Tag: Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Aesop’s Tales
Originally published on April 3, 2007 @ 17:25. This post was written under duress and with the knowledge that eXisTenTiaLNihLisT would present my most caustic and cynical views of the world. It is reprinted here, with sizable additions, to reassure me that while much has occurred in my life since it was first written I have not changed many of my assessments of the darker sides of humanity. The final segment, detailing the Golem, was originally part of a retrospective of German Expressionism films that was deleted by my first programmer, a born again Christian who did it for spite. Fortunately, the first portion had been saved in a Word Doc while the lenghty retro, unfortunately was not.
The idea of having a feline eXisTenTiaLNihLisT viewpoint came from my indecision as whether or not to express my opinions under the Ex-Nil moniker and as I later decided the felines had enough work with the MIFW-B.
eXisTenTiaL nIlHisT with Henny Ben Tassus, a visiting feline Dadaist in Residence at the Nihilism Institution for Ejective Reductionism, Carolina Sector. Contains adult themes, graphic profanity and opinions that while not intended to shock or dismay will not doubt do so anyway.
Different cultures are often embraced and simultaneously rejected by the major societies where they are introduced. In America, the variety of multicultural enclaves blurs amid one another often, unfortunately, to the benefit of no one. It is regrettable that folklore, mythology and legend are not embraced by contemporary societies. I have always been intensely interested in the traditional myths and how they affected the civilizations that considered them in a realistic comportment. For centuries storytellers embellished with each retelling mythologies often tailoring them to fit their particular group. Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Aesop’s Tales hold up today quiet well. The darkness of the storylines coupled with morals that projected the dilemmas faced with lessons learned and often quickly forgotten.
Imagine modern man – and I use that phrase mordantly since in every age man thought he knew more than past generations. These enclaves of people each had previous people to mock. We can thank them all from Neanderthals through the Egyptians, Greeks, et al, for inventions, many of which were inconceivable to our ancestors. So where is the compassion for all of our ancestors throughout the planet earth? It wasn’t that many centuries ago that the vast uneducated lot believed the world was flat and that the flat planet was the center of the universe! I knew people who believed our government faked the moon landing in 1969 including today a high ranking military surgeon! It would take far too long to list even the least of inventive changes in every conceivable facet of our humanoid existence. Suffice that we agree much has changed in the 19th to early 21st Century to warrant attention.
I still cringe with abhorrence when I hear the description of primitive or caveman as “primitives.” For primitives they certainly learned survival training without governmental interference and they did not need camps for weapons training. I doubt the majority of us, including myself, could wield a club to kill an animal or use a spear to catch fish for food. I truly believe most of us would starve and rather quickly. No adapting like our ancestors, we’d be to busy arguing about who should be in charge of the group while everyone eventually starved. That could help the gene pool as the brainless would soon become lifeless. Thank God for that possibility. Gone would be the people would not eat tree bark and snails or grow some kind of hydroponics other than reefer to at least have an opportunity to live a tad longer.
It isn’t surprising that these island-based survival programs on television are popular. Like Let’s Make a Deal, from decades past, we can sit at home – only today with our laptops and lattes – criticizing decisions made by what we deem to be fools; between foolish commercials about cavemen dealing with Geico insurance claims. Uh huh. Cavemen would just club to death the claims adjusters, eat them and then die from all the nicotine, lead, arsenic and mercury in their bodies.
What would we do without grocery stores, eh? Could we survive without Wal-Marts, coffee shops, computers, I-Pods or cell phones? No Face Book, My Space or YouTube? Fucked without technology we would begin anew with paper and pencil and, Goddess forbid, be forced to try and use a rational brain.
My black humorous streak foresees a world returning to the jungles of the past. In the battle for world domination I see the ultra rich living in bunkers with their own generators powering their succulent lifestyles while billions perish for lack of bread because their ignorance prevents them from toiling in a field and growing crops. Migration of the fittest will be our next catch phase; whoever leaves this planet first will be assured of never returning.
