A WikiOdyssey

The beginning

When I first heard about this project, I immediately thought that it was simultaneously one of the worst and best projects I’d ever heard of.

Let’s start with the negative: I’m not good with choice. I’ve been known to have difficulty even choosing an ice cream flavor, let alone one article out of the hundreds of thousands on Wikipedia. (Out of curiosity, I looked it up. As of December 9th 2018, there are about 5,765,464 English articles according to wikicount.net)

Now, onto the positive: I find Wikipedia fascinating. Information for the people, by the people, a modern day Library of Alexandria. My insomnia means that sometimes I just can’t sleep some nights, and more often than not on those nights I’ll cycle through article after article, following links from page to page long into the wee hours. To have the chance to contribute to Wiki articles sounded great to me. As a bonus, I got to do research, which I’ve always enjoyed.

Choosing a topic

As I’ve already mentioned, I’m bad with choice. I did decide early on that I wanted to focus on classical mythology, which has always been an interest of mine. How I was going to link that to Beauty and the Beast remained to be seen.

Going straight for Cupid and Psyche seemed too easy, and boring beside that. I wanted to look into things that we hadn’t dissected in class. As it turned out though, class discussion was exactly where my ideas sparked. One day in class, we were discussing deities, and I commented that Hermes was pretty much the god of miscellaneous, not expecting to have to explain any further.

See, a lot of the time I forget that there are things I know that are not common knowledge. Whether that makes me self-centered for not thinking of others or means I have low self-esteem because I think I couldn’t possibly know something more than everyone else is beside the point, but I’m a psychology major, analyzing is what I do. Anyway, as someone who’s always been drawn to the fantastical of every culture and had taken Latin since middle school, mythology was second nature to me. So I was surprised that not everyone knew about how much of a catchall Hermes was within the Greek pantheon. So I decided to look into his Wikipedia page, but I didn’t find much that I could contribute that would really relate to the class.

The other class topic that caught my attention was liminality. The not fluid, quite one-way or the other nature of doorways and crossroads and in between spaces has always been interesting to me. All my favorite stories as a kid were about people between worlds, jumping between two worlds and belonging to both, yet never really a part of either. To my delight, liminal spaces just kept appearing in each and every thing we read. So once again, I went to Wikipedia, finding my way to a page specially dedicated to liminal beings, which was shockingly underdeveloped. This was the perfect place to start.

The page on crossroads in mythology was perhaps a bit more of a stretch, but upon reading it and seeing no more mention of classical mythology than a brief mention of Mercury alongside Odin, I simply had to add a section for the Greeks. With my decision made, I got to work.

 

Sources and research

Of the initial sources I found, I did not end up using any directly. However, they were still useful. Without them, I never would have started looking into Hecate. After all, before starting I had no idea that she had a crossroads association. I had thought that my addition to the crossroads page would be entirely dedicated to Hermes. But as I found, he was wore attributed to travelers and traveling overall, while Hecate had monthly offerings made to her at crossroads every new moon.

While I found some information online though the library database, my greatest breakthrough came only after I made an appointment with a Librarian. He helped me find half a dozen possible sources, most notably the Oxford Classical Dictionary.

Do you know that feeling you get when you fall in love with a book? One that sparks something inside you, and you never want to put it down. Usually for me it’s a story, but every now and then one without narrative worms its way into my heart. A pictorial catalogue of rocks and minerals in third grade, an astrology guide in high school, and now this. A wondrous book with entries for practically any aspect of the ancient world I cared to look for.

As soon as I found that book, I was set. Not because it held all the answers I needed –Dr. Campbell was right about that one, there is no magic book for that– but because of what else it led me to find.

See, I had found a magic aisle. Straight through the Starbucks and two rows in from the windows were dozens of books on any mythology or symbology I could have wanted.

My research took twice as long as it probably should have, because I became lost in a wellspring of glorious, endless knowledge. I found a whole book classifying fairies, an index of Chinese mythology, and a whole set of pictorial classical reference books. I did the same thing I do on Wikipedia, flipping back and forth finding fascinating information, only about half of it actually relevant to what I was doing. I had a whole table to myself at the library, with stacks surrounding me and my computer as I read on and on.

Apart from my enjoyment, there was another unexpected benefit of my extraneous research. On the crossroads mythology page, there was a section related to burials. In my reading, I had discovered that Christians had once considered them almost as good as churchyards when it came to laying the dead to rest. Because it was so interesting, I added the information to the page.

Why I am proud of what I accomplished

     Though it might be small against the information ocean of the world wide web, I like to think that maybe, someone reading this pages will see what I wrote and be interested enough to look into the material further. Any opportunity for someone to be drawn into the wonderful contradictory cacophony of Greek and Roman mythology is never something wasted.

 

Pearls

So I was doing some thinking about the pearls, which led me to the question of what pearls represent in general. So hear is what I found:

Pearls symbolize wisdom acquired through experience. In the Roman Empire they stood for wealth and prosperity. They are often associated with the moon, and have been described as the tears of gods. They are connected to chines dragons as well. If this interests you, I got most of this info here.

Side note- My birthday is in June, and the birthstone for June is the pearl. This always kinda annoyed me, because pearls are not actually stones, though they are considered gems.

 

Canine Superiority

Dogs are better than cars. I know that wasn’t really the point, but this is my blog and I’m going to write what I want. Dogs are intelligent, autonomous, loving, and loyal. Cars, quite simply, are not. A car docent care who drives it or puts gas in the tank. Dogs connect with people and are just the best.

(I also love other animals too, I’m a creature person. I think rats and snakes and turtles are cute. What I’m trying to say is, I am not clearly  impartial in this discussion.)

