave bear differed in detail, but the gyst of it was the same and that continued on up into modern times, also gradually fading, or being deliberately forced, to almost non-existence with the invasion of civilized people, in this case the japanese. both traditions yet live. both show a reverence for life and for the creator of life that reveals the token saying of grace before tearing into a factory-farmed, cruelly-kept, mechanically-slaughtered chicken or pig for the disgrace it is, in my opinion, which is the only one i have any real interest in putting forth, truth be told.
once people got the idea in their heads that some aspect of an individual continued to exist in some form after the death of the body, they kept it there. evidence exists of some deliberate care being taken to preserve the dead, or prepare them for rebirth or for some kind of journey all down thru the ages. shrines to animals, same thing. sacrifices? oh yeh. o’ coss, sacrifices are of an altogether different nature, becos a sacrifice involves a deliberate killing, but the fact of a sacrifice implies the belief in another world or it isn’t a sacrifice, it’s a homicide. so the concept of an other world to which some aspect of an individual human or animal goes after the death of the body is 50,000 years old, +/-. domestication of the dog appears around 30,000 b.c.e. the wheel wasn’t invented until 10,000 b.c.e. and i’m being generous with that one.
what’s on the other side? that question has been addressed in many different ways by different peoples at different times and i’ve no plan to start listing them here and/or now. that’ll come up as it does. all i’m trying to get into at this point is the long-standing, world-wide recognition of some sort of continuation of some aspect of the individual beyond or after the death of the body and i think i’ve made that case adequately enough to be able to skip to the quick: all differing details aside, the one thing that is universally on the other side of death is the ultimate. the heavens, the hells, nirvana, all that stuff happens on the other side. what happens in this world is the time/space bounded business of this world, which includes the seeking of or participation in or relating to the spiritual realm in some way, shape or form, but which is still the business of this world. the buddha woke up in this world, but he didn’t dissolve into the blissful void of nirvana until after he died of food poisoning. jesus was the son of god but he could hardly conquer death without first dying. the ultimate ain’t here. its over there. we’ll be over there soon enough, but for now we’re here. and once we’re over there we won’t need the bhagavad gita becos we’ll be staring krishna full in the faces or maybe the baptists are right and boy howdy, won’t we feel sorry for ourselves if that turns out to be the case, but pretty much however ya cut it, myths are about living not about being dead.
i would like to stress this becos one of the most common misperceptions about myth is that its about where you go when you die. myth is not about where you go when you die. myth is about living life. myth is about living a full, honest, unique, genuine, real life. there is no other you. there is no one else who can be what you can be. your life is yours, for god’s sake. forget about death for a minute** and focus on life and ask yourself if you want it to be full and honest and unique and genuine and real. if the answer is “no” then go watch t.v. or go shopping or go fuck yerself for all i care. if the answer is “yes”, then i’ve got good news: that’s what myth is about. see, its hard to figure out how to get that life. its easy to get sidetracked and diverted and think you got it when really you’re just shuffling along with the rest of the flock, getting fleeced and finally slaughtered. or to believe the advertising. never believe advertising. the genuine life is not easy and there are no myths that i know of that pretend it is, tho’ i may’ve missed some. the genuine life is damn hard to find and harder still to stick with, but it is genuine. and it is better than the alternative.
the alternative, in case you were wondering, involves selling your soul to the devil***.

*some atheists will argue that there is no possibility of life beyond death. these people may be, can be and should be, ignored. they make their claim after the possibility has long been acknowledged, as opposed to homo sapiens neanderthalensis, who was breaking new ground. and furthermore, atheists love to claim science as support for their negativity. well, pal, the scientific method leans on proofs and the existence of an afterlife or spirit world or deit(y/ies) or devas or any of that esoterica can be neither proved nor disproved according to any creditable experiment so the best that science can do is throw up its collective hands and say “we don’t know”, which is fine and good. religion oughtn’t be in the science business either. the earth is round. that’s a fact. the earth is a goddess. that’s a myth. you tell me how the earth functions and i’ll tell you what the myth means, deal?
**death is important, in its own way. i’m not saying throw it out the window. i am saying its coming no matter what so there’s no need to get worked up over it. one of the 10,000 paradoxes is that if you focus on life instead of death, death becomes no big thing. death, whether its your own or someone else’s, becomes just another seasonal change, just another transition. its worth thinking about from time to time, but to spend too much time on it is inappropriate.
***this is a point that i will be dealing with ad nauseum as we go along, being, as it is, a reoccurring motif in the revelent materielle.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

