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(pronounced Ko-Hane)
Dan is the Bram Stoker-nominated author of Plague of Darkness, Solomon’s Grave, and the critically-acclaimed Margaret's Ark. Writing as G. Daniel Gunn, he released Destroyer of Worlds and the novella (written with L.L.Soares) Nightmare in Greasepaint (Samhain Publishing),. His short stories have appeared in Cemetery Dance, Shroud Magazine, Apex Digest and many more. He and his family live in New England.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Mythology of Mythology

11 years ago, I discovered the joys of having your own web page on the ever-growing Internet. Before there was such a think as blogs, I'd begun writing little essay/ditties, various... how did I put it, ah, I forget, but trust me it was clever. In 1998, I began a series of short essays on the Meaning of Life, just for shits & giggles. Here was the first. Now and then, I'll post one of them here, again, just for S&G, and maybe, for a touch of Enlightenment... ("ooooooh"... says the crowd).

From July 15, 1998:

I just finished listening to an abridged audio recording of Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces. It's a tome written in the 1940's about myths and legends throughout very-early history. (This is an example of when it's OK to listen to an abridgment). Campbell compares the elements of myth with the human psyche and psychotherapy in general.... I think. It wasn't the easiest to follow, but the various myths and legends he recounted were pretty fascinating.

After hearing these tales of yore, I came to a startling revelation. Before I share this with you, let me give you an excerpt from a 2000-year-old myth of creation. It has been told throughout the generations in ancient Tumeria. (That's somewhere west of here).

Conoraboro was light incarnate. He was born as a half-god, half-mule in the age of chaos in the center of a barren field that grew neither wheat, nor rice, nor speckled fruit. In the center of this wasteland (which measured a thousand thousand cubits end to end) sat an egg. This egg measured only five cubits. It had been laid by the bird of eternity (which passes by all things only once every million million turnings of the empty cosmos).

Upon feeling the dry arid wind of nothingness, the egg cracked. A yellow light emanated from within. This is from hence issued Conoraboro. He stood only two cubits. In his infant form he ate of the sand and dried flakes of rock (chipped away with his many rows of sharp teeth). He grew. Soon he stood in the center of the field, a full six hundred cubits high.

Wings of shining gold adorned his back. His face was that of a condor, his body that of an ape. One day, he came to the realization that there must be another. From his beak there issued a flake from an earlier feeding. When it fell to the ground, two things happened: the land became lush with grasses, and trees, and lakes. The second thing that happened was the creation of a being much like himself, only with the head of a raven and the body of a wildebeest. They coupled, and from their coupling they begot six hundred sons, and six hundred daughters. Soon the lush world filled with their songs, and the sweet juices of the pomegranate.

What an incredibly fascinating version of the creation myth. After hearing this lost tale, and so many others from days long lost, I came to a conclusion: the people of that time were all insane. Now, I'm not referring just to the wise ones who told these stories. Everyone was crazy. They had to be.

Think about it. If you sat around fires all night with a wiry old man who wore paint on his face and a decapitated elk head on his scalp, listening to him tell these stories over and over, you'd be a little nuts, too. This is OK, though. Since everyone's concept of reality was so skewed, there was no one individual to sneak into your tent and steal the bowl of ripened fruit while you contemplated the story of the mongoose king and the salmon princess.

And so the world and its inhabitants lived in peaceful bliss. Throughout these cloudy-minded years, however, evolution slowly took hold. Here and there, scattered like diamonds on a rocky shore, clarity descended upon certain individuals. One woman would suddenly stand up during the above-mentioned fireside talks. She'd scream, "No. You are wrong. We do not come from the excrement of the fly on the camel's dung. Rather, we most certainly must be born of the seeds of knowledge which lay hidden in the core of the mango." Well, it was a start at least. Of course, this woman was immediately put to death and eaten before the spider-woman heard her blasphemy and made the leaves of the willow rise with the wind.

Over the years the human mind popped into clarity, as much as possible, until now we can watch current events with an open and analytical mind, look for the lies in someone's words by the subtle inconsistencies in their speech. We can tell normal stories to each other, realistic ones with much better computer effects and commercial tie-ins. And we can do this with complete autonomy, as long as we don't offend any major public group with our modern myths and legends. They still, even if only metaphorically, will put you to death and eat you before anyone else has a chance to understand your truths.

Think of how far the human consciousness has changed (and not changed) over the last two thousand years. Even over the last two hundred. Not to sound like a popular song of the sixties, but consider the world in the year 3998. What kind of beings will look back on us? Oh, to be sure, they'll still spend hours looking for technical flaws in Star Trek films. But what will they think of our news broadcasts, our magazines? Will they wonder with amused minds how our age insisted on showing only real-life or depressing shows at ten o'clock, when the people of our time are trying to go to sleep? That an entire legal system of the most powerful tribe of the era focused around a tryst between their leader and a stenographer? It will be interesting. I hope they find my DNA and bring me back for a look.

"Ninchula, look at this!"

"Hmmm?

"What kind of people could they have been, to believe in such things as DNA? That the world revolves around an imprinted code in every cell of their bodies?"

"What are bodies?"

"Did you retinate through the entire Ancient History module?"

"Doesn't everyone?"

"Not me. This stuff is fascinating. How could people have survived thinking like that?"

"I honestly don't care. Let's get moving. We're going to be late for church."

July 15, 1998

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