Sometimes Older is Better

imageLet your mind go blank for a minute (for some of us, that is a perpetual state of mind).  O.K., now I am going to throw a few pairs at you – Predator/Jotun, Silicon Entity/Unicorn, Slivine/Gorgon, Borg/Sea Creature.  Forget for a moment that the Sci Fi creatures are scarier, and more deadly.  Which seems more real to you?  Remember, they are all equally fictitious.  When we do start meeting other species, they might just as well look like reptiles and hunt as they might be really tall and prefer the cold.

Yet the beings from mythology do seem more real, somehow.  When the Egyptians started forming their religion, they would take the animal associated with that quality, say intelligence, and mesh it with a human.  That is why the Egyptian gods all look so weird.  When the Greeks were overrun by mounted warriors, they didn’t realize that man and horse were separate – which is why centaurs became a part of their belief system.  The point is that these figures of mythology aren’t just beings of religions we no longer believe in, they are a part of our collective psyches.

imageI have an admission to make.  I’ve always thought that stories that employed minotaurs, pegasii, or werewolves were made by authors who had not been creative with that aspect of their stories.  That connection that stories like Narnia and Tolkien make, or better yet the explanations to be found in the really good science fiction are deeper and more profound than anything a cool looking new species could manage.

About Cian Beirdd

I live with my kitty, and encourage his tuna and catnip addictions. I have a website as well;
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7 Responses to Sometimes Older is Better

  1. Today I explained to my husband about house elves. How, if you leave milk and cookies, they will come and overnight, clean your house, fix the roof, clear the snow and when you get up in the morning, the coffee is ready along with fresh baked goods.

    He looked at me. “Is this real?”

    “No,” I answered him. “But wouldn’t it be nice if it were?” For a few seconds, I had him. The myth lives.

  2. Cian Beirdd says:

    Gullibility Test: Fail!

  3. Loki says:

    I was (and to some extent, remain) the exact opposite growing up of what it seems you were: I always felt slightly let down when a novel or film would needlessly invent a new creature when I could off the top of my head think of three or four mythological precedents that would have fit the bill and had a cool recognisability to them. So I suppose that means you’re right about them seeming more real because you have a pre-established understanding of them. I mean, I’ve never seen a real-life wolverine or a real-life shark, either, outside of the television set. So in a lot of ways, they’re no more or less real to me than a unicorn or a dragon.

  4. Cian Beirdd says:

    I grew up thinking The Cantina was the ultimate. Now, writing myself, I’m finding that connecting it with something already recognizable is much more challenging. I can live with being a bit behind you, as long as I have some hope of catching up.

    • Loki says:

      I think we might be crossing each other’s paths, then — I’ve grown more appreciative of the new inventions (well, the better ones) as I’ve grown older. But as a kid, yes, I knew what a “dragon” was, and a dragon was exciting. A minotaur, an elf, a werewolf, they were exciting. A perfectly new configuration of letters that described some creature that I had no pre-existing attachment to — I often found I had to go back to re-read the initial descriptions, because I was so disinterested I didn’t even retain how those things looked. I think your appreciation of originality was what was ahead of me, here, so no reason to be self-deprecating. 😉

  5. Cian Beirdd says:

    I do still appreciate the originality, but it’s the ability to be original and tie into something we already know that gets me know. In the cantina there is a devil and a hammerhead shark. Cool looking yes, but original? Much better are the Borg, who don’t want to conquer you but absorb entire cultures by absorbing all of its individuals into a collective. Or the Magog, who either eat you or impregnate you. These things are new and unsettling. When you are looking out into space, you can’t do unicorns and ogres, sometimes you need to think outside the box. I get that. But then you have to create an entire culture that is foreign, too. In the past that didn’t happen so much. It has been nice to see that changing.

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