The fact humankind can adapt is wonderful although today’s moderns have adapted weapons of every conceivable material to fulfill gun fetishism. Pharmaceutical companies control medicines and cures for many diseases because it’s more cost effective to keep people alive, albeit in debilitating conditions.
I’m not a fan of “reality” programs. How about a program showing people filling out complicated tax forms without high-priced accountants. Would you watch a program where people tried to get Social Security, Medicare or Tri-Care to help with medical expenses for their elderly parents? In fact, any governmental bureaucratic organization would make good Tee-Vee viewing. Imagine these poor bastards sitting for hours in cramped waiting rooms with unwashed migrant workers awaiting their turn to be told “You need to come back,” “You filled out the wrong form,’ or “Sorry, you’re not qualified.”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t consider myself racist, but my experiences with my father, who died in 1998, when we dealt with a Social Security office in the Great State of Mythos was nightmarish. We took our number, like at Baskin and Robbins, and waited for hours. Dad had served in Viet Nam but became anti-war in his later years after Grenada and the Falkland Island fiascos occurred. “We’re always trying to exert our power over others in the form of unwanted invasions,” he would say. My mother was a homemaker who baked brownies and liked to toss salads but she never understood dad’s change in heart. She died in 2000 never realizing the malodorous preferential treatment.
Update for 2010: In reality, what occurred was accurate; however, my father, who died in 1995, served in WW II and was a retired Lt. Col in the Army while my mother died in 2007 from Alzheimer’s disease. At the time I wrote this I was uncertain as to how to articulate my rage at the Social Security Administration and its treatment of both of my parents and my aunt, who died in 2002, who worked for the SSA for over 30 years and saw it completely disintigrate after Affirmative Action allowed some of the least qualified sentient beings jobs rather than hire people who gave a fuck. It was a sad display and while I believe discimination is an abomination of the racist and bigoted attitude of far too many people in this nation I also believe that qualifications for employment should at least be offered to people with IQs above room temperature.
Back to our experience in the SS Office; we had filled out the forms and were trying to get dad’s benefits as he was finally eligible. We got a fellow who spoke terrible English with a Spanish accent. I knew we were in trouble. He was loud enough for others to hear our conversations and bad-mannered when trying to explain, “You fill form out wrong.” Dad was trying to be respectful but this guy was impolite. I only wanted to find out what we did wrong and this lout says, “Can’t you read?”
I answered succinctly. ‘Yes. Where’s your supervisor?”
“My boss out sick,” he informed.
I asked for the next person in charge.
“There is no one else.”
“Really, the Social Security Administration of Mythos has no one in charge?”
He stared at me in a curious manner. “You can come back tomorrow.”
It was obvious we were not going to get satisfaction and decided to come back as he suggested, but before we left, I watched the next person he waited on. How much different he spoke to the lady with a similar accent. Curious, eh? He saw that I was listening and he suddenly began speaking quieter, in Spanish. Too bad he did not show us similar respect. He didn’t know I understood Spanish, although I could not speak it. I won’t quote what he said but it was clearly anti-American, a gloomy commentary for a person who should have been happy to live and work in America. Clearly, this particular person did not and enjoyed having a position of authority where he could make decisions on other’s lives.
It’s even sadder that a country founded by so many nationalities, from throughout the planet, has become a xenophobic melting pot.
What the fuck?
The original immigrants – my family came from Germany, Hungary and Scotland – are now the outsiders. No wonder there is so much detestation today towards the new immigrants. There is so much racism and homophobia to contend with today. I find it disturbing that this world has been raped by heterosexual mind sets and yet they find the homosexual lifestyle perverse. Bullshit comes in many flavors, but it still tastes like fecal matter. I am for gay rights as much as any rights and believe that a gay couple raising a child is better than being state raised and certainly even better than having heterosexual parents who are abusive and addicted to drugs, alcohol and illiteracy, of which I saw too much of growing up in West Ala.
And my dear straight friends, I too, am hetero; however, it does not control my heart or belief that gays and lesbians are getting treated like the Native Americans when the genocide mentality swarmed this country, like locusts, after the Mayflower landed and the occupants decided there was not enough room for the original inhabitants to share the land.
