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Catherynne M. Valente on Tolkien:

“JV: You’ve also said that the typical mythpunk author was “over Tolkien by roughly second grade,” and indeed many mythpunk authors had or still have an interest in his work. While Tolkien is, of course, a granddaddy of fantasy as we know it in the West today, what role does he play in mythpunk specifically?

CMV: Well, I mean, I was being confrontational, and trying to differentiate mythpunk from the bulk of mainstream fantasy which is still in deep hock to Big Daddy T. The fact is, I am a Sindarin-speaking Tolkien dork, the kind that genuinely loved the Silmarillion and memorized the poetry. I love Tolkien. Thus, I have no desire to repeat his work. I think that great work can be done by confronting head-on the anxiety (of influence) toward Tolkien’s dominant work, toward the assumptions and prescription of his incredibly pervasive memes. But that’s different than the trend I was talking about. Tolkien himself was reacting to a long tradition of folklore and myth, going to the sources for inspiration. Afterward, many authors looked to Tolkien as a first source rather than a reaction, and a great deal of generation loss was experienced by the field as a whole.”

[Via]

Naughty or nice, everyone gets a chance:

Holiday Giveaway for a print copy of THE AUTOMATION:

Happy day of the dead!

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Social Medea: No Binary Athenian Philosophy

{Feast your eyes}

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Coin toss: Take a chance on THE AUTOMATION

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Why I’m already concerned about the Starz TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods

 

Hi. BLA here. Coming to remind you of what Neil Gaiman said back in 2010 about not setting one of his books in “America”:

“The great thing about having an English cemetery is I could go back a very, very, very long way. And in America, you go back 250 years (in a cemetery), and then suddenly you’ve got a few dead Indians, and then you don’t have anybody at all, unless you decide to set it up in Maine or somewhere and sneak in some Vikings.” [Via]

A “few dead Indians” is what you’re supposed to pay attention to here. Now, surpassing debates on what he meant or didn’t intend to do in that interview, we can look at his colonial mentality in his work itself. Take this statement about American Gods:

And perhaps most offensive, we’ll get the book’s Big Statement About America, which is bizarrely insulting to Native Americans. Near the end of the novel, a Native American with magical powers named Whiskey Jack tells Shadow he’s not a god, but rather a “culture hero,” because the land we call America “is not a good country for gods.” [Via]

Neil Gaiman consistently glazes over Native Americans/Indigenous peoples and their cultures. Something I’m sure he has learned to correct by this point, but it was something I had hoped the creators of the new TV show adaptation would rethink in the story. However, it doesn’t seem likely. Sure, sure, they can update Technology Boy to not be so technologically illiterate, but this recent EW article doesn’t give me hope for the story’s cultural literacy:

“Neil created this wonderfully stuffed toy box filled with all sorts of cultural points of view on how American operates as a system, and that was so fascinating and mythological in and of itself,” says Fuller. “It’s really much more of an immigration story than it is a god story.” Green adds, “One of the biggest challenges was stripping the idea of gods as X-Men or giant empowered creatures who stomp on cities and throw the oceans. We wanted them to be people with problems. It’s not about lightning bolts – it’s about the question of day-to-day survival.”

So, we’re still talking about immigrants? Colonizer problems? Nothing has changed. Dear Hollywood and Neil Gaiman, just because your story doesn’t whitewash doesn’t mean it’s not racist.

See also, The Gods Don’t Need Your Worship. 

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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Read it for free on Goodreads:

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March, April, May CIRCO blog roundup: JUNE BUG

Have we really not rounded up our monthly posts for three months? Oh my. Let’s head ’em up, move ’em out.

We changed our Tweets of the Week to be more other social-network friendly. It’s now going to be officially called Social Medea.  Pun intended.

We posted a video on The World’s Greatest Internet Troll.

[The Author added commentary on Victoria E. Schwab’s statement on writing/creativity in the current publishing industry]

As always, Gabbler had things to recommend–like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 2 and the children’s book I Am Pan!

Sexism in YA was discussed. 

Our Throwback Thursday posts included a progression of Beardless Hipster Songs that we thought was funny.

Ursula K. Le Guin needs to get with the times. 

BLA took back what s/he said about The Jungle Book 2016 movie.

The Magicians TV show ended. 

BLA went on a rant about the representation of gods in our stories. 

J.K. Rowling wrote about Native American Wizards and shit hit the fan.

Anomalisa was weird af.

Gabbler had some thoughts on Daredevil season 2. 

Our GIF of the Month from our GIF of the day is:

 

The gods don’t need your worship

There is something even more narcissistic than post-apocalyptic literature. It’s modern takes on mythology.

In Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, the gods need more believers. They are shadows of their once-selves. And new gods are forming—gods of the Media and the Internet—simply because humans pay more attention to them. This puts a lot of power in the unknowing hands (or heads) of mortal humans.

