Oct. 20th, 2011

theodor_gylden: (not an adventurer a scholar dammit)
"It is so difficult for us to unlearn all we know of the nature of meteorological phenomena, so hard for us to look upon atmospheric changes as though we knew nothing of the laws that govern them, that we are disposed to treat such explanations of popular myths as I have given above, as fantastic and improbable.

But among the ancients all solutions of natural problems were tentative, and it is only after the failure of every attempt made to explain these phenomena on supernatural grounds that we have been driven to the discovery of the true interpretation. Yet among the vulgar a vast amount of mythology remains, and is used still to explain atmospheric mysteries. The other day a Yorkshire girl, when asked why she was not afraid of thunder, replied because it was only her Father's voice; what knew she of the rushing together of air to fill the vacuum caused by the transit of the electric fluid? to her the thunder-clap was the utterance of the Almighty." - Sabine Baring-Gould, The Book of Werewolves: Being an Account of a Terrible Superstition (1865)

"Even while I correct these sheets for press, a lecture by Professor Tyndall has been put into my hands, which I ought to have heard last 16th January, but was hindered by mischance; and which, I now find, completes, in two important particulars, the evidence of an instinctive truth in ancient symbolism; showing, first, that the Greek conception of an ætherial element pervading space is justified by the closest reasoning of modern physicists; and, secondly, that the blue of the sky, hitherto thought to be caused by watery vapour, is, indeed, reflected from the divided air itself; so that the bright blue of the eyes of Athena, and the deep blue of her ægis, prove to be accurate mythic expressions of natural phenomena which it is an uttermost triumph of recent science to have revealed.

Indeed, it would be difficult to imagine triumph more complete. To form, 'within an experimental tube, a bit of more perfect sky than the sky itself!' here is magic of the finest sort! singularly reversed from that of old time, which only asserted its competency to enclose in bottles elemental forces that were -- not of the sky." - John Ruskin, The Queen of the Air: A Study of the Greek Myths of Cloud and Storm (1869)

Compare, if you would: the discovery which prevents mythic sympathy, the discovery which is in itself mythic (or magic), myth as explanation from ignorance, myth as instinctive and symbolic truth.

Consider what is opposition and what is correspondence.

Recall what the thunder said.

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Theodor

September 2015

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