It has become customary for individuals with regard to the cultural industry experienced by societies; The coincidence of a number of myths which have the same characteristics and meanings in many major narratives, which date the beginnings and the ends of the world from the point of view of beliefs and metaphysical thought; One of them is the Flood, the totalitarian event created by the gods to annihilate their creatures and punish most of the inhabitants of the earth or its holy cities. This is the main topic from which the academic and writer “Mineke Scheber” begins in her book “And After Us The Flood: Tales of the End of Humanity”.
This work has come down to us laden with ancient legends that delve into the tale of human disasters known from religious literature and popular cultures. It is written in simple, fluent language and relies on the narration of its ideas in a manner similar to writing a short story.
Why are the myths similar?
When we write about the flood, we are talking about a narrative interpretation of a past period of human history, when the gods were close to it and effective in history with their interventions and their abilities to change its events or to accomplish their will. seek its effects.
And the timeline that relates time as having a beginning and an end that any of us can’t necessarily see in all the legends of destruction. In some cosmogonic and religious philosophies, the flood is a great event that repeats itself at every stage, from eons to infinity: an idea linked to the eternal return of something like what we see in Hinduism. In other cases, the affair occurs once or repeats itself twice or more, depending on the circumstances that caused it.
There is no doubt that these legends also share many events and characters with their differences. However, the fact that they are similar does not always have to be limited to one of the most superficial explanations; These are allegations that talk about stealing (quoting) myths from one culture to another culture, or making assumptions about the frictions between several peoples and their influence on each other. It has been isolated from other civilizations and country, which has not been lost. early anthropologists, religious scholars, mythologists or travelers and specialists in these fields, which reduces the possibility of an earlier claim in some areas.
This is what makes many scientists free their ideas and expand their theoretical and field research, to launch their hypotheses on the emergence of myths or their similarities.
We would like to support the opinion of the author in two directions which are known to explain the existence of such similarities in various civilizations among other directions. The first of them (Monogenesis) interprets their resemblance to the fact that such legends go back to a source and then spread to other distant lands for different reasons. As for the second (Polygenesis), it affirms that it does not come from a single source, but rather is found everywhere without influence from culture to another, and it is due, according to its supporters, to the fact that the way man thinks and experiences that life is one.
It can also be recalled that the Yohimeric school of legend is a chronicle of a bygone history which has already taken place in which its followers cite such legends which are ubiquitous.
These myths raise ethical questions, such as their connection to the establishment of new offspring. There are myths that see the marriage of family members to each other after the flood as a solution to the problem of the extinction of humanity, and there are others that do not accept such a solution and come with magical and miraculous solutions such as turning stones into threads and so on.
How do we profit from the myths of destruction?
The author concludes that modern man can benefit from such myths which have a moral dimension, which is linked to the same reasons for which the gods decided to drown the world or burn it with their fire.
The corruption of human ancestors in these times, the spread of wars, forbidden sexual relations or the lack of respect for the gods, are what caused the gods to end this chaos without it being the end of everyone. . On several occasions, her anger and punishment towards humans is due to overcrowding bothering her.
The writer saw that myths are not far from us, as they still cast their shadows in our modern times, like what we find in the groups, sects and masses who warn of the imminent end of the world or of the resurrection. It is a great fear of an end that does not necessarily come from the gods but from our problems on the planet, which is exhausted by pollution and the depletion of its resources with many issues and dilemmas that the media and activists call to avoid provoking, so that the catastrophe does not come. It was mentioned in the book, for example, that such mythical thinking penetrated certain sects that relied on ancient myths and earlier religious histories, such as the 2012 Movement, or the Dawoodi sect, whose followers – as you write – entered in:
The writer also noted the existence of this type of myth inside science and its assumptions about the universe and the human past. Said:
It also does not neglect certain geological studies that have studied the history of life on the planet and have demonstrated the convergence of certain results with the descriptions of myths and biblical stories that treat or predict such catastrophes, without confirming their absolute character and their total veracity.
Ultimately, myth is a collective perception that has its own logic and history that relates to the actual reality of previous eras. The Greek philosopher Euhemeros says, “Myth is history in disguise.” Schilling claims it “represents philosophy, history and poetry combined”. It is a collective perception which has its own logic.
It can therefore be said that myths are benevolent and have an ethical and educational dimension, which can help improve our thinking and behavior towards the world and towards each other. The myth is also a general story, whether fictional or real, which makes us extract messages from it to live the present. It is the use that Plato made in his writings and his dialogues to make it an explanation of his philosophical ideas and a path to learning, and not just for entertainment.
Myths as figurines
The writer does not just use the myths and make them useful, but turned to art for these myths. She sees in art an escape from the harshness of the contemporary world towards a beautiful and open world, a vision which does not deviate from what certain philosophers and scientists, like Nietzsche and Schopenhauer believed, namely that art is a consolation and compensation for us, but rather a narcotic, as the godfather of the psychoanalytic school, Sigmund Freud believed.
The writer believes that art is a way to raise the level of our mental and moral consciousness, to create better societies, unlike the wars that destroy us. However, her hope is nothing more than hard-to-fulfill wishes. Even art can become similar to what myths do, reminding us of the evils of the world and warning us against them.
Art is not only beautiful universes that make us forget the cruelty of the world, but it can be a real way to improve the immediate world, making it like a myth, and a warning of what is happening to us at us and to others.
This fact reminds us of the images of one of the most famous Dutch painters, whom some consider the father of surrealism; It is Hieronymus Bosch, whose pessimism about what he sees in his time of greed, malevolence and immoral manifestations, made him present the most terrible and cruel pictures in the whole history of art. of painting, in a vision in which he makes art not consoling for humanity, but rather a shock that awakens him from his sleep, enjoying the tales And the vast mythical imagination of his works.
Perhaps it would be a good idea for the designer or coordinator of the book cover translated for Arabic-speaking readers to choose an image from one of the paintings by Dutch artist “Peter Brueghel the Elder”, The Triumph of Death , this man who took a path of painting close to “Heronymus Bosch” and was even influenced by him In his techniques of realization of his works, some even called him “The second Bosch”.
We find it not only in the designs of both and their contemporaries or predecessors, but in Gothic art in its general form, which was concerned with revealing the evils and temptations of the human soul at that time. Modern art is nonetheless to attack the disadvantages of its time, in particular the expressive school, which transmitted to the world the concerns and fears of the artist in his environment full of wars and tragedies, in a way not far from telling and telling legends. .
Myths reveal to us a creative collective mind that discusses the major and minor issues of the universe through them. Although philosophers and scholars differ in their definition and interpretation according to their different thoughts, methods and schools, the absolute thought that turns them all into mere sick fantasies is today failing in this millennium, which has raised its levels of consciousness, not only by understanding the legendary narrative store, but by employing the memory of the ancients that man has rejected contemporary and now making it work with our memory until it accomplishes something.