This plot point is what’s called “The gods need prayer badly” and it occurs so often in mythology stories that it’s become a trope on TVtropes.

In the 2010 reboot of Clash of the Titans, humans need to be reminded of “the order of things” because the gods can “feel their power draining”—as if their existence depends on humans in the first place (never mind that the gods created THEM). See deleted scene:

TVtropes even comments on the sequel:

“In the sequel Wrath of the Titans, prayers have dwindled so much that the gods have all lost their immortality and many have died before the movie even started. They still have most of their powers, but they are fading. Thus, the Titans are breaking free. On a Fridge Logic note, why are the Titans still around? The gods fuel their immortality with worship, what do the Titans use? And before there were humans to empower them, the gods took down the Titans, didn’t they?”

I could continue to list where else this lazy trope shows up, but I think you get the point. It simply doesn’t make sense and it cheats the audience out of an honest look at why myths exist. I’ll explore the following reasons:

  1. If gods exist because you believe in them, then how are they said to create man and other worldly things/creation itself? When talking about creation myths, it’s not a “chicken before the egg” dilemma. If using myth-based facts, then MEN CAME AFTER GODS. The very thought “gods exist based on human worship” (Read: American Gods) is stocked full of more hubris than the idea you’re just as powerful or as good as them (Read: Andromeda’s beauty in Clash of the Titans). HOWEVER, I will admit that the plot of “humans overthrowing their creators” (paralleled to robots vs. humans, Zeus vs. Cronus) is entirely legitimate. See number three.
  2. It’s one thing to say that the gods require worship and sacrifice for attention or for additional power. It’s entirely another to say it’s what sustains them. The gods don’t need you. You need them. That’s why you keep them happy. At most, they need you like a human needs a pet. How does prayer/worship/sacrifice legitimately feed them? Sure, it might fuel them. Their egos. But it’s not what keeps them alive. What were they “eating” before humans came along? Instead of them somehow farming humans as a concocted food immortality supply, it’s a much stronger plot point to suggest that gods created humankind out of boredom—out of wanting someone to play with—loneliness—to give themselves purpose. Thus, when that purpose is threatened, of course they’d be upset. Every parent or authority figure wants to be respected.
  3. Man may be responsible for creating out of belief, but that doesn’t mean he can kill out of disbelief. Just like believing in Santa Claus doesn’t make him real (sorry kiddos–and what the hell are you doing reading this blog?), disbelieving in gravity, that the earth is round, in global warming doesn’t make it less real. No, I’m not going to dissect Nietzsche‘s “God is dead” argument for you (in fact, Gabbler told me not to—told me to focus only on the literary points, not the philosophy), but sure, let’s go ahead and pretend that we are a threat to gods. But what kind of a threat—on what level? At the basic level, our disbelief threatens our need of them. We become self-reliant. But that could hardly be seen as an entirely bad thing for ALL the gods (for example: some of the “good” gods having to clean up our messes like 1) wars and 2) general human horribleness must get tiring). Gods only “need” us in so much as as we fight their wars for them, hurt others for them, are entertainment for them. We may not need them, but we cannot kill them from it. Sure, there may be a constant fear within every creator that they will be overthrown or overshadowed by their successors. But even when Cronus overthrew Uranus, did he really die? Indeed, in some accounts he was was merely castrated. Changed. Overthrown does not mean death.

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“Gods need prayer badly” is wearing thin—to the point of ignoring entire historical cultures and tradition. Not only is it a lazy excuse for why the gods don’t get involved in our affairs anymore (i.e. because they’re dead or weak), but it assumes that these “old gods” have lost their inspirational powers. Which isn’t so. Otherwise, we’d stop talking about them in our stories so much.

By BLA. Edited for curse words and self-righteousness by GBG (without a single footnote!).

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.

Post updated on 4/30/17

Tweets of the Week(s): Rise Like the Phoenix

We had a week or two to catch up on, sorry guys:

https://twitter.com/PoemsPorn/status/672189746290921472

 

 

Tweets of the Week: Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.

[BLA and GB Gabbler (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellow B&N | Amazon | Etc.

Mythpunk

Quote:
Do we really need all these labels, all these punks? We probably don’t need them. But because of them, certain writers and works are talked about. So they enable us to have conversations we did not have before. They allow us to notice writers we might have overlooked. And they allow those writers to speak and say, “This is what I am. Or am not.”

Theodora Goss

I’ve been wanting to write about Mythpunk since JoSelle Vanderhooft’s interview of Catherynne M. Valente came out.

But I didn’t have time. And then a week later there was a Mythpunk Roundtable with Amal El-Mohtar, Rose Lemberg, Alex Dally MacFarlane, and Shweta Narayan, moderated by JoSelle.

And at some point I found Niall Harrison’s blog posts: Mythpunk and amimythpunkornot.com. All on Strange Horizons.

