Thursday, October 16, 2008

Superheroes - Modern Mythology Notes

Yet the medium from which they spring - the 6x9in, 4-color comic book - continues to be a marginalized channel of communication held by many to be an irredeemably corrupt and corrupting form of discourse, or else suitable only for children and the semi-literate.

June 1938 - Superman 'Action Comics #1'
Golden Age late 1940's
World War II
Shift to crime, western, and horror comics

Seduction of the Innocent by Dr. Frederic Wertham
1954 Congressional Hearings
EC Comics 'Tales From the Crypt', 'Vault of Horror'
Comics code - self-censoring ban by the publishers themselves on violence, explicit sex, gratuitous gore and the triumph of evil or antisocial behavior.

Silver Age
Flash (1956)
Green Lantern (1959)
Supergirl (1959)
JLA (1960)

Fantastic Four (1961)
Spider-Man (1963)
X-Men (1964)

Superhero Genre
Lost Parents
*the hero is marked out from society. He often reaches maturity without having a relationship with his parents

The man-god
*at least some of the superheroes will be earthbound gods in their level of powers. Other superheroes of lesser powers will consort easily with these earthbound deities.

*the hero's devotion to justice overrides even his devotion to the law.

The normal and the superpowered
*the extraordinary nature of the superhero will be contrasted with the
ordinariness of his surroundings.

The secret identity
*likewise, the extraordinary nature of the hero will be contrasted with the mundane nature of his alter-ego. Certain taboos will govern the actions of these alter-egos.

Superpowers and politics
*although ultimately above the law, superheroes can be capable of considerable patriotism and moral loyalty to the state, though not necessarily to theletter of its laws.

Science as magic
*the stories are mythical and use science and magic indiscriminately to create a sense of wonder.

Superman and the superhero emerged at the end of the Great Depression and during the run-up to the outbreak of the European war.

A new kind of popular hero had emerged: the self-reliant individualist who stands aloof from many of the humdrum concerns of society, yet is able to operate according to his own code of honor, to take on the world on his own terms, and win.

For Americans, the historical path from Munich to Pearl Harbor coincides with the emergence of Superman and Captain America - solitary but socialized heroes, who engage in battle from time to time as proxies of US foreign policy. A darker side of the Lone Wolf hero is embodied by the Batman, a hero whose motivations and emotions are turned inward against the evils within society, and even the social and psychological roots of crime itself. The tension between these two veins in the superhero tradition remains to the present day.

The mythologizing of the dangers of scientific knowledge is one of the mainstream currents of science fiction, from Frankenstein through to the famous Spock/McCoy reason/conscience conflict in Star Trek (a conflict which is spuriously resolved by the deus ex machina of Kirk's
overarching 'humanity', which embraces such contradictions and thereby resolves them.)

Langue & Parole

Superhero costumes are either sexless, denying the humanity of the hero within, or garments of great erotic significance.

Good girl art (Wonder Woman) takes the signs of pornographic discourse and integrates them into the context of non-pornographic story structures. In this way, the sign of pornography (never explicitly delivered) comes to stand in for an entire pornographic subtext, a series of blanks which readers remain free to fill in for themselves. And it is within the neo-pornographic texts of Good Girl art that the distinctions between costumed heroes and villains can first be seen to break down, a change that influenced mainstream comics.

Costume creates a community between its wearers.

All Star Comics #3 (1940)
Justice Society of America

Intertextuality forms the Marvel & DC Universes.

Serial continuity
The back-story

Hierarchical continuity
A beats B
C defeated by B
A bests C
The pressure of combat also forces from heroes the quality which sums up the moral nature of the superhero: the 'extra effort'.

Structural continuity
Serial (diachronic 'over time')
Hierarchical (synchronic 'in the moment')
Combines to produce the entire contents of the Marvel & DC Universes.

T.S. Eliot's 'Tradition and the Individual Talent'
"what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them. The existing order to persist after the supervention of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered..."

