Originally posted on Hevria.
Originally posted on Hevria.
I died in a flash of screaming light on the highway at the age of twenty-six. My trial was brief and unmemorable. I was sent to hell on the charge that I had never told the truth in my entire life.
Though there was no arguing with it (you understand this implicitly in the hereafter, the way everyone somehow knows not to ask Uncle Louis about his very good friend at Thanksgiving dinner) the attendant was willing to make small talk as he readied the indescribably complex transportation mechanism. “Shouldn’t it just be instantaneous,” I asked him, not speaking, because I was a soul, and he was the platonic form of the smile the nurse gives you on the sick side of the waiting room and did not have ears.
“There are no quick solutions here,” he sniffed. I liked him instantly. I had lived most of my life hating the world from the inside, and here was a guy (or whatever) who looked down on the whole affair of the universe with justified detachment. “Everything here happens exactly as it needs to. We plunge to the depths of Gabriel’s horn.”
I shrugged. He could take as long as he needed to. Hell wasn’t the most exciting prospect. Maybe I could distract him. “The Gabriel?” I asked.
The attendant became nonexistentially indeterminate for a while. I was shocked to recognize, through layer upon layer of ontological, societal, linguistic, aesthetic, and corporeal translation, that he was basically shaking his head. “You weren’t a mathematician, were you?”
“Weren’t you at the trial?” I asked. I remembered him being there, waiting in the wings with a vague aura of impatience. And if he was there he surely knew I was a writer.
“I was,” he said with long-suffering patience. “I thought I’d help you try to distract me.”
“Oh,” I said, taken aback.
“It won’t work, of course. Everything here happens exactly as it needs to.”
“Right,” I said.
“We’re almost ready now.” Strangely, this pronunciation didn’t scare me. Everything seemed so inevitable. Because it was.
“Will I see my family after this?” I wondered.
“You will,” he said. He said it so mournfully that the diffuse light seemed to cower and darkness draw close.
“Will you stay with me?” The question emerged from somewhere deep within a young part of me. I could tell the attendant got asked this all the time.
He shook his head once more. “I’m afraid not. You must travel far beyond where I dare to tread.”
I smiled nervously. “I don’t want to go down there.”
“You’re not going down, my love. You’re going up.”
There erupted from everything a hideous screech-roar as reality elongated and stretched with unsettling determination beyond its breaking point and everything ceased to cohere. The speed of light tumbled; pi came loose of its moorings; 1 + 1 = 2 was suddenly, inexplicably gone, and I felt drawn toward the locus where Euclid’s parallels converged and this statement was false. A tower that stood only on itself rose beneath my feet, its spiraled tiers pushing me up and up, clouds of greater and greater illumination fleeing before me. Just as I began to truly fear whom I would find behind the final veil I was encompassed by the deepest, truest, emptiest silence I had ever known.
I was aware of the silence; intimately aware of it; it was an extension of myself. There were no words, there could be no words; there was nothing, and there could be nothing. I idly wondered if this was the solitary confinement chamber, but I knew that was false even as I considered it, or rather, my considering it made it false.
Hell simply wasn’t.
I simply was.
Well, I was certain there was no time.
So time simply wasn’t.
I simply had been, was, and would be, at once.
I was alone, and everything, and utterly satisfied, and I found, to my surprise, then astonishment, then delight that I knew the entire story. I knew about the beginning, and the end, and everything in between to its infinitesimal details. It was something I did once, or would do in the future. I remembered designing the laws of the universe, elegant restatements of my deepest self. I saw the moment I breathed into a pair of dusty nostrils in the shade of a young sun, and the moment a whale surfaced to offer its dorsal side to me in glory, and the way Borges held his pen. Everything as it should be. Everything the only way it could be.
Everything happening exactly as it needed to.
This reminded me of the attendant, who, like all of creation, was in my head. I saw him both from without and from within; I knew him as speck of dust and as the entire universe from within his head. I knew his entire existence, his programming, his service in bringing souls to their punishment. I knew he would smell of mints and old cigars if he were made physical.
I saw my conception and my own birth, so small, fragmented, temporal. I saw myself grow up and kept myself from harm; watched me curse myself and forsake myself in adolescence. I watched the first time I wrote a story, smiled my own joy, so small and so perfect in its smallness.