"ligio" is latin

“ligio” is latin and it means “connect” or “join” or “bind”, so “religion” is about reconnecting things. things which once was one & which have been split apart and now wont to be back together. on the one side of the equation there is the individual. you and me and every one else, alone and apart and individuated whether you like it or not and on the other side there are four things: society, nature, ultimate and self. this here will be a very brief sketchy introduction with some very little backstory on these four. i aim to be writing about them, separately and in combos, in much greater lengthiness later on.


human beings are pretty piss-poor animals. we ain’t got claws or wings or shells or teeth big enough to bring down antelopes or bison and we can’t even run very fast. some myths explain this by making us the last creatures to be made, the sweepings of the parts, the leftovers. all the good stuff was already used up. then the gods felt sorry for us and gave us big brains, or some titan or animal stole fire and gave it to the first people or somethin’ and the fire then became the center of the group and it was this grouping that allowed humans to survive. one bald, bipedal on the savannah wasn’t ever gonna last long but a group could manage to make a living. we were social animals from the beginning and so there had to be some kinda organization, some kinda process for resolving disputes and making it possible for people to get along without killing the shit out of each other the first time heads butted or somebody stepped on somebody’s ped. we have no friggin’ idea what it was, o’ coss, ‘cos our dumb, dim, dull-witted, prehistoric forebears didn’t write anything down but those slouch-shouldered, grunting meatheads managed to make it for 95% of the time that homo sapiens have been around so they had something. agriculture and the rise of settled communities led to the development of writing only five short millennia ago, so from then to now we know the rules of societies and they’re pretty much basically the same all over the world. “don’t kill each other”, “don’t steal”, that kinda common sensical shit. most cultures made up some kinda marriage arrangement to keep people from killing over fucking; some just said “fuck whoever ya want…except yer siblings, no matter how attractive they might be”. that one about fucking yr close kin, yeah, that’s pretty much all over.
that’s society. and that puts the individual in the position of having to get along with or at least tolerate a bunch of people who have their own agendas and their own wants and desires which may be at odds with those of any given individual at any given time which brings us back around to the need for structure and then furthermore for the need to make these people want to be around each other, bound together, connected. the survival of the group depends on this. and society is of the male. and this is not about genitalia – its about energies and there are/was reasons for it, some of which is/were symbolic whilst others flat-out am/be practical and that’s the way we have it. it ain’t about gender roles or relations at this point, tho’ this writer does intend to deal with those issues at another time/space.
society is of the male energy. the structure of society is given to the people by the male deity or determined/discovered by the male culture hero. religion, in general, is a social institution, tho’ it deals with all levels, and the functionaries of religion are typically guys and the rites deal more with men’s needs than with women’s. this has a lot to do with the fact that females are associated with nature and men with society which will be touched on in the section to follow and it also has somewhat to do with the fact that a buncha guys sitting around smokin’ cigars and figgerin’ out how to organize the rituals are just gonna work it that way. and then again there’s a lot we don’t know becos when anthropology was invented, ca. 1869, the first people who took it up were over-educated, unemployed second-sons from boston, ma, who went out west to annoy the red injuns and only talked to the men, assuming that the women didn’t know anything. so we missed out on some stuff there.
at any rate, the rituals of the mass, the bacchanal, the dance, the oke-kee-pa, &c, all group rituals, serve the purpose of joining the individuals together, of making them feel connected and interconnected and related and bound. go ahead, try it on: get naked with a bunch of people, chant and dance around an alter with venomous asps for a few hours, see how ya feel about those folks.


