June 2006 - Personal Mythology
In the realm of mythological scholars there's a lot of talk about one's
own personal mythology. Which I love. And I know it applies to the
greater picture of life, yet my every day is filled with personal and
ancient mythological references.
For instance, last week at work we were watching footage of a volcano
eruption (I work in a video library). It was so unbelievably spectacular
that we were all certain it had to have been created via CG or some
other computer magic. So, we sat there for a good 20 minutes debating
whether or not is was "real", and then finally had to admit that none of
us had actually seen a volcano erupt in person and really couldn't speak
as an authority. Nevertheless, it sparked something in me to research
volcanic eruptions for over an hour when I got home that evening -
mostly photographs and footage - to try and decipher if what I'd seen
earlier in the day had been accurate. And the conclusion is yes.
Volcanoes must be the most awe inspiring display of the power of
nature on earth. I doubt the citizens of Pompeii would have agreed.
But we now live in a world where you can set up a camera and watch
all the fury explode from a safe distance, without so much as a whiff of
sulphur. And suddenly the dichotomy of reason struck me as funny -
that in my present day world I assumed the explosion I saw on film
must have been created by man and his machine, and not the anger of
the goddess Pele. The scientific explanation, of course, lies in
volcanology - named, by the way, for Vulcan, the Roman god of fire,
or who some of us know better in his Greek incantation of Hephaestus,
one of my personal favorites.
Today, the people of Pompeii are immortalized by the words of Pliny
the Younger, their frescoes of Dionysus, and the romantic ruins of
temples that remain in tact. But their spirit survives because of their
paintings, their plays, and their beliefs - all created from their personal
mythologies. Some of it is still held secret in the Villa of Mysteries, and
I can only speculate when I sit down to write about them, usually filling
in the gaps with my own personal mythology.
So, I choose to spend my life dressing up as a siren or fairy and
parading in front of a camera to tell a story. And while I use computer
technology to help me convey that tale, it is the gods and goddesses of
fire that bring it out of me, and give me a reference with which to
explain my heart and soul.
But I leave the volcanology to the experts.