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► “Hermes & Writing in Ancient Greece”: “Collaboration with Alan Severs”✍️:

Statue of Hermes/Mercury. Roman copy. 200 AD.


Summary:

“Hermes”, by W. B. Richmond. From “The magazine of art” vol. 9, 1886.

♠Divided into three sections, this article revolves around three main themes: Hermes, as The Greek God of Writing and his equivalents in other cultures; Plato´s derogatory ideas of writing, amidst the prevailing Oral Tradition; and how this eventually would change, as writing became a most accepted form, when the Greeks adopted the Phoenician Alphabet.

Greek God Hermes was the equivalent of the egyptian God Thoth, and from both of them resulted a Hybrid God: Hermes Trismegistus.

Hermes´roman counterpart was Mercury

In Norse Mythology, his Homologous figure was Odin.

Hermes and his associated figures are described in the first section.

♠The second section refers to Plato´s dialogue “Phaedrus”, emphasizing Socrates´quite negative statements concerning writing in that dialogue.

In “Phaedrus”Plato denies the legitimacy of the written word in favour of the oral tradition. With that purpose, Socrates tells us a myth, featuring Thoth (also known as Theuth and Hermes´egyptian equivalent).

Greece’s transition to literacy, was slow, and it augmented and transformed the traditions of oral culture which had for centuries been instrumental in the handing down of certain forms of cultural knowledge.

Before the advent of writing, Greek citizens’ knowledge of their history, the ways of their gods, and the attitudes, mores, and taboos of their society were orally transmitted. This occurred not only through parent-to-child communication and transmission within a community, but also through the poetry of the bards, most notably Homer and Hesiod.

The third section  delve into this issue, taking into account how writing effectively evolved in Ancient Greece.

As a matter of fact, Writing went through different phases, summed up as follows:

>Linear A Script: It was the written language of the Minoans of Crete, remains undecipherable.

>Linear B Script: It consists of the Mycenaean Civilization and the only partially decipherable Linear B script of Crete. 

>Phoenician Alphabet: It was the alphabet of ancient Phoenicia, which first came to Greece sometime before the 8th century BCE, from whence it spread.

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Section I. Hermes, Thoth, Hermes Trismegistus, Mercury and Odin:

Hermes was son of Zeus and one of the Pleiades, Maia

Hermes, Greek God. 540 BC

The name Hermes appears to have originated in the word for “stone heap.”

Probably since prehistoric times there existed in Crete and in other Greek regions a custom or erecting a herma, consisting of an upright stone surrounded at its base by a heap of smaller stones. Such monuments were used to serve as boundaries or as landmarks for wayfarers. A connection existed between these simple monuments and the deity named Hermes.

Hermes had many attributes and represented many things. Hermes was the Olympian god of herds and flocks, travellers and hospitality, roads and trade, thievery and cunning, heralds and diplomacy, astronomy and astrology. Besides, he was the herald and personal messenger of Zeus, and also the guide of the dead who led souls down into the underworld. 

He was also a god of science and wisdom, art, speech, eloquence. And, most importantly: “the God of Writing”. 

The Greek God Hermes, as God of Writing, finds his analogue in Egypt as the ancient Wisdom God Thoth (sometimes spelled Thouth, Theuth or Tahuti). 

Thoth, Egyptian God of Writing.

Thoth was important in many myths of Pharaonic Egypt: he played a role in the creation myth, he was recorder of the gods, and the principal pleader for the soul at the judgment of the dead. It was he who invented writing. According to relevant sources, he wrote all the ancient texts, including the most esoteric ones, including “The Book of Breathings”, which taught humans how to become gods.

In ancient Egypt,  Thoth created script. Besides, he was connected with the moon and thus considered the ruler of the night.

Furthermore, Thoth acted as an emissary between the contending armies of Horus (Egyptian God of the sky and kingship) and Seth (god of the desert, storms, disorder and violence in ancient Egyptian). Thoth eventually came to negotiate the peace treaty between these two gods. His role as a mediator between the opposites is thus made evident, perhaps prefiguring the role of the alchemical Mercury as the “medium of the conjunction.”

Both Hermes and Thoth were gods of writing and of magic in their respective cultures.

Hermes, the Greek god of interpretive communication, was combined with Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom, to become the patron of astrology and alchemy. In addition, both gods were psychopomps, guiding souls to the afterlife. Hermes Trismegistus may be a representation of the syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.

As Alan Severs says in his post “The Grammar of Magic”:

“Writing and magic have always been closely associated. The Egyptian God Thoth was thought to be  the inventor of writing and the patron of every magical art. The considerable cultural contact and resulting overlap over the centuries because of conquest and trade between Egypt, Greece and Rome led to the deities Hermes and Mercury who shared many of the same attributes as Thoth before they all further blended together, creating the composite figure that was to later an immeasurable influence in the history of ideas, Hermes Trismegistus”.

Last, but not least: there is still another Egyptian parallel. Specifically, in the figure of Anubis. In classical mythology, Hermanubis was a god who combined Hermes with Anubis (given that they were both conductors of souls).

Hermes Trismegistus, floor mosaic in the Cathedral of Siena. 1480s.

Hermes´roman equivalent, Mercury had essentially the same aspects as Hermes. He also wore winged shoes and a winged hat, and carried the caduceus, a herald’s staff with two entwined snakes that was Apollo‘s gift to Hermes. He was often accompanied by a cockerel, herald of the new day, a ram or goat, symbolizing fertility, and a tortoise, referring to Mercury’s legendary invention of the lyre from a tortoise-shell.

Like Hermes, he was also a god of messages, eloquence and of trade, particularly of the grain trade. He was also, like Hermes, the Romans’ psychopomp, whose ability was to lead the newly deceased souls to the afterlife.

Thoth. Hermes Trismegistus and Mercury.

Another related God, given his attributes, is Odin.

Odin is a prominently mentioned god throughout the recorded history of the Germanic people, from the Roman occupation of regions of Germania through the tribal expansions of the Migration Period and the Viking Age. In the major mythological Old Norse texts, the Poetic and Prose Eddas, Odin is depicted as one-eyed and long-bearded, frequently wielding a spear named Gungnir, and wearing a cloak and a broad hat. He is often accompanied by his animal companions: two wolves and two ravens named Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory). As well as being the Germanic equivalent of Hermes, Odin appears to have marked shamanistic tendencies as he frequently has ecstatic visions in other realms after undergoing various trials and ordeals.

In Norse Mythology he was associated with healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery, poetry and the runic alphabet. In the long Eddic, gnomic poem Havamal (The Words of Odin the High One) Odin sacrifices himself to himself by hanging from a tree (presumably Yggdrasil, the World Tree) for nine days and nine nights in order to obtain knowledge of the runes, which is suggested throughout Norse mythology as being a symbolic alphabet used for magical purposes. 

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►Section II. Plato´s dialogue “Phaedrus”, in which Socrates pronounced himself in favour of the prevailing Oral Tradition and, thus, against writing:

In his dialogue “Phaedrus”; Plato denies the legitimacy of the written word as capable of conveying knowledge in any truly significant way.

In this dialogue, Socrates puts the case against writing into the mouth of  Thamus, the Egyptian equivalent of Zeus.

When Thamus is presented by the god Theuth (Thoth) with the invention of writing, Thoth claims it “will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memories, for it is an elixir of memory and wisdom that I have discovered”. But Thamus replies:

‘Most ingenious Theuth, one man has the ability to beget arts, but the ability to judge of their usefulness or harmfulness to their users belongs to another; and now you who are the father of letters, have been led by your affection to ascribe to them a power the opposite of that which they really possess. For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise’. (Plato´s “Phaedrus”. Line 140 and following).
Socrates adds his own conviction that written words are inhuman, unresponsive to questioning, and indiscriminate as to whom they address themselves. At best, they can only “remind him who knows the matter about which they are written” (Plato´s “Phaedrus”. Line 278).

Walter Ong points out in his book “Orality and Literacy” [*Click here to read book] that these denunciations can by the modern reader as the same ones levelled by many against computers. This analogy is instructive because it allows us to understand in some small way the nature of the enormous change that was taking place in early Greek culture at the time of Socrates and Plato: the transition from a dominantly oral mode of transmitting knowledge to a slowly emerging literate one.

The Egyptian god Thoth, or Tehuti, in the form of an ibis. With him is his associate, the ape, proferring the Eye of Horus.

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►Section III. Towards a Literate Society: Writing in Ancient Greece:

1) >Linear A and Linear B Scripts:

Linear A (1700 BC)  was the written language of the Minoans of Crete. It consists of 60 phonetic symbols representing syllables and 60 symbols representing sounds and concrete objects or abstract ideas. There is no consensus on how to translate the Linear A symbols

Linear B (1450 BC) was first studied by Sir Arthur Evans, but it was not until 1952 that it was deciphered by Michael Ventris.

Linear B  is generally seen as a more simplified and less pictorial version of the earlier scripts . It is also far more cursive in its shape. The script consists of about 87 symbols, which each represent a syllable, as well as some ideograms which represent an entire word or idea. It seems that the Myceneans used writing not to keep historical records but strictly as a device to register the flow of goods and produce into the palaces from a complex, highly centralized economy featuring regional networks of collection and distribution. [To see examples of  decipherments of Linear A and Linear B Minoans tablets, please visit this guest post at “The Shield of Achilles”].

2) >The Phoenician Alphabet in Greece:

The alphabet of most modern languages was originated in ancient Phoenicia (11oo BC) and first came to Greece sometime before the 8th century BC, from whence it spread. Homer’s “Illiad” and “Odyssey”, written around 800 BC, are early examples of the Greek use of the Phoenician alphabet, as are the classics “Theogony” and “Works and Days”, by Hesiod.  Homer’s poems appear to have been recorded shortly after the script’s invention: an inscription from Ischia in the Bay of Naples, dated 740 BC, appears to refer to a text of the “Iliad”; and illustrations inspired by the Polyphemus episode in the “Odyssey” were found in Mykonos in 715 BC.

Herodotus claimed that the Phoenician alphabet was brought by Cadmus to Boeotia where he founded the city of Thebes.

The early Greek alphabet, based on the alphabet of the Phoenicians, was different from the linear and hieroglyphic scripts preceding it in that each symbol represents a single consonant as opposed to a syllable.

The Phoenician alphabet consisted of 22 characters with vowel sounds built into the symbols. The Greeks modified the Phoenician alphabet by changing some of the symbols as well as creating separate vowels.  They also made their alphabet more phonetically correct.

By using individual symbols to represent vowels and consonants, the Greeks created a writing system that could, for the first time, represent speech in an unambiguous manner. Furthermore, while Linear B seems to have only been used for inventories and lists, the Greek alphabet was used for literary purposes. Writing became not simply a means of recording events, but also an art form in itself.

⇒Writing from right to left. Bidirectional writing. Writing from left to right:

In the earliest versions of the alphabet, the Greeks complied with the Phoenician practice of writing from right to left and the letters had a left-facing orientation.

