Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Golden Bough

I have, of late, been reading Sir James Frazier's The Golden Bough which is a stupendous study of superstition and belief in magic through the ages. In fact it's a case of information overload as he repeats episode after episode of human beliefs and superstition.

I am less than 1/5th of the way through the book and I'm not even sure if I'll ever finish it. It would be fascinating if it wasn't so danged tedious. It's almost, not quite but almost, as bad as reading a law book (yes I have tried.)

A few things stand out but one thing in particular seems to strike me and that is his contempt for the ordinary people. He said the worst thing that happened to England was the American Revolution because it put ordinary, which in his opinion meant "ignorant and superstitious", people in charge instead of the enlightened nobility. He seemed to believe that a nobility consisting of people who are above the superstition and ignorance of the common people should lead while pretending to believe. (He actually gave backhanded praise to the fraudulent shamans and magicians because they saw through the nonsense yet used it to gain power which in turn benefited the masses.)

On a lesser note he sees two kinds of magic in the world which he dubs "sympathetic" and "contagious" one being a link between similar things (a man and a voodoo doll for example) and the other being a link between two things that were once one or at least in close contact (a primitive fear of another finding his fingernails and using them to harm him from afar.) I can think of at least two other kinds, at least one of which is still popular today: "Mind Over Matter" (Common today in some circles) and "Memic Magic" born of the belief of the masses manipulating reality.

There is obviously more to reality than what meets the eye. The fact that the more we learn of subatomic particles and the universe, or even multi-verse, as a whole the less sense it seems to make clearly points in the direction.

I believe in Divine Intervention, though it is relatively rare at the moment, but I reject human magic of any sort as wishful thinking.

8 Comments:

Blogger Beth said...

So we should make David Copperfield our king?

9:01 AM  
Blogger Chuck said...

Believes the masses should be ruled by the ruling class huh? Remind you of anyone today?

6:47 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

There have always been, as there are today, those who believe in an elitist ruling class. In a society which strives to allow its citizens adopt the class of their choosing, dependent upon their effort, such a ruling class represents a real danger.

Hence the very real danger with which the United States is faced today.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Damn. Have you ever thought that, instead of sitting in a security shack, you should be RUNNING the entire company??

BZ

2:29 AM  
Blogger christian soldier said...

BZ has already stated my thoughts ...
You could run that company!!!
C-CS

3:49 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

Joe Yes there are. The owner of my company seems to feel that way and he is a local Democratic Party Politician.

BZ and C-CS I have too short of an attention span, about that of a goldfish.

5:18 PM  
Blogger dmarks said...

The "masses should be ruled by the ruling classes" idea is central to socialism. Socialism undies centuries of human programs.

12:17 PM  
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9:17 PM  

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