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Masters of Myths – From Homer to Hollywood

Hugh O’Neill

The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”
JFK, [Yale University, 1962]

We lied. We cheated. We stole.”
Mike Pompeo, [Texas A&M University, April 2019]

Comparing the above two quotes, clearly much has changed in 57 years: in the former, the President was attempting to educate Academia about the dangers of non-thinking; the Pompeo quote proved that JFK’s efforts were in vain i.e. morality and critical thinking were defunct, and that myths, lies and illusions had trumped reality, truth and fact. Despite our world facing climate and economic chaos, unelected zealots beat the drums for war in the nuclear age. Truth has disappeared into the abyss of propaganda, and madmen have taken charge of the asylum.

JFK may have done the word “myth” a dis-service: Joseph Campbell asserts that all mythologies give insights into the Human Condition, thus contain essential truths. But why do we have myths? It is impossible to follow the Homeric epics without some knowledge of Greek Mythology: heroes’ successes, failures and special powers were depended on the fickle intervention of various gods i.e. mortal men attempted to explain the complexities of events and factors (seemingly) beyond their mortal control.

Temporal Power has always enlisted Divine Power e.g. Pharaohs, Roman Emperors, Stewart Kings and Japanese Emperors. The Athenians gathered their treasure at the Parthenon (Temple of Athena) – for safekeeping (hence the classical façade of Banks).

Jesus of Nazareth threw the money-changers and other racketeers out of the House of God in Jerusalem, thus incurring the enmity of the religious authorities. The Knights Templar acquired wealth from pilgrim protection making them bankers for kings, until their destruction by Philip IV of France. The Medici Bankers actually became Popes – such was the marriage of financial and religious power.

G.K Chesterton wrote that when a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing, he believes in anything. More worrying in this nuclear age is Pompeo’s zealous belief – widely shared by the US Military Industrial Complex – in the cult of “The Rapture” focussed on a catastrophic war in Israel (according to a 1988 paper by Larry Jones, Columbia University).

In Homer’s Odyssey, the wooden horse device to destroy Troy demonstrated the cunning of Odysseus (and the gullibility of the Trojans?). The story was refined by Roman poet Vergil, whose “Aeneid” was written to bestow a measure of divinity upon his patron – the first Roman Emperor, Augustus Caesar – and to create a myth for Rome to justify its place in History. Vergil inserts the agent, Sinon – left behind by the departed Greeks – whose mission is to convince the Trojans that the horse is a tribute both to Troy and to the Goddess Athena.

Sinon’s story was doubted by Cassandra (bloody Conspiracy Theorist!). Cassandra was a priestess (and daughter of King Priam) gifted with the ability to foresee the future, but cursed with no-one heeding her warnings. (Think Big Oil, Tobacco, State-Surveillance etc.).

In our more enlightened era, we no longer have any gods to blame for the fickle nature of fate, so must look for other explanations. Who now decides how and why wars are started and drag on endlessly? Step forward the unelected and unaccountable Government agencies like CIA, MI6, Mossad who all operate under the guise of “Plausible Deniability” creating a “Cult of Intelligence” (in Marchetti’s memorable phrase), spooks who believe they are above the laws of God and Man.

They cheat, they lie, they steal; they also subvert democracies, engineer coups, false-flag operations and assassination programmes; they run highly profitable drug cartels and enslave whole tracts of Humanity; they murder journalists and corrupt academia; they have subverted the public forum with tsunamis of disinformation and propaganda. So stupefied by their unaccountable powers, they consider themselves elite and many indeed go mad in the process. Tellingly, Allen Dulles, former head of the CIA (until sacked by JFK) remarked to writer Willie Morris: “That little Kennedy. He thought he was a god.”

But the diabolic Dulles knew better. Who guards the guards?

The exercise of power requires control of the narrative: Orwell said that whoever controls the present, controls the past [and future]. The making of myths is as old as Homer – and for all the same reasons. Just as the Fall of Troy must have been a traumatic event, involving treachery, rape, slaughter and every crime imaginable, then the truth had to be sanitised as a noble quest to rescue the kidnapped Helen, wife of Menelaus.