I saw my pain, a skinned knee, a broken arm, and I sewed my body back together.
At fourteen, mom caught me smoking and we got into an apocalyptic fight. She cared so much it hurt, which made me hurt. The fight was over the next day when we laughed over eggs, but we were no longer as one, I found other things to lie about, and our love was no longer perfectly my home, and I suddenly knew it.
I knew the darkness.
I knew the suffering, an endless procession of it, the sea of tears.
And I didn’t care.
None of it was real. It was all in my head, memories of something that happened long ago or something that might happen one day. Treblinka was theoretical, the killing fields a sick suggestion I could create, by speaking it.
I considered it all, whether it was worth it, whether it pleased me.
I considered it forever.
I knew that none of them, not a single one, would ever come close to the truth. There would be strong men; I could do anything. There would be beauty; I was ineffable. There would be holiness; I would forever be alone.
I needed nothing. I lacked nothing. I was the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all potential things.
I didn’t need it.
They would spend their lives building towers, but me they would never reach. And the pain it would cause them, only I would ever describe as I formed it and imposed it upon them.
They knew nothing.
They did not need to be created.
It was bad for them.
At the end of an eternity, I said it.
“I will not create the world.”
All receded, and I found myself to be only myself and alone with the attendant once more.
“You have failed,” said the attendant.
“Failed?” I muttered, disoriented. His presence was oppressive; against his otherness a skirling scream begin to well within me. “Failed at what?” My voice was choked with emotion, my words sloughing sideways like bricks from a collapsing wall.
“You have not yet learned to tell the truth.”
I remembered…I remembered! But I could not speak. My words were slipping away. With the force of all my will I managed, “I am the truth.” What a strange tale this will all make one day, I thought. They’ll all love it.
The attendant could only shake his head. “We will have to resort to the river —”
Some messenger, an underling, appeared, out of breath, and said, “Sir, this one isn’t ready.”
The attendant’s eyes would have narrowed if he were not the platonic form of the smile the nurse gives you on the sick side of the waiting room. “Why not?”
“He wants to write a story about it all, sir.”
“Some of them never learn,” said the attendant sadly, and I found myself toppling from heaven, wailing incoherently, my memories stripping away in the wind, a womb fast approaching —
Originally posted on Hevria.
Originally posted on Hevria.
“He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.”
“Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.”
“All through my life I’ve had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, even sinister, and no one would tell me what it was.”
“No,” said the old man, “that’s just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that.”
“Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”
-Various, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
by Douglas Adams, 1979
Somehow, despite my adolescent devotion to his books, I never found out Douglas Adams was an outspoken atheist until much later. Not that it changed much; I still think The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its sequels are some of the most brilliant books ever written. More: I can’t get away from the notion that his novels are a great guide for relating to G-d.
If you never read those books, shame on you. If you only saw the movie, our entire planet deserves to be destroyed. Which is basically what THHGTTG is about. Earth is destroyed for traffic reasons, but all-around-normal guy Arthur Dent is rescued at the last moment by a friend who happened to be an alien all along, and who happens to be a researcher for the titular galactic encyclopedia. Arthur then ends up bending all the rules of space, time, and propriety on his rollicking adventures.
If all of that sounds like high-concept science fiction, it’s not. It is side-splittingly funny. It is Wodehouse in space, or Monty Python on spaceships. Hitchhiker’s is actually a satire. Not of society per se (though there is plenty of that as well), but, like the best satires, of the universe itself. If the book has one message, it is that the universe is insane, that the apparent sensibility of the world is an inch-thick veneer and all is just papered-over anarchy.
Even the source of much of the magical mischief in Adams’s universe works on this principle. The Heart of Gold (which drives much of the plot) is the most coveted spaceship in the galaxy because it runs on the infinite improbability drive, which can accomplish anything as long as you know precisely how improbable it is that it should ever happen. Arthur Dent’s adventures are basically a series of impossibly improbable events, a story emergent from chaos, and the actual galactic Hitchhiker’s Guide (from the selections of the encyclopedia sprinkled throughout the books) is a smirking chaperon that might let its charges get devoured by aliens on a lark.
All of this seems to have very little to do with G-d. Indeed, some might say it’s a claim in the opposite direction. But I think that springs from our confusion.
