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Craving Humanism

 

In light of the recent fire at the Notredam in Paris, I started thinking about how it relates to my search for satisfying my spiritual craving. I’ve not found it in conventional religions & I think that I’ve finally found a way of thinking that clicks with me.

I was chatting to my mother about the Notredam in Paris  Fire incident. She identifies herself as a Christian ( unconventional & of her own making).

Her words

There has been a lot of unrest and protesting and fighting and burning in Paris recently.

I know the only thing that could be seen when the fire cindered was a ray of sunshine & the cross..It was caused by ongoing repairs a gas leak apparently maybe God s way of saying is enough is enough

I agree that our planet has had enough. I don’t believe A God struck a bolt of lightning or caused it to happen. We did. We are responsible for what happens on our earth, in our most sacred church. Divine intervention that no relics were ruined?

There is no way for me to prove this.

My mom & U  don’t share the exact same beliefs as I’m more analytical in my thinking.

 My answer to my mom

Tragic news! I’m glad most of the oldest relics * parts of Notre Dame have been salvaged not because I’m religious but because of its historical importance & what it represents to so many who don’t profit or gain money from Religion. I wish people could see that their God wouldn’t go through all that trouble of creating a beautiful home for us (earth- our greatest & most sacred relic) and we could treat our planet with as much respect as we do buildings

Humanism is a set of core beliefs that I truly can own & incorporate & develop upon as my own.

I am 100% in agreement that we have free will. We are in control of what we do as earthlings & protectors of our true church (if you like) this earth.

Our planet. Its the oldest proof of our existence & the oldest relic we possess.

Yet, we can’t control it like the reported wreath of thorns  brought back to the Notre Dame in Paris by King Loui  XI

I believe we need to value history and the lessons it teaches us.

One source says humanists should ultimately choose to grow spiritually by ‘appreciating life’.

They don’t believe in the afterlife. I’m not sure of my stance on this-this belief as I’ve never died. I have felt dead inside whilst my heart is still beating. Isn’t that a form of hell?

I can’t truly “believe” in something I haven’t seen. Blind faith can be useful & it can be disastrous as history has shown.

I do love the idea of humanism belief of not worrying about any life but this one.

So the afterlife is dismissed as not to worry about ANOTHER life until we can actually do something about it.

I don’t dismiss the afterlife. I just don’t know what I can do to make my future, or life after this one better when I should be focusing on making this life & the moments I experience worthwhile.

I believe like humanist’s do that we ( to a degree )all inherently have an idea of what is morally right or wrong.

I’m not going into people with illnesses or murderers or rapists because I’m not a doctor. I believe the justice system is in need of reform.

I don’t believe killing & raping is right (for the record)

I don’t believe in ‘an eye for an eye’ either. So I’m against the death penalty & I’m pro-euthanasia. I’m yet to decide if suicide should be allowed/acceptable in our society.

My own suicide attempt lead me to believe that feelings pass. Circumstances change so, its worth seeking advice first. I’m 100% pro not shaming people by stating that ‘committed’ suicide like it is a sin.

I love the idea that our purpose is to find out what the hell we are meant to do with our lives. It’s a baffling concept & feeling displaced and lost in this world can’t create the desire for happiness (true inner) and we can’t achieve self-growth or self-actualisation as Maslow called it.

So many of us fear the afterlife cos we have no concrete evidence for it. Its easier to get wrapped up in ideas that immortality means no pain. only happiness & good times.

I think before we start thinking about afterlife being this utopic place, lets examine how we grow as people in this mortal body. this life

We grow (for the better or worse) not solely through our best moments & joyous occasion. We grow from our adversities too.

If we forget about afterlife & focus on this life,

‘live in the moment’ – hardest concept and theory to put into practice then we are living as we are meant to.

With immortality, if you go by folklore (vampires) or mythology such as the ancient Greeks beliefs of the God’s and their stories then we can see that being immortal is not exactly easy or desirable all of the time.

 

If we don’t age or finish what we start – then haven’t achieved the goal of life

to live, embrace it, endure it, share it & respect that a beginning has to have an end.

Who wants an eternal life full of the saga? Drama? conflict?

I can say I’m more agnostic in my beliefs of God though I won’t blindly commit myself to one testament/book/ text.

I take what I need from each philosophy or religious texts & ideas even so-called “myths “-Greek & Roman etc…

Folklore is somewhat different…

I’m not secular or religious in my humanism stance, though I agree in celebrating traditions concerning people who have passed, normal traditions birthdays etc..