Likewise, Pearl Harbor shocked Americans to shift immediately from Isolationism to entering WWII, precisely as planned by FDR, thus the truth of the events must forever be withheld. The CIA committed regicide, but their control of the narrative has kept them immune.

Mythologist, Philip Zelikow has toiled deeply in the JFK archives, seeking to control past narratives. Zelikow, like Cassandra, foretold the events of 9/11 but patently, only his fellow neo-cons believed his 1998 prophesy, “Catastrophic Terrorism”. Likewise, he was able to write the 9/11 Commission report before the Commission began. Zelikow’s ability tends towards the mythical.

Since those in power control the narrative, then Henry Ford’s remark that “History is bunk” should be our caveat, and we must exercise due scepticism. In this post-literate world, fewer people read History books and mainly acquire their scant historical awareness through films and TV. The Homeric epics were performed to pre-literate audiences for 800 years before being committed from memory to paper. Imagine future (post-apocalyptic) archaeologists trying to understand history if their only (most unlikely) resource was Hollywood films. We are the myth-informed.

Hugh O’Neill holds a Master’s degree in maritime history. He is a Master Mariner himself and a member of the New Zealand Maritime Pilots Association, whose Pilot Magazine he also edits.

Filed under: Essays, latest, Philosophy & Abstract Thoughts

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Hugh O’Neill holds a Master’s degree in maritime history. He is a Master Mariner himself and a member of the New Zealand Maritime Pilots Association, whose Pilot Magazine he also edits.

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Ken
Ken

Zelikow gets the blue ribbon.

Grafter
Grafter

Future historians (if any survive) looking back on our present “culture” would surely weep incredulous tears at the sources of information fed to us daily which emanate from our mass media. From the continuous lying, directly or by omission, by western “news” outlets to the trashy outpourings of Hollywood style movies we are slowly drowning in a sea of ignorance and stupidity.

Gezzah Potts

We are slowly drowning in a sea of ignorance and stupidity…. while completely hypnotised by our smartphones and laptops. The new ‘opium of the masses’ Grafter. I won’t even watch or read mainstream media now except to check the world headlines on ABC News 24 when I get up in the morning. I get the actual story on my ‘go too’ sites like Moon Of Alabama, The Saker, The Greanville Post and here at OffG plus one or two others. I also avoid anything from Hollywood like I’d avoid a dog with rabies. Turgid tripe.

wardropper
wardropper

“We lied. We cheated. We stole.”
(And we counted on the lethargy of the masses allowing us to get away with it)

These gangsters no more represent us than a rattlesnake could, but we still let them, probably because common decency requires that we do not descend to the same level of social violence as they do.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that common decency comes cheap…

Mucho
Mucho

James Corbett did an interesting show introducing the idea of the Kakistocracy……..rule by the worst. This is what we have. The most evil, ruthless people get to the top. No-one can stop them, and heaven help them if they try. (John “We know where your kids are” Bolton is a good example of this). They then recruit those they identify as equally evil as they are to ensure their reign continues. This is where child rape/murder comes in to play. Child rape, which we know is rife among our leaders, is a tool they use to identify those who are equally as evil as they are. If you are prepared to rape and kill a kid……you’re just right for the club. Welcome to the Kakistocracy

Munted
Munted
John
John

I really wish I could be part of the ignorance is bliss crowd and live a care free me me me lifestyle but I can’t

Gezzah Potts

Neither can I John. Its called having a conscience, as well as a moral sense of right from wrong. I have (quasi) friends who wilfully ignore what is happening in places like Yemen, Venezuela, Palestine, etc. They just don’t want to know period. The me me me lifestyle is leading to the destruction of Western ‘society’.

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar

By claiming the world faces ‘climate chaos’ Mr O’Neill declares himself an unthinking spoon-fed receiver of propaganda.

