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Damsel in Distress

The Dragon and the Damsel

We all know the story or are familiar with a variant of the theme. Brave knight fights the dragon to save the damsel in distress. On the surface this could be, merely, read as a bit of a macho man thing, striding in, slaying the beast and saving the defenceless woman. I like to look at it differently.

Stories like this always fascinate me because they deserve a little more attention than we sometimes afford them. Plus, they always bugged me a little because I could not help feeling the old dragon, not to mention the damsel, got a raw deal.

I was reading a few books recently about the limbic part of our brain. It was referred to as our Lizard brain, because it consists of the oldest and most primitive part of the brain. Possibly, the part that generates dreams, it is concerned with basic drives, connected to the nervous system and has an emotional aspect to it. It would take too long to describe its full make up here. The point being that Lizard, Serpent and Dragon really represent the same thing. So we have a starting point with our story: the dragon may represent the Lizard part of our brain. So why do we need to “slay” it. This caused a few problems for me. I have spent a lot of time seeing the need for us to develop and listen to this very aspect of our minds. As humans we spend too much time in our rational, cerebral mind and suppress a lot of what the cerebellum creates for us. Recently, I realised that, maybe, the Lizard/Limbic and the cerebellum are not quite identical, or that there is a negative side to this portion of the brain too. It is the fearful, selfish, spoilt child part of us, the “do as I please”, want things my way, throw the toys out of the pram aspect in each of us…a shadow side to the cerebellum’s creative, nurturing aspect which is the part that has the potential to give birth to dreams and creativity. So, the dragon represents this shadow aspect. It does not have to be slain but it does have to be tamed. This is done with the rational, organising, logical aspect of our brain; the cerebral, thinking part. Rational thought, logic, etc, are qualities often attributed to the male. The masculine aspect of the brain, in other words: The brave knight. So, why does he save the Damsel? We have already brushed upon it. The emotional and creative aspect of the cerebellum, where ideas and creation are born and nurtured. These can be seen as feminine attributes. The damsel is a woman and a woman can bring forth new life. The damsel in the story is the positive manifestation of the limbic system that needs to be separated and rescued from the negative aspect (the dragon) by the cerebral aspect of the mind (the knight). Once the cerebellum is protected from the dragon of selfishness, fear, anxiety, stagnation and denial, the damsel of nurturing, creativity and love can be unchained.

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Fact and Fiction

The last episode of the three part series The Normans on BBC2 tonight, As I said in an earlier post I think this is a well presented and well produced documentary. However, I still have a tiny problem with it. Some of the information presented as fact in last weeks programme, particularly, around the subject of Hereward the Wake are not historical certainties but are aspects that can only really be judged as anecdotal evidence or legend. With history of this antiquity it is only to be expected that “fact” becomes intertwined with legend and a documentary can be forgiven for presenting them without differentation, but it still slightly concerning, especially when they are delivered in a programme that has a style of a no-nonsense, straight talking lecture on Norman History. It is how facts begin to get warped; someone else uses this programme as a reference and the information gains a certain verity. This episode also mentioned the way Anglo-Saxon words are used for the animal in the field (sheep, for example) but the French term is applied to the meat on the table (mutton). I am sure I have read that this is a bit of accepted wisdom that has no authenticity and was a creation of the Victorians. If so, it is slowly becoming assimilated into historical programmes as a fact which simply is not true.

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THe Normans: Wednesday BBC2 9pm

I read a review before watching the first episode of this new series: “Fascinating stuff, but very drily presented” was the concluding comment from the reviewer.

I would disagree. It was fascinating, informative and perfectly well presented by a knowledgable expert in the field, Professor Robert Bartlett. It came as a refreshing change to have a documentary that placed its focus on its subject rather than the whistles and bells so often a part of the contemporary genre: Things like “celebrity” presenter, CGI mock-ups, acted reinactments and incessant repeating of the same information, all of which seem to dominate much of documentary programming these days.

This programme served to remind us how documentaries used to be before the ten second sound bite of dumbed down television took hold.

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Watching the Detectives.

First episode of Sherlock on BBC1 Sunday 9pm. Having always been a fan of the writer Steven Moffet, having written Coupling and Jekyll, I was happy to give this a go, notwithstanding the fact that I was seriously keen on the Sherlock Holmes stories as a child: Avidly obsessive would be a reasonable description of my enthusiasm.

Well acted, particularly, Martin Freeman. One of those actors who does not get the credit he deserves. I thought the plot a little predictable. The scene where they were tracing the GPS on the murdered victim’s mobile as the cabby ascended the stairs with Sherlock remonstrating and trying to solve the dilemma was painful to watch. Working out that Mark Gattiss was Mycroft and not Moriarty was also telegraphed. Liked the style, the use of graphics. The scene where Sherlock gave a description of Watson’s brother by observing details on his mobile was also a bit clumsy but an interesting reworking on the original, I seem to remember Holmes analysing a pocket watch, the scratches around the winder indicating drunkeness. Worth sticking with, though. Now when I hear the word “Moriarty” I have the immortal line, “I’ve got it, it’s Arty Morty!” and if you do not know the reference, you have not seen “Without a clue” and you are missing out on a funny film.

Good to see BBC4 repeating the entire first series of the Swedish version of Wallander on Saturday nights, brilliant television.

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A hundred years hence.

Emeritus Professor Frank Fenner of the Australian National University has stated that he believes the human race will have vanished from the Earth as early as a hundred years from now. I would not argue with this but I would revise it and say that the majority of the human race will have become extinct, I think a few pockets of humanity would survive.

And what type of human will survive and thrive in this post-ecological disaster? Well, you would be looking for those individuals who can cope without modern technology, those that can live within nature and receive her bounty without being so greedy as to risk the continuence of the very planet we all rely upon.

From the male gene pool I am thinking Ray Mears and from the female side of things, Julia Bradbury. So, I am quite optimistic. Mr Mears is a brilliant bloke, not only because he is a decent chap who can survive in a world stripped of modern convenience but also because he understands and brings a spiritual aspect to his awareness of our planet. Ditto for Julia Bradbury, who is a fine looking woman to boot, so all is not lost….although, there will be losers…such as Jeremy Clarkson. Sorry Jeremy, it is nothing personal, I do not disagree with all your views, particularly, those concerned with health and safety and the nanny state: I grew up in an era when wasteground (or tips) were amusingly rebranded as “Adventure Playgrounds” where most of the “Adventure” revolved around not contracting tetanus from the plethora of rusty nails that decorated the place. But even were you to survive any eco-apocolyptic event, the others in the new world would probably feel the need to offer you up in some form of sacrificial appeasement. Then again, you probably wouldn’t want to live in a car-less society populated by lentil munching tree huggers anyway, would you?

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