Collaborations of Abstraction

A little background

Posted on: November 8, 2011

Not every story has a happy ending, but when it comes to the Romans and Greeks, they seemed to be addicted to tragedy. These are the people who watched slave women get covered in orangutan piss and sent into the Colosseum filled with orangutans. Just to, y’know, see what happens.

Why on Earth would they want to hear a story about good triumphing over evil? You couldn’t sell that crap to a five-year-old. “Where’s the blood?” he would cry.

Pandora’s story was first told by the Greeks and then retold by the Romans, who didn’t care much for historical accuracy either. Just ask them what happened to Jesus’ body.

The story goes something like this: Pandora was the first woman on the planet Earth. She was given to Man by the gods, in particular Zeus, Athena and Venus. Pandora was said to have all the gifts of the gods: intelligence, beauty, strength, overwhelming power, all in human-sized portions.

As a parting gift she arrived on Earth with a box, which she was instructed not to open. Of course, because of her curiosity and womanly nature, she opened it and all the horrors of the world as we know it came out: fear, greed, lust, hate, etc.

Pandora - ATC

(CoffeeLatte/Flickr)

Horrified, she closed the box. But it’s too late. Everything has been let loose on the unsuspecting planet. The only thing left in the box is hope.

This explains how the world can have all the awful things it has in it. Or at least in the Greek and Roman mind. Blame it on the woman, or blame it on the gods perhaps, because it certainly has nothing to do with us.

We’ve heard this argument before. It’s in a few other religious texts if you’re interested. But the flaw here isn’t the story tellers’. There were hardly printing presses in those times. The fact is that it spread. That people around the planet believed that tragedy and awfulness occurred as the norm, and that hope was something that was expendable. Is that really all Pandora left in the box?

I’m not convinced. In fact, from the second I heard this version of the story I’ve been hunting down the usual suspects, trying to get the stories straight. It’s not that easy, especially because people who write things down tend to be wealthy, in power and have no imagination. Well, at least in that time.

Luckily for me, the gods get bored and keep repeating their stories. Kind of like how script writers for TV shows use the same worn out scenarios in so many sitcoms, gods tend to have little creativity when it comes to playing dolls, especially ones they’ve decided to give free will.

The problem with free will is that so few of us dolls tend to use it. It’s not our faults, really. Most of us learn from example, and the only examples we have are our creators right? This could be parents, but if you piece it back far enough it goes right back to the gods.

The gods that created Earth did so as an experiment. A social experiment out of boredom really. Gods pretty much roamed around doing what they were assigned to do. They are just doing their jobs.

It may sound all romantic to be the Goddess of the Hunt, but what if you hate the woods and are a vegetarian? You’re not going to be very passionate about your job. Now imagine if you were stuck in that job you hated for all eternity?

Godess of the Hunt. (2)

(zpeckler/Flickr)

You can imagine? No really, not thirty years here. I’m talking eons of time. So much time that it means nothing to you, kind of like how billionaires feel about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a haircut. It comes. It goes. And you still exist.

So to be sure, the gods and goddesses needed some serious entertainment. (Sorry goddesses for not including you in every mention of the term gods. I’m trying to avoid that whole his or her conundrum so many writers fall in to. No offense meant.)

In order to entertain themselves, the gods created a planet of other gods that they could watch. They created them in their likeness, but with one distinct difference. They had no set guidelines as to what they were to do. They were not told what to want. Instead of giving them the user’s manual to the planet, they figured they’d let them fumble around for a while.

Besides, even then those gods knew that very few people read the fuckin’ manual.

Every parent knows that you can’t leave a child unattended for too long. So after the gods of Earth wandered around pissing on things, eating whatever was in their path and generally being destructive, the gods of the Universe realized that something must be done. They must bring in a babysitter and send down the manual.

What would you do if you were told that all the world’s problems were your fault? I’m not talking like someone you know was exaggerating or your parents were real jerks and blamed everything on you. I mean that literally someone said that all the murder, robberies, pillaging, raping, stealing, kidnapping, genocide and every McDonalds that was ever built was your fault.

And they not only told you that, but they proceeded to tell everyone they knew. And they encouraged those people to share your story. They even used your real name. And somehow it caught on.  Went viral. Made the evening news every night for decades. Centuries. Millennia even.

I’m not sure where I’d start, but it would probably be with the source. And those fuckers would have to pay.

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2 Responses to "A little background"

Heh. The last three paragraphs sound like my parents. Fun stuff!

I’ve often pondered about hope being kept in the box. So all the ills of the world were let out and we are left hopeless? or did it mean that hope is another ill of the world and we’re lucky it didn’t get out at us too?

Too often it’s hope that leads us further into the dark by sustaining us for too long. On the other hand if there is a way out, sometimes its only hope that can keep us going long enough to find it.

Thanks for sharing, Becca.

Huh. Your parents too? Sounds like we have a bit in common 🙂

I love your idea about hope being an ill as well! I mean, really, why would it be with all the ills of the world? Interesting point for sure! Thanks for reading 🙂

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Collaborations of Abstraction

Two close (though, unfortunately, not in proximity) friends – a Welsh man living in Ireland and a Minnesotan woman living in Germany – come together to share musings, wit and random things of interest in this journey called life

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