Horns

How long can a lovely walk, some holiday spirit, a great book (which I hope to finish tomorrow or the next day- since it’s suppose to snow.  A LOT.), some Doctor Who and a fun national football game (sorry about that Ticats.  Maybe next year.  Thanks for coming out, anyway) sustain a little bit of good cheer?

This is not a rhetorical question.  I’m going to provide the answer.

About as long as it takes for the work week to begin again, it would seem.

Dilemmas.

I wrote about a comparable situation a while back, so I’ve pretty much exhausted the mythological connections that dilemmas call to mind.

There has been a definite- and unfortunate- pattern present in my posts of late.  I say ‘unfortunate’ because, while I strongly feel that such things HAVE to be said, and discussed, and generally put out there so that individually and collectively we can work to figure out something better, I reallyreally hate negativity.  With a passion.  Yet I can’t seem to completely overcome that particular frame of mind at the moment.

This is largely due to the continuing systemic violations of ethics and commonsensical good manners and proper behaviours that we should be able to expect in an educated, well-reasoned society.

I’m not even going to go into the latest antics of the town’s ‘chief magistrate’, except to note that he, once again, displayed his true colours, this time on that paragon of responsible journalism, Fox News, and even THEY didn’t seem to know what to make of him.

Oh, and Canadian media?  Can I please ask that you stop with the headlines shouting about things like the ‘return to the gravy train‘ that he has claimed has happened since his powers were stripped (a little over a week ago)?  Please?  While the articles do, in fact, go on to explain that the tax hike is required because of things like the useless extension of the Scarborough subway line (one of his personal pet projects), chances are there aren’t many remaining members of his Nation that will read more than the headline.  Might strain their beleaguered brains (I no longer have the energy to be pulling any punches with those who continue to support this madness.  If you STILL think that he is defensible as a public servant, I really have nothing left to say to you).  Thanks bunches.

And the continued denial of complicity in scandals and pay-offs/pay-backs by our federal leader?  Yeah.  The fatigue on that score has also maxed itself out for the time being.

Further to my post suggesting that we are losing the ability to sustain anything like civilized dialogue, it is gratifying to see that I’m not completely alone in my concerns about the complete lack of politesse that seems to be accepted as normative these days.  Gotta admit, I smiled a whole lot when I read this story, and the impetus behind it.  Words have the power we give them, and we seem to be imbuing profanity- for its own sake- with a whole load of power lately.  Very nice to see a Carleton University student who is willing to question the ubiquitous nature of certain words- and point out how ridiculous they sound in most contexts.

The personal stuff?  All job-related, of course.  And all about standing up for myself in the face of bullying as I attempt to retain my principles and ethical grounding in the face of increasing pressures to ‘toe the line’ in order to keep my job.  I may not be able to affect the larger society in any real way, shape or form, but I am very much unwilling to participate in actions that violate my sense of right and wrong in my own life.

Regardless of how badly I might need the paycheque.

‘Faced with two equally undesirable alternatives.’ 

Horns.  Of a dilemma.  Seemingly stuck well and good in the region of my derrière.

That picture up there ^^^ is a stock photo of the reconstructed ‘Horns of Consecration’ at Knossos, that represent the sacred bull- ubiquitous in the culture and landscape of the Minoans, centred on the island of Crete.

Those Minoans were pretty impressive people.  They were highly organized merchants- engaged in trade with surrounding nations- and their language and culture influenced their neighbours in many ways from the 27th century BCE until the volcanic eruption on neighbouring Thera (Santorini) sometime around 1500 BCE created a ripple effect that destroyed key Minoan cities and might have been a factor in leaving them open to the conquering Mycenean armies.  (The volcanic eruption on Thera is considered by many to be the source of myths of Atlantis.  LOVE myths of Atlantis… but that’s for another day…).

Minoan religion focused on female deities- and female religious officiants were the norm.  The civilization seemed to have boasted a pretty egalitarian society.  Artwork and statuary presents both men and women participating in cult activities- such as bull-leaping- and their sophisticated agricultural and governmental systems were not restricted to men.

In Greek mythology, Daedalus (the most celebrated artificer of the day- he also made a pair of wings, which his kid ended up (mis)using) designed and built a little thing called a labyrinth for King Minos at Knossos.  It was a necessary architectural feature, since the king had a problematic foster child who was half man/half bull (due to a minor indiscretion on the part of the king’s wife and a lovely-looking bull- that should have been sacrificed to Poseidon).

This Minotaur– a compound of Minos and tauros, or ‘bull of Minos’ (his name was actually Asterion, but no one really remembers that)- was first reared by the king’s wife (her name was Pasiphaë, but not many really remember that, either), but he eventually became unmanageable as his beastly and unnatural side came to the fore.