the four categories i laid out ain’t arbitrary and nor are they writ in stone. there’s some crossing over and to ‘n’ fro. the relationship of humans to nature goes back to that business about people just not being very good animals. the natural world is all big and scary and full of things that want to eat us and that don’t want to be eaten by us. and there’s flashing lights and boomy-boom in the sky and rain and snow and dark of night. and you can’t get away from it becos the earth hasn’t been pounded yet. that’s an image from a myth, but right now i don’t remember what culture or continent or anything. some tribe somewhere had that in their creation story, that the creator told the first person to “pound the earth” which means to make it fit for humans to live on. it’s a pretty common idea. at the time of creation, the earth wasn’t right for people. it was chaos, which means, for our purposes, it wasn’t right for people. it was all water or there were monsters or titans or giants. sometimes it’s a god who kills a giant and makes the world out of the pieces of the giant’s body. sometimes the animals have to dive into the abyss and bring back some mud to make land out of. sometimes the first person or people have to go around killing monsters and in the process they usually create certain landmarks. sometimes its just a matter of naming the animals. that’s all about making order out of chaos. nature is chaotic. nature is of the female.
and again, this ain’t about gender. its about energies and archetypes. this writer intends to talk about gender at another time, becos it is an issue which needs some address, but for this moment the subject is the past and how things have been, so let’s just leave that other thing be for a bit, but the past stuff kind of is about gender in a way becos religion is of the male and the forms of religion, including the underlying myths, were mostly dreamed by the men so they’re slanted that way. from the male perspective, women are fuckin’ weird. they have vaginas. the vaginas bleed sometimes. blood is associated with death. but then babies come out of the vaginas too so the vaginas are obviously some powerful juju that nobody really understands or maybe the women do, but the men are off smokin’ cigars pretendin’ to be huntin’ saber-toothed rhinoceroses or something so they ain’t asking. but the vaginas are pretty scary mojo and at the same time pretty irresistible. the vaginas have power.
the women, of course, figgered out the connection betwixt fuckin’ and babies before the men did. they felt the changes in their bodies and they either let on right away or not, nobody knows and i’m totally free-stylin’ here becos nobody knows what went down at this point in prehistory. we’re talkin’ about 50,000 years b.c.e. here. god only knows. and she ain’t tellin’.
so the natural world don’t make a lick o’ sense, but we depend on it for everything. women are about the same, ergo women are nature and here we are smokin’ cigars and inventing society. and it continued to make sense all along, really, this assignment of the genders to society and nature, so it lasted. that’s a thing to be remembered about myth: it has lasted. people who are struggling to survive from one day to the next don’t spend a lot of energy on shit that has no value. they can’t afford to. and myth and religion have been around in some form or another for about 50,000 years, which is a long time, longer than homo sapiens have had the second sapiens, which means longer than we’ve existed in our current form and that’s something else we’ll get into at another time..
initiation rituals mostly have to do with turning the boys into men. something has to happen to the boys, something has to be done to them and it has to be done by the older men and it has to be a big fuckin’ deal. like being taken out into the scary, dark night and starved and beat around and kept awake for a week or two, dancing and chanting and then being circumcised with a jagged rock or, holy shit, subincised with a sharp chicken bone and having a tooth knocked out becos the first person got a tooth knocked out in a fight with a monster or something and then tattooed with a stick and so on and that’s some shit you don’t forget. you go thru that when you’re twelve and you’re a man, goddammit. none of this shit of getting to be about fifty and suddenly leaving your wife for your daughter’s roommate and growing a little ponytail, driving around in a sports car pretending you’re a kid agin, fuck no. you have been transformed into a man and you take your place in the men’s realm and there you are.
the girls don’t have to go thru all that. mostly. there are exceptions, but most of the time the girls get their menses and that’s it. off you go to the women’s hut, hon, and think about it some. girls become women automatically, from within and nothing has to be done to them. they start to bleed outta their vaginas and then they go thru the long trial of pregnancy and the bringing forth of the young’uns, which is a dangerous business and much more so back in the day so the polarity becomes something like:

women are/men do.