Clearly, intertextual and metatextual continuity create a subsidiary world in which the process of time can be kept under control.

Continuity, and above all metatextual structural continuity, is the strategy through which superhero texts most clearly operate as myths. Continuity provides the interaction with the audience which characterizes mythological discourse: myths...{are} 'machines for the
suppression of time', the contemplation of the unity being more important than any suspense engendered over the outcome.

Return of Barry Allen Notes

Costume differences
Power differences
Protecting mob boss to prevent a crime war
Amusement Park
Mirror Maze
Wally smashes through
"I prefer to get where I'm going as directly as possible"
"Putting the spirit of Barry Allen to rest was a long and painful
process. Your death left a wound that never healed."
"Once upon a time, Barry Allen sacrificed his life to save the universe.
In tribute I took his name and identity...but not his courage. That was
his alone. Now he's back...and whatever tomorrow may bring, one thing is
certain. He's the greatest hero I've ever known...and I'm proud to
follow in his footsteps."

Train derailed towards a school full of kids, speed powerless, Barry
shows to save the day. All three Flashes use vibrations to slow the
train. Using speed to stop speed. Kids ask Barry for his autograph.
"Like I'm not even there. Even I'm astounded at the attention he
"I owe everything to Uncle Barry! My identity...everything!
The man is like a god to me!"
Moving away, changing superhero identity.
"I'm the Flash. Stay used to it."
Barry returns to the scene of his ressurrection.
The Combine. High-tech crime.
Wally gets taken out, Barry snaps when the criminals say they took down
the Flash, Wally's costume rips at the top, revealing his hair ala Kid
Flash costume. "I'm the Flash!"

Origin. 10 years old. Similar costume. "Barry Allen took me under his
wing. He gave me a purpose...a identity that would
totally define my life. It was the greatest gift I ever received."
" I wanted to honor his I tried to fill his boots. Itook up
the mantle of the Flash, and did my best to further his heritage."
Johnny Quick. CEO. Max Mercury.
Shrinking force field trap.
Subway booth attendant. Max. Jay's hero.
Wally's vibrations with Barry's allows Barry to escape. "Help you? Why?
You stole my name! You tried to replace me...tried to make the world
forget about Barry Allen!"
"Forget Barry. Forget the fear. Forget everything..." "everything I do
now...who is it for?"
Press conference, Flash is dead.

"When I was a kid, I looked up to him with stars in my eyes. I thought
he was perfect...but I was just blinded by hero worship."
"How could I hold my own against the man who taught me everything I
know? He's stronger than me. He's faster than me. He's better than me.
For the first time since I was a kid, I'm just Wally West. I'm not a
hero anymore."
Construction site. Foundation. Jay hero discussion.
Jay, Max, Johnny.
Out trick him. Barry vs Max. Original superspeedster. Agility.
Wally Alley Book.
Reveals Barry's true identity.
Construction site destroyed as Barry grabs helmet.

Lessons from Johnny, mathematical formula, describing a
fourth-dimensional construct. 3x2(9YZ)4A
Draws speed from time. Positive thinking.
Max. Zen of speed.
Overthinking speed. Force Wally to confront what he doesn't want to.
"No one can tell me that I'm afraid of speed! I love what I can do!"
"but you love your uncle Barry even more. That's why you took his name
and scotume, isn't it? In a sense, you did it so the world wouldn't
forget him...or his heroism. You keep saying you don't want to replace
Barry, but the moment you become as fast as him...that's exactly what
you'll have done."
Jay. Heart. Faith.
Wally plan trick.
Releases prisoners. Anti-Barry. Cop.
Doubt. Museum. Rubble.
Bird's eye shot, Wally small on huge symbol.
Cosmic treadmill.
Jay fights off Barry's mask. Revealing identity.
Rips off symbol. Breaks his leg.
"One true Flash!"
Eobard Thawne. Reverse Flash. Suit.

