Immortality

I spoke about the world’s fascination with Ancient Egypt in my last blog. I did not talk about why we are so fascinated with a culture from so long ago. Why are these myths and images so enduring? Stephen Gardiner a famous architect said, “In Egypt the living were subordinate to the dead.” Perhaps this obsession with death and immortality is the answer.

There are certain people whose names remain a part of our culture and group conversation long after their death. In England kings and queens are remembered by citizens as well as historians. The period of their reign is referred to by name. A piece of furniture may have been made in the  “Victorian” period or the “Georgian” period. Elvis was remembered well after his death as “the King of Rock and Roll”. George Washington is remembered as “the father of our country”.

We remember the names of of famous people for their accomplishments. The accomplishments may be minor or major. Arnold Palmer mixed lemonade and tea (although, I doubt he was the first to do so). Edison invented…well a lot of stuff. Tesla also did a lot with electricity but did not have the fame of Edison. Although the car brand is certainly bringing his name back into the vernacular.

Who is remembered sometimes has less to do with their accomplishments than the perception of those accomplishments. I have little doubt more people are familiar with Brittany Spears than Julies Oppenheimer. Also, the first to do something is more memorable than the second. I am sure more people can identify Neil Armstrong than Buzz Aldrin.

Does it matter if your name is remembered?  It is more important that something you did  is remembered? Not, anything about you but something important. I know Elvis liked peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I know nothing of his character or his essential nature. I know Arnold Palmer liked lemonade and tea and played golf. Again, that tells me little about him as a person. I know even less about kings and queens. Their images were crafted by the people of the time for purposes often unrelated to reality. Politics rather than truth framed the understanding of who they were.

We remember the names of plenty of people for negative reasons. I can remember the names of Charles Manson and Jeffery Dahmer. Have they succeeded in some form of immortality? To become infamous is hardly a legacy worth preserving.

When I die I suspect my family will  be impacted. They will know to some degree who I am and what I believed in. They can read my books and go through my possessions and talk to people I have known. Yet, like a game of telephone with each generation the image of who I was will be less accurate. In truth it is unlikely anyone will care about who I am past my children or if I am lucky my grandchildren.

That is part of our obsession with the Ancient Egyptians. They believed in immortality, a world beyond death. Perhaps, this is the appeal of all religions, the promise of things to come after we are dead. Yet, in Ancient Egypt it was not “ashes to ashes and dust to dust”. In fact you could take it with you.

In many ways we know more about King Tutankhamun’s life than we know about Elvis’s or Edison’s. Yet, King Tut died well over a thousand years before Jesus was born. We have a golden mask of his face so we can see what he looked like. We can look at his mummy and know his height and have a general idea of the condition of his health. We know about his family and advisers. By examining the writings and contents of his tomb we know about his way of life.

I don’t claim to have the answers about what will come of us when we die. Yet, King Tut has come as close to immortality as there is within the the collective conscious. The fascination with Ancient Egypt does not seem to have slowed down. When I look at movies like, Stargate or videos like Katy Perry’s Darkhorse or books like The Fraternity of the Soul Eater it is hard to believe we will ever forget this ancient civilization.

 

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater

I have completed the first draft of The Fraternity of the Soul Eater. Yes, I bring back some familiar and hopefully likeable friends. Sam, Bob and Susan will all be in attendance. Yet, Sam in some ways has changed. The question is if that change is for the better? He must do some soul searching he must wrestle with his destiny. Sam has faced the forces of evil in the past but had little choice but to engage them. This book explores his mental state. For the first time Sam has a choice. Will Sam fight the forces of darkness or run from danger in order to return to his old life?

Susan has also changed. She has to decide if she can live with a man who is surrounded by dark forces. Is her desire for a normal life greater than her love for Sam. She must also grapple with her own feelings about engaging in a battle against evil.

