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Re: The Last Dinosaur Book

In a message dated 4/30/99 11:46:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
wjtm@midway.uchicago.edu writes:

<<   The "totem"
 connection becomes even more compelling when one thinks of them as symbols
 of deep antiquity, our ancestral predecessors as "rulers of the earth" (just
 as the Greeks believed that the Chthonian, serpentine Gods of the underworld
 preceded their human-formed Olympian Gods). >>

>From my understanding of the concept, I'm not sure that totem is the best 
analogy.  Isn't a totem a living animal, an individual exemplar of a 
spiritual power able to imbue followers with power or counsel?  In that sense 
an extinct animal is an extinct god.  Saturn was not extinct, and the 
Saturnalia represented upheaval, a contrast to the present order.  The 
dinosaur may be comparable in the sense that it represents a different world, 
distant in time rather than space, and may indicate a happy disruption, a 
palliative for someone feeling powerless.
This is different from the other cultural use of dinosaurs, the slow and 
obsolete creatures inevitably replaced by something better.  In fact, the 
view of dinosaurs as efficient and powerful might then be cultic, a 
supportive ingroup separated from the rest of the world. 
Comment very much appreciated.