Archive for the World Myths Category

Twisted Light

Posted in Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2012 by javedbabar

There is a strange light in the Lucerne Valley tonight, thought Sami. A twisted light, swirling within and around itself.

It seemed to connect Mt Alba, above the village, with Mt Negra at the valley’s far end, or should he say beginning, for that was the source of lava flows and later, water flows, which over millions of years carved out the Lucerne Valley.

A white cloud gathered around Mt Alba, and a dark cloud around Mt Negra, and they stretched out for a hundred kilometres, twisting around each other like a cosmic candy cane made of marshmallow and licorice.

Maybe such phenomena were usual at this time of year, like the afternoon wind called the Pineapple Express, and the spring and fall floods; all part of nature’s dance.

Since the strange events at the Transparent Temple, Sami felt deluded, denuded and partially destroyed. He was not himself. He couldn’t be. Who was he then?

He needed time – days, weeks, months, who knew? – to accept or reject the situation, to become Guru Baba’s successor or to leave this place for good, but people didn’t give him time.

“Hello, I am an Official from The Authority’s Spiritual Affairs Directorate. We would like to discuss your potential as…”

“Sami, should we now call you Sage Sami? I am reporting for the Holy Herald. Would you please tell our readers about the moment that…”

“Om Shanti, Sami, I come from Guru Baba’s ancestral village with a most humble request. We would be highly pleased if you…”

Right now Sami couldn’t handle his internal dialogue, never mind this external dialogue. He wished everybody would leave him alone. He had jumped at the invitation to use a friend’s cabin at the top of the valley, near Kalash.

The strange light kept glowing and flowing. The cosmic candy cane. At times it looked like a cheerless barber’s pole, or a swirling Slavic bread twist. It also looked like strands of DNA.

Sami’s mind returned to his science class project concerning the nature of light. He had explored light’s basic unit, the photon, and whether its primary nature was that of a particle or a wave. The accepted view was that it was both, and his grade twelve project did not dispute this, but he also looked into two kinds of angular momentum – spin and orbital.

Spin referred to motion like the earth’s spinning around its axis. Orbital referred to motion like the earth’s revolution around the sun. Both could be seen in light.

Sami had asked if these energy forms could be used to transmit information, and discovered that they could. Using MIMO – Multiple Input and Multiple Output – transmission massively boosted data transfer rates. However, his experiments in the school lab were not successful. Instead of twisted light, he had created an optical vortex, where light waves cancelled each other out. That was the opposite of what he wanted to show.

But here, now, before him was the cosmic candy cane, a black and white twist of light, seeming to carry the whole world’s illumination. Was he dancing around it, or was it dancing around him. He watched the twisted light all night, and at dawn, a figure appeared within it and walked towards him.

Was this a trick of the light?

Was this a twist of the light?

Was this a kiss of the light?

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Voodoo Valley

Posted in Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2012 by javedbabar

Dynamic reflection was a term Sami first heard while making architectural models. It showed the way that little design changes caused related changes elsewhere. For example, a building’s cladding changing from wood to steel would affect its levels of heat and moisture, but also its visual reflectivity and life cycle sustainability. Every change had additional effects beyond the building, affecting the landscape in subtle ways.

“The first time I went to the old quarry, I had a vision,” said Sophie, visiting Sami at the Transfer Station’s 3D Unit. “It was filled with every kind of art. A host of creations poured from the place where Mother Earth was butchered. There was a need for healing.”

“Was that the inspiration for QARY?” asked Sami. Her QARY project, converting the old quarry to a multimedia venue, had been a huge success. Most seasons were sell-outs. He had invited Sophie to visit the lab to find out how she did it. Maybe some of her wisdom could be applied to Guru Baba’s charitable projects, for which he still volunteered.

Sophie said, “Do you know the Gaia Hypothesis? You don’t? It says that the earth is a self-regulating organism whose complex systems work together to maintain the conditions for life. They ensure the biosphere’s wellbeing, encouraging evolution of life forms, but acting against them when they threaten the earth’s habitability.”

“Gaia sounds like a tough mistress,” said Sami.

