Saturday, February 22, 2014

Egyptomania: The Defiling of Egyptian Culture

This post is based on my Professor's Essay, "Egyptomania: Have We Cursed the Pharaohs?" by Professor Frank Holt.  This is not to copy his essay but rather reiterate so I can study it for my Midterm in said professor's class.  He's an amazing teacher, outstanding lecturer, and a really funny one too!  If you're doubting, take his class! 
So what exactly is Egyptomania?  Basically it's a consumer culture distortion of Ancient Egyptian Culture.  All those toys involving Ancient Egypt, that's basically Egyptomania.  But it's far worse than that. 
It all started with the great Father of History, Herodotus himself, who described Egypt in such amazing awe.  When Rome takes over Egypt, they actually "import" some of the obelisks out of Egypt.  The Middle Ages passed down the idea that, "mummies possessed magical powers,-"  But now the fascination that Herodotus felt is now far more exotic and mysterious to us.  The culture is several times removed by oh roughly 2,500 years. 
During the Nineteenth century many "businessmen bought them up and charged admission to special shows in which the unfortunate wrecks would be dramatically stripped down to skin and bones." Talk about abuse towards the dead! 
Some people even believed that, "the pyramids were built as astronomical observatories," but apparently the silliness has shifted to the idea that astronauts built them! Ludicrous! 
It really got bad after the Rosetta Stone was found.  Various countries started to loot and fight over these prized artifacts.  Now Egyptian artifacts are all over the world.  My professor said during one of the lectures that if any aliens were to come down from the sky when all of humanity was gone, they were going to have a hard time figuring out why really old artifacts from Egypt appear in every part of the world.  Some will probably get the misconception that Egypt had a vast global empire and then somehow managed to lose all trace of their powerful global empire in a matter of centuries.  The aliens will never get our history straight after that. 
My professor states in his article that, "By coveting the riches of ancient Egypt, we have robbed knowledge as well as a nation.  Much of what archaeologists would like to study in situ has been scattered across the globe.  The material record of Egypt's past has been disturbed and, therefore, its history either distorted or destroyed."  Interesting don't you think? 
Has anyone heard of Cecil B. deMille and his film The Ten Commandments 1923?  Well, this man wrote in his diary that he was very concerned that historians a thousand years from then would  uncover his Egyptian set in Guadalupe and actually think that Egypt extended all the way into California!  That's a little sad that people might actually think that, considering it's just a prop set.  I hope that never happens.  But apparently it's too late!  Archeologists have already, according to the article, spent money in trying to excavate that set.  What a waste of money!!!  What the bloody hell is wrong with those idiots?!?!  It's not even the real deal!  It's just a bloody set!!
My professor is actually concerned with funds for excavations.  According to his article, "funds for United States excavations are vanishing."  Instead we apparently parade Tut's treasures around the country!  Well, say goodbye to Egypt's culture because as we all know, nothing lasts forever.  Things to eventually shatter, break, and erode. 
But if there is anything that is the most defiling it is "The Curse of King Tut's tomb."
It all started with Lord Carnarvon who financed the whole expedition.  He died from a bugbite!  He was already in poor health!  But those vengeful journalists who didn't get to see the newly excavated tomb while New York times got to glut themselves with the great story recovery, fashioned from this incident the legendary "Curse of King Tut's Tomb"  Everyone sat around in the world waiting for who'd be next and it continues to this day!  It's been roughly a century since the excavation and people still think that this "curse" is still active!  I mean...seriously?  People die.  It's apart of life. 
The article continues to list all the abuses that this "curse" has wreaked on poor King Tut, such as a guard filing law suit because he claimed that "Osiris struck him down with a stroke" 
Egyptomania has gone as far as to declare that Egyptians have "ancient jet airplanes" and apparently King Tut died in a plane crash. ....Wow.  That's really sad.  I feel this is what fuels the Stargate Atlantis Egypt version.  I've heard of it, and I'm not to pleased with their defiling of Ra and Anubis two of my favorite gods.  If hardcore science fiction geeks watched that show, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they actually believed this stuff.  Sometimes I worry about society.  I really do.
There's just one more story I need to tell you.  It's the story of the unlucky mummy.  Based on my notes the unlucky mummy caused wailing, managed to somehow wreck entire studies, managed to sink the Titanic and Empress and even the Lusitania while being on board each one of those ships.  It somehow got magically transferred to each ship, and sunk it!  I feel sorry for that unlucky mummy.  If anything's unlucky it's her and the lies that people have laid on her.   
As a reminder this post is based on Professor Frank Holt's article, "Egyptomania: Have We Cursed the Pharaohs?" published in Archaeology March/April 1986
So now you know what Egyptomania is.  I hope this is good enough to understand.  For my next post I will be giving you some of my notes and the text book dealing with the birth of Civilization and the civilizations of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.  See you all next time. 
Starvix Draxon

What is History? Why Study Anything Ancient?