A good example of writing from right to left is shown in the inscription on the so-called Nestor’s Cup, a clay drinking vessel of the 8th century BC, which bears a famous inscription.

The text of the inscription runs:

Nestor’s cup, good to drink from.
Whoever drinks from this cup, him straightaway
the desire of beautiful-crowned Aphrodite will seize.

The so-called Nestor’s cup from Pithekoussai, Ischia and its inscription.

This was followed by a period of bidirectional writing, which means that the direction of the writing was in one direction on one line but in the opposite direction on the next, a practice known as boustrophedon.

During the 5th century BCE, however, the direction of Greek writing was standardized as left to right, and all the letters adopted a fixed right-facing orientation. 


Conclusion:

So far, we have seen that there are clear and effective similarities, when it comes to certain Gods.

Gods Hermes, Thoth (and the hybrid resulting of both: Hermes Trismegistus); as well as Mercury and Odin, they all represent similar ideas.

They all seem to be fused in an eclectic space of cultural juxtaposition, despite the cultural differences.

This could prove Carl Jung´s thesis of the Collective Unconscious. According to him, the human collective unconscious is populated by archetypes and universal symbols, shared among beings of the same species.

Worth noting that Hermes and his equivalents were mainly considered here keeping in mind their specific roles as “Gods of Writing”.

Plato was a keen defender of Oral tradition, against writing. This is evident particularly in his dialogue “Phaedrus”, in which Socrates (by retelling an Egyptian myth), states that Writing will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory.

Pisistratus (6th century BC/ 527 BC) was tyrant of Athens whose unification of Attica and consolidation and rapid improvement of the city’s prosperity helped to make possible it’s later preeminence in Greece.

Pisistratus clearly supported Oral tradition. And he did so, by specifically encouraging Dramatic Arts and TheatreIndeed, theatre was a key technological factor of specialization in Greek culture. The choral poetry offered a fissure through which the choir was first sung until the actors took over in order to visually stage the oral poetry.

Probably, this was the most evident symptom of the transition from an Oral culture to a hybrid, semi-oral or audiovisual Culture, which dominated the fifth century BC and classicism. At last, by the end of the century, Writing prevailed.

When introducing writing, (Linear A, Linear B, and especially alphabetic writing), the Ancient Greeks privileged the visual sense against other senses such as seeing or hearing. Alongside this changes, their conception of space and time was also altered, going from discontinuous to a linear, homogeneous conception. Hence, the chronological narrative and History itself arose as new types of discourses.

By objectifying words and making meaning accessible to a much longer and more intense meaning of what is orally possible, writing fostered private thought and increased awareness of individual differences.

Thus, Writing led to free initiative and creativity of the Ancient Greek society as a plural “whole”, while preserving the value of the individual forms. Such a tendency could be also considered a “call for democracy”, as a political correlate of literacy, expressivity, abstraction and individualization.



♠About Alan Severs: Alan defines himself as an occasional writer of fiction, poetry; and essays on modernism, mysticism, mythology, magic and mystery. His blog, Cakeordeathsite covers many of these and other interesting subjects. Please check it out hereThank you, Alan! 🐬

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Click to visit Alan´s blog.-

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Links Post:
https://http://www.ancient.eu/script/
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/lineara.htm
http://www.ancient.eu/timeline/writing/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestor%27s_Cup
https://cakeordeathsite.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/the-grammaire-of-magic/
http://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Alphabet/
http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Hermes.html
http://www.john-uebersax.com/plato/myths/phaedrus.htm
http://www.csuchico.edu/phil/sdobra_mat/platopaper.html

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“Greek Myths and Graffiti Murals”: “Collaboration With Resa McConaghy”⭐:

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⇒About This Post. Abstract:

The following article is composed of two sections, each one of them including murals from Argentina and Canada, respectively. This post aims to analyze with a with a free, but still judiciously, well-founded criteria how certain mythological greek themes and characters might be recurrent, despite time and even against it.

As Resa and I found some graffitis which seemed to have mythological and even philosophical equivalents we decided we wanted to try to show those connections. Resa´s mural is from the University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada) whilst mine are from The Planetarium (Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina). With that being said, we just wanted to say that, after finding many similarities, we are quite pleased with the outcome. Both of, Resa and I believe the convergences are striking. And being so, they broaden and deepen the value of the immortal Ancient Greek Legacy.

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⇒Section I. Murals: The Planetarium:🇦🇷

The Galileo Galilei planetarium, commonly known as Planetario, is located in Parque Tres de Febrero in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The building was officially opened to the public on April 5, 1968. It consists of a cylindrical framework with independent projectors for the Moon, the Sun and the visible planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) and two spheres in the extremes that project 8,900 stars, constellations and nebulas.
Nowadays the Planetarium is surrounded by a thin sheet metal with many murals on it. We´ll present here some of them, aiming to find mythological  and philosophical corollaries.
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⇒Eros and Psyche… And the Planetarium above them!:

 
This graffiti is quite the finding. It is based on an original painting “The abduction of Psyche” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1894). 
The artist included a Planetarium above the couple.
 
According to the greek myth Aphrodite was jealous due to men’s admiration for Psyche, so she asked her son, Eros, to poison men’ souls in order to kill off their desire for Psyche. But Eros fell in love with Psyche. Thus, against his mother´s wishes, he asked the west wind, Zephyr, to waft her to his palace.
They consummated their love that same night. But for that Eros had to make Psyche believe that he was an ugly beast, as the Oracle had told her parents that Psyche would marry an ugly beast whose face she would never be able to see. And apparently she firmly believed so!…
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⇒The Horned goat with human hands:

 
This mural with goat head and human hands might remind us of the constellation Capricornus .
Its name is Latin for “horned goat” or “goat horn” or “having horns like a goat’s”.
This constellation protected by Hestia, represents Pan, the god of the wild and shepherds. The myth tells us that, in order to escape Typhon, Pan cast himself into the river, making the lower part of his body look like a fish, and the rest a goat: Zeus, admiring his shrewdness, put this shape among the constellations .
However, in this mural, we lack of the sea elements… But the resemblance between hands and fins couldn´t go unnoticed, either way.
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⇒The Bull Surrounded by Snakes:


This mural seem to evoke the Great Greek Bull. It could be linked to the Minotaur.
 
According to the respective myth, after Pasiphae (the daughter of Helios, the Sun, by the eldest of the Oceanids Perse) become impregnated by a white bull, she gave birth to a sort of hybrid child, the bull-headed Minotaur.
 
Angered with his wife, Minos imprisoned the minotaur in the labyrinth of Crete in Knossos. Presumably, Minos was one of the three sons from the union of Europa and Zeus; when Zeus was in the form of a bull.

As to snakes, let´s remember the rod of Asclepius, God of Medicine and Apollo´s son. It symbolizes the healing arts by combining the serpent, which in shedding its skin is a symbol of rebirth and fertility. The Asclepius Wand, often confused with the Caduceus wand of Hermes, is the symbol of the medical profession.

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⇒Tiempo- Time:

 
The words on this mural mean: Time.
But what is exactly time. St Augustine of Hippo says in his “Confessions”: “What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know”… Time is such an elusive concept, indeed!.
In Greek mythology, Chronos was the personification of time, not to be confused with Cronus, the Titan and father of Zeus.
The Greeks had two different words for time: Chronos refers to numeric or chronological time, while another word kairos refers to the more qualitative concept of the right or opportune moment. The figure of Chronos was typically portrayed as a wise old man with a long grey beard: Father Time.
Furthermore, the Horae or Hours were the goddesses of the seasons and the natural flow of time, generally portrayed as personifications of nature in its different seasonal aspects, and with the cycle of the seasons themselves symbolically described as the dance of the Horae.
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⇒Number 8. Toward Infinity… and beyond!:

This mural is certainly esoteric. The eyes, placed in circular shape, surround the central number eight (8).

Eight (8) is the Number of the perfection, the infinity. In mathematics the symbol of the infinity is represented by a 8 laid down.

The Pythagoreans believed that number 8 was the symbol of love and friendship, prudence and rational thinking. . It was the Pythagoreans who held that there are in man eight organs of knowledge; sense, fantasy, art, opinion, prudence, science, wisdom, and mind.

The person who actually introduced the infinity symbol was John Wallis, in 1655. This symbol is sometimes called the Lemniscate. It presumably evolved from the Etruscan numeral for 1000, which looked like this: CIƆ. There is another theory that he actually derived the infinity symbol from omega (ω), the last letter of the Greek alphabet. 

Ouroboros.

The ouroboros symbol, showing a a snake twisted into a horizontal figure eight (8) and biting its own tail, is also said to be a most plausible basis for the infinity symbol because it is a fitting depiction of endlessness.

As to the eyes in this mural, we could think of the Eye of Providence Symbol (which appears in the USA dollar bill). It represents the eye of God, the singular divine power that has created the entire universe. The eye is most times enclosed in a triangle. At times, the Eye is also depicted as surrounded by clouds or bursts of light. Both of these images are representative of holiness and divine glory and so, here too, the symbol signifies that the Almighty is keeping a watchful eye on His creation.

The Eye of Providence Symbol.

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⇒Section II. Murals: University of Toronto: 🇨🇦

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The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on the grounds that surround Queen’s Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King’s College. It comprises twelve colleges, each with substantial autonomy on financial and institutional affairs.
The mural in question is in an underpass that runs from Hart House Circle under Queen’s Park Crescent West to Wellesley Street. Resa came across this mural as she walked under Queen’s Park Crescent. She went by Hart House and exited using the King’s Park Circle. In the slide show below you can see some photographs of the location and buildings. The mural comes soon after!. 
About Resa Mc Conaghy:
Resa is a canadian artist, costume designer and author. 
She hosts two blogs: Graffiti Lux and Murals and Art Gowns.
You can find her version of this post here. Furthermore, Resa has written a book, “Nine Black Lives, available on Amazon. Find Resa on Twitter, too!.
(Disclaimer: All murals photographs and photographs from University of Toronto were taken by Resa and featured on her blog Graffiti Lux and Murals. © Resa McConaghy. 2017). Please check out Resa´s post regarding this collaboration here.
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⇒Damarchus / Lycanthropeis or Werewolf Man-Wolf:

This graffiti could be linked to the Werewolf Man-wolf, or Lycanthropeis. Meaning, a mythological human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf, either purposely or after being placed under a curse or affliction.
A few references to men changing into wolves are found in Ancient Greek literature and mythology.
For instance, Herodotus, wrote that the Neuri, a tribe he places to the north-east of Scythia, were all transformed into wolves once every year for several days, and then changed back to their human shape. 
Furthermore, we have the story of Damarchus. He was a victorious Olympic boxer from Parrhasia (Arcadia) who is said to have changed his shape into that of a wolf at the festival of Lycaea, only to become a man again after ten years. The festival of Lycaea involved human sacrifice to Zeus. A young boy was killed and then consumed by one of the participants, in this case by Damarchus, and as a result Zeus would transform the cannibal into a wolf.
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On the Left: A man wearing a wolf-skin. Attic red-figure vase, c. 460 BC. On the Right: Zeus turning Lycaon into a wolf, engraving by Hendrik Goltzius. 16th century.

