from the river . . . 08/10/92 on the Goddess She is known by various names, but the oldest

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from the river . . . 08/10/92 on the Goddess She is known by various names, but the oldest seems to be Ana. The name survived in many forms: MaryAnne, Diane, etc. She is known also as the White Goddess, the Triple Goddess for her three roles of Mother, Lover, and Old Crone (the death bringer). The literary Romantics, though I suppose well intentioned, made her famous as The Muse, but ultimately their conception of her as Muse trivialized and popularized it. Of old she was The Muse, and still is: but she does not serve at the whim of a degenerated and deluded dilettanti, but only those with strength enough to endure the true quest. Her favors are rare, but of exquisite beauty; Her scorn is withering but must at times be endured as a quest-trial, though the return of her favor is never guaranteed. It is possible to couch these ideas in modern garb: Jung's Anima archetype, Freud's Thanatos, any number of studies of creativity (and they are interesting and abundant) describe, in a general way, the capriciousness and mystery of the artistic impulse. Although there is validity to this approach, it tends to objectify and sterilize a most profound experience, one that is as cogent today as it was millennia ago. Robert Graves has written an ambrosial and complex book The White Goddess, which does justice to the primeval nature of the experience that so many mythic images, derived from her original image, point toward. In sleep, in dreams, we are there; in the sleep/dream of death we are there. It is possible to be there awake and breathing the air of day: according to Graves (and for what it is worth I concur whole-heartedly) it is the prime duty of the poet to express the ancient mystery; Joseph Campbell, in the extraordinary Masks of God: Creative Mythology, speaks of the artist's role in this current state of "civilization" as the creator of living myth. (There is a book that seeks to "study" Campbell's works,but due to an Apollonian petulance only succeeds in reducing an experience of great power to an impotent mental construct. Such conceptual constructions demand a completely rational and synthetically consistent model of the universe. While models might demand for themselves perfect predictability, the Universe is not a model: the map is not the terrain. (The menu is not the dinner . . . the score is not the music . . . we all forget so easily and quickly that the symbol is not the thing that it stands for: this is the root of delusion and confusion, what the yogi calls maya.) But these things on this page are only signals themselves, they are not "truth." (Maybe Jesus' silence in response to Pilot's query was not out of contempt for Pilot, perhaps it was the most authentic answer possible to Pilot's sincere question . . . ) Some symbols, however, induce the authentic living experience, while others forsake it for a predigested pabulum fit only for the faint-hearted. The metaphor of a food-substance is well taken here: "by their fruits you shall know them." from the river by Jim Smitherman, Baker LA.

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