Recall in slo-mo. Origin. 25th Century. Technology has wiped out crime.
No heroes. Nostalgic for 20th Century. Heroic Age. "His was a soul pure
and noble. He, of all heroes, deserved in recompense for his sacrifice a
long and prosperous life. The tragedy of his plight had always moved me.
I worshipped him. And no matter that he'd been dead five hundred
years...I grieved for him. He was my hero. He was my friend."
Plastomorph surgery, cosmic treadmill pawn shop, fortune spent on
painful treatment giving powers.
Museum, taking in Barry's life as Flash, studying his enemies.
"We both wanted the same thing out of life, Wally...a chance to fill
Barry Allen's boots. Think about it. We're a lot alike. You might even
call us brothers."
Escape. Threatens Linda.
Acceptance. "Since Barry's death, my speed has waxed and waned. I never
thought the electric power that sparked it could ever be recaptured. I
was wrong. The power is within me. It always was."
Lightning gives edge.
Threatens to go to Thawne's childhood and terrorize him tricking him to
go back to the future.
"The ghost of Barry Allen...the one I've kept alive all these
finally at rest. He no longer dominates my life...but he'll always watch
over me."
His future in the book, tosses it into water.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Superheroes: A Modern Mythology

Atonement with the Father: Superman
The roots of a superhero career - the all-important 'origin story' - go back to adolescence, and the character's development as a superhero must encompass evolving relationships with parents or substitute parental figures.

Approval by the father is witheld time and again by the absence or unavailability of the father-figure.

Sky - male, Earth - the female.

"Small events in the child's life which make him feel dissatisfied afford him provocation for beginning to criticize his parents, and for using, in order to support his critical attitude, the knowledge which he has acquired that other parents are in some respects preferable to them...the child's imagination becomes engaged in the task of getting free from the parents of whom he now has a low opinion and of replacing them by others, who, as a rule, are of a higher social standing."

Living in the new Middle Ages
A key ideological myth of the superhero comic is that the normal and everday enshrines positive values that must be defended through heroic action - and defended over and over again almost without respite against an endless battery of menaces determined to remake the world for the benefit of aliens, mutants, criminals, or sub-aqua beings from Atlantis. The normal is valuable and is constantly under attack, which means that almost by definition the superhero is battling on behalf of the status quo.

Jospeh Campbell - The Keys

The mythological hero, setting forth from his commonday hut or castle, is lured, carried away, or else voluntarily proceeds, to the threshold of adventure. There he encounters a shadow presence that guards the passage. The hero may defeat or conciliate this power and go alive into the kingdom of the dark (brother-battle, dragon-battle; offering, charm), or be slain by the opponent and descend in death (dismemberment, crucifixion). Beyond the threshold, then, the hero journeys through a world of unfamiliar yet strangely intimate forces, some of which severely threaten him (tests), some of which give magical aid (helpers). When he arrives at the nadir of the mythological round, he undergoes a supreme ordeal and gains his reward. The triumph may be represented as the hero's sexual union with the goddess-mother of the world (sacred marriage), his recognition by the father-creator (father atonement), his own divinization (apotheosis), or again - if the powers have remained unfriendly to him - his theft of the boon he came to gain (bride-theft, fire-theft); intrinsically it is an expansion of consciousness and therewith of being (illumination, transfiguration, freedom). The final work is that of the return. If the powers have blessed the hero, he now sets forth under their protection (emissary); if not, he flees and is pursued (transformation flight, obstacle flight). At the return threshold the transcendental powers must remain behind; the hero re-emerges from the kingdom of dread (return, resurrection). The boon that he brings restores the world (elixir).

The outlines of myths and tales are subject to damage and obscuration. Archaic traits are generally eliminated or subdued. Imported materials are revised to fit local landscape, custom, or belief, and always suffer in the process. Furthermore, in the inumerable retellings of a traditional story, accidental or intentional dislocations are inevitable. To account for elements that have become, for one reason or another, meaningless, secondary interpretations are invented, often with considerable skill.