What is History?  And for that matter, Why study anything ancient?  Well first we need to define History!
History is the study of surviving records, and evidence, namely writing, from which historians infer the past.  It is basically the study of the past through written evidence.  This includes the study of people and events through written records. 
Notice how I say written.  Some of you have probably already started to wonder, "What about artifacts and coins and buildings and all that stuff?"  Well that tends to be more of an Archeologist's job rather than a historian.  A historian looks at the written text rather than physical objects.  Those jobs fall under the Archeologist. 
Now it is important to know that we do not have a record of all events.  "What we don't?" That's right!  We do not have every record.  My professor used an example of a historian interviewing us students about himself.  The historian may ask, "What was your history professor wearing on February 11th?" We will probably say something like, "Uuuummmm....." We don't know.  We don't pay attention to every single bit of detail.  That's why there are always gaps in history. 
For example my teacher said they actually found an inscription of ink on stone written by Aristotle.  The moment they took a picture of it, the ink blew away.  What had happened was the paper had degraded and rotted away but the ink remained imprinted on the stone and got buried under tons of sand.  This was found in an uncovered Greek city in Afghanistan.  The past is always a puzzle with pieces missing. 
Now there are various kinds of studies: Epigraphy, Numismatics, Papyrology, and Archeology.  Let me define each one for you. 
Epigraphy - stone writing
Numismatics - coinage studies
Papyrology - papyrus or paper studies
Archeology - material remains
Here's something interesting my Professor told my class.  Historians are very dangerous.  It's not scientists.  It's Historians.  Basically whoever in the present controls the past controls the future.  Interesting, ja? 
But I haven't answered the other key question.  Why study Anything Ancient?  What's more important than the study of World War II, the 20th Century, Modernity, Contemporary Culture, Feminism, Sexual Preference, Civil Rights, and everything else that focuses on mostly 20th 19th Century and a little bit of the Early Modern Period?  How can Ancient History possibly be more important than that? 
Answer: Where to all our fields come from?......I got you there didn't I?  All fields such as Medicine, Writing, History, Philosophy, Government, Economics, Astronomy, Religion, and just about everything else under the sun, comes from Ancient History.  Who do we go to first when studying ethics and Government?  Greece!!!  Aristotle and Plato and Socrates: all in that ancient society!  The first concepts of religion and mythology: Mesopotamia and Egypt!  Great Architecture: Egyptian Pyramids and Greek Columns!  First works of Great Literature, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece! 
To anyone who is from Asia or Northern Europe, this also applies to you as well, but my course only focuses on the birth of these particular civilizations.  They are considered the first few to give birth to the rise of Western Civilization.  All other old civilizations are just as important.  We just don't have the time to learn them in the particular class I am taking. 
There's also something else I want to add that I want to emphasize in particular.  By studying these ancient cultures, you become more accepting of others who have different cultural backgrounds.  I emphasize these ancient cultures because many of them have polytheistic religions and many were a bit I guess is the word.  What I'm trying to say is that by learning an ancient culture, you are keeping it alive, and you are celebrating your cultural heritage whether you are related to it or not.  That's why I am studying and advocate the study of Early Civilizations. 
That's it for the first lecture.  Stay tuned for the next podcast which highlights important moments in my professor's essay, "Egyptomania: Have We Cursed the Pharaohs?" 
Study Ancient History!  You will become a better person if you do! 
Starvix Draxon

A Study Guide for Early Civilizations

Hello everyone!  For the next several posts I will be writing about History.  I am doing this in order to help myself study, so this is not plagiarism.  This is just me trying to study.  Plus I'm sure you'll find this all informative.  So...good luck! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Contemporary American Fiction

So I took a class on Contemporary American Fiction at the University of Houston taught by a really good English Professor, who is an amazing lecturer and teacher.  I really enjoyed listening to what he had to say. 
Anyway.  You're probably wondering, what books did I read.  To that I will list the books in the following order that we read them in. 
1) White Noise by Don Dellilo
2) New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
3) Music For Torching by A. M. Holmes
4) Catfish and Mandala by Andrew Pham
5) Jesus Saves by Darcey Steinke
6) Fight Club by Chuck Palaniuk
7) Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones
8) In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders
9) 10:01 by Lance Olsen
10) AVA by Carol Maso
My favorites are New York Trilogy, Fight Club, and 10:01.  Sometimes In Persuasion Nation and AVA are in my favorites.

