Friday 12 October 2012

godz without limitz

You have a problem to solve and two ways to solve it.

The first way makes use of a circle of friends. You need to think of all the people you know who you could possibly call for help. Imagine the qualities and personalities of everyone close to you. Find the person whose nature makes them best suited to the task. Then call them and ask.

The second way involves calling a professional. Firstly, classify the task by its nature. Discover a profession that deals with the problem you have. Call an effective member of that profession. Prepare to make a transaction.

I think about gods like this. One one side rank the gods described by Homer and on the other stand the gods of Rome and the made-up gods of D&D.

Homer* does not describe gods of war or gods of love or of wisdom or of any other thing. He names them by what they do and how they act, not by their fucking job description. The necessary repetitive poetics of an orally-concieved story do not describe Athena as 'Goddess of Wisdom'. They call her grey-eyed Athena, or bright-eyed Athena, depending on how you translate it.

Homer gives us gods as people first, positions second. Athena does not represent calm, order, cunning, civilisation or craft. These qualities she has, calm, ordered, cunning, civilised and crafty.

Over the Greek period the gods decay somewhat. Polybius writes of the rise of Rome. He talks about Tyche in different ways. Later translators find themselves confused by his views on the role of fortune. Polybius does not recognise their confusion. He writes about a person and about a force. Tyche does the things that a person does. Sometimes present, sometimes not. This makes for bad and ill-defined history. But more truth.

By the Roman period the gods have been fully subdued to human will. No longer a separate self-contradictory relationship outside ourselves that we must struggle to understand. Ares, the thug and a terrifying violent killer to whom few prayed. The Romans made him Mars, potent, stable, and a firm defender of the state. No longer a gleeful anarchic Hobbsian.

The gods have jobs and roles. The job before the person every time. Like the second example above, they become plumbers we call when we need something done. Chained by the thoughts that called them to our mind. Mars cannot do certain things because they don't fit the role. But Ares has nothing he cannot do. He has no role to fill, Ares exists.

This describes why my insane made-up god who alternately hunts and flees through mazes eating ghosts and being chased by them cannot be called the god of mazes. I named ManPac 'Eater Of Ghosts' or 'He Who Flees'. His commands and prescriptions will never make clear rational sense. Because he embodies as a huge yellow ball of hunger fear and rage charging through an endless labyrinth, which, when escaped from, exits into another, more difficult labyrinth.

But they will be just on the edge of making sense, like an optical illusion just before it resolves, I will try to keep him just there, like the gods of Homer. Something larger, outside ourselves.

I pilot a person I created, who believes fervently in a supernatural being that I also created, in a world I did not create. Occasionally the supernatural being gives insane random answers to the person, who then has to make sense of them. I have to make sense of them both. For some reason this interests me.

*I describe the following theory from memory only and hold firmly and glum-handed the likelihood that I lock myself in utter wrongness.


  1. That's pretty sweet, that right there.

  2. Holy shit this is great. And it's gotten me to pick up Julian Jaynes again; maybe I'll make it through this time.