and that’s the nature/society split. nature is. just look around (not now, but back in the day). society has to be made. go out to the woods if you can find some and look around. its all higgledy-piggledy, chaotic and there’s no straight lines or anything. we know now that there’s a vast and complex system of mutually supporting, interdependent, harmoniousness going on, but it don’t look that way at first and if people are gonna live comfortably in it, there’s gonna have to be some changes made: knock down some trees, make a log cabin, clear a plot for corn and taters and a bit o’ terbaccy…fix it up nice. nature is, society has to be made. and what you lose in the process is the tenuous connection you had to the big scary natural world in the first place, which, scary tho’ it was, was also a connection and let’s not forget that nature is fuckin’ beautiful and our long-armed, thick-browed, stubby little ancestors musta seen that. they had big brains, after all and when ya get up to the time of the great cave paintings at lascaux or trois frères, it becomes pretty fuggin’ obvious they had a keen eye for beauty and those gorgeous bison and horses and gazelles weren’t first drafts. human hands had been crafting works of art for a good long time that just didn’t make it down thru the ages.
irresistible, beautiful, powerful, unpredictable, hostile…yeh, that’s women, alright. but women live in society, so they’ve lost the connection with nature, too. and society happens within nature. nature is bigger and older so the myths always start with the female energy. its frequently hidden, but its there, even when the mythmakers tried to have it not be: the chaos, remember? the chaos that existed before creation. that’s female energy. and sometimes you really don’t have to dig at all, its just blatant, like with the cow licking the salty hoarfrost and revealing the body of the sleeping giant, ymir, or vishnu sleeping on the belly of shesha naga, floating on the cosmic water – the cow and the water, whaddaya think they are?
so there’s nature, mother nature. and how do we relate to that reality? depends on what myths you look at, but all myth systems answer it in some way or another.


the ultimate is ultimately ultimate and therefore can’t be written about or talked about. the ultimate is transcendent of words becos any/all words or terms or turns of phrases are limit(ed/ing) and so can’t touch it. the ultimate is unknowable. at this point, someone who has been following along might say that “unknowable” is one side of a pair of opposites, being equally balanced by “knowable”, but that person would be wrong. the knowable can be divided into two categories: that which is knowable and known and that which is knowable, but not known, or “known/unknown”. the unknowable can’t be so divided. it is a whole unto itself.
within hinduism, the ultimate is called “brahman”. brahman is not a god. brahman is that of which the gods are personalizations. people like to have something to wrap their heads around, something that they can visualize and think about and its pretty dang hard to think about something which by definition can’t be thought about so there are the gods, vishnu, kali, shiva, ganash, durga, indra and indefinitely on thru the entire freakin’ cavalcade of the hindu pantheon, all and every one of them understood to be personifications of the unity of brahman. all that is and was and will be is and was and will be an aspect of brahman and can be recognized as such, but the totality of brahman can never be conceived of. that’s some heavy shit right there.
many native american peoples had and have a similar concept. this writer’s favorite of these happens to be that of the lakota: wakan tanka. “wakan” means “holy” or “sacred”. all things are “wakan”, but some things show it more clearly or have more of it and it can’t really be understood. “tanka” means “ultimate” or something very like that. so “wakan tanka” is “the ultimate sacred holy powerful mysterious thing”, which is dead-on. that’s just what it is. wakan tanka may be directly addressed in a way that brahman wouldn’t be, but the lakota know that when they do so they are addressing only an aspect of the greatest mystery, not the totality.
then you run into the monotheisms. well, really, then you run into yahweh. there may be some zoroastrians still around someplace but they’re not exactly major players on the world stage at this stage of the game. yahweh famously stated that he was and is and will be the only god and that all others are devils and somehow there are no less than three different religions that claim to be his: judaism, christianity and islam and coincidentally enough, these are the same three that have histories of bloodshed and violence. there has never been a buddhist crusade. various hindu countries have made war, but those were wars of conquest or capital gain and that’s very much a different thing. no hindu holy wars. that digression having now run its course, there is, within the context of judaism and therefore within christianity and islam, judaism’s children if you will, the idea of the “godhead”, which refers to the unknowable aspect of god as opposed to his knowable aspect which is revealed in the torah, new testament and koran and is for our purposes the same concept as brahman and wakan tanka.
now, all of this is pretty vague and this part may not even matter to a lot of people. maybe most people just want to know what they’re supposed to do to not piss god off. those people will be satisfied with the torah, new testament and koran, the sutras, upanishads and so on, the basic texts of the religions. those people will be satisfied and they will get all they need without this ultimate transcendent jibber-jabber that can’t make sense. but there are others for whom this part is quite important. so this part is touched on by the myths. it is never resolved.


