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Musings on fossils, lore & dinosaurs

There's actuallythis wonderful study that has combined folklore research with the classic Greek literature. In particular how the discovery of fossil remains actually shaped the 'mythological' culture and stories, thus providing real 'evidence' of fantastical creatures like cyclops.

Someone on one of the mailing lists I'm on posted this story about a recent discovery of a large pliosaur dinosaur in Norway. The poster, titled the message "Midgard Serpent, anyone?"

Which got me to thinking about the folkloric study on Greek literature. It probably is very likely that in ancient times both during and before the Viking Age, our ancestors did uncover such fossils, and they probably shaped their ideas about the way the midgard serpent looked. So maybe, that little bit of tongue-in-cheek fun by the poster, could actually be the basis for some of the details found in our lore.


I have a crush on the way you think.

*blinks* and why do you say that?
I really appreciate the way you use deductive reasoning and the scientific method as an approach to exploring new ideas. It is cool. I get excited to read your posts, for I know they are going to be well thought out. So, I have a crush on the way you think and express those thoughts.

Plus I also got a strong sense of integrity in your approach.
As to that, it's because I want to be a testament to My Gods. I want to improve understandings of our religion, and of Them. That is not something one undertakes lightly, but has to think, and mull over carefully.

One of the reasons I put forth so many of my thoughts here is that each entry is like an essay waiting to happen, a book waiting to be written, and it has the first kernel of yet deeper thoughts to come. Graduate school burnt me out somewhat on writing and research, but the bug is starting to come back. ^.^

I guess it's a combination of the fact that I have a Masters degree, and have written academic works examining elements of our religion/tradition mixed with the fact that I strongly believe the lore is a diving board where people then need to explore developing personal relationships and understandings with the Gods and Goddesses.

I just don't like how people willy-nilly make half-assed statements that only end up causing MORE confusion in the long-run. I've been around long enough that I've had to 'correct' so many of these misperceptions that it's become a pet peeve.

Oh and the Masters degree is in the Humanities, which is a discipline that really evolves around figuring out the "why" and "meaning" of whatever is being studied, using a variety of methods that may include science, archaelogy, mathematics, anthropology, theology, literary analysis, historical anaylsis, music, art, etc.

I strongly believe in Foucault's concept of the Archaelogical episteme, which he outlines in his work, The Order of Things. Essentially, his theory of the archaelogical episteme is that in order to study the science (or anything else even a work of art) from a certain period of time and/or culture, you have to study it within the cultural mindset & beliefs of that culture.

Thus when you look at scientific thought you look at how Galileo was persecuted for his idea that the universe did not revolve around the earth which was contradictory to the prevailing 'thought' of the time. Looking at it strictly scientifically we don't understand why they thought that way, nor how it shaped everything they did, but within cultural context it begins to make sense.

Foucault's "proof" is a little strained at points in his book (he looks at the 19th Century thought vs. Renaissance vs. Classical), but the core concept really can be taken and used anywhere. He even goes on to say that to understand a later thought process you have to examine the cultural thought processes that came before it to truly understand it.

This is so easy to apply to our collective religious tradition, as you realize our lore was written almost without exception after conversion, by Christian scholars. Most of the academic analysis until about 20 years ago, examined these peoples as either existing in isolation (which we know to be wrong) or under the cultural milleiu of colonialism/imperialism which just doesn't fit. All these things distort and skew our perceptions today of that religion we try so carefully to reconstruct.

Foucault also has some phenomenal thoughts on examining a culture's architecture and city planning and how it represents that society's cultural and moral worldview. His works are extremely dense and difficult to get through, but really truly enlightening if you can slug it out.

Edited at 2008-03-04 06:43 am (UTC)