Now, onto pictures (and yes, I may or may not have just wanted to share pictures of my dogs. You have no proof either way. Innocent until proven guilty, yada yada yada.) On to the doggos!

P.S.- maybe I went a bit overboard with the pictures. Regardless, I regret nothing!

 

an element I relish

One of my favorite things in movies and tv are beautiful transitions between scenes. Whenever I see an exquisite transition, there is a little voice in the back of my head that always acknowledges it. If you don’t know what I mean, I’ll find one from one of my favorite movies Little Shop of Horrors (1986). If you have not seen this film, you definitely should.

This is a great kooky song and I recommend you watch the whole thing (it starts weird but just wait, I promise it is beautiful) , there’s fun comedy and some great practical fx, it features Nathan Fillion as a crazy dentist. In short, it is glorious. But if you don’t feel like humoring me, just skip to here and you’ll see the transition I’m talking about if you watch from there.

Image result for little shop of horrors 1986

 

A school story

Why measurement was important was explained to me in elementary school like this (though I’ve added a few embellishments to make up for what has been lost to my memory and to time):

So say there’s a kingdom, and the king wants a bed that is four feet by six feet. Now, this story happens way back when, so we don’t have the ruler yet. (well, we have the king, but that’s not what I meant) Anyway, the king calls for a the three best carpenters and tells him what he wants. So, they all go back to there workshops and get to work. One problem: each one has a different idea of how long a foot ought to be. The first carpenter uses his own foot, and walks heel to toe for four steps and then six, and gets to work. The second carpenter uses his wife’s foot, does his measurement, ant starts sawing. The third carpenter goes to the baker down the lane on his way home, and while he’s there measures his foot at uses that.

Now they all bring their work to the king. To their astonishment, he says that they’ve all done it wrong.

“but you asked for four by six feet, didn’t you?”

“of course I did! But I meant my feet!”

The king kicks off his shoes and shows them the size he means, which is as different from the bed made by the first carpenter is from the one made by the third.

And this is why we need a universal system of measurement. It is also, incidentally, why America’s ’standard’ measurement system is idiotic in nature. (I say as someone who has no sense of scale outside of those measurements)

 

What Is Love? (sorry, he said it, I just had to)

What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more
Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me
No more
What is love?
Yeah
I don’t know why you’re not fair
I give you my love, but you don’t care
So what is right and what is wrong?
Gimme a sign
What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more
What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more
Oh, I don’t know, what can I do?
What else can I say, it’s up to you
I know we’re one, just me and you
I can’t go on
What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more
What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more
What is love?
What is love?
What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more
Don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
I want no other, no other lover
This is our life, our time
We are together I need you forever
Is it love?
What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more
What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more
Yeah, yeah, (woah-woah-woah, oh, oh)
(Woah-woah-woah, oh, oh)
What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more
What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more
What is love?
 

What was discussed in class today reminded me immediately and vividly of this quote:

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”

 Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

 

tangentially related

So we were reading aloud on Wednesday, and that got me thinking about the differences between reading in your head as compared to actually hearing the words.

Shakespeare (or really any play) and Greek poetry are really meant to be read aloud.

And now we move on to my real tangent and ow little personal PSA: audiobooks. As someone who has been listening to books on tape since back when cassettes were the norm (you know, dinosaur times), I highly recommend them as a way to supplement your digestion of literature.

Driving to work or school? Walking? At the grocery store? Washing dishes? Well, you can do that and read AT THE SAME TIME.

Just something that helps you stay mentally active and creative when life gets busy.

 

the sixtes were a strange time

So on Monday we briefly discussed dolphin communication, and that instantly got me thinking about one of my favorite crazy science things. So, in the sixtes some scientists and this one lady without any science background convinced NASA that by giving dolphins enough LSD, they would learn how to speak english.

This evolved into the the one lady (Margaret Howe Lovatt) living in a half flooded house with a dolphin named Peter. This, of course, did not go well, and despite Margaret’s claims, was not a success. Without getting into the details for those who may not want to know, it involved the dolphin going through puberty.

This is 100% real, it is hilarious if you want to look into it, there is an episode of the podcast the Dollop about it that is pretty funny if you don’t want to research it yourself.

 

lost in translation

In 1997 Disney released their animated film Hercules. Now, this is one of my favorite Disney films. I love mythology and the music is catchy, Hades is a fantastic villain, and Meg is a love intent with a complicated past depicted in a way you don’t normally see in a Disney story.

The reason I want to talk about this movie is because I think it is a prime example of the issues with any adaptation, whether our Beauty and the Beast from the original French or the movie version of Harry Potter. Whatever the original, things always get lost in translation.

The story of Hercules is an interesting one, and you should look into his twelve labors. But for the sake of simplicity, here are the issues in Hercules from the basic premise alone (Click here to watch the musical summary from the movie).

If the story were accurate, it would be Heracles instead of the romanized Hercules.

He was named Heracles in the hopes that Hera, the jealous godly wife of Zeus, would not smite the boy for being the child of one of Zeus’s thousandfold lovers. Also, the reason Hercules does his twelve labors in the first place is because Hera cursed him with violent bloodthirsty rage, and in his madness he murdered his wife and all their children, so as penance he undergoes the labors.

Also on a side note, Pegasus, who is Herc’s animal buddy in the film, never actually encountered Hercules in the original mythos.

A few other things:

Danny Devito should have been a noble centaur instead of a wisecracking satyr, Hades is not evil like the devil in the more modern narrative, and the titans are far oversimplified.

Also there are nine muses, not five, but personally I let that slide because their songs are amazing.

On the whole, great film, terrible retelling of a greek myth.

 
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