The world does NOT face climate chaos. It faces normal oscillations of temperature up and down over different timescales, be they 22 year Hale cycles, 50-70 year Gleissberg cycles, 200-400 year cycles into and out of Little Ice Ages, right through to 100,000 year ice age cycles with 10,000 year interglacials. And that is before we even start talking about geological epochs. Climate change has existed since before humans existed and will continue even if humans wipe themselves out. Greenland is called Greenland because 800 years ago it was rather warmer there than currently…..before it got considerably colder again.

If Mr O’Neill cares to THINK, he will, freely admit we have 50-70 years of half decent climate data and only 40 years of real time satellite data. We are therefore in no position whatever to claim we remotely understand climate, as we are yet to even get a grasp on what is normal, natural climate variability. Hysterical emotional children need to grow up and learn to think…..

If Mr O’Neill cares to ENGAGE on what carbon dioxide actually is, he will realise that it is plant food, not a poison. Increasing carbon dioxide leads to increasing photosynthetic capacity, thus maintaining the oxygen levels we humans need to survive. We are an extinct species without oxygen and atmospheric oxygen requires photosynthetic organisms to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose to produce and maintain that atmospheric oxygen. Carbon dioxide is our friend, not our enemy.

Rather than believe the doomsday stories about carbon dioxide, Mr O’Neill would do well to study the subject. Carbon Dioxide is a minor greenhouse gas and a minor amount of that is produced by humans. That is right, much of the increases currently are due to rising oceanic temperatures relesasing carbon dioxide from liquid sinks into the atmosphere. Humans are not the dominant force warming the oceans….even if a mild as yet unquantified warming does occur from the greenhouse gas effect of carbon dioxide.

Yes, we are warming urban areas by replacing vegetation with concrete. We should try to minimise that without going ballistic.

Yes, climate is warmer now than in 1800. A jolly good thing too. We grow far more food now when it is warmer.

Humans can already live in Miami quite happily, whose average temperature is way above that of London, UK. Warming London by 2C will not kill us off. We have 200 years of irrefutable data that humans can adapt happily to temperatures 10C higher than London currently experiences. Heat per se is not an issue to human survival.

We also have pretty clear evidence that scientists are often now like trumped up dodgy estate agents peddling anything for a commission. Fiddling the figures, creating dodgy prospectuses etc etc. They are not saints.

I am not stupid enough to say I can build a model to predict climate. I know I cannot, as climate is a chaotic non-linear system not amenable to precise modelling. The comparison of modelling predictions to actual reality since 1990 confirms my statement that exact climate prediction is for the birds….

So, Mr O’Neill, if you wish to promote thinking, start by setting an example yourself.

Think critically about climate, climate change and what normal variability of climate actually is.

Hugh O’Neill
Hugh O’Neill

To RJ. I happily admit my ignorance on many matters, but sadly, you have just contradicted yourself by saying “climate is a chaotic non-linear process” but object to my saying we face climate chaos. Looks like we agree on chaos. I am not a scientist, but extreme weather events are becoming more frequent. Whether that is anthropogenic is immaterial. However, the money expended on war and destruction could surely be better spent on increasing resilience, infrastructure, crops, soil erosion, salt levels in the Mekong etc.
I also admit to writing style which throws up many targets. You have attacked one point. Missed badly, and have ignored all the other points.
Is it possible that the confusion over climate chaos might be attributable to Big Oil deliberately muddying the waters, just as Big Tobacco and Big Pharma? Corporate greed destroys firstly truth, then life itself.

ZigZagWanderer
ZigZagWanderer

“Humans can already live in Miami quite happily”. …. as witnessed by HVAC systems in virtually every building..

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum

Yeah.
What do we need the Great Barrier Reef for anyway?
And all that topsoil blowing away?
And the Gulf Stream?
And the burning forests?
And 45c days? They don’t phase me.
And the end of whales? Who gives a shit?
Bring it on.
Earth 1.
Humans 0.