During the first coolege football weekend after 9/11, an ultra-conservative tailgater was appalled after the events of September 11, 2001 and said to me “What could possibly make this world a better place now?”
Rather than think before speaking I replied with the first thoughts that came through my foggy mentality:
“A comet.” Too much emotion coupled with anger and grief.
“Wha…?” He went pale and was horrified by my response. Several others within the sound of my voice dropped their chicken wings onto the gravel parking lot, before picking them back up, dusting them off, and swallowing with only slight assistance from light beer.
“Yes, a comet. It would wipe all of us out, the good and the evil and the world could start over anew without humans.”
I’ve since amended my comet theory realizing no matter what happens some schmucks would survive, probably the rich and powerful, many of them the essence of these aforementioned problems. If the human race could avoid total annihilation and could leave this rock who would decide who gets to leave and who remains behind for the cosmic light show?
Imagine the horror the terrorist nations would experience realizing they, too, were checking out of the Hotel California, and there were be no virgins awaiting them in paradise.
No paradise, either.
Besides, if a comet struck the earth would anyone notice?
NASA won’t tell you that if a gamma ray burst is on the way by the time we realize it is coming it would be too late. In seconds, the ozone is vaporized and since we need it to protect us from radiation we would all die, as would all plant and animal life.
Faraway Super Novas would convert helium to hydrogen and say farewell to oxygen although if you’re into nitrogen you’d be a happy, albeit dead motherfucker.
As it approached, Republicans and Democrats would join together, albeit too late, to draft a bill condemning the comet with a rider attached for a bigger budget for NASA’s space exploration. I suspect those who could leave this planet would already be gone. The irony being they’d either land on a hostile planet, much like earth, or drift through space eternally never finding a place that would allow them to land. “You’re from earth? Keep on space truckin’!'” Sounds like FDR when the ship of fools came to America during WW II and was turned away from every port and forced to return to occupied Europe and their fates.
The only people who would truly enjoy the comet’s advancement would be those souls with an endless supply of drugs. Even none druggies would find a reason to take a tab of blotter acid and smoke some herb. The overweight would gorge themselves on ice cream and pot pies while the under weight would simply sip tea laced with ‘shrooms and eat moon pies.
Whoops, I seemed to have strayed from the SS story! We came back the next day and found out we had in fact filled out the correct forms and dad was eligible but as is often the case we were misinformed. We also saw the supervisor who claimed he was not out sick and was actually in the office! He could not understand why he wasn’t alerted to our problem. The real surprise was the employee who was such a pain was nowhere to be seen.
Guess he was out sick!
I had a similar experience recently with a friend whose identity was stolen by purse-snatching bitches in a TJ Maxx. According to this fellow who had an accent thicker than my friend’s “You cannot get another Social Security number unless your life has been threatened.”
Someone can steal your SS Card, Driver’s License, credit cards, Blue/Cross Blue Shield card – which is how they got her SS number – and that’s not life-threatening? Hasn’t this country taken a dirt road into the swamp off the main road of common sense?
This brings me to the need for a personal savior, a protector who only exists to be our guardian. If we had Thanatos, the Greek embodiment of death, we’d kill them. Zeus would cremate them with lightening bolts or Medusa would turn our enemies to stone. Even Lot was smart enough not to look back while his curious wife became a pillar of salt.
This is if you believe the mythologies. Sadly, most contemporary people do not. For the sake of argument, let’s accept them as fact. I own several guns, but keep them unloaded. Yeah, I know, hardly helpful but I am not interested in killing anyone although many friends succumbed to gun fetishism and proudly display their Nine Mils and stylish little nickle-plated Colt Python .357 magnums. Great idea, aim your pistol at that gamma ray burst.
Let’s celebrate our new savior, the goilem or golem, the legendary Jewish figure created from inanimate matter and then animated to perform simple tasks or to protect its master. As is often the case in Yiddish, words have dual or additional definitions and golem is no exception with its literal translation of “cocoon” in Modern Hebrew and usages including fool, silly or stupid. From Hebrew for material and possibly derived from gelem; raw materials. Got to love Yiddish; schmuck can mean ne’er do well, son of a bitch or even penis. Makes sense to me considering the number of dicks in charge of governments across this planet.