We are, indeed, so confused. The Internet, for all its boons, has allowed for a lot of communication without much nuance. It is very hard to convey precise tone in written form, as even professional writers will tell you. So we throw a lot of words at people every day hoping that something sticks in the way we imagined, and we try to divine the meaning clutched in the cold fingers of the words our friends, acquaintances, enemies, and perfect strangers put in front of us.
Somehow, in the confusion, a lot of our jokes get taken seriously.
Somewhere in this mess, a lot of humor passes us by.
And we begin to lose grasp on what precedes what.
It is, after all, only a firm grasp on reality that makes things funny. It is the surprise of contradiction, the subversion of expectation, that the soul so enjoys. Humor is a flying buttress of the mind; it hangs off the orderly construct of the intellect and supports it from the outside. It is absurdity commenting on order. But in chaos there is no expectation, no surprise, and no humor.
If the absurd and the chaotic become our default headspace, become the ground for all thought, then there is no humor. When Mitch Hedberg says, “Who would make their plants hard to reach? That seems so very mean,” it’s funny because it’s a riff on some aspects of reality (infomercials and their language) that are so dull they no longer parse at all. When comedians note how ridiculous politics is, the implication of every single bit is, “The world could make so much sense, but it doesn’t!” Many Americans don’t “get” British humor because they have no grasp of formal conversation and boring sentences in the first place. They do not know the rules, and feel no joy from their breaking.
I learned the wrong lesson from Hitchhiker’s. What I was supposed to learn (as an unconscious corollary, no doubt — obviously the main goal of the book is entertainment) was that the world is mad because there is no ordering force to the universe. What I learned is that the world is mad even though there is an ordering force to the universe.
“After all,” I tell Mr. Adams, “that’s why it’s funny.”
“It’s funny because it’s a book, you dolt,” he’d probably say. “In reality it’s not funny at all. Haven’t you ever heard that all comedians are depressed?”
Yes. If you were Arthur Dent, you would probably be an emotional wreck. But when we read Hitchhiker’s, we have access to someone Arthur Dent doesn’t know.
We have access to Douglas Adams, the winking narrator, the one who tells the story and grins from above at the beautiful workings of his mad universe. We know the author, who has constructed the tale to make us laugh, and in doing so, has acknowledged the reality of the order and sense we all know, deep inside, to be right.
We read the book not from within, but from without, and even meaninglessness becomes magical.
So ride happy into that starry sky, Mr. Adams. In my eyes, you pulled off the greatest absurdity of all. You gave me something you swore you didn’t have: Faith.
So long, and thank you for the tisch.
Originally posted on Hevria.
Science Fiction and Fantasy might be the two most popular narrative forms of our time, surely among thoughtful young adult readers and viewers. While they might seem to be variations within the same genre, the underlying tendencies that make these stories necessary to write and compelling to read actually emerge from two different worldviews. Science Fiction on one hand and Fantasy on the other are perpetually in conflict, two dissenting ways to tell the story of humankind. In their synthesis, however, we may discover the secret to the powerful Jewish story, past, present, and future.
The key to understanding Fantasy is that it does not need to take place in the past. In fact, one might argue that the genre is timeless; Fantasy strives to emulate myth, and myth by definition is a story that takes place elsewhere, but whose purpose is to illuminate the here-and-now. The aim of every myth, and every Fantasy story that aspires to more than cheap entertainment, is to grasp the universal human experience that transcends (and is thus part of) every individual human life. As Chesterton wrote, “The things common to all men are more important than the things peculiar to any men.”[i]
The adventure fraught with danger, the victory over some great challenge, the resultant self-awareness, and the return home to share the experience are themes that in one way or another play out in the life of every human being.[ii] The purpose of the trappings, the dragons and swords, is only to allow the reader to gain perspective on their own journey, the way one only sees an entire picture from a few steps back. Allegory enables the reader to stomach that which, in its pure form, may remain out of the reach of self-reflection.[iii]
Even ostensibly non-allegorical Fantasy stories like George R. R. Martin’s have the same purpose as those that are metaphors: to show us the journey every man and woman must make through life. It is no accident that the majority of Fantasy novels is set in the past, often the distant past. Those wishing to mine gold from the vast acres of human endeavor must be students of history. A person looking for what is common to all mankind must be wary of falling into the prejudices and limited range of his or her own culture. The careful study of what has come before (and even the imagining of what never was) broadens the scope of our experience the way a third point transforms a line into a plane. These new perspectives are transmitted to the reader, at least subconsciously, and they enrich by providing common ground with heroes great and small who seem so different from us, but are not.
