Friday, 12 December 2014

Mythology — part one: introduction

As I did not have an idea for today's topic this morning, I decided to start the day relaxing in a hot bath with a book. I find that doing such always gives me ideas. Perhaps it is an effect of the hot water, or perhaps my mind associates taking a bath with Archimedes famous "eureka!" moment. I don't know. It always works, though.

For the book, I picked a series of essays by the British physicist, David Bohm published posthumously as On Creativity by Routledge. I had not even finished reading the preface when the idea for this series hit me. The preface was written by a fellow Albertan, Leroy Little Bear (a Blackfoot from Lethbridge). As luck would have it, the preface to that edition (in part) is supplied on the publisher's website. So if you are curious as to why a Blackfoot Indian would be chosen to write the preface to essays by a physicist, you can find out for yourself and I don't have to explain it at all.

I frequently spend a lot of time picking Wikimedia images for my blog posts, especially when the subject matter is somewhat abstract. Not finding anything I thought suitable, I decided to create my own out of two public domain source images: a human eye and a NASA view of the western hemisphere from space. I could have used a companion view of the eastern hemisphere but Eastern thought has a better grasp on mythology than the West. I find that western ideas about mythology are both narrow and (mostly) wrong — at least when it comes to the popular views. That a definition of "myth" extends to "misconception" shows (if you understand the subject) how far from any real understanding we have sunken. Almost as bad is the notion that myths explained the natural world. If I was a teacher, I would not accept that definition from anyone older than seven.

In the popular mind, mythology is often associated with "other people's religions", but dictionary definitions of religion, too, can include extraneous material that actually eliminates a few religions, the definition: a particular system of faith and worship is not too bad, but would be better if the "worship" part was dropped as it is not common to all religions. Faith, on the other hand, pretty well sums it up for all religions, even Atheism, which is as much a faith as any other other religion. I could have called this series "Religion" and would not have had to change anything at all, but "Mythology" is safer because it can be seen as less personal from the outset.

In this series, an encyclopedic view of mythology strewn with all sorts of examples is not what I am aiming for. Rather, I want to "get under the hood", so to speak; I want to deal with the engine that drives it all as an important part of the psyche. As I do not belong to any organized religion and find good and bad in all of them, I think I might be less subjective as a result of this but, as you will find out later, objectivity is an impossible goal. I plan also to give you an experiment or two that you can try out for yourself. Nothing too difficult, though, just the basic changing the universe to your will.

We will get started on Monday.

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