You're probably wondering, what is Contemporary American Fiction.  In order to define that we need to ask ourselves another question: What is postmodern literature?

To tell you the truth, I'm still trying to figure it out, because there seem to be various definitions in how to define it and none of it is consistent.  Basically what my professor taught us is that postmodern literature basically:

1) Deals with the problems of consumer culture
2) Deals with the problems of media and hyperreality. 
3) Deals with the grand narrative and how we cannot have one truth but many truths
4) Deals with the concept of chance rather than determined fate of events
5) Deals with the idea of an unresolved ending, unresolved question, just merely ends

That's the basics of it.  I hope I haven't misinterpreted what he has told me.  Very interesting concept and all.  If you apply these definitions to the books listed above and read closely you will see those hidden concepts emerge from the text.  Each book is unique unto itself and I highly recommend reading my favorites. 

I like New York Trilogy because of the language.  It takes the New York mystery story and takes it somewhere entirely else, on a road of language, religion, and unresolved story matters. 

Fight Club deals with the idea of the loss of masculinity inside a consumer culture.  In a desire to escape the repetitive boring feminine system society as created, the two main characters create a Fight Club to feel the surge of masculine bravado, only to create another system, one that it is in fact militaristic and brainwashing.  You'll like the twist near the end, I won't spoil it. 

10:01 is a series of vignettes, short little moments in the first ten minutes of the movie theater.  Each vignettes enters inside each movie goer's head, each stylistically different, sometimes so surreal.  One vignette even enters the screenplay formatting into one characters mind blurring the boundaries between screenplay and Fiction. 

Well that's it for now.  I'll talk more about these books at another time and go more in depth into their messages.  For now, I need to do some homework.  Keep reading everyone. 

Starvix Draxon 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Introduction to Interdisciplinary Arts

This course basically shows how art, film, music, dance, performance, and writing and theater, come into play and make interesting works of art.  The class consisted of presentations from students on various artists, discussions on the artist and the readings assigned about that particular artist, writing reflective journal entries about our discussion and other art events that we went to, and then create project proposal that shows collaboration, interdisciplinary work, budget, location, the theory behind the project etc.  This was by far my favorite course. 
Here's a list of the artists. 
Black Mountain College(Josef Albers taught there)
John Cage
Merce Cunningham
Bill T. Jones
Robert Rauschenberg
Jasper Johns
Allan Kaprow
Maya Deren
Allen Ginsberg
Jay Defeo
Jack Karouach
Jack Smith
Anna Mendieta
Judy Chicago
Joan Jonas
Barbara Hammer
Grand Fury
David Wojnarowicz
Harry Gamboa Jr.
Patssi Valdez
Marina Abromavic
My favorites were Maya Deren, Anna Mendieta, Judy Chicago, Joan Jonas, and Marina Abromavic. 
What I like about these few is their approach to their art.  I don't approach it from any feminine perspective.  In other words, I just view them as who they are: Artists, regardless of what gender they are.  Maya Deren and Joan Jonas deal with film and performance.  Anna Mendieta covered herself in various things to get in touch spiritually with nature.  Judy Chicago is known well for her Dinner Party, and Various tapestries of feminine Creationism and drawings on masculinity.  Marina Abromavic is known for her performance work, and trust me it is bizarre yet powerfully emotional. We watched a documentary on her, where she would stare at people who would come and sit in front of her.  I watched that documentary way too intensely because I left class feeling very depressed and unhappy.  The amount of people that began to cry while staring at her...unbelievable.  I'm not sure what it means but maybe the reason those people cried is because they are not listened to in real life and so maybe when they are stared at, they are finally being listened to.  It's so overwhelming that they begin to cry.  That's my theory at least. 

So take a look at these artists' work.  Each one is really interesting. 

Starvix Draxon 

Maleficent Trailer

I lost count to the amount of times I've watched this trailer.  All I can tell you all is that I am super psyched to see this film.  Finally we humanize Maleficent as a sympathetic villain.  At last we get another trailer.  This is really the only film I want to see this year, besides How to Train Your Dragon 2.  Anyway, here's the trailer.  Enjoy. 