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⇒The Woman With an Extra Hand:

Following the hindu mythology pattern, according to which goddesses have many hands, we could conclude that having more than two hands is a mark of Divinity. Humans have two arms, so someone with multiple becomes special and out of the league. More hands at times also represents more strength.The multiplicity of hands also emphasizes the power and ability to perform several acts at the same time. 

As to number three, it represents the Holy Trinity. From a philosophical perspective, number  three is symbolic of the reconciliation of opposites, as with Hegel‘s dialectic: “thesis + antithesis = synthesis”.
Besides, it is both a lunar and a solar number.
The moon has three major phases – the two crescents and the full moon, while the sun has three primary points in its existence: the low winter solstice; the high summer solstice, and the two equinoxes of March and September.

⇒The Kholkikos Drakon or Colchian Dragon:


 
The Kholkikos Drakon or (Colchian Dragon) was the ever awake serpent that guarded the Golden Fleece in a grove sacred to Ares in Kolkhis. When the Argonauts came to aquire the Fleece, they had to get past it. There are two theories as towards how they past the Drakon, either Medea put the monster to sleep so Jason could grab the fleece while it slumbered or Jason slew it. There is also a belief that the monster swallowed Jason and then regurgitated him thanks to the power of Medea, so that Jason could then slay the beast. Different cultural traditions have portrayed dragons with reptilian or serpentine traits so that it may seem to resemble cobras, crocodiles or lizards. The word ‘dragon’ traces its origin in the Greek word ‘drakon’ that means a huge serpent or a giant sea fish.
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⇒Apollo (AKA previously Helios) and his Chariot:

Before Artemis became goddess of the moon, the Titaness Selene owned the Moon chariot, which she drove across the sky at night. Soon after, Artemis was the legatee of the carriage. In the same way, Apollo received the Chariot of the Sun, once Helios became identified with him.
Helios (Apollo), the Sun god, drives his chariot across the sky each day while Selene (Artemis) is also said to drive across the heavens. And, while the sun chariot has four horses, Selene´s (Artemis´) usually has two, described as “snow-white” by Ovid. 

As to the horse symbolism, it is often known as a solar symbol. Sometimes, horses are related to the sun, moon, and water. It acts as the mediator between Earth and Heaven. Horse symbolizes power, grace, beauty, nobility, strength, and freedom.

The woman looking at Apollo (former Helios) could be his twin sister, Artemis (Former Selene). Artemis was the Goddess of Hunting and of  Goddess of the Moon. In classical times, Selene was often identified with Artemis, much as her brother, Helios, was identified with Apollo. Both Selene and Artemis were also associated with Hecate, and all three were regarded as Lunar Goddesses, although only Selene was considered a personification of the moon itself.

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►Links Post:
https://goo.gl/9M3yb1
https://goo.gl/25jrss
https://goo.gl/BN7KEA
https://goo.gl/N0hD0x
https://goo.gl/z0y3Mr
https://goo.gl/rhZkZj
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►Greek Mythology: “Hephaestus”  /

“Collaboration with Holly Rene Hunter”:

“The Fall Of Hephaestus” by C. Van Poelenburg. 17th century.

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Hephaestus (Roman equivalent: Vulcan)  was the Greek god of fire, metal work, blacksmiths and craftsmen.

According to Homer’s  “Iliad”, Hephaestus was born of the union of Zeus and Hera. In another tradition, attested by Hesiod, Hera bore Hephaestus alone.

Hephaestus. Attic Red Figure. 430 – 420 BC.

Hesiod tells us in “Theogony”, that in order to get even with Zeus for solely bringing about the birth of Athena, Hera produced the child Hephaestus all on her own.

Though Hesiod’s version seems to be the one that is most commonly accepted among readers, its content greatly alters our understanding of the birth of Athena. The ancient texts unequivocally state that it was Hephaestus who released the goddess from the head of Zeus by cracking the god’s skull open with an axe.

After Hephaestus was born, Hera was anything but pleased with his appearance, so she threw him off of Mount Olympus and down to earth.

Luckily, baby Hephaestus splashed down into the sea where he was rescued by two daughters of Oceanus; Thetis and Eurynome.

An interesting point is that he was lame. In vase paintings, Hephaestus is usually shown lame and bent over his anvil, hard at work on a metal creation, and sometimes with his feet back-to-front.

Hephaestus Thetis at Kylix, Attica vase figure

He walked with the aid of a stick. In some myths, Hephaestus built himself a “wheeled chair” or chariot with which to move around, thus helping him overcome his lameness while demonstrating his skill to the other gods. The “Iliad”, says that Hephaestus built some bronze human machines in order to move around.

There are two interpretations which describe how Hephaestus lost full use of his legs. The most basic of the two theories simply states that he was born that way and that was the reason why Hera rejected him and chose to toss him into the sea.

Another myth has it that he once tried to protect his mother from Zeus’ advances and as a result, the Ruler of the Gods flung him down from Olympus, which caused his physical disability; he fell on the island of Lemnos where he became a master craftsman.

Archetypal psychology uses mythical and poetic modes of discourse to deepen our understanding of lived experience and behavior. The stories associated with the Greek god Hephaestus are among the earliest representations of disability.

Vulcan. Roman archaic relief from Herculaneum.

Bitter Hephaestus does not intend to stay hidden away in an underground cave forever. Anger toward his mother inspires him to seek revenge.

These “negative” emotions engender the courage that is necessary for the disabled outcast to claim his rightful place in the world.

The archetypal psychologist Murray Stein suggests that loosening the bonds of his mother frees an introverted Hephaestus from his own psychic entrapment and moves him forward in the process of individuation and personal development. Hence, in Hephaestus we find a character who is motivated by his anger to confront a world that has discarded him.

In an archaic story, Hephaestus gained revenge against Hera for rejecting him by making her a magical golden throne, which, when she sat on it, did not allow her to stand up. In another story, Hephaestus sent sandals as gifts to all the gods, but those he sent to his mother were made of immovable and unyielding adamantine. When she tried to walk she fell flat on her face as though her shoes were riveted to the floor. 

Seeing how events were happening, the other gods begged Hephaestus to return to Olympus to let her go, but he refused, saying “I have no mother”. At last, Dionysus fetched him, intoxicated him with wine, and took the subdued smith back to Olympus on the back of a mule accompanied by revelers—a scene that sometimes appears on painted pottery of Attica and of Corinth.

Amphora depicting Hephaistos polishing the shield of Achilles. 480 B.C.

Hephaestus crafted much of the magnificent equipment of the gods. He designed Hermes´ winged helmet and sandals, the Aegis breastplate, Aphrodite‘s famed girdle, Agamemnons staff of office, Achilles‘ armor, Heracles‘ bronze clappers, Helios‘ chariot and Eros bow and arrows.

There is a still a very relevant intervention of Hephaestus in a  well-known cosmogonic myth. It tell us that Zeus was angry at Prometheus, the Rebel Titan, for three things: being tricked by the sacrifices, stealing fire for man, and refusing to tell Zeus which of Zeus’s children would dethrone him. 

As punishment for these rebellious acts, Zeus ordered Hephaestus make a woman made of clay named Pandora. Zeus gave her a box and forbade her from opening it. Then he sent her down to earth, where her curiosity led her to open the lid. Out flew sorrow, mischief, and all other misfortunes that plagued humanity. In the famous story of Pandora’s box, we may learn how earthly hardship was born.

According to most versions, Hephaestus’s wife was Aphrodite, who was unfaithful to Hephaestus with a number of gods and mortals, including her brother Ares.

After he learned his wife had an affair with her brother, Ares, he devised a plan with which he humiliated both lovers.

Helios, the Sun God (later replaced by Apollo) was able to see most things during the day, as he drove his sun chariot across the sky. It was one of those days that Helios witnessed Aphrodite taking her lover in her bed, while Hephaestus was absent.

The Sun God easily recognised Ares. So, he told everything to Hephaestus.

Hephaestus decided to take revenge on the lovers. Thus using his wit and his crafting skills he fashioned an unbreakable net and trapped the two lovers while they were in bed. Hephaestus walked back to his bedchamber with a host of other gods to witness the disgraced pair. Only the male Olympians appeared, while the goddesses stayed in Olympus

Poseidon tried to persuade Hephaestus to release the adulterous pair. At first, Hephaestus refused the request, because he wanted to extract the most out of his revenge, but at the end he released his wife and her lover. Ares immediately fled to Thrace, while Aphrodite went to Paphos at the island of Cyprus.

In Renaissance literature, Hephaestus– as master of fire- is identified as the founder of the alchemical arts and its greatest practitioner. He is frequently portrayed as an evil and sinister figure because in turning base metals into gold he is imitating Nature and thus forging the Work of God. Alchemists believed that the story of the binding of Aphrodite and Ares in Hephaestus’ bed was an encoded recipe. Aphrodite represents copper, Ares represents iron and Hephaestus is the fire that is needed to facilitate an alchemical transformation. In the archetypal psychology literature, Aphrodite and Ares, Love and War, are always imagined as an inseparable “psychic conjunction”. As the alchemist-smith in our soul, it is Hephaestus who binds the two lovers together.

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“Vulcan” by Bertel Thorvaldsen,1861. Thorvaldsens Museum.

►Poem: “Hephaestus”, by Holly Rene Hunter:

Hera, you have cast me from the mount.

Shattering the sphere, salt lime stings my 

skin where I am abandoned to the sea as

less than weeds. 

My cries are the waves  that

flow from  seashell eyes into the

arms of Oceanus.

Aphrodite plucks me up,  a heron

biting my body  and harpooned legs

that break against the sea wall.

I have loosed the crown of  Athena,

split with my ax the fearsome bird of prey.

Impaled, his eyes are those of a  startled deer.

Seized by  fate  I have gathered my medium and

with my broken hands and feet I mold precious metals

into  creations for Gods.

Goblets for Dionysus,

for Aphrodite, the unfaithful,   a copper belt.

A chariot of human form for broken Hephaestus

that I might roam the world unfettered.

For Hera, a golden throne,

where she is bound to dwell forever.

©Holly Rene Hunter. 2017 .-

Holly Rene Hunter.

About Holly Rene Hunter. 

Holly Dixit: “I am Holly Rene Hunter writing at WordPress under the pseudonym Heartafire. I make my home in Florida.  I began writing as a child, an outlet for a wild imagination, my first poem  published was written at age eight and  included in  the Dade County Public Schools Book of Songs.  I am currently assisting with editing for authors whose first language is other than English.  On a personal note, I am a motorcycle enthusiast who loves to paint and write poetry.  If you are so inclined, you can find a sampling of my poetry at Bookrix.com free of charge or visit  my blog here.