When Asterion became too much for his mother to handle, the Oracle at Delphi advised Minos to seek help from that gifted craftsman, Daedalus.  He created such an elaborate and cunning maze that even he had trouble getting back out once construction was complete.

The labyrinth became the home and prison of the Minotaur- where he was kept appeased by the sacrifice of seven youths and seven maidens (collected from amongst their arch-enemies in Athens) until he was killed by the Athenian hero Theseus (who was able to escape the maze of the labyrinth with help from Ariadne, Minos’ daughter,  and her skein of thread- which provided the clew (‘that which points the way’- the origin of our English word clue) he needed to get back out after slaying Asterion.  See how much fun word origins can be?).

The word labyrinth is derived from the word labyrs– a double-headed axe that was both a religious symbol and associated with the power of the royal house in Minoan tradition.

Still, other ancient labyrinths have been attested- and found- in places like Egypt and India.  Postulated purposes vary- they are thought to have served as traps for nasty spirits and/or as paths used as cheat sheets, of a kind, in ritual dances (ancient versions of the footprints on the floors at Arthur Murray schools of dance- how’s that for an antiquated cultural reference?!?).

By the Medieval period, Christians were including them in their places of worship- meant to represent pilgrimage paths or simply foci for meditation and/or prayer, and they came to symbolize a path to god- with one entrance and one twisting and turning path to the centre.

Metaphorically, a labyrinth can be a situation that poses some issues of extrication.

Very much aware of that particular sense of the word at the moment.

These days, there has been something of a resurgence of interest in labyrinths.  Parks and common spaces feature labyrinths as part of their landscape designs.

Toronto’s labyrinth, located right beside the Eaton Centre, the Church of the Holy Trinity, and in spitting distance (not that it’s remotely polite to spit) from both Old and New City Halls, is meant to be a place of quiet reflection in the heart of the city.

A few years ago I led walking tours (as part of the ROM Walks– at our wonderful  Royal Ontario Museum) of the area, that ended at the labyrinth.  Visitors to the city were always amazed to find such a place of quietude surrounded by the summertime hustle and bustle of the culture of consumerism and municipal politics.

This evening, intensely frustrated by the events of the day (and of yesterday, but I’m consciously forgetting that THAT day existed at all), I paid a visit to Trinity Square, hoping that its meditative properties and foundation in the history and wisdom of the ages would provide a bit of a respite from the direction and intensity of my thoughts.  Sadly, it was no match for the labyrinthine tracings of my current thoughts and anxieties.

Horns?  Still present and pissing me off.

So… in the way that everything is connected (at least in my way of looking at the world)…

Solution: Second attempt

Some Bowie, Muppets, and feel-good holiday fare (this is another film I associate with the holiday season, for some reason) all wrapped up in one package may well return me to a reasonably human state of mind.  Hopefully it will be enough to last the week…

In this song- pivotal to the action of the film, Bowie’s Goblin King, Jareth, weaves an illusion around Sarah, attempting to win her love and distracting her from the time limit that he set for her to find her baby brother, Toby.  While his promises seem attractive at first, they are soon revealed to be superficial and wrong– and Sarah realizes that she must return to her path on the labyrinth.

So, taking my guidance- and my clues, if you will- where I can find them, I’ll be heading back into the labyrinth tomorrow.  Trying to retain the hope that the Ludos and Sir Didymus’ will balance the machinations of the Jareths of this world.

PS- seems to be a glitch in the WordPress world (or my computer.  Or the universe.) this evening- I can’t seem to link past posts.  Please feel free to browse the back catalogue for those posts I referenced, but was unable to link, should you feel the urge.

Cottage on the Bay

What’s up with the weather gods in TO?

Seriously.

Tuesday and Wednesday we were dealing with temperatures hovering around 40 degrees (that’s about 100 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re still using that quaint means of measuring) when the humidity was factored in.

Today?  Chilly north wind.  Tomorrow?  CHILLIER north wind.

And I’m going to be on a rock in the middle of the Bay.  About 2 degrees Celsius overnight.  TWO DEGREES.

I’m not ready for summer to end, so, despite the less-than-ideal temperature, I will do the true Canadian thing and head north this afternoon for an annual pilgrimage with some of my best peeps.

We try to do this every year.  A couple of nights away, sans spouses/significant others, to just hang out and catch up a little.

We have known each other for decades (as I both date myself and make myself feel old) and have been hanging out through thick and thin- camp, school, higher education, marriages, divorces, kids, houses, jobs, great gains and huge losses and, generally, life.  As friends, roommates, brothers, sisters, confidant(e)s…

We’re family.