If only to help those of us still breathing to move forward and stay focused on what our purpose is in life or finding what that purpose is.

Disambigous immortality

The labyrinth is a Jungian symbol of the unconscious, the journey through the maze stands for the enigma of a discovery of ‘the Self’. This ties in with rituals and myths in which a cave is a symbol for creepy tunnels of exploration for the quest for knowledge or the hope to exit the cave metamorphosed.

The famous writer, Silvia Plath uses the symbol of a cave twice in her poem, Nick and the Candlestick. I was drawn to this poem after when I was working on my final project – an immersive art installation for my foundation degree in Acting Performance.

I didn’t know it’s meaning but I connected with it immediately. It is only in the last few years I’ve done more research into other meanings of her poem and startlingly it is seen as a poem that Sylvia wrote when she was pregnant. The tone of the poem suggests she rejects this baby. Sees it as an invasion of her body.

The cave appears to be a symbol of her womb.

Love, love,

I have hung our CAVE  with roses,

With soft rugs—

This poem partly inspired my final Performance piece when I was doing my Performance acting degree. I had my abortion on the 24/10/2010 & I had less than 2 months to finish my degree. It was a low ebb in my life. I didn’t want to give up so, I used my live art performance to try & make sense of what was happening in my life.

I found this picture whilst browsing on social media. It is a disturbing picture. To me, it appears like the girl is saying: I won’t be silenced. The blood-soaked at the bottom of her dress gave me a feeling of peace.

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The entire performance was a result of this picture, my intuition, making connections with other abstract stimuli and ideas that I could link to the original idea.

My aim of the live installation was to strip myself bare (metaphorically)  until people could see the raw, real part that makes up a part of who I am.

I wanted nothing to be hidden ( though I ended up having to adapt my initial idea due to a black eye given to me by an ex. I had to get more creative & I did.

I  felt /was so alone (everyone had turned their back on me but I thought ‘FUCK THE LOT OF THEM-PEERS, TUTORS FAMILY-EVERYONE’ I’m not going to let a black eye shame me not finishing my degree.

I don’t know why I called this project ‘Disambigous Immortality” perhaps I was going through the motions of grief. Perhaps I  was looking for clarity & not to be judged by my peers.

My original idea was to be filmed in a cave or be on a swing in a park, blowing bubbles, dressed in white like the girl with blood on her dress – I suppose I wished to emulate innocence. Blissfully ignorant. That is how I WANTED TO appear to the audience. I had it pre-recorded & I edited it to run on a loop (via a projector) during the performance.

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I wanted my space to be set up to mimic a church setting (with candles lit) and I wanted to be kneeling in front of the recording -watching it. This was meant to symbolise myself entrancing into self-actualisation or more likely self- realisation though this is the opposite of how I felt about what I was doing, to be honest.

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The more I researched my ideas, the more fascinated I became with understanding the unconscious reasons for the ideas I used in the performance. Even specific choices such as the fabric I used, colour choice, words etc..

I decided to use blue for the blood and wore a white lace dress I found in a charity shop.

The colour blue, in chines symbolism, represents immortality.

The colour white  (according to Chinese symbolism) symbolises an end to mourning.

The notion of wanting to appear innocent is because I wanted to appear lacking in guilt, and youthful in a blissfully ignorant way often related to youth

I think at the time I was coming to terms with having aborted my son, who would have been called, Nicholas Raven. I wasn’t prepared for the guilt( though I know it was the right thing to do at the time).

I was walking in the park the one day and I came across a blue feather on the ground and it made sense to incorporate blue feathers into my performance.

Nicholas would have born in spring -I told myself at the time that his soul/spirit/energy touched this mortal world in the medium of my body for a few months & then went on to exist on a higher plane -effectively not dead but immortal. That was my perspective at the time.

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I then came across Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Nick and the candlestick’. -a poem was written when Plath was heavily pregnant. I  initially interpreted the poem as her feeling bloated vessel carrying a parasite. These feelings about her unborn child caused her to became depressed. Though I also understood that while she felt her unborn child sucking the life out of her-she hoped it would be born without her failings.

When I researched what lace meant in symbolism I came across a metaphor that I’ver never forgotten

‘Lace seeks to hide & expose at the same time, like a veil to cover or lingerie to reveal’

I ended up making a mask covered in lace -it was grotesque-ish & the opposite of innocent looking. It did hide my black eye though..

Its reality & it is in the past. I didn’t know I looked so bad at the time. Life moves on. 😀

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To be continued with reflections from the night of the performance.