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Book by Holly Rene Hunter. You can find a sampling of her poetry at Bookrix.com free of charge here: https://aheartafire.wordpress.com/.

Check out Holly´s Blog. https://aheartafire.wordpress.com/.

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►Greek Mythology: “Artemis´Dual Archetype” / “Collaboration with Resa McConaghy and Mirjana M. Inalman”🌛🏹. 

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"Diana, The Huntress" by Guillaume Seignac. 19th century.

“Diana, The Huntress” by Guillaume Seignac. 19th century.

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Artemis (Roman Equivalent: Diana) is often depicted in two ways: as a huntress goddess and as the goddess of the Moon. 

Artemis/Diana by Jean-Antoine Houdon (18th century)

Artemis/Diana by Jean-Antoine Houdon (18th century)

Artemis was the first-born child of Zeus and Leto. Her mother was forbidden by jealous Hera to give birth anywhere on the earth but the floating island of Delos provided her sanctuary. Immediately after her birth, Artemis helped her mother deliver Apollo for which she is sometimes called a goddess of childbirth.

Her twin brother Apollo was similarly the protector of the boy child. Together the two gods were also bringer of sudden death and disease: Artemis targeted women and girls, Apollo men and boys.
Artemis was officially the goddess of the Hunt, but because the Titans had fallen, the Titan Selene‘s position as the Titan of the Moon was turned over to Artemis, and the same happened with Helios to Apollo.

Before Artemis became goddess of the moon, the Titaness Selene owned the Moon chariot, which she drove across the sky at night. When Typhon began his path of destruction to Mount Olympus, Selene rode into battle with the moon chariot. Therefore, soon after, Artemis was the legatee of the carriage. In the same way, Apollo received the Chariot of the Sun, once the sun of Helios became identified with him.

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Hence, when Apollo was regarded as identical with the sun or Helios, nothing was more natural than that his sister should be seen as Selene or the moon (the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, and sister of the sun-god Helios, and Eos, goddess of the dawn). Accordingly the Greek Artemis is, at least in later times, the goddess of the moon. 
Phoebe was one of the many names she was called. The name Phoebe means the “light one” or “bright one”.
One can see this moon goddess as a complete redressing of Artemis in order to make her a more traditional, feminine being. 
Triple Goddess Moon Symbol AKA Hecate's Wheel.

The phases of the moon (Triple Goddess Moon) The symbol is also known as Hecate’s Wheel.

Furthermore, in Greek mythology, there are many goddesses associated with the moon. These include Selene, the personification of the moon itself, Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, and Hecate, the goddess of crossroads and witchcraft.

Together Artemis, Selene and Hecate embody the phases of the moon. Many depictions of Selene show her wearing a crescent moon, and one of Hecate’s symbols includes the dark circle of the new moon.

Artemis is one of the goddesses that make up the triple goddess symbol:

•The Maiden -waxing moon- Artemis, represents the huntress on earth

•The Mother -full moon- Selene, represents the moon in the heavens

•The Crone -waning moon- Hecate, represents the underworld

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“Diana” by François Lafon (19th century)

Probably the state of the moon was given to Artemis solely to compliment the depiction of her twin brother Apollo, the Sun God, during the time when the blending of the Greek and Roman Pantheon took place. 

Patriarchal societies often dismiss a woman´s individuality and see her as a reflection of her male counterpart.
Therefore, it is entirely possible that the identity of liberated Artemis was altered because of the status of a masculine figure, her own brother at that.
Her mythos is not changed by the addition of stories of a more delicate goddess to warrant her long, modest robes; only her appearance has been changed.
This depiction is in line with  the fact that Artemis is also considered the protectress of Virginity and the girl child up to the age of marriage.

In her two sides, Artemis is mostly seen as the Goddess of Hunt, where she wears a short tunic with her hair into a ponytail, holding a bow and quiver and mostly with her golden stag. When she is the Goddess of the Moon, she wears a long gossamer dress and has her hair held up.

The huntress  depiction presents her as a wild maiden who exists uninhibited by the restraints of conventionality.
The moon goddess rendering, however, shows her clothed in a  more conventional garb, in an attempt to tame and mature her image.
 "A Companion of Diana" by Frémin, René 1717. Musée du Louvre, Paris.

“A Companion of Diana” by Frémin, René 1717. Musée du Louvre, Paris.

In contrast to the primarily social community that made up the Greek Pantheon, Artemis has been depicted throughout mythos as keeping fairly isolated.

Aside from a few attendants, Artemis is rarely described as seeking out or having company.
With a natural preference for the company of other females, the Artemis archetype´s positive relationships with men who do not become lovers at all or who were lovers in the past, can be separated into those who are paternal or fraternal. 
The paternal relationship, implying Zeus´role is one that is particularly rare. The vital factor ensuring the relationship is constructive and positive, as it is given by the paternal´s figure support of her daughter.
"Apollo and Artemis" by Gavin Hamilton.1770.

“Apollo and Artemis” by Gavin Hamilton.1770.

When Artemis was presented to Zeus for the first time as a small child, the father bequeathed his child whatever she desired.

Artemis selected as her gifts her iconic symbols, realms and attendants, all of which provided the foundation of her mythos. 

Artemis is, moreover, like Apollo, unmarried.

She is a maiden divinity never conquered by love. The priests and priestesses devoted to her service were bound to live pure and chaste, and transgressions of their vows of chastity were severely punished. 

"Jupiter and Callisto" by Jean-Simon Berthelemy. (18th century).

“Jupiter and Callisto” by Jean-Simon Berthelemy. (18th century).

In  line with this interpretation, there is a highly illustrative myth, starring Zeus.
The Ruler of Gods, changing his form to resemble Artemis, managed to seduce Callisto, one of Artemis’ hunting attendants. As a companion of Artemis, she took a vow of chastity.
Zeus appeared to her disguised as Artemis and they had sexual relationships. As a result of this encounter she conceived a son, Arcas.

Artemis is considered one of the virgin goddesses on Mount Olympus besides Athena and Hestia.

Hestia, Athena, and Artemis made an oath on the River Styx to Zeus saying that they would not marry and would stay virgins for eternity.
"Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman" by Jean Bolen. Click for details.

“Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman” by Jean Bolen. Click for details.

However, Jean Bolen in her book “Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Every woman” clarifies that the term “virgin” does not necessarily denotes “chastity”, but rather that a woman governed by the Artemis´archetype is “psychologically virginal”, free and untamed. She may love but she will never give herself over entirely, or her freedom will be at risk.

Jean Bolen contends that for Artemis, sex is something to pursue based on the physical experience rather than any committed emotional expression. 
For Artemis women, the risk of vulnerability often prevents them from forming lasting relationships, particularly romantic ones. Solitude means safety and security, while connections run the risks of diminishing the strength of independence .  
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 “Diana and her Nymphs” by Domenichino (1617)

“Diana and her Nymphs” by Domenichino (1617)

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"Landscape with blind Orion seeking the sun" by Nicolas Poussin (1658).

“Landscape with blind Orion seeking the sun” by Nicolas Poussin (1658).

Artemis ´s love towards Orion, the sole icon of romantic love, ends tragically.

In the myth of Orion, he was also a hunting companion of Artemis  and the only person to have won her heart.
However, he was accidentally killed either by the goddess or by a scorpion which was sent by Gaia.
In many accounts, Apollo directed the scorpion to go after Orion. As he wanted to protect Artemis´chastity vows. 
He placed Orion´s constellation in the skies, along with Scorpio. Thus, at night, when Scorpio comes, Orion simultaneously begins to drop away to the opposite side, forever hightailing it away from the scorpion.
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Image based on a Classic white marble statuette of Artemis.

Image based on a Classic white marble statuette of Artemis.

This second part of the post on Artemis consists of a collaboration with Resa McConaghy and Mirjana M. Inalman.
Resa is an artist and costume designer from Canada. 

Mirjana (AKA Oloriel) is a Serbian artist, writer and poet. 

Resa invited us to join us in a project aiming to recreate Artemis´manifold attributes. 

Taking into account the purposes of this project, Resa created a beautiful gown based on Artemis while Mirjana wrote a great poem as a poetic tribute to the goddess .
So, with that being said, let´s move on to the collaboration at issue!. 

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"Artemis by Moonlight”. Artgown by © Resa McConaghy. 2017).-

“Artemis by Moonlight”. Artgown by © Resa McConaghy. 2017).-

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Resa created a stunning gown. She named it “Artemis by Moonlight”. She chose an abstract animal print and copper satin for the tails.

She painted part of the fabric with iridescent metallic paint. Besides she added satin tubes and braids to adorn the gown. Both the rounded tail and the moon shaped copper amulet mimic Artemis as the Goddess of the Moon. The ending product stands out! 😀

Want to see more?. Please check out Resa´s post “Artemis by Moonlight”, on her blog Art Gowns

(Disclaimer: All photographs below were taken by Resa and featured on her blog.”Artemis by Moonlight” . Artgown by © Resa McConaghy. 2017).-

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About Resa McConaghy:
resaResa is a canadian artist, costume designer and author.
She hosts two blogs Graffiti Lux and Murals and Art Gowns.
She has written a book, “Nine Black Lives, available on AmazonYou can follow Resa on Twitter, too.
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Art Gowns: http://artgowns.com/ Graffiti Lux and Murals: http://graffitiluxandmurals.com/

Art Gowns: http://artgowns.com/ Graffiti Lux and Murals: http://graffitiluxandmurals.com/

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©Color me in Cyanide and Cherry, 2017. “Artemis”. Artwork by Mirjana M. Inalman for her own poem. Click on the image to purchase Mirjana´s artwork!.

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Mirjana´s poem “Invoking the Huntress” is a beautiful tribute to Goddess Artemis. Mirjana describes Artemis´two sides (Huntress Goddess and Goddess of the Moon) and she does so with verses that are metaphorically powerful and at the same time faithful to Artemis mythos. The different stanzas celebrate the goddess and provide different approaches as well as tell a story, somehow. I commend you to read and savor this great poem by Mirjana M. Inalman! 😀
You can check out this poem and many others by Mirjana on her blog Color me in Cyanide and Cherry.
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Invoking the Huntress

The crescent beckons a heave,

a touch upon your corners,

reveals

a light brewing

not like a thunderstorm, or a torrent,

but a sickle ready to brand you

in red-

you will be

like two eyes among the pines,

as she lowers her hips downwards,

descends her bow to your forehead;

she tramples your heart with her deer,

her name preaches – You can be here, free;

free in the forest of flesh,

a dancing hunter among the cypress.