we are born tabulas rasa and immediately somebody starts imprinting shit on our smooth pink little brains. this is the role of the parents or primary caregivers: to train squalling, slobbering little shitting monkeys to be socially acceptable, self-determining members of society. it’s a tough job and every parent overdoes some things and doesn’t do other things enough which leaves the individual with some self-work to do and gives therapists jobs and in the process we lose some connection to our “selves” or think we do. then we have to go on vision quests or hike across australia or ride motorcycles across america and take acid or some shit.
“who am i?” “what’s the meaning of life?” that kind of thing. myths and their religions handle these questions in various ways. if you’re a buddhist, its all moot becos there is no “self” to be known and you just have to figure out how to know that. if you’re a jew, your identity is you’re a jew. confucius set up a system of potential identities depending on birth order and whoever else happened to be in the room and that was so confusing that it took up all everybody’s brainspace to keep up with so they were distracted from the whole question. in hinduism, there is the “atman” which is about the same thing as the soul and if you happen to be of the esoteric persuasion and inclined to dwell on these things, you might spend a while thinking about the idea that “atman is brahman”, that is, the individual soul is the ultimate ultimateness. but not the other way ‘round. you are brahman, but brahman is not you, see? you are of the same unknowableness as the ultimate, but you are not ultimately it, tho that potentiality is potential. if that makes any sense and if it doesn’t its becos you haven’t done the yoga and meditation and pondering that saddhus and yogis do to attain that realization.
but that formula, atman = brahman, is the reason i ordered the four categories the way i did. i wanted to end this part on this: the realization of the self as an aspect of the ultimate, the final union of the soul with god, the dissolving of the illusion into nirvana, the rejoining of the many to the one, is the deep down nitty-gritty of what myth is about. and the reason for that is death.

Monday, June 14, 2010

all that free jazz

all that free jazz about the multitudinous layers upon layers of possible meaning and potential personal interpretations inherent in the corpus of myth should not detract nor distract from the fact that sometimes plain speech is the best way to communicate. myths use plain speech. when, in the coarse of yore study of myth you encounter statements like “thou shalt not kill”, its okay to assume that it means “thou shalt not kill”. “judge not lest ye be judged” is pretty easy to figure out. ya wanna get all thinky-thinky about those two? then ask yourself questions like “what was happening in the historical context of the hebrew people at the time that moses went to the summit of mount Sinai and had his encounter with yahweh?” or “whom shall be the judge of me if i appoint myself as the judge of others?”, but while you’re twisting yr brainstuffs around those conceptions, don’t kill and don’t judge. duh.
if a statement can be taken at face value, do so.
if a story involves a talking snake, assume there’s a metaphor happening.
there are some grey areas. some knowledge of the context in which a statement was made is frequently helpful. jesus sometimes talked around things. that’s becos there were people out to get him and they were trying to back him into a verbal corner. he was a slippery ol’ eel tho’ and didn’t let ‘em snare him ‘til the time was right. there was also the matter of logic. this was a really big deal in the first coupla centuries of christianity, the logic. jesus was considered a bit of a genius becos he combined the esoteric oobly-goobly stuff of judaism and the all-too-often ignored mystery religions of his time and place with the sound, logical thinking of the greeks.
“ye who are without sin cast the first stone.” that’s a logical statement. if you have never sinned, then you are qualified to punish someone who has. if you’re a dirty sinner too, then ya oughta be hoeing yer own row and let this po’ ho’ go. that’s plain and simple logic. its also pretty fertile ground for contemplation, if ye’ve a mind for that sorta thing. some do, some don’t. some people read a statement like “love your neighbor as yerself” and immediately start adding clauses and loopholes and giving themselves exemptions becos they just don’t goddam feel like it but they do wanna feel righteous. bullshit. it means what it says. (here’s a little known sooth: it ain’t a choice. want to or not, you will love or hate yr neighbor as yrself.)
whenever possible, take a spade for a spade.

what is the sound of one hand clapping?