Myth in Greek & Roman world essay

This essay seeks to demonstrate how valid some form of knowledge and belief in mythology was, during the Classical era, in Athens. It remained a potent force in many different contexts, this will be evidenced by analysing four ancient primary sources.

The first is related to Performance: in ‘old comedy’. Specifically focusing on a section of Aristophanes’ ‘the Frogs’ (136-64.) work ‘, the second examines a source on ‘sacred disease’, by a possible Hippocratic doctor (I-II), The third primary source will explore the ‘Homeric hymn to Demeter’ (2) (1-495) and its relevance in classical society and finally the fourth source presented will look to the relevance and what’ mythos’ meant in terms of ‘logos’ during the Classical period by looking at one of Plato’s famous works ‘the republic’ (2.377b5-3.3.389d5). The main themes to be covered are the gods, life, ethics and the afterlife.

Myth’s continued appearance in entertainment gave playwrights a broader spectrum of themes to play out in relation to the God’s character traits, ideas of the afterlife and what was considered to be good and bad gods. Aristophanes play ‘the Frogs’ which won first place at the annual Dionysus festival is often looked at in a political context.

This essay simply seeks to look at the play from a more surface value perspective. This play proves that myth was indeed a powerful antidote to the serious more philosophical and everyday issues that Athenians were confronted with.

It depends on how informed the internal or external audience were as to how much an individual gained from the experience.
There is a scene that occurs that is completely sardonic where Xanthias expresses his discomfort of going to the underworld and a dialogue takes place between a corpse and himself whereby he is trying to barter with a corpse to go with Dionysus in place of him, “Hey you the dead one, I am talking to you, do you want to carry some luggage to Hades? “(136-64.).

This kind of baldy alternative take on Hades underworld shows how myth was still a huge inspiration for artists in Greek society in regards to the issues and questions relating to the Gods and the afterlife . Myth in this context was contorted and manipulated to tease an audience and provide entertainment.

Then contemporary audiences would have to have some familiarity with myth and Greek culture to fully appreciate the wit that Aristophanes regularly makes reference to. An example: Dionysus preparing to go to the underworld when Herakles is describing the directions to take: “Next …. Of hands”. Dionysus wants to know who these men and women are. Herakles tells him that (they are) ‘the blessed’ ‘the initiate’s’.

This reference is proof that outside of this play there is some other knowledge about the ‘Eleusinian mysteries’ –specifically the cult of Demeter. It appears that on stage nobody was safe from being mocked.

According to ‘Homeric hymn to Demeter’ (471-482) “Happy is the one of mortals of the earth. But those who are uninitiated into the holy rites and have no part are never destined to a similar joy when they are dead in the gloomy realm below”.

Cults of religious worship were colossal in Athens during the classical period even whilst supposed ‘scientific’ and philosophical debate was occurring. The exact rituals and full commentary of worship which occurred in this particular cult were kept extremely secrete. Modern excavations show that at the sanctuary there was holy place dedicated to Demeter (M&L, pg344). The cult did not discriminate class, age nor gender.

This was an annual and ritualistic event similar to the festival of Dionysus in that it attracted masses of people but for different and more serious reasons. The ‘Homeric hymn to Demeter’ contents are emotional, intimate, vengeful, god fearing and relies on the God and Goddess of fertility (which provides an under tone of birth and rebirth to the nature of worship) to carry on harvesting the crops so the mortal race could continue to survive.
The church and state stuck to a rigid programme of what was to occur on each day of this 9 day festival which took place during an important time in terms of agriculture produce is of concern.

The nine day celebrations tie in with the hymn “For nine days… her body.” (40-48). and is a particularly antagonizing quest for a mother looking for her daughter who had been abducted by Hades. It is believed a part of the myth of Persephone and Demeter was appropriated for ritualistic re-enactment. .This cult did not dissolve until it was repressed in Roman times.

This shows the unwavering worship of Gods of mythos despite other ways and methods of approaching myth during this period.

Another important area to highlight with regards to Greek mythology is the attitude towards medical treatment when it came to illness and the study of Biology.

Like in our modern day there are various methods and people to whom we can put our faith in to cure an illness.

The same can be said for the Classical period. This Hippocratic source talks about ‘the sacred disease ‘– (or Epilepsy as we know it).He states that: ‘in my opinion (it) is no more divine or more sacred than other diseases but has a natural cause.’ One could interpret this cause as not coming from a random bored God but coming from our complex brain and body which is divine because of its complexity in nature.

