[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: The Last Dinosaur Book

In a message dated 5/3/99 10:57:06 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
wjtm@midway.uchicago.edu writes:

<< TM you'll need to clarify the bloody oxhide reference for me.  As for Baal
 & Osiris, I think of them as idols, not totems.  That is, they are
 representations of deities.  Totems generally aren't deities (according to
 classic theories on the subject) though they have an aura of the sacred
 around them. The word totem means "he is a relative of mine."  My argument
 (despite what Dinogeorge may think) is NOT that we worship dinosaurs, but
 that we think of them a related to ourselves:  they are incredibly distant,
 alien creatures who nevertheless have a kinship to us, and which we desire
 to bring back to life, and bring close to us for a multitude of reasons.>> >>

The bloody oxhide is a totem that became a symbol of a nome.
I was speaking of Baal and Osiris as deities, both fertility-related, with 
mystery resurrection rites.  What makes Osiris particularly evocative for 
this discussion is that he stays among the dead even after re-animation, and 
that he was king during a past golden age who demonstrated essential survival 
skills.  Remember, too, the Egyptian view that thinking or speaking of 
someone gives them life.
Add to this the significance of being set apart, the gatherings and 
specialized knowledge, plus the death/life narrative and the parallels seem 
striking to me.  Of course, there are no spirit contacts and no 
identification with dinosaurs and certainly no moral authority communicated, 
so the parallels are also limited.  As Dinogeorge said (more succinctly) [we] 
don't worship dinosaurs.
So, keep totem limited to the sense of an us, a secular grouping for some 
people, and let the members enjoy the skeletal djed pillars (a spine and ribs 
made a totem of Osiris) in the museums, with the parts of the body 
reassembled (as the body of Osiris was reassembled after his murder and 
dismemberment), and think of birds as a descendant after death (like Horus, 
his son, the falcon god), and the battle to preserve the remains from 
interlopers (as Isis, his wife, fought to preserve the body of Osiris), with 
stories of paleontologists standing over the fossils all night (as Isis and 
Nephthys, her sister, stood guard),  and remember the pictures of 
tyrannosaurus rex with his mouth open (the opening of the mouth to the 
ancient Egyptians was the ceremony of rebirth) Spielberg knew was emblematic 
of the past reborn.
The ceremonial verities still work.  (For people who want to read the 
magnificent  story of Osiris, a good version is in Plutarch, and it gets 
retold a lot.)
By the way, many people had an affinity with animal totems in shamanistic 
societies, and it sounds like Mr. Holtz got the baddest of the bunch.