This website is for cyborgs. It is a trickster strategy to promote compassion, creativity and curiousity. And, of course, stories. I hope i do this more out of generosity than vanity; but who knows themselves well enough to make claims of certainty regarding motive?

I believe that stories carry old wisdom in them and can un-do our arrogance that seems characteristic of our 20th Century cult-of-progress which so many of us participate in. While i'm as fond of in-door plumbing and public transport as most folk i also believe that our world of high-tech and industrialization has been co-created with great oppression. Thus i think it important to connect stories to popular education and other social movements for social and economic justice and compassion. (I will be adding more information about all this in the coming months.) Stories can re-enchant our disenchanted world. And i feel a terrible urgency about this.

For now i'd like to share a favourite passage from Hamlet's Mill by Giorgio deSantillana and Hertha vonDechend:

There are other stories — we call them history — of man’s conquest over nature, the telling of the great adventure of mankind as a whole. But here it is only faceless social man who is winning man’s victories. It is not the history of technology; it is, if anything, science fiction that can bring in the adventures of the future. Science fiction, when it is good, is a wholly valid attempt at restoring a mythical element, with its adventures and tragedies, its meditations on man’s errors and man’s fate. For true tragedy is an essential component or outcome of myth. Possibly, history can be given a minute of timeliness and then dismissed with its load of interpretations and apprehensions that last as long as the reading — but the real present, the only thing that counts, is the eternal Sphinx.

Today’s children, that impassive posterity to whom all reverence is due, know where to look for myths: animal life in the Jungle Books, in the stories of Lassie and Flipper, where innocence is unassailable, in Western adventures suitably arranged by grownups for the protection of law and order. Much of the rest sedulously built up by mass media is modern prejudice and delusion, like the glamour of royalty, or the perfection of super-detergents and cosmetics: super-stitio, leftovers. So one might feel tempted to say: actually, however, no particle of myth today is left over, an we have to do only with a deliberate lie about the human condition. Tolkien’s efforts at reviving the genre, whatever the talent employed, carry as much conviction as the traditional three-dollar bill.

The assumed curious child would have been pleased only if he had been told the "story" of the engine just as Kipling tells it, which is hardly the style of a mechanical engineer. But suppose now the child had been confronted with the "story" of a planet as it emerges from the textbooks of celestial mechanics, and had been asked to calculate its orbits and perturbations. This would be a task for a joyless grownup, and a professional one at that. Who else could face the pages bristling with partial differential equations, with long series of approximations, with integrals contrived from pointless quadratures? Truly a world of reserved knowledge. But if, on the other hand, a person living several thousand years ago had been confronted with cunningly built tales of Saturn’s reign, and of his exorbitant building and modeling activities — after he had "separated Heaven and Earth" by means of that fateful sickle, that is, after he had established the obliquity of the ecliptic ... If he had heard of Jupiter’s ways of command and his innumerable escapades, populating the earth with gentle nymphs forever crossed in their quest for happiness, escapades that were invariably successful in spite of the constant watchfulness of his jealous "ox-eyed" or sometimes "dog-eyed" spouse ... If this person also learned of the fierce adventures of Mars, and the complex mutual involvement of gods and heroes expressing themselves in terms of action and unvarying numbers, he would have been a participant in the process of mythical knowledge. This knowledge would have been transmitted by his elders, confirmed by holy commands, rehearsed by symbolic experiences in the form of musical rites and performances involving his whole people. He would have found it easier to respect than comprehend, but it would have led to an idea of the overall texture of the cosmos. In his own person, he would have been part of a genuine theory of cosmology, one he had absorbed by heart, that was responsive to his emotions, and one that could act on his aspirations and dreams. This kind of participation in ultimate things, now extremely difficult for anyone who has not graduated in astrophysics, was then possible to some degree for everyone, and nowhere could it be vulgarized. (pp. 51-53)

That's all for now.



chris cavanagh






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chris cavanagh
Copyright 1997 storytelling, etc.... All rights reserved.
Revised: December 09, 1998.