Appear.

~~~

She will give you the bear – to fold his head before you.

She will give you the wolf – its maw now your sisterhood.

She will give you the boar – the towns named after your sins but dust beneath him.

She will give you the stag – the horns ripping the night itself to drip

over mouths of dirty gold

whispering her hymns.

Her Kingdom atop the arrowhead

more eternal than the sway of day,

may

the wilderness, soft and pure, and nectar

grow out the belly

and may

it not fetter the beasts,

let them run through her chambers of your bones and chest;

let her tame them with a single breath.

~~~

Her name, like a dream of ground

wet with vine, sizzling like fire

over which the prey darkens,

her innocence unlike any altar,

her savagery unlike any temple,

she arrives

and the winds grasp for air;

Ursa major sticking from her untouched hair,

a moonlight promise,

a devotion of flame

made of her vestibule,

silvery debris

her name, Artemis.

Say.

© Mirjana M. Inalman. 2017 .-

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About Mirjana M. Inalman:
mirjana-m-inalmanMirjana M. Inalman is a writer and poet, living in Belgrade, Serbia.
She writes poetry and she is actually working on several novels. Besides, she  is a cover designer and likes Photography. She speaks four languages and says she “hopes to experience all forms of art at least once”. Check out Mirjana´s blog: Color me in Cyanide and Cherry. She wrote a book, “Colour Me In Cyanide & Cherries”. You can find the book and buy it here. Furthermore, you can purchase Mirjana´s artwork on Fiverr. Make sure to connect with her on Twitter too!. 
 
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Color me in Cyanide and Cherry: https://olorielmoonshadow.wordpress.com/

Color me in Cyanide and Cherry: https://olorielmoonshadow.wordpress.com/

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 “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”:
“Fictional Universes and their effects on Reality”:
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 “Intersections” by Anila Quayyum Agha. Contemporary artist.

“Intersections” by Anila Quayyum Agha. Contemporary artist.

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►About Jorge Luis Borges, author of  “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”: 
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Jorge Luis Borges (1899/1986).

Jorge Luis Borges (1899/1986) was an Argentine writer, acclaimed in many other countries.

“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” originally appeared in Spanish in “Sur magazine” in may 1940. It was then published in book form in “Antología de la Literatura Fantástica” (december 1940), then in Borges’s 1941 collection “El Jardín de Senderos que se Bifurcan” (“The Garden of Forking Paths”). That entire book was, in turn, included within “Ficciones” (1944).
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“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”: Synopsis. Structure. Points of View (POVs):
Synopsis: The narrator (Borges) randomly comes across an article about a region called Uqbar. He then finds an Encyclopedia about Tlön (a country in Uqbar). The enigmatic story reveals that Tlön and Ubqar are fictitious places, invented by a secret society called Orbis Tertius.
Structure, and Points of View (POVs)The story is divided into three parts.
The Points of Views in “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius are basically two.
First Person, when the actions of the story are filtered through the observations of one character. Present in the first section, as a protagonist. 
Third Person; Predominantly Objective in the second and third section (postscript), but with Omniscient/all-knowing features in the postscript, as well. (For more about Points of View, check out Jeri Walker´s thorough post: “Picking a Point of View”).
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►”Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”:
Detailed summary and analysis by sections:
tlon__uqbar__orbis_tertius1) ♠In the first section, the narrator and his friend and writer, Adolfo Bioy Casares,  discuss a hypothetical novel in the first person, whose narrator would omit or disfigure the facts and indulge in various contradictions” (Page 1, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
The mirror in the hallway reminds Bioy Casares of an article in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia  about a country named Uqbar.
Casares then quotes a saying he remembers from a heresiarch of Uqbar: “Mirrors and copulation are abominable, for they multiply the number of mankind”. (Page 1, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Borges asks him where he had found that quote. Casares believed that Uqbar, along with the quotation, was catalogued in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia. Borges also has that same book in his place, but oddly it does not mention Uqbar, so he asks Bioy for further details. The following day, Bioy Casares brings him a copy containing the entry on Uqbar, with the quotation he had paraphrased.
There is something very interesting when it comes to the narrative structure here. It all starts with the apocryphal quotation, a sort of riddle that leads to an enlargement occurring in a staggered form: From the discovery of the text, to the imaginary country called Uqbar (vaguely situated in Asia, according to the article in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia) and then to Tlön (one of the two regions of Uqbar, alongside Mlejnas).
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2) ♠The second section describes the narrator’s discovery of a volume of the Encyclopedia of Tlön, left behind in a bar by an Englishman, Herbert Ashe. This happens in 1937, meaning two years after Bioy Casares and Borges´ first knowledge of Uqbar and Tlön. Ashe´s manuscript  was the eleventh volume of a complete Encyclopedia surveying the imaginary city of Tlön.
The volume has on its first page a stamped blue oval inscribed “Orbis Tertius” (“third orb,” in Latin).
According to Borges, this encyclopedia entails a methodical and orderly infinitesimal plan, devised by a sect.
Borges describes some of the characteristics and features of Tlön and its people, based on the volume of the Encyclopedia he had found.
We can summarize some of the main points as:
-Tlön is divided in two hemispheres. In none of these hemispheres, nouns are included in their languages.
-People of this imaginary planet are “idealist” and do not believe in the material, objective existence of their surroundings.
-The world itself is understood as a series of mental processes lacking temporal duration. The lack of spatial relations across time lead to a distorted conception of identity. 
berkeleyThe philosopher Berkeley is mentioned by Borges as a referent in Tlön. Of course, not in practical way but more as Borges´interpretation. Bishop George Berkeley (18th century) was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called “immaterialism” or “subjective idealism”. This theory denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that objects are only ideas in the minds of perceiver and, as a result, cannot exist without being perceived.
Berkeley believed God to be present as an immediate cause of all our experiences.
Here is Berkeley’s proof of the existence of God: “Whatever power I may have over my own thoughts, I find the ideas actually perceived by Sense have not a like dependence on my will. When in broad daylight I open my eyes, it is not in my power to choose whether I shall see or no, or to determine what particular objects shall present themselves to my view; and so likewise as to the hearing and other senses; the ideas imprinted on them are not creatures of my will. There is therefore some other Will or Spirit that produces them”. (Berkeley. Principles #29).
Inhabitants of the imaginary Tlön hold an extreme form of George Berkeley’s subjective idealism, denying the reality of the world.
Their world is seen not as a concurrence of objects in space, but as a heterogeneous series of independent acts.
Borges says: “The nations of this planet are congenitally idealist. Their language and the derivations of their language – religion, letters, metaphysics – all presuppose idealism. The world for them is not a concourse of objects in space; it is a heterogeneous series of independent acts. It is successive and temporal, not spatial”. (Page 7, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
But Tlön is a world of Berkeleyan idealism with one critical omission: it lacks the omnipresent, perceiving deity on whom Berkeley relied as a point of view demanding an internally consistent world.
The idea of eternal present appears in the second section.
Aristotle (384 /322) .

Aristotle (384 /322) .

Borges mentions: “One of the schools of Tlön goes so far as to negate time: it reasons that the present is indefinite, that the future has no reality other than as a present memory” (Page 8, according to University of Yale´s transcript).

The idea of time as Indefinite Present could be linked to Aristotle. Aristotle argues that the essence of time is the now, to nun.  
The “now” is given simultaneously as that which is no longer and as that which is not yet. Aristotle defines time as “a number of change in respect of the before and after”. As time implies a sense of a before and after, for Aristotle time is the coming-to-be and passing-away of nows moving in an irreversible, lineal way.
The First Encyclopedia of Tlön makes reference to two types of special objects: hronirs and urs
Hronirs are lost objects that could be found, or better said “produced” by people or animals. They entail a sort of duplication, being somehow clones or copies of the original object.
But, Borges suggests that a copy of another hronir would be deficient: “Curiously, the hronir of second and third degree – the hronir derived from another hron, those derived from the hron of a hron – exaggerate the aberrations of the initial one”. (Page 12, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Furthermore, Borges states that according to an experiment done with Tlön inmates: “expectation and anxiety can be inhibitory (when it comes to produce the secondary objects)” (Page 11, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
He also says that the reverse can occur: “Things became duplicated in Tlön; they also tend to become effaced and lose their details when they are forgotten. A classic example is the doorway which survived so long it was visited by a beggar and disappeared at his death” (Page 12 , according to University of Yale´s transcript). 
Finally, Borges also mentions a different type of secondary objects: Urs.  “An ur is the object produced through suggestion, educed by hope”. (Page 12 , according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Walter Benjamin (1892/1940).

Walter Benjamin (1892/1940).

The description of Hronirs, and especially how the copies might be defective could be linked to Walter Benjamin´s idea of “loss of the aura”. In his essay, “The Work of Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Benjamin-one of the most well-known members of the Frankfurt School describes the so-called “loss of the aura”, in the context of mechanical reproduction of art. The aura represents the originality and authenticity of a work of art that has not been reproduced. In the age of mechanical reproduction, mass consumption is the cause of the loss of the aura, and, therefore, the loss of a singular authority within the work of art itself. However, for Walter Benjamin, a distance from the aura is a good thing. The loss of the aura has the potential to open up the politicization of art, whether or not that opening is detrimental or beneficial is yet to be determined.

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3) ♠Third and last section (Postcript):  The postscript reveals that Tlön and Ubqar are fictitious places, invented by a secret society called Orbis Tertius. This society worked for three hundred years and came up with the imaginary lands Uqbar and Tlön.
In his postcript, Borges notes several “intrusions” of Tlön into the real world, the most notable being the 1942 discovery of a Tlönian artifact in the hand of a dying man: a small metal cone of unknown material which was inexplicably heavy.
Borges says that all forty volumes of the Encyclopedia of Tlön were discovered and published in a library in Memphis. The material then became accessible worldwide, and immensely influential on Earth’s culture, science and languages. By the time Borges concludes the story (presumably in 1947) the world is already gradually disintegrating and transforming into Tlön. Besides, every domain of human knowledge has been rewritten to accommodate the truths of Tlön, and Borges expects the process to continue in the future.
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“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”: Final Thoughts:
Based on a very complex temporal structure, this short story consists of three parts and two moments of enunciation. That is, the first part introduces Uqbar; the second presents Tlön; and the third, Orbis Tertius.
Also, the first two parts were, according to the fiction itself, written in 1940, while the third was written in  1947.
However as previously mentioned, this short story was first published in 1940.
The passage of time has diluted the effect that Borges sought and, instead, has favored the erroneous assumption that he added the postscript at the historical, “actual”  date of 1947.
anglo-american-cyclopedia1The three stages of the same plan are revealed through two texts: The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia entails the discovery of Uqbar. The First Encyclopaedia of Tlön, leads to know about the fantastic planet called Tlön, while the letter addressed to Herbert Ashe, explains plans and contingencies of the society Orbis Tertius. These three texts are either copies, or give birth of them.
The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia is a Fallacious copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Besides, the literalness of The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia is a hoax, as only in one volume of three the characters managed to find the article on Uqbar.
In this same line of analysis, although the narrator refers to the original text of the eleventh volume of A First Encyclopaedia of Tlön, in the postscript a second version of that encyclopedia is mentioned.
This newest version also distorts its original. At least as far as the eleventh volume concerns. The volumen that the narrator found in 1937 is modified in the version exhumed in 1944. The modifications refer to certain “incredible features”, such as the curious objects that duplicate in Tlön, the hrönir.
Finally, the Postcript suggests that the letter addressed to Herbert Ashe might have been reproduced in order to publicize the existence of Tlön and its imminent invasion of Reality. The narrator (Borges himself) is included in this work, summarizing the content of the letter.
Plato (427/347 BCE).-