When a civilization has passed from a mythological to a secular point of view, the older images are no longer felt or quite approved. The myths were read as superhuman romances.

Wherever the poetry of myth is interpreted as biography, history, or science, it is killed. The living images become only remote facts of a distant time or sky.

Joseph Campbell - the Return Part 2

The Crossing of the Return Threshold
The two worlds, the divine and the human, can be pictured only as distinct from each other - different as life and death, as day and night. The hero adventures out of the land we know into darkness; there he accomplishes his adventure, or again is simply lost to us, imprisoned, or in danger; and his return is described as a coming back out of that yonder zone. Nevertheless - and here is a great key to the understanding of myth and symbol - the two kingdoms are actually one. The realm of the gods is a forgotten dimension of the world we know. And the exploration of that dimension, either willingly or unwillingly, is the whole sense of the deed of the hero. The values and distinctions that in normal life seem important disappear with the terrifying assimilation of the self into what formerly was only otherness.

How teach again, however, what has been taught correctly and incorrectly learned a thousand thousand times, throughout the milleniums of mankind's prudent folly?

The first problem of the returning hero is to accept as real, after an experience of soul-satisfying vision of fulfillment, the passing joys and sorrows, banalities and noisy obscenities of life. Why re-enter such a world? Why attempt to make plausible, or even interesting, to men and women consumed with passion, the experience of transcendental bliss?

The equating of a single year in Paradise to one hundred of earthly existence is a motif well known to myth.

Master of the Two Worlds
Freedom to pass back and forth across the world division, from the perspective of the apparitions of time to that of the causal deep and back - not contaminating the principles of the one with those of the other - is the talent of the master.

Symbols are only the vehicles of communication; they must not be mistaken for the final term, the tenor, of their reference.

The individual, through prolonged psychological disciplines, gives up completely all attachment to his personal limitations, idiosyncrasies, hopes and fears, no longer resists the self-annihilation that is prerequisite to rebirth in the realization of truth, and so becomes ripe, at last, for the great at-one-ment. His personal ambitions being totally dissolved, he no longer tries to live bt willingly relaxes to whatever may come to pass in him.

Freedom to Live.
The battlefield is symbolic of the field of life, where every creature lives on the death of another. A realization of the inevitable guilt of life may so sicken the heart may refuse to go on with it. On the other hand, like most of the rest of us, one may invent a false, finally unjustified, image of oneself as an exceptional phenomenon in the world, not guilty as others are, but justified in one's inevitable sinning because one represents the good. Such self-righteousness leads to a misunderstanding, not only of oneself but of the nature of both man and the cosmos. The goal of the myth is to dispel the need for such life ignorance by effecting a reconciliation of the individual consciousness with the universal will. And this is effected through a realization of the true relationship of the passing phenomena of time to the imperishable life that lives and dies in all.

Man in the world of action loses his centering in the principle of eternity if he is anxious for the outcome of his deeds, but resting them and their fruits on the knees of the Living God he is released by them, as by a sacrifice, from the bondages of the sea of death.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Flash Notes - Jay Garrick

Single-powered character
Reader identification
Dynamic motion versus static images
The Flash exemplifies comic book's energetic potential
Artistic expression of speed
i.e. Speed lines, blurred images, forced perspective
Flying, put them in the clouds

All-American Publications
Flash Comics # 1 (Jan. 1940)
Hard water fumes or "heavy" water vapors
College student
Father's WWI helmet redesigned as Hermes
Hawkman, Black Canary

All Star Comics (summer 1940)
Two DC Comics (Adventure & More Fun)
Two All-American (All-American & Flash)
Sandman, Hour-Man, Green Lantern, The Atom, Hawkman, Johnny Thunder,
Spectre, and Dr. Fate.

All Star Comics #3
Introduction of the Justice Society of America

All Star Comics #4 (March-April 1941)
Poll results pick Flash for solo title

All-Flash Quarterly
"Honorary" status in JSA due to editorial policy

Comic Calvacade (Winter 1943)
Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern

All Star Comics #24 (Spring 1945)
Flash returns to JSA
Series canceled at #57 (Feb/March 1951)

Four titles in Golden Age.

