Pic of the day: A gift of fire indeed. And not in a good way. (Screenshot from Dark Age of Camelot.)
The Prometheus and I
It is hard to say where gods end and demons begin. Especially when it comes to loneliness.
(I am introducing a new feature which may become regular: A longer "subtitle" that I hope will tell you at a glance what the entry is all about.)
All things are connected. This entry follows up on yesterday's, in which I was once again reminded of the stupidity in people. (You may wonder how I could possibly forget human stupidity. I'll get to that shortly.) But it also touches on an online comic strip and memories of my past.
The online comic is, not surprisingly, Al Schroeder's MindMistress. I recommend you give it another chance. The drawings may still not get him hired by an advertising agency, but they have improved. And the horrible lettering of the first few pages is thankfully a thing of the past.
The newest story line, "malice aforethought", seems to feature someone very close to me. In fact, the very name Prometheus can be translated as "forethought" or "he who thinks ahead". I used to identify pretty strongly with this character at times in my past. Not so much anymore, and the reason for that is the same as the answer why I could forget that people are stupid: The Internet.
I grew up on a small farm in rural Norway with three highly intelligent brothers and two highly intelligent parents. The intellect of my mother was pretty obvious; but the more time passes, the more I suspect that I underestimated my father. He was more of a brooding philosopher, and did not have the easy way with words which my mother had, and I. It could even be argued that words came so easily to me that there was room for little else. Anyway, the remote rural village was hardly a garden of intellectual delight. The area had exported its brainpower to the city for a long time already. And I was not only brainy; I also happened to be small and weak. So there was a vast chasm fixed between me and them...
I matured slowly for my age, both physically and emotionally. As I approached adulthood, I continued to grow more intelligent for longer than my classmates, whose development stopped a bit earlier. So in my late teens and in my twenties I was still intellectually superior, even though I had moved to a more sophisticated milieu. I was still emotionally immature, though. Perhaps I still am, but I think it has changed lately. Anyway, I felt special. And isolated, I guess, but that was all the same to me. If anything, I felt more and more special, and unique, and isolated, as the years now passed. Others fell in love and married and had children and built houses; I never really got to the starting point of that, so I continued my own things: Reading up on religion, mythology, psychology and popular science. Oh, and comic books. I developed a wide, comprehensive worldview. And I realized that no one else were likely to understand it, even though it seems so simple to me.
Prometheus became a symbol to me: Misunderstood by gods and men alike, suspended between Heaven and Earth. In some ways like Lucifer, in other ways like the Christ. Prometheus gave people the fire and taught them how to make metals; they made weapons and waged war. And I inspired people to think for themselves, and they became freethinkers, losing their religion. And Prometheus was chained by the gods in a high place, and every day a bird of prey came and pecked at his liver.
It is hard to say where the gods end and the demons begin. Especially when it comes to loneliness. What doesn't Leonard Cohen say in his song, Sisters of Mercy:
I've been where you're hanging,
Not that I ever felt lonely, or even now do. I felt unique and special and kinda like a scaled down Prometheus.
Anyway, along came the Internet. It didn't happen all at once, but over time I have met more and more other small Prometheuses. People who also have the Gift of Fire, the burning need inside to create. People who also stop and ask questions about the things most take for granted. True, we are all different; but that just means that we're all unique. The young ones in particular are often troubled. They feel isolated, and the world still doesn't make sense to them. Surprisingly many also seem to have some kind of deviant sexuality, in one direction of the other. Then again, being young was never easy; it is probably no easier today. And I wonder if my generation hasn't already forgotten how it felt. (I know I've mentioned this before, but there was this study in which young people were asked how they felt. A couple decades later they were asked again how they had felt at that time. Their answer the second time was no more similar to the first answers than a random guess by a stranger. Now that may be a disturbing thought for us grown-ups; but kinda encouraging for troubled young people.)
Now I know that I am not so special after all. Or rather I am not the only one who is unique. I guess this is a slightly humbling discovery, but this is not all bad. Being alone in the world inspires less fear and less hubris when you realize that we are many – or at least a bunch – who are alone in the world. Perhaps we don't even need a supernatural explanation for it. Or at least no more than for being human in the first place. Perhaps we all have the Gift of Fire, it's just extremely well hidden in some people...
Gray morning, hot day.
Visit the Diary Farm for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.