Talmudic literature refers to an incomplete or embryonic substance and the term is also found in the Bible in Psalms 139:16. In the Middle Ages wise men were believed to posess the power to animate effigies with charms, letter combinations that formed sacred words or the name of God written on paper and placed on the golem’s head or in its mouth. Basically, a servant they could be deactivated by removal of the text. By the 16th Century, in a time of persecution, the golem was viewed as protector of the Jews and the most famous account concerned Rabbi Judah Low ben Bezulel in Prague, which was basis for the novel Der Golem (1915) by Gustav Meyrink, but the first known story in print was in a collection of Jewish tales, Galerie der Sippurim, published in 1847 by Wolf Pascheles of Prague.
The 1914 German silent film by Henrik Galeen was one of three films by actor-director Paul Wegener constructed around the Jewish legend, with Der Golem und die Tanzerin, 1917 and Golem, 1920, which is regarded as a landmark among early German expressionism; a style that would lead to film noir with the use of dark shadows and steep angles. Other landmarks of the German Expressionism genre were Robert Weine’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1919 and F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, 1922.
Golems have appeared in films including the years 1936, 1953 and 1966. This man-made monster would later inspire other filmmakers, especially in America, who pursued the legend only with a Frankenstein leitmotif.
Galeen’s version involved workmen digging a well who unearth the clay figure which ends up with an antique dealer, Aaron. The dealer purchases a book from a professor which describes the placement of a capsule containing specific magic words in the breast of the golem to bring it to life. When Aaron learns his daughter, Eleanor, is having an affair with a count he activates the golem to prevent her from going to a party thrown by the count. An ensuing struggle dislodges the capsule rendering it dormant, but Aaron reinserts the capsule and the golem terrorizes the party guests. Only when the capsule is removed does the golem fall and smash into pieces.
In the 1920 version, Rabbi Loew learns the emperor plans to expel the Jews from medieval Prague and awakens the grotesque clay figure with the intention of saving his congregation. The golem, however, goes on a rampage again.
It! (1966) with Roddy McDowell playing an assistant museum curator who discovers a statue that he learns is the 16th Century Golem. With tongue planted firmly in cheek this tedious exercise in movie making is filmed in London and stumbles towards its preposterous climax. At least the silent versions played it straight with Rabbis initiating the golem’s rampage and not disgruntled employees.
Kaddish a 1997 episode of the popular paranormal TV series The X-Files concerned the brutal murder of a Hassidic Jew in a Brooklyn neighborhood by three bigoted teenagers who are themselves killed by the reanimated victim. Following the removal of parchment from inside the golem’s mouth by his true love the creature fell to the ground and shattered into innumerable pieces.
There was another film I saw one night of late night cable television from Canada (the title eludes me) concerning a Catholic schoolboy who becomes so enraged when a nearby synagogue is vandalized and the Rabbi, who had befriended him, was beaten by a group of anti-Semites that he summons the Golem. He had learned of its existence from the Rabbi who was willing to forgive while the boy was not. It was an interesting twist. Predictably, the Golem punishes the evil doers in violent fashion. Later, the Rabbi rebuilds his temple.
Naturally, movies embrace the Golem as monster rather than a heroic figure. How far the legend has changed from the 16th Century Golem whose purpose was protector rather than destroyer. Perhaps, it’s time to resurrect Golems for our protection today.
Imagine walking into the Social Security Administration with a 9-foot tall Golem. Would the security guard still ask if you are carrying a concealed weapon! Difficult to conceal anything that tall! Imagine owning a Hummer with the top removed so your Golem could sit beside you sort of like Henny in his basket.
As Henny Ben Tassus asks: “What does this have to do with existential nihilism? Evidently, we’re all in a basket and all we have to do is cross the border!”
The Golem photo courtesy of Friedrich-Wilhelm Murnau-Stiftung, Wiesbaden. The Golem made his screen debut in the 1920 silent German film Der Golem. Picture from Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archive, NY.