“So am I,” said Sophie, and then realized what she’d said. She appeared uncomfortable. “I hope that was helpful for you. I’ve got to get back to QARY to boss the crew around. We have a new show starting tomorrow.”

Sami was intrigued by Sophie’s words, particularly the notion of self-regulating systems. They were like human bodies, writ large. If that were the case they must feel both joy and pain, joy being harmonious growth and pain being destructive chaos.

Sami had an idea. He fed a map of Lucerne into the 3D printer. He fabricated a quick model which turned out pretty well. Why not model the whole valley in sections? As well as its physical aspects, he could symbolically include its spiritual aspects.

He categorized Mt Alba, the white peak above the village, and Mt Negra, the dark peak at the far end of the valley, as dynamic poles. He fed in cultural information. He didn’t know how to factor in a supreme god, but was able to include subservient spirits, responsible for various aspects of life. He scoured folk tales for forest elves, river sprites, cloud goblins, raindwarves, lightning giants, hillpixies, field witches, and cave ghosts. Their changing personalities would reflect many possibilities.

Was he tired, or was the model changing? It seemed to be shifting subtly. Trees walked, rivers changed course, clouds danced and darkened, rain stopped and started, lightning gathered and cracked, hills rolled around like bugs beneath skin, fields grew crops that were mystically reaped, and caves moaned and howled.

Were these effects extending beyond the model? Sami became scared. He deactivated the electromagnetic charges of Mt Alba and Mt Negra. Without these dual energies, providing light and shadow play, the spirits settled down.

There was now homeostasis, a stable state. Inertia. More fiddling with the earth would create imbalance and re-energize the spirits. There would then be the need for elaborate ceremonies and cure-all spells. The spirits would need soothing, and their price may be high.

Bully Best Friend

Posted in Lucerne Village, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2012 by javedbabar

“You are! You are! You are!” screamed the boy in pain.

There was no dispute that Samuel was now leader of the gang. He was fair-skinned and blonde, ten kilos heavier, and six inches taller than most other boys, and all of them were afraid of him. He beat up boys and forced girls to kiss him. It made no difference if they were gang members or not, but gang members got off more lightly, with fewer bruises and bites.

Many parents complained to Samuel’s parents, but they shrugged their shoulders and said he was out of control; they didn’t know where he got it from. Besides, The Authority banned all forms of domestic discipline, so there was nothing they could do. The official guidance Samuel received at school was written only, nothing verbal, or, God forbid, physical discipline to counter his physical conduct. It barely dented his bad behaviour.

His Grandpa was a tough character, and was asked to have a word with him. Rather than acting as a good influence though, his Grandpa’s pep talks made him proud and pompous.

Things were set to get worse when Dale arrived at school. His parents had lived off-grid in an “undisclosed location” since his birth, and had home-schooled him till thirteen. The Authority had then threatened to lock them up, and take Dale away, unless they returned to “civilization”.

Dale was the same size as Samuel, but dark and hairy. Either they would fight each other in rival gangs, or together become twin terrors. It could go either way.

On his first day at school, Dale stood in front of Samuel in the playground. Samuel was a wary of this strange new boy, and rather than pushing him out of the away, he instead said brusquely, “Excuse me.”

“Excuse me, what?”

“Excuse me,” Samuel launched himself at Dale, screaming, “Pleeeease!”

They fought for ten minutes, resulting in a complicated stalemate, with both boys and then four teachers, tangled on the floor, before they broke apart, laughing. After this, Samuel and Dale become inseparable best friends.

They continued fighting each other for fun, much to the relief of others, who now became spectators rather than participants, cheering for one or the other combatant, often laying down bets. The Samuel-Danny fight became a popular ritual. Teachers bet on it too, and Miss Jewel and Mr Wong won $100 each.

“That shopkeeper charges too much money,” Dale said to Samuel. “He wants two dollars for chips when they’re one dollar everywhere else, and a potato costs ten cents to grow. He thinks we’re stupid. We should raid his shop.”

“We should smash it!”

“We should burn it!”

They decided to do all three things, and raided, smashed and burned it that night. The tied-up shopkeeper begged them to stop, each by name, and when they realized he recognized them, they smashed and burned him too.

