Orpheus, Paths, and Stream of Consciousness

To warn the reader:  I will be bouncing around with segues and digressions, and I’m sorry.  Please try to follow.

Thoughts of writing fiction and incorporating those pieces into the blog crossed my mind a few times.  However, thoughts of someone stealing the work to potentially use as their own frightened me.  Not having an idea to write yesterday and today plagued me, but opting to overcome the writer’s block by just writing about the smallest notion came to mind.

Beating a cold is probably more tiring than the onset of irritation and fatigue yielded by the sickness itself.  It’s a waiting game and literally sitting around, resting, is the best cure.  We can’t discourage hydration, however; tea has become an even better friend.  Frankly, what it comes down to, the catalyst of my wanting to get better, is the idea of having a fun weekend ahead. 

A movie I have never seen, but a movie I have always wanted to see, is What Dreams May Come (1998), staring an under-credited Robin Williams.  So, since Sarah had the film in her collection, I decided to watch it.  Finally.  It’s not the best film, but it’s far from being the worst.  Because of the meanings and sentimentality encased in the film, is why.  The path of the hero.

For those that know me really well, they know about a book I consider to be a Bible.  This book, introduced to me in college, was written in 1949, by Joseph Cambell, entitled The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  With this book, in short, one can grasp an understanding in all books and film (in particular).  There is the same underlying structure, criteria, mold, or however you would like to describe it.  This path of the hero is accented with everything, including use of color, attitude, predicament, decision making, and women. 

Watching movies is more involved for me than the simplicity of just watching films for enjoyment.

I wrote an essay, an essay blatantly overachieved due to my desire to learn, hilighting the similarities of three books and three movies:  The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon, Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck, and The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien; Mallrats (1995), Road Trip (2000), and Serendipity (2001)To toot my own horn, I did well on the paper.  It was the Gettysburg, the decision where I knew English was a better fit for me than biology.  The environmental and earth science aspects were all that I enjoyed anyway; the math involved…forget about it.

However, the color and layout of the film as far as story goes, is very tangible and easy to follow.  The concepts of the film with Cambell’s ideas fit snugly into place, presenting a finished puzzle.  The color used, the attitude and development of the characters, the concept of being trapped/sick is clearly demonstrated.  Chris (Robin William’s character) took the initiative to go on the adventure, to heed the call.  Where, at the very beginning, the adventure found him.  It’s a bittersweet situation, because he dies; however, he could create his own heaven.

I could go on and on and on about this, but I’m not.  Be glad.  Plus, I don’t feel like writing a thesis at the moment. 

Richard Matheson is an incredible writer and I should have read the book before watching the movie.  I’ll just have to space them out.  This guy knows his horror and science fiction.  He has been greatly (“greatly,” in my opinion, is not strong enough of an ajective) affiliated with The Twilight Zone.  He wrote  I am Legend; A Stir of Echoes; Button, Button; Hell House; and Bid Time Return, which was turned into the film Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

I’m going to take a break from writing dates.  I’m giving him, I believe, proper credit.

What Dreams May Come touches/alludes strongly to Dante’s Inferno.  This is similar to what I had orignially wanted to talk about (see the post’s title), but more of a segue.  When I hear Robin Williams going to search and rescue his dead wife, he goes to Hell.  This path, also known as katabasis, is what Orpheus takes when looking for his wife.  This Greek character, along with his myth, is a favorite of mine.  When working at the museum, pointing out the constellations and explaining their stories, this would come up when showing the summer triangle featuring his lyre.

Orpheus had been given a lyre as boy.  As the years went by, his playing was very popular.  He traveled with Jason and the Argonauts to retrieve the golden fleece and utilized his abilities to overpower the singing Sirens; yes, those same Sirens that Odysseus encountered.

I digress.  I have always wondered if the saying “it sounds too good to be true” came from the concept of the Sirens.  Sure, you would be enchanted by beautiful singing to the point of obsession.  You jump off the boat and swim, or simply sail to the Seirenum scopuli (I had to look this up in my mythology book to remember the island name), following the wonderful singing.  When you arrive on the three islands, three ugly and bird-like creatures would greet you, barely responding to your hello as they start tearing you to pieces. 

Okay and back to Orpheus.  His ability to play the lyre could charm any creature on Earth.  He fell in love and married the beautiful nymph, Eurydice.  On their wedding day, while frolicking through a meadow, was bit by a viper.  The poison, of course, killed her.  The distraught Orpheus played his lyre, touching the hearts of the Gods and nymphs around him.  He was given permission to retrieve her from the underworld.

Upon meeting Hades and Persephone, he once again played his lyre to move the God and his wife.  They allowed him to bring Eurydice back to the world of the living, but there was one catch:  he cannot look back until the threshold had been passed by both.  Happier than a pig in filth, he agreed.

As he played, Eurydice followed.  As he crossed the barrier to return home, his excitement got the best of him.  As he turned around to see his wife, his was given a quick glimpse before she vanished back to the underworld.  The poor fellow had forgotten both of them had to return to Earth before he could turn around.

However, there are many interpretations of Orpheus and his story, including his life after he lost Eurydice for the second time.  Orpheus vowed never to love a woman again, but took on temporary and younger lovers.  This, pissing women off, developed a strong hatred toward the musician.  They first began to throw things, i.e. stick and stones, but were unsuccessful and did not break any bones.  The music, as wonderful as it sounded, as rediculous as this sounds, enchanted the objects from hitting his person.  This angered the women even more and they attacked him, tearing him to pieces.

That’s the “PG” version of the story told to my planetarium guests.  I didn’t mention in detail about him being torn to shreds, but simply said the “women ambushed him.”  I never mentioned that Eurydice could technically be his half sister.  I also never mentioned anything about the young lovers, because–let’s face mythology facts, folks–there really isn’t a set gender.

Hey, love does crazy things to people. 

Love, according to Mr. Cambell, is technically a sickness.


Ah, now do you all see where I am coming from?  I’m way too analytical.  I can explain myself more thoroughly, but I’m not.  I don’t know what would explode first–the computer or my brain.

Getting down to brass tacks:  you would be crazy not to rescue someone if you had the chance.  If you loved someone enough, it would break you down to lose them.  I know this is a given and cannot be any more obvious.  You would go and try to rescue them if you had that option.  As incestual and fantastic as mythology may be, Orpheus displayed a human condition.  He loved someone so much to prematurely turn around.  This has nothing to do with hubris.  Anyone would have done it.  Ergo, no one is perfect in that regard. 

As much as everything hurts, memories never die. 

Maybe I’m being overly sentimental, because I watched a touching movie.  Maybe being sick is a revealing catalyst.  Maybe I am disillusioned by Robin Williams’ ability to play a dramatic role better than a comedic one.  The latter, I am not, but I do believe he should leave his comedy to stand up, rather than some of the stupid films he’s put out lately.

I digress.

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