Subtitle: Or at least we now know where all the crazy comes from.
While approaching the end of Mythos by Stephen Fry, I was happy (relieved?) he threw this in at the end of his retelling the story of Narcissus. Take special notice of the cynical or sarcastic asterisk.
Narcissistic personality disorder and echolalia (the apparently mindless repetition of what is said) are both classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which medically and legally defines mental illnesses. Narcissistic personality disorder, much talked about these days, is marked by vanity, self-importance, a grandiose hunger for admiration, acclaim and applause, and above all an obsession with self-image. The feelings of others are railroaded and stampeded, while such considerations as honesty, truthfulness or integrity are blithely disregarded. Bragging, boasting and delusional exaggeration are common signs. Criticism or belittlement is intolerable and can provoke aggressive and explosively strange behaviour.*
Perhaps narcissism is best defined as a need to look on other people as mirrored surfaces who satisfy us only when they reflect back a loving or admiring image of ourselves. When we look into another’s eyes, in other words, we are not looking to see who they are, but how we are reflected in their eyes. By this definition, which of us can honestly disown our share of narcissism?
*No one we know, of course…
-Stephen Fry – Mythos, from the chapter Echo and Narcissus, The Gods Take Pity
Once this book started to veer towards mortals and their stories–as opposed to the stories of just The Gods–I started to get bored. Not that Fry’s writing is boring, don’t you know. Of course, I probably don’t understand most of his wry British humour anywho. No. Indeed. Yet even though Fry’s writing is fantastic, there is a level of boredom and monotony when it comes to the endeavours of mortals and their being sucker subjects of The Gods.
Note: I’ve read these Fry Greek retelling books out of order. Here my worst-thoughts on his second book, which I read first. Speaking of which. I liked Fry’s Heroes more than Mythos. Reason? Heroes felt more like story telling whereas Mythos feels more like a textbook that tries to also be entertaining. The good news, though, is that Mythos also feels more biblical and paternal. which might be good for my life-long endeavour to understand the origin of human-stupidity. Where Heroes entertains, Mythos informs. And that’s a good thing, right? But I’m not referring to information about Greek mythology. There’s something else at play here. At least in my worst-mind there is.
I’ve always been curious about the stories that gave way to that which has steered the world for that past two thousand to twenty-five hundred years. I’m worst-writing, of course, about human-stupidity galore aka religion. In my limited and redneck reading of and about religion, the thing that’s always been clear is that it really is nothing but a story told over and over and over and… Indeed. It is a story that people want/need to believe–and never question. Once you get people hooked on that, you got ’em! That’s where politics and religion mix, right? That’s their secret, right? Hence the world we live in today. With that in mind, though, what came before The Story?
Fry in no way, shape or form answers my worst-question. And I probably shouldn’t expect an answer from him–at least not in these books. But his writing does motivate me to think anew as he has become quite the conduit to writings I’ve previously failed to comprehend. For example. Humanity went from polytheism to monotheism thousands of years ago. And I can only imagine that the transition was bloody and horrific–but it is all part of a true story that can be retrieved from stories told over and over and over, etc. For example. The story of religion. In this story we know that monotheism replaced polytheism. But what was before polytheism? I mean, could there have been a time where man didn’t rely on irrational thought to deal with his reality? If so where is the story about that? I know. I know. I’m batting at the wind.
The thing I’m gonna take away from reading these two books by Stephen Fry is this: Greek mythology and Christianity are the same joke told by the same joke maker that humanity fails to laugh at enough so that we can wake up from stupid-time. For some that might be exciting. You know, on account you can actually comprehend the classics. For others, it’s a turn-off on account they could give a hoot if all the classics once again conveniently burn away in Alexandria. But since I just recently found out what the term “bottoming” means, I think I’m making progress in my quest to understand life, the universe and why men want to stick their dicks in anything that moves.
So. Yea. That’s what I got out Mythos. The Greek Gods, especially the main-god Zeus, really did a number by sticking his dick in anything and everything that moved. How convenient that it only took a thousand years or so to reign in men trying to be their own little Zeus, hence the advent of prudery aka Christianity, of which Jesus Christ must have been well aware–since most of his life was probably spent in Alexandria, Egypt. Is there a coincidence here? Irony? I mean, isn’t Alexandria where the whole Greed world kinda ended? You know, and then all that Roman shit stepped in until monotheism could finally get a hold on everything? Oh. What the hell do I know? And so…
Good luck with loving the story of your faith fiction that tells the lie fo the mind of your bitter-sweet nothingness prudery that dates back to something like… three to five thousand B.C. where dicks reigned supreme on account they could be stuck anywhere and in anything. But on that note, I do die-gress.
Rant and read on.