Janet Marks
Janet Marks

I found this lecture very informative about climate change – a bit long and slightly annoying in presentation style, but well worth sticking with: Dan Britts – Orbits and Ice Ages – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=20&v=Yze1YAz_LYM

Robbobbobin
Robbobbobin

“The world does NOT face climate chaos. It faces normal oscillations of temperature up and down over different timescales, be they 22 year Hale cycles, 50-70 year Gleissberg cycles, 200-400 year cycles into and out of Little Ice Ages, right through to 100,000 year ice age cycles with 10,000 year interglacials.”

Firstly, I’m interested in your take on bi cycles. There’s no record of any bi cycles in Holland before two or three centuries ago but now there are nearly 25 million of them. When do you suggest the next interbi period is due? It will make walking around a lot easier, so many folks would consider postponing a visit there until then.

Secondly, while it’s true that sunspot activity has a very minor effect on atmospheric temperatures, would you care to explain the “mathematics” behind the Gleissberg “cycle” avoiding the use of the words “schlock”, “spurious”, “artifacts”, “elusive”, “dodgy” and “insignificant”? And can you cite the sources for your Little Ice Age “cycles” that are even remotely provable as being non-random events? And how would you compare (with relevant citations) the quantitative impact on atmospheric temperatures of carbon dioxide concentrations v the Gleissberg constructs? Finally:

“Greenland is called Greenland because 800 years ago it was rather warmer there than currently…..before it got considerably colder again.”

I’ve never been to Greenland but, from what I’ve heard from a reas0nably objective Danish historian, Roy Brooks’ standards of realtor transparency was not big in the typical realtor spiel of Erik Thorvaldsson.

John Merryman
John Merryman

Having watched the civilization thing from the sidelines, I see 3 flawed paradigms, in time, God and money.
As intentional, mobile organisms, we evolved a sequential perception, in order to model our navigation and then built civilizations out of the knowledge base from telling stories, so we think of time as the point of the present, moving past to future, but it’s change turning future to past. Potential, actual, residual. As effect, time has more in common with temperature, pressure, color, etc, than space.
Lots of ramifications there and since the idiots are intent on bringing Time to an end, will be explored.
The fallacy of monotheism is that a spiritual absolute would be the essence of sentience, from which we rise, not an ideal of wisdom and judgement, from which we fell. More the new born, than the wise old man. This top down, father figure lawgiver and his ten commandments is a political construct that is rapidly being shorn of its legitimacy.
Money is a contract, not a commodity. One side is an asset and the other is a debt. In order to store the asset, we have to create the debt. Much of which is government. Where would that 20 trillion have gone otherwise? Derivatives? Apple stock? We blow up other countries, as a side effect of the illusion of saving paper promises.
The next step to this equivalent of a national home loan will be when those holding the largest piles of bonds trade them for the remaining public assets and the oligarchy comes out in the open.
Yet they will have no validity, other than fear.
As executive and regulatory function, government is the central nervous system of society, while finance is its circulation system. When monarchs lost sight of the fact it’s a two way street, that they serve a function, in order to be served, they were unsurped and government became a semi-functional public utility.
Now finance is going through its “Let them eat cake” moment.
It’s like the heart telling the hands and feet they don’t need so much blood and should work harder for what they do get.
In the body, blood is the medium and fat is the store. Capitalism presumes to store the medium.

Chris Williams
Chris Williams

An author who starts off by saying that our is world facing “climate” chaos, suggests to me they haven’t quite understood just how pernicious the deliberate myth-making has become in our world.

Helmut Taylor
Helmut Taylor

Hugh, the end justifies the means – but what IS the “alleged” “end game”? Might it possibly be what Norman Dodd revealed in his interview by G. Edward Griffin….(freely available on Google)?

BigB
BigB

We, the myth-understood.

