Wiki Reflection

When I first heard about this assignment, I was quite excited. Though I did not know exactly what we were going to be doing and the exact topic of my assignment, I am very fond of researching topics, so this was a pleasant surprise to hear about such an unusual assignment. I had never before edited on Wikipedia. I had always wondered how it worked and gave it some thought in the past, but it was for this class with this assignment that was my first experience with the ordeal. The first and perhaps biggest threshold was deciding on a topic article for the assignment. At first a few ideas swam through my head, all dealing with things I am highly interested in. At first, to make my last semester a little easier, I wanted to do something related to Voodoo, since I was already doing an extensive research paper on the topic for my Religion capstone. This, however, did not seem like the best idea. Though there is a great amount of rich myth and folklore surrounding Voodoo, the sources outside of general anthropological research are lacking. Voodoo myths are just not giving much attention I the study of the tradition. This led me to instead look towards the other region I have great interest in, Oceania. The two big names being Aboriginal Australians and Polynesians. I deeply pondered working on the aboriginal dreamtime article. With so many myths top choose from across a whole continent all with a similar cosmological view on the primordial time of dreaming, the thought became a little over whelming. I did not want anything too specific, but nothing too over arching that I would have to keep generalizing and generalizing, leaving no real deep research done. The search of course led me to a character that seemed quite obvious, and when I first realized the potential of the article topic, I smacked my palm against my head thinking why did I not think of this early. This topic was the incredible pan-Polynesian hero/god known as Maui. Made famous to the world by the relatively new Disney movie Moana. I have quite the collection of old books on myths from all over the south seas, and every single one of them has its own chapter filled with Maui myths. It seemed like a ream come true, the perfect topic, with an abundance of sources and information, with a wiki page in need of deep love and care. This optimistic be wonderment was sadly not entirely the case. The fruitful sources on Maui were not as fruitful as I hoped. They were indeed filled with tales of his glorious exploits and deeds to help us lowly humans, but little was there on his basic mythological makeup. Though many of his major exploits are found on many islands, the specifics, and the lesser tales, all vary more than I had hoped. I also could not do my own research using the various myths and piecing together my own view on how they correlate, original research is not allowed from some guy who nearly has an undergraduate degree. Sadly, after reading a great deal of myth stories, I had very little to add to the article. I did not want to simply fill it with the myths themselves, I wanted to fill it with information about Maui. General information on Maui turned out to be a lot more difficult to find than originally hoped. After scouring through a dozen and some books, I found enough to be a blurb of info to head up the article. This, however, was not enough to make a nicely fleshed out article. I had realized there were other articles on Maui. Each one on the different cultural regions and islands his myths are found. Some were quite small and had very little information, but other, such as the Maori page, had a great deal. I really thought it was unnecessary to have all these articles. I wanted to combine the various incarnations of Maui to create the start of a truly informative singular article on the subject, but I had some concerns. The smaller articles I had no problem with merging completely, they had very little and truly should’ve never been their own pages, it was the two larger entries that made me hesitate. Both the Maori and the Hawaiian articles on Maui and his myths were very much well put together. They were only start articles, but very much informative in their own right. The question remained then, what exactly do I do with them. After some pondering and discussing with our wiki representative, I came to a conclusion. I decided to merge the lesser articles completely, getting ride of the separate pages, and I would leave the two larger articles, but have a small section on them on the main Maui page that linked to the specific ones. With this plan all written down, I could finally put it all into practice. I did not get started as early as the initial assignment hoped, but I am a stickler for needing a full plan before I put anything to paper, or in this case website. My final hopes were to bring the Maui mythology page from a stub to at least a start, and I think I have done this. I am not sure when they actually make those distinctions and changes, nothing has changed as of yet, but I believe that when the time comes it will be upped to a start class page. I noticed an interesting phenomenon halfway through this project. On our class wiki page, you can see the number of people that have visited the page. A very interesting statistic, and useful to boot. Before I did any work, and I continually checked this stat once I discovered it, there were 0 views of the article on Maui mythology. Once I finished and as of right now, it has had over 3000 visits. I am very proud to see that, it has made me feel like I have generally helped to give people more information on a topic I find of great interest. I am not entirely sure, but perhaps if I take these Polynesian interests further into my graduate studies, I will return to this little page and make it something even greater out of it.