Most believeably written of superheroes.
Jay Garrick fought gangsters, kidnappers, racketeers, corrupt politicians, swindlers, and frauds.
Humiliation and tormenting his opponents.
Vibrating superfast he could become invisible and haunt the criminals "ghost-like".
Throwing pies and forcefeeding criminals.
Mischievous streak.

The Fiddler, the Thinker, the Thorn, the Shade
Usually a villain initially triumphs before the hero discovers how to turn the tables. Jay Garrick's conflicts, however, were remarkably unchallenging, and the entertainment value of such stories relied upon the reader enjoying the villains being toyed with unmercifully before they surrendered - or in some cases, before they saw the error of their ways and reformed.

Post WWII costumed characters fell out of favor.
All-Flash cancelled with issue #32 (Dec./Jan. 1947) and the last issue of Flash comics was #104 (Feb. 1949). After Comic Calvacade #29 (Oct./Nov. 1948) became a funny animal book.

Ten years after his final JSA adventure Jay returned to DC Continuity with The Flash #123 (Sept. 1961). Gardner Fox.

The "multiverse" concept.

All-American Comics
225 Lafayette St.

Harry Lampert, artist
Gardner Fox, writer
M.C. Gaines, boss
Shelly Mayer, editor

Gaines & Mayer pulled Superman from DC slush pile. Within 18 months
Flash was third superhero to garner a second title.

Strong, invulnerable, alien

Escape artist, detective, human

Fast, scientist, superhuman

Flash Comics #1
Jay Garrick, college student, tries to get Joan, but his football skills don't impress her. Studying gases from "hard water", he separates the elements, and while taking a smoke break late night, he is too slow to catch the broken beakers. Professor Hughes finds him in the morning after he has inhaled all the fumes. After weeks in the hospital, he finally recovers and then some. Chasing after Joan, Jay realizes his speed, compared to a hurricane, a wind, a ghost. He gets books superfast for Joan from the library, who then decides to go with him to the dance if he uses his speed to play in the state game. Benched most of the game, a star player getting taken out puts Jay in the game. Leadfoot Garrick scores touchdown after touchdown, becoming a football hero. After graduation Jay heads to New York for Assistant Professorship at Coleman University. Reading in the newspaper about racketeers, Jay becomes the Flash and confronts them, never actually seen in a panel, but mentioned in the next. He feels a sense of purpose. Playing tennis against himself, no regard for secret identity, Joan recognizes Jay's powers. Her father was kidnapped, the thugs drive by shoot at Joan, but Jay catches the bullet. Sieur Satan, Serge Orloff, Duriel, all concoct a plan to find out the secret base of the atmoic bombarder. The villains keep him in a room made of mirrors, which he says are stealing his mind. They then try to get Joan's body to show him they mean business to get him to talk, the Faultless Four. Joan tells Jay of their threats to find out the secret. The Flash then charges after the car following it to the hideout. An explanation of his powers, catching a bullet, rescues Joan's father, then speeds back to listen in on the four's plans. They attach Coney Island Beach with a machine gun from a plane. Satan kills his cohorts trying to fry the Flash with an electrified room, but he speeds out. Satan tries to escape by his car but crashes.

Hard water or heavy water stops cell division, causes infertility, more dense.

Placing females on a pedestal.
Joan Williams, more than just a girlfriend, a partner, helpmate, a confidante, and a force to be reckoned with. Mayer looked at men and woman as equals.

Humor, Three Dimwits.

Flash #123 Flash of Two Worlds
Jay as comic book character
Inspiring Barry to name himself the Flash
Jay's villain Rival
Hero worship

The genius of the parallel world concept was that it promised so much more. Throughout the 1970's, more prominent alternate Earths were developed, each offering unique viewpoints and glimpses of a veritable multiverse that's begun to flower anew in 21st century DC comics.