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

The duplication and proliferation of copies  might allude to Plato´s Theory of Forms

In his dialogue Phaedo, Plato defends the world of the archetypes (Ideas/Forms)  by comparing it with the sensible world. While the Idea or archetype contains within itself an absolute and immutable value, the sensible copy reproduces this value in a partial, nether degree. 
In “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” the Platonic attitude of disdain towards copies is enunciated from the beginning, with the imprecise quote that Bioy Casares mentions and which Borges attunes, later on.
Back to the quote, not only mirrors and copulation multiply and spread the universe. It seems that texts also do. In this sense, multiplication tends to alter the reproduced texts (simplifying them or modifying them). However, when it comes to the subsequent development of the encyclopedias in this story, one could conclude that the copies might “improve” the respective originals.
globe-glassDisorted Copies and Mirrors are elements that relate one to each other.
The mirror in Borges appears as a sort of unifying element between Reality and Fantasy. The perfect symbiosis between the real and the Fictional world ultimately demarcates the limits of the mirror.
In the case of Tlön, the narrative is constructed as a mirror. The image reflected is a “distorted and parodied” image of our own Culture.
Tlön is presented before hand as unreal, to finally persuade us that fictional planet is our world.
The resource used in this story is to render unlikely any event of reality. We could conclude that mental facts have woven a warp of such real consistency that it reaches the “real” world, introducing doubts to the reader.
On the Left: Hyperbolic tessellation: Circle Limit III, by M. C. Escher. 1959. On the right: Butterfly by M. C. Escher. 1960´s.

On the Left: Hyperbolic tessellation: Circle Limit III, by M. C. Escher. 1959. On the right: Butterfly by M. C. Escher. 1960´s.

This short story has both detective novel and dystopian novel elements.
In the first sense, the crime here described is the proliferation of fiction in the world of the narrator.

Or, said in other words, the death of reality due to the effects caused by the multiplication of Tlön:

“The contact and the habit of Tlön have disintegrated this world. Enchanted by its rigor, humanity forgets over and again that it is a rigor of chess masters, not of angels. Already the schools have been invaded by the (conjectural) “primitive language” of Tlön; already the teaching of its harmonious history (filled with moving episodes) has wiped out the one which governed in my childhood; already a fictitious past occupies in our memories the place of another, a past of which we know nothing with certainty – not even a that it is false…. If our forecasts are not in error, a hundred years from now someone will discover the hundred volumes of the Second Encyclopedia of Tlön.  Then English and French and mere Spanish will disappear from the globe. The world will be Tlön“.  (Page 16, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Speculation is necessary here. For fiction to affect reality until it is annihilated, as happens when Tlön -as invention- influences reality, certain coherence is required. That is why, as we have seen, Borges´jigsaws, characters and researches are purely intellectual. Being these strategic elements of the genre available, a “real” world (the narrator’s) is constructed, as opposed to the “unreal” world of Tlön (which, however, is also made up of ideas). This is what allows Reality to be annihilated by Fiction.
As to the Dystopian factor, it is worth highlighting that the secret society Orbis Tertius had planned a textual conspiracy, directed to operate through a series of speeches and aiming to subjugate humanity. Subjugation subtly occurs Language, implying a perversion of rhetoric.
Taking this interpretation further, the disappearance of “English, French and Spanish” could allude to the Third Reich project of destroying the heterogeneity of civilization in favor of the predominance of a superior “race”.
Finally, the Dystopian element is surreptitiously expressed in the use of language (Otherwise, and also, as a resource of Power).
The story begins with a memory of Bioy Casares extracted from an apocryphal book. It ends with a destructive invasion of the real world by “objects” (which are nothing else but ideas) from a false world, published by an apocryphal book: the First Encyclopaedia of Tlön.
In fine, the story as a whole seems to contain an otherwise positive warning, about the limitations of language.
Language, without more reference than itself, can not allow us to distinguish between the apocryphal and the authentic, between what is false and what is true.🔚
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➰☑️ “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”:

►Read “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges.

Translation to English from Yale University. Click Here. 

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►Links Post:
http://art.yale.edu/file_columns/0000/0066/borges.pdf
http://ciudadseva.com/texto/tlon-uqbar-orbis-tertius/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tl%C3%B6n,_Uqbar,_Orbis_Tertius
http://jeriwb.com/picking-a-point-view-57117/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BxOE3bO6SM&t=14m2s
http://hyperallergic.com/75485/borges-and-xul-solar-illuminating-an-artistic-friendship/
http://losojosdeborges.blogspot.com.ar/2004/12/tln-uqbar-orbis-tertius.html
http://ficcionesborges.blogspot.com.ar/2005/05/tln-uqbar-orbis-tertius-sobre-lo.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Berkeley
https://belate.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/aristotle-definition-of-time-in-physics/
https://frankfurtschool.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/summary-the-work-of-art-in-the-age-of-mechanical-reproduction/
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"Arachne or Dialectics" by Paolo Veronese. 1520.

“Arachne or Dialectics” by Paolo Veronese. 1520.

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In Greek Mythology, Arachne was a Lydian woman, the daughter of a famous Tyrian purple wool dyer, who was highly gifted in the art of weaving.

Soon news of Arachne’s artistry spread far and wide and it is said that nymphs from the forests left their frolicking and gathered around Arachne to watch her weave.

All this adulation was more than Arachne could handle and being an ordinary mortal who was quite vulnerable to human failings, she became quite arrogant about her superior skills. She was annoyed at being regarded as a pupil of Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, and began bragging about her skills, proclaiming herself to be far more superior to even Athena.

"Athena and Arachne" by Antonio Tempesta. 1599.

“Athena and Arachne” by Antonio Tempesta. 1599.

Athena took offense and set up a contest between them. Presenting herself as an old woman. 

When they finally met, Athena cast aside her disguise and revealed her true identity to the prideful maiden. “Now we shall see who is the better craftsman, for I challenge you to a contest of skill. The winner shall be honored, while the loser concurs to weave no more”, the goddess declared and took her place before the loom.

Athena gracefully entwined the colorful threads into a prophetic scene depicting mortals being duly punished for their defamatory actions against the gods.

For her offering, Arachne chose to create a tapestry detailing some of the more scandalous moments in the lives of the Olympians. Arachne’s work of art, according to the Latin narrative, featured twenty-one scenes of the various misdemeanors of the mighty gods, including ZeusPoseidon, Apollo, Dionysus and others.

Although Arachne had shown little respect for the gods by choosing a subject that made a mockery of the supreme deities of the Olympus, even Athena had to admit that her work was brilliant and flawless.

Athena was infuriated by the mortal’s pride. In a final moment of anger, she destroyed Arachne’s tapestry.

Image from Giovanni Boccaccio's "De mulieribus claris". 1474.

Image from Giovanni Boccaccio’s “De mulieribus claris”. 1474.

Unable to cope with her feelings, Arachne decided to hang herself. 

Athena stepped in and saved her from that death; but, angry still, pronounced another doom: “Although I grant you life, most wicked one, your fate shall be to dangle on a cord, and your posterity forever shall take your example, that your punishment may last forever!”.

Even as she spoke, before withdrawing from her victim’s sight, she sprinkled her with extract of herbs of Hecate.

Ovid tells us in his book “Metamorphoses, that at once all hair fell off, her nose and ears remained not, and her head shrunk rapidly in size, as well as all her body, leaving her diminutive. Her slender fingers gathered to her sides as long thin legs; and all her other parts were fast absorbed in her abdomen, whence she vented a fine thread; and ever since, Arachne, as a spider, weaves her web. After her transformation, Arachne hid from Athena by weaving the rope on which she hanged herself into an intricate web.

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⇒Background and Interpretation of the Myth:

Arachne depicted as a half-spider half-human in Gustave Doré's illustration for an 1861 edition of Dante's Purgatorio.

Arachne depicted as a half-spider half-human in Gustave Doré’s illustration for an 1861 edition of Dante’s Purgatorio.

There are many versions of this myth. It may have originated in Lydian mythology; but the myth, briefly mentioned by Virgil in 29 BC, is known from the later Greek mythos after Ovid wrote the poem “Metamorphoses”, between the years AD 2 and 8.

This was retold in Dante Alighieri´s depiction as the half-spider Arachne in the 2nd book of his “Divine Comedy”, Purgatorio. 

In Ovid’s version, it is clear that Arachne’s problem was one of pride or hubris, an exaggerated belief in one’s own abilities.

Yet, in other versions the theme is more one of Athena’s envy of a mortal whose skills are at least comparable with her own.

Last, but not least, this myth can be interpreted in the light of economic rivalry between the city of Athens and the region of Lydia. Historical and archaeological evidence suggests that, in the second millennium BCE, Lydia was the largest exporter of dyed woolen cloth in the Mediterranean. In this reading of the story, Athena is Athens, while Arachne symbolizes her native Lydia.

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⇒Different Cultural and Philosophical Depictions of Spiders:

In many cultures spiders stand as the creators of our universe and world, and also serve as agents of destruction.The spider has symbolized patience and persistence due to its hunting technique of setting webs and waiting for its prey to become ensnared. It is also a symbol of mischief and malice for its toxic venom and the slow death it causes, which is often seen as a curse.

For example, in ancient India, it is written that a large spider wove the web that is our universe. She sits at the centre of the web, controlling things via the strings. It is said she will one day devour the web/universe, and spin another in its place.

Neith, wears sometimes a shuttle on her head; sometimes a crown.

Neith, wears sometimes a shuttle on her head; sometimes a crown.

Egyptian mythology tells of the goddess Neith – a spinner and weaver of destiny – and associates her with the spider.She is often depicted with a weaving shuttle in her hand, or a bow and arrows, demonstrating her hunting abilities.  

Neith shared same attributes than Athena. She was worshiped as a virgin. She was considered the guardian of marriage and women, and was believed to have created the world and humanity on her loom. The symbol depicted often above her head is argued to either be a weaver’s shuttle or crossed arrows. Before being connected to this means of creation, she was believed to have worked with the primordial waters as the source.

Egyptian goddess Neith reminds of the Greek Moirae

The Three Greek Moirae.

The Three Greek Moirae.

The Moirae were the three white-robed personifications of Destiny: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. These three Goddesses work successively. Clotho spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle. Lachesis measured the thread of life allotted to each person with her measuring rod. And Atropos was the cutter of the thread of life. 