Maleficent Teaser Trailer

Here's the Malificent Teaser Trailer.  Hope you enjoy! 

A Mesopotamian Ritual

According to history textbook I'm reading for my Early Civilizations Course, in Mesopotamia the king would have sex with the high priestess in order to giver fertility to the land and ensure a good harvest.  Pretty interesting, ja?  That could be a could plot conflict for a story......

Anyway that's your Mesopotamian Ritual for the day!

The history textbook is An Introduction to the Ancient World by L. De Blois and R.J. Van Der Spek Second Edition. 

Title Change

As you can see I've changed the title of the blog from Fantasia into Starvix Draxon's Datalog.  You're probably wondering why I would do such a horrific thing.  Well, I have a couple of reasons. 

1) Fantasia is not very marketable.  If you type Fantasia in the search engine, you will not find my blog.  Instead you will probably find things relating to the Fantasia movies or other miscellaneous boulderdash that makes utterly no sense.  To reemphasize this point, I will say it again.  There is no way in Heaven or Hell or even in Tartarus that you will find my blog with that name. 

2) Starvix Draxon's Datalog is literally more of a Datalog.  Since I am Starvix Draxon, anyone interested in finding Starvix Draxon will find me immediately in this blog.  It will also help fellow artists find my deviant art account which will show them all my horrible drawings. (They're not that horrible but they are a beginner's work and they're all mechanical pencil drawn.)  So if anyone is interested in what I have drawn.  All you have to do is go to my deviant art account. 

3) People will also discover that I had an older blog called Starvix's Magic Journal.  When they see it, they will see that the last post was published on 4/27/2012.  That journal is defunct.  I no longer use it.  This blog has been far more successful even though I rarely update it, and I also have had more fun with this blog and will continue to do so.  Besides this one I like better.  It fits me more and it uses my full Pen name.  I decided to turn this blog more into a journal rather than a news source on the latest and greatest news for Games, Films, and Books.  If you haven't discovered already I am a terrible news reporter.  By the time something is out, I've already forgot to put a post on it.  Because of this I have decided to turn it into a journal so I do not have the pressure of failing to keep up with current Fantasy news.  If there is something interesting I will indeed post it.  But let me turn this into a more personal journal like datalog. 

4) Datalog is the word for Journal in Final Fantasy XIII.  Anyone typing in Datalog might run into this blog.  I of course doubt it but you never know.

5) I hope to use this as an Author's blog when I become a published Author, playwright, screenwriter etc. 

Well I hope these are reasons enough.  I hope you like the new title.  I'm thinking of changing the format background style or whatever it's called.  Looks a wee bit too dark for me.  The text sort of hurts my eyes.  I'll only change it if I find a better font.  Anyway that's all for me.  Keep reading everyone. 

Starvix Draxon

Dream Character Roles

Just so everyone knows I am also an actor.  I figured if anyone was curious as to what my dream character roles for theater and film it would be the following. 

The Phantom from Phantom of the Opera
Macbeth in Macbeth on stage or film is fine.  I would love to perform in both. 
I'd love to play Romeo in Romeo and Juliet but that will probably never happen. 
Peter Grimes from the Opera Peter Grimes, if I ever go back into opera that is. 
A male singing lead in an operatic music theater where the story revolves around this male singer and he gets all the good amazing songs in the whole musical. 
A Fantasy villain, a complex villain mind you.  I want to be worse than Voldemort but very much human in certain ways, a villain that you both hate and love. 
A Fantasy hero with a complex story line, who possibly wavers in his goodness. 
A Psychopath because they're very complex characters.  It's very interesting to get into the head of such a person and wonder why they do what they do. 
I hope to either play Prospero or Ariel from the Tempest. 
I'd love to play Woyzeck in Woyzeck.  That was a fun play.  I actually performed the Charlatan in that play. I would love to get into the surreal psychological aspects of Woyzeck. 

That's all I can think of at the moment.  I'm actually not that play literate much to my dismay.  I hope this summer I can get a hold of a bunch of variety of plays and read them. 

Anyway those are basically what I want to play if I ever go back into acting.  As you can see for the most part I've selected characters that have complex psychological aspects that make their character aspects very interesting.  I love complexity.  I've always wanted to play the villain you see.  They're fun and naturally far more complex.  That's why I'd give anything to play Charlize Theron's version of the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Hunsman.  Well that's all I have to say.  Keep reading!

Starvix Draxon