This explains the strange phenomenon of Fantasy set in the future. Indeed, what is arguably the most famous Fantasy of our times is about an orphan farm boy who takes up his father’s fiery sword and flies off on a spaceship to confront great evil.[iv] Instead of Gandalf there is Obi-Wan, and instead of a king in exile, there is a princess, but the story remarkably parallels the seminal Fantasy works of Tolkien. To the lover of Fantasy, it is precisely that such a story could be set in the future that uplifts us, guides us, and grants us hope. The human endeavor, our endeavor, is not small, meaningless, and quick to fade away; it is something larger that will exist undiminished even in outer space when the technology catches up.
Just as Fantasy seems to be swords and sorcery but is really about the power of myth and allegory to describe everyone’s journey toward enlightenment, so Science Fiction is not about robots or aliens. It is about the power and the responsibility to change the world for the better.
The soul of Science Fiction is the utopian vision, the firm belief that the world has been entrusted to us for its betterment. This optimism for the state of the world and humanity is relatively new[v] and can only be said to have caught the popular imagination in the 19th century, or at the very earliest, the 17th. This is in comparison to the mythical structure of the Fantasy story, which has enthralled humanity since history began. The late 19th century that produced H.G. Wells and Jules Verne was also the age of the industrial revolution, when a scientific renaissance was starting to divert the flow of history. Most Science fiction speaks of technology’s potential to bring the world to a state of perfection and the struggle to actualize it.
Though full of compelling characters, the best-selling Science Fiction novel of all time, Dune, is about the messianic implications of the Kwisatz Haderach[vi] on the galactic empire. It is a tale of social engineering, harsh landscapes, political intrigue, and jihad, all focused around the question of whether one can become a redeemer by technological means. Herbert once said that “The bottom line of the Dune trilogy is: beware of heroes. Much better [to] rely on your own judgment, and your own mistakes.”[vii] In this, Herbert subverts Fantasy’s treatment of the mythical hero.
Other Science Fiction approaches the question of how to better the world through technology from the opposite direction. Dystopian novels such as Fahrenheit 451, 1984, and Brave New World all examine how utopian visions for society have gone awry, leaving the human population downtrodden. As opposed to the Fantasist, who is not concerned with the transformation and perfection of the outer world at all, but rather with the sublimation of the individual, the Science Fictionist tends to warn against pitfalls on the way to progress. The authors of these works are not concerned so much with a hostile world’s impact on man but rather man’s effect on the world; “we must not destroy the world in attempts to save it.” In this, the dystopian novel remains Science Fiction through and through.
While Fantasy is ever a move toward the inner self, SF dwells in the ever-changing present. To the SF mind, it is irrelevant whether one can connect to an ancient, pervasive reality. What matter are the pressing issues of the moment. How, indeed, is it possible to meditate on the meaning of life when there are some who are too ill to eat or cannot afford food? The SF lover demands that limited human resources go to a better world rather than the perpetuation of the same old story.
The difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy fundamentally affects a Jew’s idea of the Jewish story and thus his or her practice of Judaism.
Here is where everyone agrees: The Jews are a chosen people, sanctified by G-d to carry out a mission in this world. The mission requires not just good intentions but practical actions. To fulfill G-d’s will, there must be a transformation, because the status quo is unacceptable. But – what must change? And how is the Jew to effect that change? There are two opposing views: Those who think Judaism is past-based or historical and those who believe Judaism is progressive and future-oriented. In other words, is the story of Judaism a real-Fantasy, or a Science non-Fiction?
Or is it both?
No one could argue the firm roots of Judaism in the past as the world’s oldest surviving religion. With its ancient wisdom and grand history, Judaism exists to some Jews as a refuge from temporal existence. These past-focused Jews seek out the infinite dimensionless place within each individual where all people are one, and their G-d is He who says, “I shall be that I shall be.” To them, the struggles and triumphs of life’s journey are transparent metaphors for transcendent realities. This transcendence of both self and world is what it means to be a Jew.