Doralla Kon "Lady Flash"
Flash #145 & #157

Joseph Campbell - the Return

When ther hero-quest has been accomplished, through penetration to the source, or through the grace of some male or female, human or animal, personification, the adventurer still must return with his life-transmuting trophy. The full round, the norm of the monomyth, requires that the hero shall now begin his labor of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may redound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet, or the ten thousand worlds.

Refusal of the return.
Numerous indeed are the heroes fabled to have taken up residence forever in the blessed isle of the unaging Goddess of Immortal Being.

Muchukunda, awoken by Vishnu incarnate in the person of Krishna, who defeated the demons and ruled India in Utopian peace, decimated barbarians who stumbled upon him asleep.

"My Lord God! When I lived and wrought as a man, I lived and wrought - straying restlessly; through many lives, birth after birth, I sought and suffered, nowhere knowing cease or rest. Distress I mistook for joy. Mirages appearing over the desert I mistook for refreshing waters. Delights I grasped, and what I obtained was misery. Kingly power and earthly possession, riches and might, friends and sons, wife and followers, everything that lures the senses: I wanted them all, because I believed that these would bring me beatitude. But the moment anything was mine it changed its nature, and became as a burning fire.

Then I found my way into the company of the gods, and they welcomed me as a companion. But where, still, surcease? Where rest? The creatures of this world, gods included, all are tricked, my Lord God, by your playful ruses; that is why they continue in their futile round of birth, life agony, old age, and death. Between lives, they confront the lord of the dead and are forced to endure hells of every degree of pitiless pain. And it all comes from you!

My Lord God, deluded by your playful ruses, I too was a prey of the world, wandering in a labyrinth of error, netter in the meshes of ego-consciousness. Now, therefore, I take refuge in your Presence - the boundless, the adorable - desiring only freedom from it all."

The Magic Flight.
If the hero in his triumph wins the blessing of the goddess or the god and is then explicitly commisioned to return to the world with some elixir for the restoration of society, the final stage of his adventure is supported by all the powers of his supernatural patron. On the other hand, if the trophy has been attained against the opposition of its guardian, or if the hero's wish to return to the world has been resented by the gods or demons, then the last stage of the mythological round becomes a lively, often comical, pursuit.

A popular variety of the magic flight is that in which objects are left behind to speak for the fugitive and thus delay pursuit.

Another well-known variety of the magic flight is one in which a number of delaying obstacles are tossed behind by the wildly fleeing hero.

"The incomparibly useful function of the dogmatic symbol {is that} it protects a person from a direct experience of God as long as he does not mischievously expose himself. But if...he leaves home and family, lives too long alone, and gazes too deeply into the dark mirror, then the awful event of the meeting may befall him. Yet even then the traditional symbol, come to full flower through the centuries, may operate like a healing draught and divert the fatal incursion of the living godhead into the hallowed spaces of the church."
Dr. C. Jung

Escape from the Underworld
Orpheus & Eurydice
In spite of the failure recorded, a possibility exists of a return of the lover with his lost love from beyond the terrible threshold. It is always some little fault, some slight yet critical symptom of human frailty, that makes impossible the open interrelationship between the worlds; so that one is tempted to believe, almost, that is the small, marring accident could be avoided, all would be well. The myths of failure touch us with the tragedy of life, but those of success only with their own incredibility. And yet, if the monomyth is to fulfill its promise, not human failure or superhuman success but human success is what we shall have to be shown.

Rescue From Without
Amaterasu, Japanese sun goddess
Ilat, South Arabian
Die Sonne, German
Feminine sun goddess

Shinto "Way of the Gods"
Way of devotion to the guardians of life and custom (local spirits, ancestral powers, heroes, the divine king, one's living parents, and one's living children). Preserving and cultivating purity of heart.

Butsudo "Way of the Buddha"
The powers that yield release from the round.