The police came to school the next day to quiz teachers. Because of regulations, they were not allowed to quiz children. Samuel and Dale smirked at the back of the class.

A week later, the shopkeeper’s daughter saw Samuel and Dale and set her Rottweiler upon them. After a long fight, they killed the dog. Samuel only suffered cuts and grazes but Dale was bitten badly, and a few days later, died.

Samuel was withdrawn from school and stayed at home for two weeks. He went to visit his grandfather who lived beyond the swamp at the base of Mt Negra. He told him all about the gang, the fight, the shopkeeper and the dog. And most of all about how much he missed his best friend Dale.

His grandfather clipped his ear and said, “Don’t be such a wimp. You get that from your father, not from me, for sure. I had killed four guys by your age. Now go back to school and kick some ass.”

The Time Machine

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2012 by javedbabar

“The Time Machine has an underground theme,” said a member of the production crew, “and we could have some fun with special effects. It would be like Doctor Who in 4D! It gets my vote for next month’s show.”

“What about 2001: A Space Odyssey?” said Danny. “We could really make something of that last bit, with the crazy colours and blinking eye.”

Sophie was proud of the QARY project’s success. Converting the old quarry into a venue for multimedia shows had been her baby. She was looking for a show to complete the second season; the short list comprised The Time Machine, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Fahrenheit 451, and 1984.

The latter two had been discounted. Fahrenheit 451 because its flames would be too disturbing underground, and 1984 because its world of tiny apartments, two-way screens, media brainwash and endless wars, already existed. People may as well stay at home.

Sophie said, “Okay, who wants Time Machine?” Some hands rose. “Two Thousand and One?” A few less. “The Time Machine wins. So as we discussed, there are three main journeys. The first is the table top model disappearing in front of the inventor’s dinner guests. It’s a minor plot point but we could beef it up. The second journey is the one to 802,701 A.D., where he meets the Eloi and Morlocks. That’s the main part of the story. The third journey is the one thirty million years into the future, where he sees a dying earth and menacing red crablike creatures, and black blobs with tentacles.”

Danny said, “Will we have use of the third chamber for the show?”

“Good question. The renovation of the third chamber is almost complete, but we have unresolved health and safety issues, in particular black mould. Hey, maybe we could use that to bring the black blobs to life.” The production crew chuckled.

Danny had been difficult initially, but was now her most helpful crew member. Even though his favourite idea hadn’t been chosen, he was right back to 100% commitment on the idea that had. He said, “We could use the two main chambers to create Eloi and Morlock worlds. That would give them scale and depth. The inventor’s home is only there for framing than story. We could create it in the entrance area, or even by narration alone.”

Sophie thought, yes, that would work. The thrust of the story is the ultimate result of modern industrial relations. Bosses and workers became distinct classes of people with little in common, something Wells was very worried about.

The best way to show this would be to create two different worlds. Sophie directed the crew to focus on this separation in a modern context. She told them to create opulent and restless worlds.

The Eloi world was very bright. There were small communities of happy elfin people in large futuristic buildings. They performed no work, just spent their lives at ease, laughing and playing, whilst consuming a healthy, fruitarian diet.

The Morlock world was dense and dark. The noise of grinding machinery was everywhere as evidence of their constant industry. Stocky, brutish people moved around in a threatening manner, awaiting their chance to catch and eat you.

On opening night Sophie noticed something disturbing. Unlike previous shows, people were not moving between the chambers. Professional people reclined in the Eloi area, while unskilled workers and their families walked around the Morlock world. It seemed the process of social degeneration was underway.

Ragnarok

Posted in Global Travel, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2012 by javedbabar

Danny said, “I am sorry I was being difficult before. You know what you are doing here. You are doing a good job.”

“Thanks for saying that,” said Sophie, “but what was your issue, exactly? I was never really sure.” She had an inkling, but wanted to hear it from him.

“Well, I had the same idea four years ago. I mean, converting the old quarry into a multimedia venue. When I visited Egypt I saw the Pyramids of Giza’s sound and light show, and thought something like that could work here too. I told the village CEO but she wouldn’t listen, and then hey presto – someone has the bright idea to turn the old quarry into a multimedia venue. I thought you had stolen my idea, and taken all the credit, and was really mad. I hoped you would fail, and you almost did when it flooded, but now I accept that you developed this idea independently. I submit.”