In Celtic tradition, the spider has strong associations with the Druids. This nature-based religion sees the spider as having three distinct characteristics – the Bard, the Ovate and the Druid. The bard is the artist and weaver of webs. The Ovate is a seer that provides perspective, and the Druid is the teacher of Spider medicine. We are told that Spider created the Ogham, an early Irish alphabet that is often seen on sacred stones in Ireland.

Spider Woman, the "Great Weaver" of Native American myth.

Spider Woman, the “Great Weaver” of Native American myth.

Spider Woman appears in the mythology of several Native North American tribes, including the Navajo, Keresan, and Hopi. In most cases, she is associated with the emergence of life on earth. She helps humans by teaching them survival skills.

Spider Woman also teaches the Navajos the art of weaving.

Before weavers sit down at the loom, they often rub their hands in spider webs to absorb the wisdom and skill of Spider Woman.

Similar to other traditions in the Americas, the Mayan Ixchel was the weaving goddess whose whirling drop spindle controlled the movement of the universe. 

Ixchel, the mayan weaver-goddesses.

Ixchel, the mayan weaver-goddesses.

In some imagery she is shown holding a spindle and distaff, and in some she is kneeling with a small back strap loom tied to a tree, like other weaver-goddesses, weaving the destiny of the world.

Furthermore, an ancient Aztec mural painting of The Great Goddess of Teotihuacan was discovered in the 1940s in Tepantitla, at the site of the pyramids of the Sun and Moon in Mexico. 

Ancient Aztec mural painting of The Great Goddess of Teotihuacan, discovered in the 1940s in Tepantitla. The Goddess seem to be related to The Great Spider mythology.

Ancient Aztec mural painting of The Great Goddess of Teotihuacan. The Goddess seem to be related to The Great Spider mythology.

Until the 1980s, the painting was thought to be of Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain and water. The details of the painting suggested a feminine form and there were enough similarities to the North American Spider Woman that it was decided that she was another version of the myth.

In the Vedic philosophy of India, the spider is depicted as hiding the ultimate reality with the veils of illusion. The Vedic god Indra is referred to as Śakra in Buddhism, or with the title Devānām Indra. Indra’s net is used as a metaphor for the Buddhist concept of interpenetration, which holds that all phenomena are intimately connected.

In a different and yet resembling level, Information technology terms such as the “web spider” and the World Wide Web imply the spider-like connection of information accessed on the Internet.

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Links Post:
https://goo.gl/WiwbB4
https://goo.gl/mcAiga
https://goo.gl/xW8Y65
https://goo.gl/dddvZx
https://goo.gl/PW18qV
https://goo.gl/49o4Ix

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awards

This is a special section in which I will display all the awards I have received during 2016. To simplify, I will follow the same rules for all the awards as otherwise I wouldn´t be able to do it … 😉 Meaning: 1. Thank the blogger who have nominated you. 2. Display the logo on your blog. 3. Nominate at least 7 bloggers for each award and tell them about the nomination. As I often do, I will nominate bloggers who nominated me for other awards, new followers and bloggers who have recently liked my posts. As to my nominees, I will link back to one of their newest posts as an easier way to inform them about the nomination. If you have been nominated and want to follow along the nomination process, you´ll find your respective award in the gallery below, as the slideshare goes, click on it and save it (see award, per number). If you are a Free Award Blog, all is fine: just take this mention as a shout-out. 😀

1♦Thank you very much Loli Lopesino and Quimoji Blog for bestowing me with the Best Blog Awards.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Settle in El Paso 2. Doar Verde 3. The Dragon Coach 4. Comically Quirky 5. Wystarczyspojrzec 6. Nail a Post 7. Priyadarshinilovelife.

2♦Thank you very much Arohii from Joie de Vivre and Leire from Leire´s Room for the Versatile Blogger Award. 

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Prakharbansal 2. Lola´s Garden 3. Anabarwriter 4. Misty Books 5. Motivepentrucondei 6. Picture this by Frank 7. Versatile Laraib.

3♦Thanks so much Pintowski for the Sunshine Blogger Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. New Pathways 2. Spirit in Politics 3. Your vacation gurus 4. Charly Karl 5. Snapshots233 6. Marswords  7. Mahdheebah.

4♦Thank you very much Claudia Moss for the One Lovely Blog Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Life Less Ordinary 2. The Green Fashion Cafe 3. Claudia Moss 4. Jen Gary New Adventures 5. Breath Math 6. Fotografischewelten 7. Benolsamblog.

5♦Thanks so much Amanpan Blog and Luna Quebrada for thinking of me and bestowing me with the Versatile Blogger Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Der komoediant 2. The Mordant Scribe 3. Elle Jase 4. Len Moriarty 5. West Clare Writes 6. Goingplaces2gether 7. Make-up louca por maquiagem.

6♦Thank you very much Inese from Making Memories for the Creative Blogger Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Loli Lopesino 2. Quimoji Blog 3. Luna Quebrada 4. Amanpan Blog 5. Juggling Writing a Book 6. Heena Rathore 7. Nerdy Teacher Extraordinaire.

7♦Thanks so much Juggling Writing a Book for the Liebster Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Aewnian 2. Scripted Sheet 3. Sometimes Intereseting 4. Simouncino 5. Blog Mexique Rotary 6. Gabriella´s design 7. Mosaic 89.

7´♦ (same logo that ♦4) Thank you very much Tina Frisco for the One Lovely Blog Award. 

My Nominees for this award are: 1. World Of Truths 2. A Voice Reclaimed 3. Carolina Amundsen 4. Dish Dessert 5. Facets of a Muse 6. Whitney Ibe 7. Rdaignault

8♦Thanks so much Micheline Walker and Robert Goldstein for the Blogger Recognition Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Meiji Zapico 2. Il Motivatore 3. Water Wise Baker 4. Boss in the Middle 5. Shell Ochsner 6. Kreakhaos 7. Cocinaitaly

9♦Thank you very much Lazy Haze for the Mystery Blogger Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1.Micheline Walker 2. Tina Frisco 3. Robert Goldstein 4. Danicapiche 5. Kentuchy Angel 6. Dainty Joyce 7. 924 Collective

10♦Thanks so much Danicapiche for the Treasure Trove Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Arohii  2. Leire 3. Inese 4. Healing Grief 5. Justified Ectasy 6. Lazy Haze 7. Oaktreelife.

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11♦ Quote Challenge: Thanks so much to Inese from Making Memories and Heena Rathore for inviting me to join her in the Three Quotes Challenge. The rules of this challenge are: a. Thank the person who nominated you. b. Post one fresh quotation on three consecutive days. c. On each of the three days, nominate at least one  folk to continue the challenge.

Hope you don’t mind that I wrote only one blog post instead of three. Feel free to do the same if you were nominated. I will add the six Quotes (three per each nomination) below photographs I have recently taken in Brazil and Argentina. Click on the photographs to read the respective quote…

I nominate for the Three Quote Challenge: 1. Words from a Little Person 2. Rainefairy 3. Moonlight Psychology 4. Devisecreateconcoct 5. Mararomaro 6. Wutherornot.

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►Philosophy: “Plato´s Cave and Fifteen Million Merits” (Black Mirror):

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Hello readers! This is a post in collaboration with Christy Birmingham, from Poetic Parfait and When Women Inspire. You might wonder how the idea of writing this post came up. Well, basically, I had begun watching Season Three of Black Mirror, which was recently released on Netflix. I told Christy how much I liked it, and, from that moment, we started chatting about the series. Soon after, Christy watched “The Entire History of You”, which is the third episode of the first season, followed by “Fifteen Million Merits” (the second episode of the same season).

We discussed both episodes. And we decided to do a post on the latter. Therefore, this complete post was a result of the exchanges of points of views. But each one of us focused on particular themes.

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Christy Birmingham

Christy wrote about Abi (before and after “Hot Shot”), the concept of being overweight (as it is socially considered and shown in this episode), and added the final thoughts. She also had a major task proofreading the entire article and helping me sort out doubts along the process. For all this, I wish to take the opportunity to convey my gratitude to Christy.

As to me, I wrote other parts of the review, the allegory of the cave, and the ending section concerning the existing analogies between Plato´s Allegory of the Cave and this episode.

With that being said, keep in mind that you can watch this episode of Black Mirror on Netflix or here. Thanks for dropping by and we hope you enjoy the reading. 

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⇒The Allegory of the Cave:

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is written as a dialogue between Plato’s teacher Socrates and Plato’s brother Glaucon at the beginning of  “The Republic”, Book VII (514a–520a).

In the allegory, Plato likens people to prisoners chained in an underground cave, unable to turn their heads.

All they can see is the wall of the cave, upon which shadows of the world above are thrown.

The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. These so-called “puppeteers” are just people outside the cave who walk along this walkway, who presumably carry things on their heads. Hence, what the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see, believing that the shadows of objects are real objects.

One of the prisoners then is freed from their bindings and leaves the cave.

Blinded by the light, he is unable to see anything and longs for the familiar darkness. But, eventually, his eyes adjust to the light. Finally, he beholds the sun, which is the main source of knowledge. 

As he becomes used to his new surroundings, he realizes that his former view of reality was wrong.

But he is despised when he returns to the cave. Those who never left the cave ridicule him and swear never to go into the light lest they be blinded as well.

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The allegory of the Cave explains Plato´s Theory of Forms.

The Theory of Forms maintains that two distinct levels of reality exist: the visible world of sights and sounds that we inhabit and the intelligible world of Forms that stands above the visible world and gives it being. The visible world or World of Appearances consists of Images and Visible Things. But images have less entity than visible things (tangible things). In the Intelligible World we have the mathematical objects (not important for this analysis) and The Forms. 

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

For Plato, the Forms were basically the Ideas (also called Essences behind the visible Things).

Forms are not mental entities, nor even mind-dependent. They are independently existing entities whose existence and nature are graspable only by the mind, even though they do not depend on being so grasped in order to exist. Things are “useful” because as they allow us to recognize the Idea or Form behind and Beyond them. 

An example concerns the Idea of Beauty. All the beautiful things we can see are beautiful only because they participate in the more general Form of Beauty. This Form of Beauty is itself invisible, eternal, and unchanging, unlike the things in the visible world that can grow old and lose their beauty. This applies to all objects, as they are ideas for them too. Natural objects, such as trees and animals each link back to their respective Form or Idea. As to manufactured objects, that´s a different issue as Plato would rather consider them “artificial”; meaning “images of Things” (and so that was the case for Plato with all artistic creations, for instance).

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⇒Fifteen Million Merits:

Black Mirror is a British television series created by Charlie Brooker that features dark, speculative fiction and examines modern society, particularly with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies.

This series has three seasons so far, and it streams on Netflix. 

Fifteen Million Merits is the second episode of Season One of the series.