The source presents as wanting to reason and encourage people to look to alternative ways to curing maladies.
Instead to by following the norm by a “facile method of healing….consisting as it does of purifications and incantations” and then showing a reluctance to look at nature is pure ignorance. This source shows alternative thought that perhaps the Gods give us the internal make up to cure our own bodies. Indeed, this physician (II) has a strong opinion concerning the people who ‘christened’ epilepsy (mental illness) as a ‘sacred illness’. He terms them as ‘quacks’ and ‘charlatans’.

These supposed knowledgeable people ‘being at a loss’ in their ability to ‘cure’ or atone for an illness, have instead ‘spun’ as the Hippocratic doctor says “a plausible story and established a method a method of treatment to secure their own positions”.

He is not attacking people’s belief in the Gods. He is stating that respected people in the community had exploited ill people in their ignorance and that there is in fact a more natural way of finding a solution to the various ‘maladies’ by studying the body in its present ill state.
The majority of whom followed the Hippocratic non-traditional method of teaching did so for honourable means to genuinely find a cause and a solution to all illness even if s the prescription came in the form practical advice .Professor Helen King (Open University transcript on ‘Myth in Medicine conclusion) makes a valid point stating that ‘ Peoples beliefs about their bodies are complicated… Medicine doesn’t deal with questions like ‘Why me?’.

Treatment often went hand in hand with religious worship as one relates and attempts totreats the ill mind or body and the other relates and attemptsto treat our psyche .

Plato believed that the soul and the body were separate to one another. In his ‘the Republic’, a dialogue between Socrates and Adeimantus is essentially a discussion on ethics and morals as to what could be interpreted as the necessary elements needed to create a utopian society.

Socrates is not against the belief in the Gods –his argument is to do with content and how the ancient poets have portrayed the Gods in their epic poems; ‘the ones Hesiod and Homer .to people’ (2377. b5-6e.) He argues that these poets created ‘falsehoods’. Stories that make the Gods appear without virtues.

Socrates goes on to discourse (378.5c-e.). One critical viewpoint is that he doesn’t believe that children should be brought up on stories about Gods at war, killing their parents and stealing for example.

These kind of parables, he believes are not setting a solid foundation for people to model their own morals and code of ethics. Young people especially are impressionable .

There is further debate about what is good and bad and the two characters come to the decision that “Gods of course are really good and they must be described as such.’(379.10b.).

Socrates does state that if these stories need to be known then they should be censored to the correct and minimum of people. (378.5a.)

If one is to take on the idea that Gods are good then the idea that they are responsible for all that is not good is a contradiction. The overall summary of Socrates argument is that if people felt a personal sense of responsibility towards themselves to be good in this life then they should not have to fear the afterlife.

Furthermore there is interesting discussion concerning the Gods and their changeability (379.10d.382a). This lengthy debate about there being something more wonderful than the divine form would only make sense. If there was a virtue better than goodness. Socrates again insists that poets must present the Gods as they are: good –virtuous and not in a way that allows them to assume many disguises lowering the basic morale of a society. “Nor should Mothers… children too cowardly.” (379. 5d-e.) It would appear that these snippets of dialogue from ‘the Republic’ reveals that Plato’s’ philosophizing was on other canonised version of the Gods.

These characters had strong views about how the Gods could come across as unreliable punishing, moody, and unstable and that these qualities could not instil unification of trust, virtue and stability in a society. One can clearly see that Classical philosophy was not mainly concerned with terminating myth but it questioned the beneficial effects certain mythological representation’s had on an individual and as a common people.

To conclude we can see that in antiquity Epic myth and Tragedy, Old comedy was never meant to come across as banal. Indeed people with influencing and fantastical ideas of Gods and the afterlife and the author’s agenda and ethics were displayed and debated about. Pre Homeric and Hesiod literature mythos was mostly told orally and so there were many contradictions and versions of myths and what mythical characters did. There were many determining factors. One for example, was the strength of the story teller skills, another was more concerned with demographics. One thing is certain is that Greek mythology was the inspiration and conversation /debate starter from many areas even outside of the western world for subject matter relating specifically to ethics, the afterlife and life and creation. A person can consider this as universal evolvement of thinking and it is not assumed that Greeks were the first humans to enquire on and seek reason on our existence through debate about mythology. There is simply not enough evidence to back this up. Finally Mythos on its own acted as a sacred harbinger to bring meaning to life and issues inside and outside of it.