Bob is Bob, and is in some ways more stable than any of the other characters. The events in recent years have shaped him and changed him in some ways. Yet, he is  not changed at the same fundamental level as Sam. Bob is willing to believe in the unbelievable. He remains by Sam’s side despite the danger and horror. It seems as though he will for the rest of his life. Bob is defined by his loyalty. Bob is in some ways more mentally stable than Sam or Susan because he can accept things that they still struggle with.

In The Fraternity of the Soul Eater the story goes back to the times of Ancient Egypt. Yet, it has a modern and scientific aspects as well. It takes place mainly on the campus of the University of Illinois.

Is it possible a fraternity created in the 1920’s has been sacrificing innocent people to feed ancient deities. Is it possible that there is power hidden in the hieroglyphs of ancient tombs and temples? The book digs into these questions like an archeologist digs through the earth.

I am fascinated by Ancient Egypt. Looking at the Museums and the number of tourists who visit Egypt each year so are a lot of other people. Ancient Egypt is a subject that feeds the imagination.

America and Europe had a couple of periods of style known as  the “Egyptian Revival” period. If you look at some of the Victorian silver it is not uncommon to see scarabs and ankhs. This was a time where English Archeologists were discovering tombs in Egypt.

In the 1920’s there was another “Egyptian Revival”  (sometimes the term “Egyptian Deco” is used) when the tomb of King Tutankhamun was discovered in 1922.  Again in the 1920’s and 1930’s it is not uncommon to see Egyptian designs in furniture and silver.

The fascination with Egyptology seems to reawaken each time King Tut visits America and I hope this book also helps reawakens that fascination. Mummies and ancient curses are only a small part of this book. It also concerns the mythology of an ancient people.

I don’t want to say much more for fear of giving too much away. I will say the first draft is done. I hope to finish soon. It may take longer than I would like because I wrote the first draft by hand on a huge sheet of papyrus. I am just kidding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time, Karma, and Fiction

Bill Cosby said, “The past is a ghost, and the future a dream and all we have is now.”. Bob Dylan came to a similar conclusion when he sang, “Yesterday’s just a memory
Tomorrow is never what it’s supposed to be…”. William Faulkner said, ” “It’s all now you see: tomorrow began yesterday and yesterday won’t be over until tomorrow.”  In life the past, seen through the eyes of the present, isn’t what it was. The future is unknown.

There is the idea ofKarma”. The concept that positive or negative actions in the present can impact the future. Thus, good things should follow good people and bad things bad people. Yet, it is clear some people will do good things and get hit by a bus. Others will do bad things and be rewarded with fame and fortune.

Yet, in fiction an author controls the past, present and future. Thus, the author can seek out justice or turn it on it’s head. Sometimes life is without justice. The poor and disenfranchised rarely have happy endings.Yet, in fiction justice can be created at the whim of the author. At the same to so can sadness and cruelty.

Being an author gives you power to manipulate your world. You need not play by the rules. Sometimes the unexpected can be more fun. In Raider of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones is running through a bazaar when a man challenges Indiana to a sword fight. Indiana expectantly would have engaged him in sword play but instead turns around and shoots him. Not only is this funnier but it is more realistic and moves the story along.

The future should be consistent with the past as far as the attitudes and personality’s of the characters. The past can have a different impact on different people resulting in different futures. Perspective is also important to determine how a character will go through this world. Some people are strengthened and emboldened by adversity. Others are broken. The past shapes or future.

Yet, it is not what has happened but what the character takes away from it. In Wicked the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West it paints a very different characters than in The Wizard of Oz.  In Wicked the witch has grown up with adversity and is a thoughtful caring person while Glenda is more vapid and concerned about her station in life. It is the perspective that makes the difference.

In my other life as an attorney I will sometimes write out a closing argument first. That way my evidence will follow my theory of the case. In writing a book it helps to start at the end and work backwards. Life would be a lot different if you were aware of how it would work out prior to engaging in some activity.  Yet, that being said life is not a means to an end. The journey through the unknown is part of the fun. It would ruin a book if you read the last chapter first. Yet, in writing a novel, it sure helps to know what will happen in the future.