The episode depicts a society in which people have to generate the energy that runs the entire society, pedaling on stationary bikes for hours at a time. This is a world where technological pleasure and instant gratification always depend on computers, where the real world and the virtual world are completely intertwined and almost everything natural has been replaced by technology. 

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“Fifteen Million Merits” has all of these elements. It is also a satirical approach to the capitalist society from a technological perspective. Characters are mainly clients and their “money” is a fungible value. Not money, though, but “merits” instead. The idea of merit, rather, seems to respond to the demands of a society in which  the Division of Labor is no longer needed. 

So, basically, everyone plays the same role. Each individual is both a creator and consumer of manufacturing inputs. Besides, leisure time and working time are not clearly divided. While people work (pedalling to generate energy), they are allowed to watch television.

Everyone wears grey clothes, except those who clean the place, who wear yellow and are most times bullied and even depicted in video games as “targets” to shoot.

The cleaners wear bright yellow outfits, which is in sharp contrast to the blasé grey sweat suits of the peddlers. Look closely at the cleaners, who carry dust bins and brooms, and notice that they are all overweight.

Soon it becomes clear in the TV episode that their weight relates to why they are cleaners rather than peddlers, and that being a cleaner is a job that is beneath the people on the bikes. For example, one very excitable man on a bike taunts the workers whenever they come around him. He mocks the outfit and weight of one male cleaner, who never talks back to him.

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It seems that when a person becomes overweight, they are removed from the bike work and put to work cleaning the floor instead.

There are many issues being brought up here. Firstly, the way society is organized is that overweight people are considered lower-class citizens. Fitness is considered a strength while being large is symbolic of the weak.

Also, there is obviously bullying going on here, from a “higher” class of society to a “lower” one. Being bullied for a person’s weight is something that happens today, but Fifteen Million Merits takes it to a whole new level in the future.

Aside from talking down to the cleaners, the people in grey outfits also shoot at the yellow figures who appear in video games. The yellow people who look like the floor cleaners are part of games that are similar to “Call of Duty”. They are shot at by the peddlers on the bike and the shooting games continue when the peddlers return to their homes too.

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Furthermore, if people are not working at same sole task, they are locked in their prison cell of video screens that cover every surface from floor to ceiling, pumping out an endless stream of inane comedy, reality TV and softcore porn. It is worth noting though that under these televisual circumstances, there is no place for intimacy. Being spectators of TV shows means that you appear in the show as an avatar who makes your reactions public .

We could assume that this “world” is the result of some sort of energy crisis. Hence, the population is needed to power their lights instead. Their existence is pretty miserable to contemplate; so much of the energy is used to distract the same citizenry as they perform their mundane tasks.

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The story has two main characters. Bing and Abi.

Bing is confronted with an artificial, media-saturated world, and yet he is hungry for something more.

Like most dystopian stories, he gets a hint that there could be something more when he meets the pretty Abi, and soon after he hears her singing, he falls for her.

Her innocence and naïvety are attractive to Bing, but her singing hints at something even deeper.  In his eyes, her beauty is something that goes beyond everything,  in a world covered with dark multimedia screens (black mirrors).

Even if they don´t have physical contact (there is an occasion when they briefly hold hands in an elevator, though), there is something magical between them, a spark of reality, so to speak.

There is symbol which seems to represent their bond. The little penguin, which recurrently appears.  It probably represents “something lost” (maybe Nature as it seems the characters are locked and pent-up in a “fake” world where real things are barely available).

This little animal appears many times throughout the episode as an origami penguin, carefully folded by Abi. Besides, Abi´s avatar wears a dress with penguins on it. And, at the end of the episode, the penguin motif takes on a quite heart-breaking significance at the episode’s conclusion, as Bing has a statue of a penguin in his luxurious but minimalist penthouse.
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Abi and Bing´s relationship is good. But, that’s just the beginning of the story. In a world where everything is a spectacle, where everything can be objectified, repackaged and sold back to an always hungry viewership, what happens with feelings and with human experiences?.

That´s when the we learn about “Hot Shot”, as an equivalent to “The X Factor” or “American Idol” in this episode, which seems to be the entrance to fame and a life free of duties (the bike).

“Hot Shot” depicts pretty much a “roman circus”.

abi2The committee on the TV-show “Hot Shot” consist of three judges named “Wraith”, “Hope”, and “Charity”. The theological virtues of Christianity are “Faith”, “Hope” and “Charity”. These were traditionally the path to follow in order to attain salvation. The change from “Faith” to “Wraith” is justified because our faith is now on the virtual world. The new salvation is to be successful, to obtain a more real virtuality.

Bing is so charmed by Abi´s song that he spends his dead brother’s 15 million merits to get her on “Hot Shot”, where she’s an instant sensation. Drugged by some sort of milk called “Cuppliance” (which is a composed word, resulting of the sum of “cup” and “compliance”), she goes along with Judge Wraith and becomes a porn star, in a wrenching twist.

Celebrity culture entails a sort of moral nihilism, the show in question leads to a dark voyeurism, which goes deep into other people’s humiliation, pain, weakness, and betrayal. Spectators appear as avatars, a crowded, anonymous audience facing the stage, staring at the contestants while they are just watching the screen in their cells (and represented as avatars in the audience).

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The crowd starts to chant for Abi to take the spot offered to her by the judge to become a porn star. In this case, when Abi is on stage, having drunk the “Cuppliance” beverage, she gives in to the social pressure of the crowd. While she is uncomfortable with the idea of becoming a porn star, as shown by her hesitation, the crowd’s chanting become gets stronger and louder.

Abi is being bullied. After all, the floor cleaners are not the only ones bullied in this society. She is being harassed digitally, which we can already see happening in real life today with death threats on Facebook and Twitter, for example. We soon learn the negative impacts of intimidation when we see the career that Abi ends up feeling forced to choose.

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In addition to the bullying, Abi is also submitting to something bigger than herself, which happens in many societies today. Whether you call it peer pressure (the crowd) or the pressure of authority (the judges), or a combination of the two, this Black Mirror episode takes the influence of others to the extreme. She wants approval, as so many people do in the world today.

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But Abi suffers terribly for getting this approval. She enters the porn world, as the judges and audience both encouraged her to do, and soon videos of her being demoralized by men are flashed across digital screens everywhere. While she no longer has to ride the bike all day, her new role is demeaning, including an image on the screens of a man putting his finger into her mouth and she is physically beneath him, which shows he has the power over her, body and all.

Abi is now officially part of the “Wraith Babes” stream that has “the hottest girls in the nastiest situations” as the announcer’s voice on the stream repeatedly says when it is shown on screens. So sad, as no girl says that she wants to grow up to star in pornography. Instead, Abi – like some women in today’s world – have been pressured into doing degrading sexual acts to please others. It is a depressing look at women’s bodies being exploited for the instant gratification of other people.

This example of Ali is taken to the extreme in a few ways. Firstly, she is viewed by Bing as being pure and innocent, including having an angelic voice; she is the ultimate example of peer pressure’s consequences. Also, the pornography featuring her is spread across huge digital screens for everyone to see, rather than being viewed on private websites or seedy theaters.

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Once Abi is caught in the porn universe, the ads featuring her torture a broken Bing. He destroys his room and sets upon a revenge mission, earning another shot on the show and giving a rough speech with a shard of glass pointed at his neck. The sequence in question is perfectly done.

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It is mostly an act of rebellion that leaves the audience numb and silent until  Judge Hope proclaims it the most heartfelt thing they’ve ever seen on the show. Soon after the Judge´s evaluation, the audience begin to cheer and clap hands in a standing ovation.

Bings´s speech is a little bit of the major irony here. He speaks out the truth (maybe because he cheats and avoid drinking the beverage Abi had when she performed, as he had hidden the dispenser under his bed).

Judge Hope says he is deeply moved by his words and offers him to have his own show twice a week for half an hour each. And Bing, persuaded by the judge and audience, accepts. 

So, ultimately he also sells himself out. In other words, he becomes entertainment himself. Speaking trite truths about consumerism and vociferating sold out prejudices concerning non-genuine life. While using the glass in his throat while he speaks, in a threatening tone as if he is going to commit suicide. 

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⇒Concluding Thoughts on Fifteen Million Merits:

As with the other Black Mirror episodes, Fifteen Million Merits is a smart hour of science fiction television. It shows a dark side of technology and the excesses that the world could come to in the future if electronic devices are not used wisely by humans. It could wind up that the world is short on energy, that we cannot get away from digital screens, and that bullying is a bigger side-effect of a tech-savvy lifestyle than ever before.

But, perhaps we have to squirm in our seats watching this kind of television to be able to make more sense of the world, our place in it, and how to use technology responsibly in the future.

Or, it could just be that we recognize that technology can also challenge our ways of thinking about the future, human nature, and electronic gadgets. What we know for sure is that we do not plan to buy or wear a grey sweat suit anytime soon.

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⇒Fifteen Million Merits and Plato´s Allegory of the Cave:

The interrelations between this episode and Plato´s Allegory of the Cave could be summarized as follows.

People´s approach of Reality is given basically through images of things. These things are screen images, and all sorts of images most times on the screens, of the cells or on TVs in front of the Bikes.

People are represented by avatars, meaning by images of themselves, the merits are charged to those avatars, as if it was a video game.

Most importantly, people are prisoners of a cave.

They live locked up there. Everyone has his own cells, in which each perimeter consists of screens.

The screens  continuously emit shows and do so unless it is the night. 

If the prisoner wants to watch a show, he´ll have to pay for it. And if he wants to skip ads, he´ll have to do the same.

The main shows are hosted and owned by the Judges of the show “Hot Shot” (Judge Charity, Judge Hope and Judge Wraith). So, basically, the Judges are somehow the puppeteers.

Bing is the “released prisoner”. After Abi´s performance and after she enters the Porn Industry (hired by Judge Wraith), he begins to see images as things, so to speak. The scene in the elevator, in which the main characters hold hands, is quite meaningful and one could even say it is a hinge moment.

Bing´s speech in “Hot Shot” shows that he is somehow the philosopher. The one who has a sharp intellect. 

Bing’s awakening makes evident the fact that the system is a huge lie and that the ideals proposed by power are alienating people instead of making them happier. Having seen the light, which is paradoxically darkness as it has to do with Abi´s prostitution, he wants to tell his former fellow prisoners about his experiences, as a sort of revolutionary leader would do. He tries to raise awareness.   

But, the irony here is that even if Judge Hope gives him the credit for his “moving” speech, whilst highlighting the importance of being “genuine”, he is not taken seriously, at least in the expected terms.

Judge Hope (who would be a sort of Crowd Pleaser) takes him to his own  field and beats him, once there.

Bing becomes an entertainer, and of the system he was defying. Light beyond the screens is unattainable as we can see in the last sequence of the episode, when he looks through a big window something that could be both thing: a real landscape or… even something more sinister: a landscape digitalized image on yet another screen.

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You can watch this episode of Black Mirror here and/or here. 

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