Equally dominant in Jewish thought, however, is the focus on what the future holds and how it needs to be shaped, culminating in the Jewish vision of the utopian Messianic Era. Jews of this bent see Judaism as a guide to self-actualization and the fulfillment of one’s potential. The G-d they worship is He who creates heaven and earth, and their mission as his chosen people is Tikkun Olam, the fixing-up of the world. These are what we might call the Science Fiction Jews.
If we were to observe a soul on fire with the ideas of Fantasy, that soul would be an introspective one. Given that the human endeavor extends beyond our petty struggles to the life we all share, the accidental facts of our own situation (cultural, historical, personal) don’t direct our purpose. Fantasy says it is the analogue, the inner life affected by our journey, that matters, and not the world around us.
True, there are dragons, there are evil empires, but the story is about the soul of the hero who must prevail against (and thereby rise above) them. Goliath must indeed fall, but King David’s story continues. The challenges of his kingship and family life produced a rich inner world whose poetic output, the Psalms, has affected the world and uplifted the disheartened for millennia. The giant has been dead for thousands of years but David’s prayers for success in battle lived on to become our prayers, and that is the important part of the story if it is a Fantasy.
To the SF Jew, however, to call the story of David and Goliath some mere iteration of a transcendent framework is to cheapen it. What comfort is it to the Israelites slain in battle that they have a place in some larger tale? And what victory in another challenge surmounted by the universal “hero”? Rather, we must go back to that time, understand the social and political issues surrounding the battle, and how David’s victory changed the course of history forever. This is to actually honor the biblical story if it is read as Science Fiction.
The importance of time and place and the actual specific events of life correspond with a theological commitment to G-d as the ruler of the world whose expectations devolve upon each individual according to their situation. More important than an abstract divine ideal is the G-d who demands and imposes justice, who is concerned with the state of the world and is dissatisfied every moment the Messiah has not yet come. Man’s responsibility is not to break out of the limits of his own existence but, to work with those limits and to transform them.
It is only logical that in the two-horned paradox of a transcendent G-d’s involvement in a limited world, the Fantasist appreciates the transcendent, removed aspect of the Creator. The G-d of the forefathers is my G-d, unchanged by changing times. His directives are equal upon all people, regardless of when or where they live. Just as what it meant to be human in the middle ages is essentially the same as what it means now, so, too, the Torah of Moses is my Torah. I must strive to break free of my limitations and connect to the imminent divine within my soul and the transcendent G-dliness above.
That is the ideal. Practically, the Transcendent approach presents challenges. I must extract universal truth from the parts of G-d’s directive that on the surface seem irrelevant to my modern life, such as animal sacrifice. Let us say, as King David does in the Psalms, that prayer is equivalent to the sacrifices. I am to spiritually offer myself up to my Creator, then, as part of my journey. But, of course, just as the consecrated animal of the past was a significant portion of the Jew’s wealth, I too need a considerable amount of time and effort to devote to prayer. And the refusal to manipulate these resources is the Fantasist’s greatest weakness.
The simple solution, one might think, is to rearrange one’s life to allow time to think and pray and attend to all the other machinations of transcendence. But this solution is no solution at all to the Fantasist. A Jew with this vision struggles to acknowledge the reality of his particular life while still connecting to the universal. A businessman (for example) who strives all day to manipulate his business so mornings he can pray and find the Truth is just a businessman. Or in other words, even as he asserts that only a higher Truth is true, his actions declare that his worldly limitations have their own reality. If a sin is a claim that some other reality supersedes G-d, then to the Fantasy Jew, worldliness is sinful.
So instead, the Jew must retreat into what Isaiah Berlin calls[viii] the “Inner Citadel,” a state in which one is entirely free because perfectly removed. Berlin compares it to amputation. One seeks inside for a place of perfect apathy, of equanimity, where one needs nothing from the world and is self-sustained by oneself and one’s truth. “Perhaps my job gets in the way of my prayer, but this doesn’t bother me; I can make do with my inner worth, with my essential connection to G-d. The world can do whatever it likes; I don’t need it.”
The problem with this ascetic approach is clear. Though it’s poetical and profound not to care about the world, it is also a retreat. The Fantasist is unable to change the world and so decides not to care and turns his face upward to heaven. One has lost the battle with worldly troubles, or, more accurately, has forfeited. The world remains unchanged, full of problems, and the Jew retreats to a state resembling the soul before it enters the body – removed from the troubles of creation and in communion with the Creator.