Eight Hundred Myraid of Gods are but differing manifestations of one unique Deity, Kuni-tokotachi-no-Kami, the Eternally Standing Divine Being of the Earth, the Great Unity of All Things in the Universe, the Primordial Being of Heaven and Earth, eternally existing from the
beginning to the end of the world.

The mirror, the sword, the tree.

The mirror, reflecting the goddess and drawing her forth from the august repose of her divine nonmanifestation, is symbolic of the world, the field of reflected glory. Therein divinity is pleased to regard its own glory, and this pleasure is itself inducement to the act of
manifestation or "creation".

The sword is the counterpart of the thunderbolt.

The tree is the World Axis in its wish-fulfilling, fruitful aspect - the same as that displayed in Christian homes at the season of the winter solstice, which is the moment of the rebirth or return from the sun, a joyous custom inherited from the Germanic paganism that has given to the modern German language its feminine Sonne.

The dance of Uzume and the uproar of the gods belong to the carnival: the world left topsy-turvy by the withdrawal of the supreme divinity, but joyous for the coming renewal.

Inanna's descent into Underworld.
Ninshubur, her messenger, ran to the gods.
Enlil, Sumerian air-god, Nanna the moon god, Enki the water god and god of wisdom.

3000 BC

Inanna three days and nights upon a stake.

Two sexless creaturesm one with "food of life" and one with "water of life", sent to sprinkle it on Inanna sixty times.

The conclusion of the poem, this valuable document of the sources of the myths and symbols of our civilization, is forever lost.

Instead of holding to and saving his ego, as in the pattern of magic flight, he loses it, and yet, through grace, is returned.

Whether rescued from without, driven from within, or gently carried along by the guiding divinities, he has yet to re-enter with his boon the long-forgotten atmosphere where men who are fractions imagine themselves to be complete. He has yet to confront society with his ego-shattering, life-redeeming elixir, and take the return blow of reasonable queries, hard resentment, and good people at a loss to comprehend.

Joseph Campbell - The Ultimate Boon Part 2

Kashyapa "the Turtle Man" 
Married 13 daughters of ancient demiurgic patriarch, Daksha "Lord of Virtue". Two daughters gave birth to titans and gods who battled for many years. Titan priest comes in Shiva's "Lord of the Universe" favor who bestows a charm to raise the dead. Brahma & Vishnu tell the gods to form a truce

Brahma, Vishnu, & Shiva - Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer
After 7th Century BC Brahma becomes an agent of Vishnu.
Creator-Preserver versus world-destroyer

Truce to churn the Milky Ocean of immortal life for its butter 'Amrita' "not mortal" aka "nectar of deathlessness". Mount Mandara as churning stick, Vasuki "King of Serpents" churning rope
Vishnu in the form of a tortoise dove into the Milky Ocean to support the base of the mountain
A thousand years

Black, poisonous smoke, Kalakuta "Black Summit" highest concentration of the power of death
Shiva drank and held it in his throat which turned blue aka "Blue Neck" Nilakantha

Apsarases (nymphs)
Lakshmi "Goddess of Fortune"
Uchchaihshravas, milk-white horse "Neighing Aloud"
Kaustubha, the pearl of gems
Other objects to the number 13
Dhanvantari, physician of the gods, holding the moon, the cup of the nectar of life

Battle for the possession of the drink
Rahu, stole a sip, then beheaded before swallowed, body died, head immortal, his head pursuing the moon through the sky, eclipses of the moon.

Vishnu, in guise of a dancing damsel, beguiled the titans and passed the cup to the gods.
Mount Sumeru, gods victorious, titans banished.

The gods as icons are not ends in themselves. Their entertaining myths transport the mind and spirit, not up to, but past them, into the yonder void; from which perspective the more heavily freighted theological dogmas then appear to have been only pedagogical lures: their function, to cart the unandroit intellect away from its concrete clutter of facts and events to a comparitively rarefied zone, where, as a final boon, all existence - whether heavenly, earthly, or infernal - may at last be seen transmuted into the semblance of a lightly passing, recurrent, mere childhood dream of bliss and fright. 