We are privileged to have access to a family cottage/compound on Georgian Bay that SCREAMS Canada.

A September Gale by Arthur Lismer
We will likely experience a gale or two over the next couple of days

Georgian Bay is filled with landscapes that are quintessentially Canadian.  It was a popular subject of the Group of Seven, and such images are, internationally and here at home, as Canadian as toques and two-fours, poutine and politesse.  There will be certainly be two-fours this weekend, and toques might be advisable- given the forecast.  Poutine isn’t as likely, but the politesse is ingrained and therefore a given.

Of a sort, anyway.  Good manners and polite discourse are relative when you’re on an island and there is beer and barbeque involved.

And then there’s the Bay Cup.  That annual Risk Tournament that I mentioned here.  As I said, I will not participate due to a past traumatic Risk-related occurrence- except to occasionally pop my head in to goad or slander or critique the strategy of one of the combatants.  Unfortunately the defender of the Championship Title (and current Keeper of the Cup) is not able to join us this year, so it remains to be seen whether or not the battle can legitimately be waged.  It will be up to the Rules Committee.

Whatever.

I have my cottage book lined up (sadly, not Ray Davies’ new one- but only because it isn’t yet available).  Jian Ghomeshi’s 1982 is solid CanCon and highly appropriate for a real Canadian cottage weekend.  Plus I passed him on the street the other day as he was on his way into the CBC studio.  Reminded me that I’ve been meaning to read the book.

There will be food and games and talking and general shenanigans.

And there will be music.

The cottage weekend has to be finely mediated in the musical department.  No one person gets to control the selection for more than 5 songs at a time (this is veryvery necessary.  No one needs to hear 48 straight hours of Phish.  No one).  This keeps the peace- which is certainly required after the full contact Risk Tourney.

Early on there is all kinds of variety as we all offer up some of the newer stuff we’ve been listening to recently.  A lot of attempting to persuade those of, shall we say, established tastes to just listen to this song- give it a chance.  We start off with choices that are generally chill and part of the background to whatever else is going on.

As the stars come out (and there is NOTHING like a clear night under the stars at the Bay) music is the focus, and the selections become more nostalgic- and predictable.  The comfort in the predictability is palpable.  Years fall away as the selections are chosen.

The fire will be stoked (‘Stoke the fire again’, a quote from Commander Worf, will be heard ad nauseum) and the singalong will begin.

These are some of the songs of the Bay.

Donovan.  I have only ever met a handful of people who have actually heard this song.  Everyone knows Mellow Yellow and Hurdy Gurdy Man, but you can really tell a lot about a person by what they think about Atlantis.  If you don’t like it, I’m really not sure we can be friends anymore.

Harsh, but there it is.

(I’ve actually used this song in classes in which we were discussing myths of Atlantis.  The reactions of undergraduate students to hearing it for the first time is always illuminating- and pretty accurate in gauging how ultimately invested in the course they would be.  It’s a pretty solid litmus test.)

Futurama used a version of the song- sung by Donovan himself- about the sinking of Atlanta.  Hilarious episode.  I’m going to miss that show. Again.

History, life and love under the waves.

Ultimate cottage song.

Kenny.

This song is mainly included as a source of remembered silliness.  Short version of connected back story: it involved someone wearing a woven basket-like plant holder as a hat.  There might have been alcohol involved.

It IS filled with good advice though.  SO important to ‘know when to walk away and know when to run.’  Great inspiration when one is feeling like one is ‘out of aces’.

Simple Minds’ 1982 tune is connected with this year’s reading material and recalls summers past while reminding us of the wonderful things yet to come.  Like their show at Massey Hall in October.  Looking back and forward all in one song.

I’ve already referenced this song this month, so I won’t talk about it again.  But it will be heard.  More than once.

The Last Resort, also previously discussed and best played as the sun is setting, is especially resonant when appreciated in the beauty and quiet and peace of the Lake.  Its cautionary message- ‘You call someplace paradise kiss it goodbye’– makes my heart hurt thinking that THAT particular paradise could ever be lost.

This one generally ends the night(s).

Appropriate since it’s the song that never ends.  Don’t get me wrong.  I can appreciate Phish and all, but this song is sooooo very long.

(I will totally understand if you don’t actually watch that one all the way through.)

And, if we let them, there are those among us who will try to play back-to-back various live versions of the song as their 5 selections.  Not on my watch.

It will be a weekend of relaxation and shoring up of resources- something I very much need right now- with people I love and respect- and who never cease to make me laugh and think about things differently than is my day-to-day wont.

A weekend to remind myself just how fortunate we are.  How fortunate I am.  To live in Canada and to have the friends and family I have.

Hope your weekend is as restful and restorative as mine is sure to be.