There is, however, another type of Jew who will reject this approach, the SF Jew.
The concern with the SF Jew’s approach is not that it might fail; failure is its usual motivation. After all, what is an imperfect world if not a failure on some level? This only goads the Jew further. No, the danger is that the SF Jew might succeed. Visions of the future out of touch with the broader human story inevitably aim at the wrong type of perfection. The Jew technically knows all the rules (“Love your fellow as yourself;” “Thou shalt not covet;”), the means with which to change the world. But his or her own vision of the end is narrow; they have only their own experience to draw on. It is clear how the world must not be; it must not be like it is now. But what it should be like is a mystery they cannot know. They have only their own view to impose, and an imposition it shall be, a tyranny, ignorant of human commonality or any sublime truth. Indeed, this was the fate of every attempted utopia in the history of mankind, fodder for dystopian novels. Just as the Fantasy Jew is stuck within, cut off from the world, the SF Jew is mired without, never able to escape his own surroundings and influences to reach a point of perfect selflessness within.
But there is perhaps a way to unite the two opinions. It was described by the Maggid of Mezritch, over two centuries ago.
A wealthy Jew once became a follower of the Maggid. He began to notice that the more passionate he grew in his pursuit of his Rebbe’s spiritual ideals, the less money he seemed to have. At the point where he began to worry about his family living in poverty, he cried out to the Maggid, asking, “How can it be? How can it be that doing the right thing and living a G-dly life is making me poor? It should be making me more wealthy!”
Replied the Maggid, “It all depends on the direction you pray. In the times of Temple of old, one would pray facing north if they desired riches, and facing south if they wanted wisdom. This corresponded with the vessel for all physical sustenance, the Show, Bread on the north side of the temple sanctuary, and the enlightening Menorah on the south side. You, too, must choose in which direction you wish to pray.”
Protested the Jew, “But you have many followers who are both wealthy and holy.”
Said the Maggid, “Ah. That is what you want? Then you must be like the Ark in the Holy of Holies, which took up no space and united all the directions. Once you, too, take up no space – then you can have both the things you desire.”
There is a point at which our two conceptions of the Jewish story are one. When the story is still G-d’s story, it exists in unity, all opposites brought together in a single G-dly reality, the pursuit of this world and the quest for transcendence two expressions of the same thing. If both types of Jew realize that the story is not about them but about G-d, they can reach a synthesis with the opposite view.
This is clear in the sources. After all, the Midrash says that the standard Hero of every Jewish tale, Moshe, was the first redeemer and will be the last Redeemer. On the other hand, the Zohar talks of the wellsprings above and below of the 19th century being the key to the future redemption — the holy wellsprings of G-dly knowledge and the wellsprings of worldly knowledge that made the Science Fiction worldview possible. According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, it is modern scientific advances and the revelation of the inner aspect of Torah that will together prepare the world for perfection. The Fantasy Jew is justified according to Torah in seeing the Redeemer as someone who has always existed; the SF Jew is justified in seeing him as an outcome of the modern improvement of the world. And both are correct.
The Fantasy Jew must realize in moments of transcendence that the entire story of humanity is directed at a better world, for that is even the transcendent G-d’s desire. The SF Jew must realize that world-altering actions are only the practical manifestations of a deeper G-dly truth, the emancipation of a transcendent reality into the lower planes. All the Jew’s toil has been for the end of the general human story.
May it happen soon.—
[i] “Orthodoxy,” Chapter 4.
[ii] See Joseph Campbell’s “Hero With a Thousand Faces” for an academic distillation of many cultural myths into what Campbell calls the “monomyth,” the structure that many myths have in common. Campbell studied real myths of ancient cultures, and then his work was in turn read by several fantasy authors seeking to more authentically convey their stories.
[iii] See the discourse V’yadaata 5657
[iv] In fact, the author of said story intentionally based it off of Campbell’s monomyth. See note 2.
[v] See the detailed history of proto-SF in the Wikipedia article “History of Science Fiction.”
[vi] A term Frank Herbert took from the Kabbalistic term for “teleportation” or super-speed (lit. “leaping of the road”)
[vii] Wikipedia, “Dune”
[viii] “Two Concepts of Liberty”
Originally posted on Hevria.