Nearly Done

Closing in on the last few details on my wiki project, and i find myself in a weird place. Half of me feels that I have done a lot with it and added what I could with what I found. The other half thinks more needs to be done, but I lack the resources and research to do so. Be that as it may I definitely brought this article to light in some ways. On our class wiki page you can see the articles that are being worked on and how many people have visited it. When I started it was 0, now it is in the 2000s, that has to count for something. It started out as a stub and i was hoping to get it up to at least a start class, but I am not sure how and when they decide to change an articles rating. Anyway, this will all be in my reflection.  Just thinking out loud here, but that’s what blogs are for.

The Beginning of the End

With the semester coming to a close, I find my self quite surprised by this course all in all. Not quite sure what I was expecting this course to be like, however, I like what it ended up being.  I enjoyed all the readings, and though I have my own opinions on some of the topics we discussed, I definitely feel like I really got something from this course (Which sadly is not always the case). The wiki project ended up being a little more of a hassle than originally thought. It has, however,  proved to be a lot more fun and satisfying than at first glance. I feel like we are all a bit nervous about writing our class reflections, it is not an easy task, but yields the best results for improving the way one learns.

Myths and Movies

I have always found m,movies to be one of the greatest art forms. Traditionalist may disagree, and that’s understandable. Movies, however, portray stories in a way that nothing else can. It encompasses bits of every other art form, and flows through them all with ease (if done right). Movies are quite mythic in that way, and very much make anything they portray mythical. As for movies about myths, I can not think of a more perfect median for these stories and tales. Some people like to say that the telling of myths and stories orally around the campfire sparked and beckoned inn all art forms. From cave paintings, music, acting, and of course story telling which leads to writing. I find it fitting that myths now find there place on the silver screen, where all those art forms come back into the fold.

Folklore from Bhutan

VCU has started up a new summer studies program to Bhutan. Bhutan for . long time was cut off from the rest of the world. Shrouded in mystery as countries and regions surrounding it urbanized and developed. Bhutan has tried to maintain their traditional unique culture over the years since its opened its mountain gates to the world. With is they have a wondrous documentation of traditional Himalayan folktales, straight from the rural communities that still fear and abide to these stories today. One of the most famous stories that are found in this mountainous land are the tales surrounding the creature known as the Yeti. A collection of these tales can be found in Bhutanese Tales of Yeti published by White Lotus Co., (1997). If you are interested in studying Bhutanese culture and folktales such as these, feel free to check out the summer studies program on the VCU GEO website.

When Myths are Real

Some of you may know this fact, but it is still an interesting instance of myth turning out to be reality. I have a great interest in the study of Voodoo, in both Haiti and Africa. A particularly popular aspect of the religion is that of making zombies. Though a rare occurrence, the turning a human being into a seemingly risen dead is in fact a real ritual of Voodoo in Haiti. I am currently reading a study done by an anthropologist who went and studied zombies and their creation in detail. Finding that this once mysterious mythic phenomenon to be real, and had a great deal of science involved behind it. I wonder if any other beasts of myth and folklore have found themselves to be true through science. If you know of any please share. The book is called The Serpent and the Rainbow if anyone is interested.

