Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Bacchae
"We think, lazily, that what we want in our myths is something transparent and simple. But what we want in our great myths is the opposite: things that we can't so easily swallow, and at the same time, can't spit out."
~Stephen Greenblatt, author of The Rise & Fall of Adam & Eve 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Moral Compass

St. Michael and the Dragon by Raphael
"It is the thesis of this book that the heroic narrative is not simply our way of telling ourselves comforting fairy tales about the ultimate triumph of Good over Evil, but an implanted moral compass that guides even the least religious among us."

~ Michael Walsh, Devil’s Pleasure Palace

Friday, October 6, 2017

Believe It or Not

Niels Bohr (1885-1962)
"A friend was visiting in the home of Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr, the famous physicist.

As they were talking, the friend kept glancing at a horseshoe hanging over the door. Finally, unable to contain his curiosity any longer, he demanded:

“Niels, it can’t possibly be that you, a brilliant scientist, believe that foolish horseshoe superstition!”

'Of course not,' replied Bohr. 'But I understand it’s lucky whether you believe in it or not.'”
(via Lloyd Joseph) 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Magic Mushrooms and the Roots of Witchcraft

Was witchcraft just a "social construct" perpetrated by the Christian patriarchy? Or were witches herb and drug dabblers experiencing hallucinations?
For example:
"Hutton also makes no reference to the cases of ergotism in the 16th to 19th centuries, this poisoning by the fungus on rye and barley called ergot, which when baked in bread changes into a chemical similar to LSD that causes visions and convulsions often interpreted as demonic possession. The Salem witch trials occurred in a wet, cold summer favourable to the ergot fungus: the next, hot and dry, produced no reports of demonic possession. Some scholars blame ergot poisoning of both victims and perpetrators for the Salem ‘possessions’."
Fascinating SPECTATOR book review HERE.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Art of Boredom

Don't know that I have the patience for the slow film anymore, but back in the 1970s, I was enamored of what writer/director Paul Schrader dubbed the "transcendental style." The intention, much like religious ritual, is to draw you into a contemplation of the mystery of life. Still a worthwhile goal today, but given the pace of the digital age, very much harder to achieve. Here's Schrader explaining it (3:00 video):

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Performance Art, 1929

A lion rides in the sidecar during a performance of The Wall of Death carnival attraction at Revere Beach , Massachusetts in 1929.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Mystery of Evil

"It is a strange thing. Dozens of times I have been asked by patients or acquaintances: "Dr. Peck, why is there evil in the world?" Yet no one has ever asked me in all these years, "Why is there good in the world?" It is as if we automatically assume this is a naturally good world that has somehow been contaminated by evil. In terms of what we know of science, however, it is actually easier to explain evil. That things decay is quite explainable in accord with the natural law of physics. That life should evolve into more and more complex forms is not so easily understandable. That children generally lie and steal and cheat is routinely observable. The fact that sometimes they grow up to become truly honest adults is what seems the more remarkable. Laziness is more the rule than diligence. If we seriously think about it, it probably makes more sense to assume this is a naturally evil world that has somehow been mysteriously "contaminated" by goodness, rather than the other way around. The mystery of goodness is even greater than the mystery of evil."  ~ M. Scott Peck