It was interesting to see that several of the above mentioned me. I also ended up in the Wikipedia definition of mythpunk:

“Described as a subgenre of mythic fiction, Catherynne M. Valente uses the term ‘mythpunk’ to define a brand of speculative fiction which starts in folklore and myth and adds elements of postmodern fantastic techniques: urban fantasy, confessional poetry, non-linear storytelling, linguistic calisthenics, worldbuilding, and academic fantasy. Writers whose works would fall under the mythpunk label are Catherynne M. Valente, Ekaterina Sedia, Theodora Goss, and…

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Greek Mythology 201: What the Movies Miss

This. SO this.

Aegean Punk

If you’re anything like me, you’ve likely noticed this by now. Flashy visuals, postmodern takes on how god (or in this case the gods) don’t care/may as well be dead, trying to be hyper historical without a sense of what makes the story what it is, extreme fashion choices or drab all-white ensembles that look like they came directly out of Party City, and twenty new takes on Zeus that all seem to ignore one of the most fundamental (and disturbing and thus understandingly ignorable) pieces of his character.

The Greek Myth movie.

Between every strange, well-meaning, or outright deviating interpretation, Hollywood has hit the books again and again with entirely mixed results. I hesitate to say that there have been any interpretations of film myth that have really hit the mark, but there are things heading in the right direction, and things I wish we’d avoided entirely.

So…

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Our novel’s cover now has Miley Cyrus nipple pasties because why the hell not:

Yeah, so, this happened:

Venus wanted to show Miley how it's done.
Venus wanted to show Miley how it’s done.

Miley probably doesn’t care, though.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, and goodreads.]

Read the first five chapters from THE AUTOMATION for free on Goodreads:

HECK YES!
HECK YES!

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, and goodreads.]

Abraham Riesman on “Why Adapting Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for TV Is a Bad Idea”

 

“…And perhaps most offensive, we’ll get the book’s Big Statement About America, which is bizarrely insulting to Native Americans. Near the end of the novel, a Native American with magical powers named Whiskey Jack tells Shadow he’s not a god, but rather a “culture hero,” because the land we call America “is not a good country for gods.”

“There are creator spirits who found the earth or made it or shit it out, but you think about it: who’s going to worship Coyote?” Whiskey Jack tells Shadow. “[W]e never built churches. We didn’t need to.”

Really? No houses of prayer? How, then, do you account for the Longhouses the Iroquois built for their prayer ceremonies? And no true gods that anyone bothered worshipping? That’s an insane generalization about more than ten thousand years’ worth of spiritual culture across an entire continent.

There’s one other cultural shift since 2001 could trip up the American Godsseries: the oversaturation of flawed, macho male protagonists in cable dramas. Unless the series undergoes a truly radical change in its TV adaptation, we’ll end up with a show about a tough guy struggling with inner conflict, a sexy man fighting his demons and solving problems in a changing world. Snore.

None of this is to say American Gods is a bad novel in terms of storytelling. Despite its datedness, it’s an extremely entertaining read filled with vivid scenes, goose-bump-inducing vignettes, and often-gorgeous prose. Fuller and Green are smart guys, so perhaps they’ll jettison or modify all the stuff that could trip the show up. And Neil Gaiman is no doubt aware that some of what he wrote doesn’t quite work these days; if so, in his role as executive producer, he can offer guidance on correcting the course.

Still, we shouldn’t rush to anoint this upcoming text-to-TV translation as the next mind-blowing thing quite yet until we see whether the source material can work in 2014…”

 

From here.

What do  you guys think? Does the series sound promising?

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, and goodreads.]

This comes up a lot in our DIVINE household *cough, cough*

Tell us your favorite mythologist below!

Some other MYTHOLOGISTS  include:

J.R. Tolkien

Dante

C.S. Lewis

Edith Hamilton 

Roger Lancelyn Green

Homer

John Milton

Virgil

A Comparison of American Gods and Percy Jackson: Western Adaptions of Ancient Gods

We wonder if there is a difference between placing gods in America and Americanizing them. We certainly hope so. #NoHubris

Neil Gaiman and Rick Riordan have distinctly different audiences but they do have one area where they create similar worlds: their Americanisation of ancient gods. So when I read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for the first time, I found it hard not to compare it to Rick Riordans work.

(As a quick disclaimer, I’ll be referring only to Riordans Percy Jackson series and the Heroes of Olympus series. I’m aware that Riordan has written about the Egyptian Mythology, but I haven’t read them yet so I can’t include them in this blog post. I’m also using Gaimans ‘preferred text’ so if anything seems unfamiliar, that may be why.)

Rick Riordans ‘Percy Jackson’ series is a young adult book which focuses on adventure whereas Neil Gaimans ‘American Gods’ is more of an adult novel which reads like a road trip. Since Gaiman targets an older audience, it means that he can…

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