Tag Archives: mythology

mythological integrity

The trend of The BBC to take mythological themes and warp them into some strange mix of adventure and soap opera continues with Atlantis on Saturday nights. These types of series’, which include Merlin and Robin Hood seem to take the bare bones of an established mythology and mix them up, throwing in odd historical characters, most of whom had nothing to do with the original mythology and creating new characters and storylines that have little to do with the original stories.

Being too fussy?

Maybe, I am but as T.S Eliot once made comments about the poetical tradition along the lines of; if you write poetry on certain themes or subject matter, it not only adds to the stream of previous poets and their work, it changes it. This is true of mythology too.

Now, I do not want or expect mythological teachings to be a stagnant unchanging entity. Each generation reads, digests and, I suppose, has the right to add to the story, but that comes with the sort of responsibility Eliot comments upon in regard to poetry. Personally, I think the way these mythologies are handled by some contemporary scriptwriters is irresponsible, in respect to the way they treat the original and twist it out of shape. The latest version of Robin Hood was little more han a third rate pantomime, Merlin altered the context and storyline as well as falling into the usual traps with regard to the female characters.

This is not adding to an existing mythology in an enriching way, it is changing it totally. It is nothing more than taking well known names from tradition and hanging a soap opera on them.

Perhaps, the counter argument is that relationships, soap opera dynamics, lack of regard for the preciousness of mythological story, etc, do, in fact, represent our times and it is these things that we are compelled to add to the tradition. Personally, these tales mean more to me and I feel they should be treated with more respect.

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Filed under Arthurian, European, Greek, Robin Hood

competition or collaboration

I heard a story recently. it may be factual, it may be untrue but it has a sort of mythological energy to it.

 
Dinosaurs where, on the whole, either carnivores or herbivores. Herbivores tend to group together, the same is true today with mammals. The story goes that certain species of herbivores collaborated, not just with eachother but with other types of herbivore. Those with keen eyesight keeping lookout, those with heavy armour were ready to protect the group, those that were good at knocking down vegetation to eat leaving enough for the other herbivores to consume.

 
The carnivores existance was very different. Theirs was a kill or be killed world. Each day an individual struggle to survive. Not only would they hunt the herbivores, they would pretty much kill and eat anything they could, including their own species, their own young. Even their own kind were potential competiton rather than potential companions. You do not want the old or the disabled living, they just use up resources that would, eitherwise, be yours (unless someone beats you to it..better rush). Anyone different is a potential threat, best remove them. Carnivore society is a pretty bigoted place to exist.

 
It may not be true but, there in a nutshell, you have the two ways humans can organise society. Give it names if you want but certain tags have connotations created by paranoia, propoganda, et al, and I do not wish to use them. The bottom line is which would you choose as the society you wish to live in, to bring your children up within. I guess a few strong alpha males out there would choose to live like the carnivore, be top dog. You only get to be that for a brief, brutal while though; always someone bigger, younger, quicker on the draw coming along, unless you get them first..but you get old and then someone replaces you and you are left to die. Basing a society on the carnivore model is a nasty, rat race existance: yet, it seems to be the one that most of the world chooses, which is odd. On the whole, art and culture spring from a herbivore way of doing things; support, patronage, mutual respect and assistance. Competition or Collaboration, I know which one I prefer.

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Filed under 20th century