He bowed and then continued dropping, as if to the floor. Was he really going to prostrate himself? Normally Sophie would have let him continue – why not? – but after his confession, she felt he had fallen enough. It was time to raise him.

She said, “Look, I have made many mistakes too. Each show is a new show, and I’m learning continuously, but the process is becoming familiar, and I have a talented and reliable team. Thanks for all your help to date, Danny.”

He was itching to ask something, she could tell. He said, “What about the current show? Are you happy with how it’s turned out?”

Ragnarok had been a strange choice, granted. A cataclysmic story compiled from the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda of Iceland. Her father had been a captain in the merchant navy, and told her Norse myths as bedtime stories whenever she stayed with him. He had left her mother when Sophie was five, for “another woman in another port,” her mother told her years later.

“Yes I am happy,” said Sophie. “But I hope things don’t turn out like that in reality, or if they do, then not in our lifetimes.”

The show was sold out. People came to QARY whatever the story. It was on the itinerary of every visitor to the west coast of Arcadia, as something not to be missed.

Ragnarok’s series of future events, and great battles foretold, were made for multimedia. The occurrence of natural disasters, destruction and submersion of the world, and its resurfacing and repopulation by two human survivors, gave her technicians a chance to show off.

They put a live rooster in each room, whose every movement was tracked, triggering sounds and visuals. The Crimson Rooster in the forest caused Yggdrasil, the world tree, to shudder and groan. The Golden Rooster in Valhalla made the Eagle shriek. The Soot-Red Rooster in Hel made the Midgard Serpent writhe. The Hound growled before the Cave. The Giant strode from the east. The Ship broke free and set sail westwards. Odin was swallowed by the wolf Fenrir.

Ragna means “ruling powers”.

Rock means both “the end” and “renewal”.

Ragnarok is thus an ending and a beginning.

Danny said, “What if it really happened, and we were the only two humans left?”

Ah! So that’s it, thought Sophie. He likes me; he’s coming on to me. She said, “Well then you would be a very lucky guy, as that is the only way I would ever consider dating you.”

Ulysses

Posted in Conceptual Art, Global Travel, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2012 by javedbabar

“We have a dramatic issue here,” said Sophie. “How do we chronicle the passage of Leopold Bloom during an ordinary day in Dublin, and establish the parallels with Odysseus’s journey across the Mediterranean to Greece?”

She had seen a production of Ulysses in the New City, where Bloom wore a baby goldfish costume and swam alongside Odysseus’ ship. At first she had giggled continuously, but then become grumpy. It was great to be creative but not ridiculous.

When she had later questioned the director, he said, “Did you know that Joyce first encountered Odysseus in a children’s book called The Adventures of Ulysses?” Sophie knew that Ulysses was the Roman name for Odysseus, in the same way that they called Poseidon, Neptune, and Aphrodite, Venus. “He later wrote an essay at school called My Favourite Hero. That is why I wanted to portray him as a youngster.”

“And why a goldfish?”

“The publication of Ulysses attracted great controversy and scrutiny. Joyce was tried for obscenity, and there were protracted textual wars. It was as if his characters were contained in a goldfish bowl, being watched constantly. That was also the manner in which Joyce dissected the city of Dublin. You see the…” His eyes jerked towards Molly, emerging sans make up from backstage. “Oh darling! You were so fabulous! Mwah! Mwah!”

Sophie agreed that Molly had been fabulous, in the way that only a naked rainbow dolphin could be.

The production team at QARY, the old quarry now used to stage multimedia shows, said nothing at first. Maybe they were unfamiliar with the text. But after a while Danny said, “Couldn’t we do the whole thing as a stream-of-consciousness piece? I know it is heavily structured, but maybe we can find some anchor points to demarcate flow.”

Sophie stared at Danny. He was usually the troublemaker in the team, the jester and trickster, but here he was producing constructive ideas. She said, “It sounds like you know the work well.”