Cassandra’s Legacy is a prominent allegory among eco-logicians. Ugo Bardi uses it as his weblog title. When post-apocalyptic archaeologists look back at the Holywoodisation and Disneyfication of culture: they will perhaps note that there was a small, but significant, group of people trying to warn humanity about how dangerously disassociated from reality their political myth-making had become. The political mythology had become transfixed on negentropic permanent expansionism: decoupled from any need for source to sink pollution; and completely benign, if not a mutual beneficiality to interspecies biodiversity. We could grow sustainably, transition to net zero wastes and emissions, consume freely via information technology – benignly and egalitarianly globally distributed – ending world poverty, and have Universal Humanism in an internationally solidarity of a future socialist utopia. And all the baby turtles would survive too. Along with the baby unicorns.

This, of course, as future archeologists would know – was and could only have ever have been an utter mythological fallacy. But it took a lot of people in. They thought that if they kept voting – validating this political mythology – it would become real. Despite it being an anti-scientific, anti-realist, political myth-making imaginary.

It does not matter about the detail: but the majority of people were found to have believed in a version of the permanent expansion mythology: despite the earth system being quite finite. In among the wreckage of the former UK economy: future archaeologists might find that were copious warning signs. For instance: what is an EROI of 6.2:1? A society already self-imploding into collapse. But the scientific warnings were not heeded. The political myth-making, no matter what actual framing it takes, and which set of pseudo-facts it utilises …will always be preferential to scientific reality.

The perilous state of the UK economy was masked by the cosmetic effect of debt monetisation – which allowed people to maintain a degree of the ersatz prosperity they had become accustomed to …during what was later to be known as the Petroleum Interval. But debt monetisation becomes debt-deflationary unless real and credible wealth production is maintained. Which becomes impossible in entropic Bull markets. The marginal hidden costs of energy production keep going up, absorbing the net energy utility for economic activity. The economy contracts. An EROI of 11:1 is the minimum requirement for continual growth. There were warnings – such as Brexit – but no one heeded them. Future archaeologists may wonder why the warnings were not heeded: and the political myth-making remained prevalent – despite the fact that it was obviously contra-factual. Something to do with some bloke called Jeremy was all they could come up with.

https://www.cccep.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Working-paper-237-Brand-Correa-et-al.pdf

If only they had listened to the Cassandra’s.

Tutisicecream

I think you mean the one with the initial nomenclature JC, BB?

Not to be confused with the Palestinian Communist who went by the same and is usually the iconic myth at the heart of our greed driven wars.

Harry Stotle
Harry Stotle

The distortions that set in from Amnesty’s modus operandi became yet more painfully and nauseatingly apparent in a document it issued two years later after ‘Protective Edge’. It recalled the details of a notorious incident in which 4 Palestinian children (aged 10-14) were killed while the played hide and seek on the beach …… the attack took place in full view of international journalists … they could clearly see that the people running across the beach were children: an Israeli military spokesperson announced that the attack was targetting a ‘Hamas Naval Forces compound’, which journalists described as a small, broken-down fisherman’s hut.
Norman Finkelstein, Gaza: an inquest into it’s martyrdom (p299).

The war on truth has reached a kind of frenzy, especially when it comes to Palestine and it is only in this sort of climate that ludicrous accusations of antisemitism could be aimed at Jeremy Corbyn (or his supporters) as part of a wider campaign to frighten critics from speaking openly about Israeli disregard for human rights.

Helmut Taylor
Helmut Taylor

Roger Waters don’t like what the Israelis are doing to the (remaining) Wogs in what’s left of Palestine – and he’s right! And I second that emotion, I do!!

mark
mark

The truth is whatever the criminal elites want it to be. Trump is a Kremlin agent. Putin stole the Brexit referendum and every election held in the past 5 years. Assad gasses his own people purely for the fun of it. Putin is a cartoon villain who goes around murdering people for his own amusement. Corbyn is an anti semitic follower of Hitler building a gas chamber on his allotment. Truth is whatever you want it to be. Truth is Lies. War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Welcome to Clown World.