Myths of a New Age

W spoke mildly of this in class Wednesday, when we were discussing Stan Lee and the Marvel Universe.  I’d say that when most people think about myths and folklore they imaging tales told orally through the ages, about all sorts of mystical beings and creatures. As we mentioned, however, even recent phenomenon of story telling have become mythic in itself. Such as the Marvel universe. With all these new forms of media, books, movies, TV, and video games, myths have flourished into something new. Due to the wonders of the internet and globalization they have been able to spread to every corner of the world. It seems that everything is mythic now, from mega book series like Harry Potter, to video games like the Legend of Zelda, which many of you have mentioned. New immense worlds of myth are being formed all the time in this new age. Many just as complex and vast as our own. I wonder what the world will think of all these new myths in a few hundred years, and what they will teach about them.

My Disdain for Moral Philosophy

I am a double major in Religious Studies and Anthropology, with a minor in philosophy. A great deal of the classes I have had and have now deal with the philosophy of morals and ethics. I understand why there is a need for moral philosophy. Debating ethics, morals, and goodness is a natural part of society. The main intent of moral philosophy and most moral philosophers, however, I find misleading and ultimately fruitless. This is the idea that using philosophy one can find an intrinsic goodness, or something that is intrinsically good. I do not think this is possibly or exists at all. Today we discuses finding the perceptive of the universe, is that even possible? Does the universe even have a perspective? I would say no. It is essentially impossible to look at the world in any other way than your own. One cannot even truly perceive being someone so closely identifiable to them, so how can you expect anyone to be able to find the perspective of the universe. The idea of an ultimate good is a wonderful one, but like so many wonderful thoughts and ideas, they are sadly not true.  One must also see that most of the moral philosophers of the world all come from similar backgrounds, rich educated European/westerners. Many of them not knowing several of the obscure, not lesser just different, ways of thinking about the world. I have notice in my courses here at VCU with my majors and minor, that very rarely do the courses teach outside the western world view. Especially the philosophy courses. I am taking philosophy of religion this semester, and all of it is on western philosophers of the subject, even though  some of the most interesting strange, and though provoking philosophies of god and the universe come out of India and China. Anthropologically speaking there are so many different views about the world one could not even fathom understanding or considering them all when making decisions on ultimate goodness. Many of these ways we will never even know, since there creators and thinkers are long dead, and have left little influence on the world. Perhaps those groups, countless as they are, found the answer, but we will never know. My advise for any moral philosopher, or those inspiring to be so, don’t be a couch philosopher, simply thinking about the world wont get you anywhere. As for this measurement discussed today. This indeed can be considered a universal truth. Fine measurements like that can be, physics can be, numbers can be. They are hard and easy to see in front of you given the information. I, however, would not consider it a universal good. I say it is a good discovery, not universally so. The number is universal, but is the goodness of it’s discovery? I don’t think so. Goodness cannot be measured, beauty cannot be measured, love cannot be measured. Each individual person have a different view on all these things, some may be so similar one cannot see a difference, but they are still to the same. Ideas of goodness, beauty, love will never be agreed upon, therefore they can never be universal or intrinsic. I am not trying to burst anyone bubble, nor do I consider myself pessimistic, I just do not like the idea of universals. I find everything in the world to be fascinating from the good to the bad and all the perspectives on it all. If the world was all the same, it would be a very boring place. 

To Merge or Not to Merge?

That is the question. Apparently article merging is kind of a big deal. In my case though I really do feel like it will help. The articles on Maui are all separated by cultural groups in the South Pacific. Which I am all for making those distinctions, however, they are all quite small, even the biggest one on Hawaiian Maui, isn’t very big. They could easily just become section of the main article. I think that merging them all into one nice big Maui article will make for a much better and informative article. Any thoughts? Any one else have this issue?

The Hunt for More Sources

I don’t know about any of you, but I never start research writing until I find and skim through numerous sources. I have been reading countless myths on the character Maui, however, myths are all I can find. As great as these are, from various collections on different regions and islands, they lack a collective expert study of the theme of Maui that I really need. It is one thing to fill the Wikipedia page with several tales, its another to actually be able to academically explain this theme. I could easily do it myself, but as Dr. C has said this isn’t for original research, we need someone else’s expertise to site. I have check the library in several places, but I only find the same and similar books on just the myths themselves.