The gods and goddesses then are to be understood as embodiments and custodians of the elixir of Imperishable Being but not themselves the Ultimate in its primary state. What the hero seeks through his intercourse wit them is therefore not finally themselves, but their grace, the power of their sustaining substance. This miraculous energy-substance and this alone is the Imperishable; the names and forms of the deities who everywhere embody, dispense, and represent it come and go. This is the misaculous energy of the thunderbolts of Zeus, Yahweh, and the Supreme Buddha, the fertility of the rain of Viracocha, the virtue announced by the bell rung in the Mass at the consecration, and the light of the ultimate illumination of the saint and sage. It guardians dare release it only to the duly proven.

Gilgamesh, Mesopotamian
Summerian city of Erech
Watercress of immortality, the plant "Never Grow Old"
Lions guard foothills, scorpion-men the heaven supporting mountains, a paradise garden.
The sea that surrounds the world, Goddess Ishtar in a cave, Siduri-Sabitu, closed the gates.
She advised him not pursue his quest but to enjoy the mortal joys of life.
Seeming hedonistic but actually a test. 
Seek ferryman Ursanapi, found chopping wood in the forest, guarded by "those who rejoice to live" or "those of stones", once defeated he traverses the water of death.

Utnapishtim, hero of the primordial deluge, "Noah", tells Gilgamesh the story of the flood then has him sleep six days. A bath, and seven loaves, then the secret of the plant, it was growing atthe bottom of the Cosmic Sea. Gilgamesh tied stones to his feet and sunk, grabbing the plant, mutilated his hand with its thorns. Rested, serpent stole away the plant, ate it, gained power to shed its skin, and so renew its youth. 

Fountain of Youth "Bimini", Juan Ponce de Leon

Chinese philosopher Ko Hung, pills of immortality
Three pounds of genuine cinnabar (red mercury) and one pound of white honey, mix, and dry, and roast over a fire to be shaped into pills. Ten pills a day.

To enlarge the pupil of the eye, so that the body with its attendant personality will no longer obstruct the view. Immortality is then experienced as a present fact. 

"All things are in process, rising and returning. Plants come to blossom, but only to return to the root. Returning to the root is like seeking tranquility. Seeking tranquility is like moving toward destiny. To move toward destiny is like eternity. To know eternity is enlightenment, and not to recognize eternity brings disorder and evi. Knowing eternity makes one comprehensive; comprehension makes one broadminded; breadth of vision brings nobility; nobility is like heaven. The heavenly is like Tao. Tao is the Eternal. The decay of the body is not to be feared."

The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth. Art, literature, myth and cult, philosophy, and ascetic disciplines are instruments to help the individual past his limiting horizons into spheres of ever-expanding realization. As he crosses threshold after threshold, conquering dragon after dragon, the stature of the divinity that he summons to his highest wish increases, until it subsumes the cosmos. Finally, the mind breaks the bounding sphere of the cosmos to a realization transcending all experiences of form - all symbolizations, all divinities: a realization of the ineluctable void.

This is the highest and ultimate crucifixion, not only of the hero, but of his god as well. Hee the Son and the Father alike are annihilated - as personality-masks over the unnamed. For just as the figments of a dream derive from the life energy of one dreamer, representing only fluid splittings and complications of that single force, so do all the forms of all the worlds, whether terrestrial or divine, reflect the universal force of a single inscrutable mystery: the power that constructs the atom and controls the orbits of the stars. 

The Buddha's victory beneath the Bo Tree.
With the sword of his mind he pierced the bubble of the universe - and it shattered into naught. The whole world of natural experience, as well as the continents, heavens, and hells of traditional religious belief, exploded - together with their gods and demons. But the miracle of miracles was that though all exploded, all was nevertheless thereby renewed, revivified, and made glorious with the effulgence of true being. Indeed, the gods of the redeemed heavens raised their voices in harmonious acclaim of the man-hero who had penetrated beyond them to the void that was their life and source.