Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mental Colonialism Part One

A prevalent theme in literature is that a person needs to wake up or escape from their received ideas to think freely and to understand. Another metaphor for this is to leave the "city"--civilization and other people--to obtain freedom of thought and understanding. Yet another metaphor is that obtaining this wisdom is akin to a trial of physical pain and sacrifice. One of the implications of these metaphors is that free thought is at odds with "city", civilization, and the family. In the city, people partake in a system and fulfill a role, and there's a reciprocal relationship between ideas and these systems; the systems exist because corresponding founding ideas are believed.

Through most of recorded history, it's been dangerous to even discuss new ideas, or to question the ones that are in place. Human creativity and new ideas intrinsically mean that the way things are is not the only way to live, and may not even be close to the best way. The body of ideas that circumscribe the political and economic systems of the times drives competing ideas and beliefs to the fringe of public consciousness through physical violence, such as against the Cathars, or just by exclusion from canonical education.

These beliefs and the systems are yet another case, like the vampire and the cross, where the public confuses the symbol or an idea with a thing. In the United States a large part of the population confuses the bible with history. That is, the collection of borrowed and rehashed myths that became the founding story of one tribe is regarded as the universal story of all people. The story that's been assembled through scientific inquiry into history is less well known and ancient myths and old religions are all but forgotten, or are just academic curiosities, or fodder for comic books, or artistic memes that are "understood" by only a tiny sliver of the population.

Egyptian Horned Goddess Hathor
Hathor in Cow Form
The concepts and symbols associated with those religions would have been the stuff of day-to-day life of people living in the pre-Christian west, and probably regarded with the same level of confusion that Christians have for the cross as a symbol as a thing with magic powers.

The two images above show the depiction of the Egyptian Horned Goddess Hathor, on the left in "human" form, and on the right as a cow. Bountiful nature is given a fitting symbolic form--as a cow, and a set of horns. Likewise, the parallel male horned god, like Pan of the Greeks, or Freyr of the Norse, is found in many religions.

While these broad religious beliefs are interesting to think about, the more commonplace pervasive beliefs of day-to-day life have a substantial impact on the way people live, and on the organization of society. I'll discuss the concept of a mortgage and real estate ownership in Part Two.

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