He blushed and said, “Well, not really. I studied it at high school. It was a choice of that or Dante’s Divine Comedy. Joyce seemed the easier option.”

The production team suggested other ideas.

“Dress Bloom as Odysseuss. As he walks through Dublin he is transformed into a Centurion, Britannia, a Knight of the Round Table, and a Celtic warrior.”

“Set the whole thing on a ship with the characters as crew members.”

“Make it a huge feast with each chapter as a different course.”

The best suggestion was to use each of the three chambers for different parallel characters – Bloom-Odysseus, Molly-Penelope, and Stephen-Telemachus.

When the production opened, Sophie saw that this structure worked well. The audience wandered between the chambers continuously, integrating the three persons of this holy family, the archetypal father, mother and son.

In other shows the audience had mainly stayed put, lined up along walls and gathered in corners. This had annoyed The Authority as they couldn’t keep an eye on them there. The more people that moved between rooms, the better CCTV could track them.

Odysseus was watched by the gods of Olympus. The citizens of Lucerne had The Authority’s Security Officers.

Bhagavad Gita

Posted in Global Travel, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2012 by javedbabar

“Why can’t we do proper stories?” said Danny. He was still unhappy about Tao Te Ching being forced upon him last month.

Maybe his mind is totally rational, thought Sophie, and this stuff is too wacky for him. But there was more to it than that.

He said, “It’s another piece of religious propaganda. Myths I am okay with, as nobody treats them seriously. People think of them as meaningful stories, but don’t insist they are the word of God. I don’t believe in supernatural agencies, full stop.”

He is becoming more troublesome, thought Sophie. I could fire him but he’s such a great technician. I would be cutting off my nose to spite my face.

“Going back to your original point, Danny, this is a proper story. The Bhagavad Gita is part of one of the greatest stories ever told, the Mahabharata, which is ten times longer than the Iliad and the Odyssey combined. The Gita is its essence.”

There were regular battles between Danny and Sophie. She liked working with people who brought positive energy to tasks. Danny’s endless negativity was tiresome and it affected other crew members. To pull off multimedia spectaculars at QARY, the converted old quarry, she needed a tight team. There was no room for cowards and traitors.

Sophie wasn’t against conflict. It was a way of sizing up opposing views, integrating, and hopefully transcending them, to a higher form of thought. Could she do that with Danny? He would need convincing. It was her leadership test.

She said, “Gandhi called the Gita his spiritual dictionary. Within it he sought the answer to every difficult question, and its teachings inspired the Indian independence movement. Do you practice yoga? You don’t? Okay, what about other people? Ah, most of you do. The Gita contains the essence of yoga; it details Karma, the yoga of action, Bhakti, the yoga of love, and Jnana, the yoga of knowledge, and promotes a positive philosophy of life.”

Danny was grinning, so Sophie asked, “What’s up?”

“I thought you would try to overwhelm us with stuff like this, so I did my own research. The whole story is about a war. The prince, Arjuna, is caught up in a huge battle; his brothers are on one side, and his cousins, uncles, teachers and friends are on the other. He doesn’t want to fight at all, he wants to make peace, and if he can’t do that, he would rather die than kill others.

“But his charioteer, Krishna, tells him to fight. He says it is his duty to fight. He has to do the best he can, regardless of outcome. And the Gita speaks highly of the caste system, and about women as lowly. Why do you want us to promote these ideas?”

Sophie was furious. Danny was trying to derail her project. She said, “I am sure you know it is symbolic. Sure, a war analogy is problematic. It can be misinterpreted, but it can also be used to show the ethical and moral struggles of life.” She decided to cut short her sermon and practice Karma Yoga instead.

They ran through the production’s practical aspects and then discussed the climax, where Krishna reveals that he is the ultimate cause of all material and spiritual existence, and his cosmic form, Visvarupa, is unleashed, a theophany facing every direction.

Sophie said, “So we will need one thousand projectors to emit the radiance of a thousand suns, and one thousand mirrors to contain all beings in material existence. Danny you are in charge of procuring those.”

“But I won’t be able to get so many so quickly.”

Sophie gave him a hard look and said, “Well just do the best you can. That’s the message of the Gita.”