A Conversation for The Good Luck Fairy

the Verucca Gnome

Post 1

Lute

A Gnome by shape, but a Fairy by profession. Fairies aren't necessarily little twinkly creatures. It's purely a job description. A Fairy is simply any creature currently employed under supernatural laws to take things away, or in the case of our friend mentioned above, to bring things. (Terry Pratchett, The Hogfather)


the Verucca Gnome

Post 2

Percy von Wurzel

I think that the Good Luck fairy pre-dates Hogfather, but Terry Pratchetts mythology is compelling,if not convincing. I am surprised that there is no forum devoted entirely to the theory of narrative causality.


the Verucca Gnome

Post 3

Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession

FYI, I've seen pictures of "fairies" that are knee-high tall and pudgy, though they do have wings. One picture has them wearing a gnome's standard pointed hat. All these are woodcuts from before 1000 AD. They were used to illustrate books. You would press the woodcut onto an ink pad or pan of ink, then apply it to the page.


the Verucca Gnome

Post 4

Percy von Wurzel

Thanks for the information.I wonder if copies of the woodcuts are available? Any more fairy related information would be appreciated as I intend to 1)post an article on fairies and 2)do a comparative study of belief in fairies as opposed to belief in other, more established, myths and legends.


the Verucca Gnome

Post 5

Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession

I'm not sure where I saw the woodcuts. I have a few dozen books of fairy tales! But I will take a cursory look for you.

BTW, I am working on a couple of related entries also. You can see the works in progress below.

Fairy Tales
http://www.h2g2.com/A371864

Do-It-Yourself Fairy Tale Kit
http://www.h2g2.com/A371891


the Verucca Gnome

Post 6

Percy von Wurzel

Thanks, I have already read your draft entries. I agree that the themes of fairy tales are common to all cultures. This is probably because psychology is as much governed by evolutionary principles as physiology.
I am inclined to pursue the argument that christianity is a pastiche of fables linked by a legendary figure through a number of gifted greco-roman storytellers. Rather as if Hans Christian Andersen had linked a moral crusade to his story-telling and subsequently been raised to the status of prophet. Of course in Andersen's time the christian church was already entrenched and there was not the pernicious uncertainty that must have existed in the late Roman empire. Ultimately there is no more objective evidence for 'God' than for fairies at the bottom of the garden. Are these the ramblings of a diseased mind?


the Verucca Gnome

Post 7

Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession

You're not rambling. Visit my page, and you'll see I have also submitted an article on agnosticism. Do great minds think alike? smiley - smiley

In any case, the link between religion and mythology is very interesting to me. But Joseph Campbell is the authority there, and I dare not tread where he walked.


the Verucca Gnome

Post 8

Percy von Wurzel

The name Joseph Campbell is not familiar. I shall look up his work on the www. I have read your entry on agnosticism. I particularly liked the definition. The linked article on atheism is also interesting, but it is strange that the interpretation of atheism in that article implies that an atheist (lit. without god)has faith - because it is impossible to prove that there are no gods. I have always objected to the definition of an agnostic as 'an atheist with cold feet'.


the Verucca Gnome

Post 9

Percy von Wurzel

I have read a little about Joseph Campbell. Without wishing to offend, why do people admire irrational mystics? Campbell may have been a wonderful person and a great archivist but I would suggest that his contribution to human understanding was of the same sort as Sigmund Freud's. That is to say, folk wisdom soundbites based upon an unfounded and unfoundable theory in turn derived from very dodgy evidence and delusions of intellect.
How is that for a sweeping condemnation?


the Verucca Gnome

Post 10

Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession

Pretty sweeping.

Campbell and Freud are useful personalities for the same reason. They asked the right questions.

In both cases, their answers can be classified as unsupported at best and pure poppycock at worst. They were feeling around in the dark with nothing but their own intellectual impulses and assumptions to guide them. The results were sometimes laughable. But how much better would you or I have done in their place?

Freud's questions have inspired generations of people to view psychology as having a relation to science. The drugs we have for depression, schizophrenia, and panic attacks owe at least part of their genesis to him. We still don't have many answers about the science of the human brain, but at least we have the general concept that there must be one.

Campbell's most interesting question was simple. Why do so many cultures, many of them isolated from one another, have similar concepts in their mythology? Scientists from the past have dismissed mythology as being unimportant, but Campbell begged to differ. The practice of keeping these stories alive is burdensome enough that it's irrational to call them unimportant to humans.

Perhaps studying our common mythos will teach us something about ourselves. Perhaps they are a key to understanding humanity that we are foolish to ignore. I think he was right. But yes, his answers were silly. But that's okay. If we are convinced Campbell left a great number of misunderstandings in his wake, we just have more incentive to find the real answers.


the Verucca Gnome

Post 11

Percy von Wurzel

I agree with your point about asking the right questions. Sir Karl Popper, the archetypal rationalist, agreed that science was not simply the business of getter closer to the truth by a process of elimination but also a creative process. We need inspired, or downright loony, people to come up with the theories for the scientific process to operate upon.
I was intrigued by an argument that science is not a philosophy of knowledge because it relies upon disprovability - and in order to disprove a thing one must relate it to something known. But scientifically nothing can be known for certain. A good example of this is the way in which mass is defined in terms of energy and energy in terms of mass. Perhaps there is no good theory of knowledge because nothing can be known. The Aristotelian idea of natural laws may be no more than a cosmic coincidence. smiley - smiley


the Verucca Gnome

Post 12

D L H

I had a professor who said teaching (and perhaps relating to the scientific method) is not instilling knowledge (proving concepts) but extracting ignorance. Her point was after extracting the ignorance- tests and term papers- it cluttered up her office. It is all but impossible to prove anything of monumental, lasting, importance; the best we can do is try to eliminate folly. I enjoy reading Joseph Campbell but I doubt even he would think his theories were "proven". The stories are things to explore; Life is not an end but a journey.

I'm a teacher not a preacher and I aim to stay that way. Procal Harum


the Verucca Gnome

Post 13

Percy von Wurzel

'Procul' as I recall. Life is NOT a journey - I hate travelling - it is a continuum of experience. I think that it is important to enjoy where one is rather than constantly strive, or hope, to be elsewhere. I take the point about extracting ignorance - it fits very neatly with a scientific theory of knowledge.


the Verucca Gnome

Post 14

D L H

THank you for the spelling- not a strong point. You are correct to enjoy where you are but at the same time there are other adventures.


the Verucca Gnome

Post 15

Percy von Wurzel

At the risk of overdoing the ersatz philosophy, I am all for adventures. In fact they are unavoidable.I just dislike the 'life is a journey' metaphor. Admittedly there is a destination but it is one I prefer not to dwell upon. Perhaps 'life is a ramble' might be more appropriate?


the Verucca Gnome

Post 16

Berniceattimes

Sometimes reason can lead you to completely false conclusions... I'm not saying forget the rational, but it's good to acknowledge that you can fool yourself extremely rationally. And besides... I really like irrational mystics!

By the way, there is no final destination... or if there is, we have not yet conceived of it. Just an irrational thought to brighten your day.


the Verucca Gnome

Post 17

Percy von Wurzel

Thanks for the comment, but sadly I must disagree about there being no final destination - and I am not alone in this.

You smile upon your friend to-day,
To-day his ills are over;
You hearken to the lover's say,
And happy is the lover.

'Tis late to hearken, late to smile,
But better late than never;
I shall have lived a little while
Before I die for ever.


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