The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘mythology’

AW Blog Chain – Fire And Ice

Posted by BigWords on August 23, 2012

This blog hasn’t been updated in a while (though you don’t need me to tell you that), and I thought that getting back into the swing of things was a good idea. Even better, using the blog chain gives me ample reason for mass linkage to some of the awesome blogs out there – and you really want to start clicking on these linkies if you haven’t visited the blogs before. So… linkage first, madness second.

orion_mk3 – (link to this month’s post)
Ralph Pines – (link to this month’s post)
areteus – (link to this month’s post)
Catherine Hall – (link to this month’s post)
bmadsen – (link to this month’s post)
pyrosama – (link to this month’s post)
meowzbark – (link to this month’s post)
BBBurke – (link to this month’s post)
writingismypassion – (link to this month’s post)
wonderactivist – (link to this month’s post)
SuzanneSeese – (link to this month’s post)
randi.lee – (link to this month’s post)
Proach – (link to this month’s post)
magicmint – (link to this month’s post)
tomspy77 – (link to this month’s post)

The prompt for the blog chain is “Fire and Ice”.

Image by Frank Frazetta. Go buy some of his paintings.


Fire and ice are at opposite ends of the thermal spectrum, and so aren’t linked by many things. Except volcanoes. Yup. You read that right – freaking awesome volcanoes at that. Sometimes it seems that the universe looks at our laws of physics and says “Fuck that, check this out” and does something outlandish. Not that, y’know, we should be surprised or anything, given that reality has already laid the smack-down on our understanding of life on our own planet. As a voracious reader, such things crop up surprisingly rarely in fiction because… Well, you simply wouldn’t accept being told about ice volcanoes, would you? It would be like those Kemlo books where the brat could breathe in space and had awesome adventures just because. Looking at the differences between fire and ice also brings up another question you are probably not going to give a damn about, but which gave me an unbelievable boner when I discovered it – you most likely know about absolute zero (−273.15°C), but you probably didn’t know that there’s an equivalent for fire as well. Unfortunately, some genius thought that “absolute heat” sounded good enough a name for this limit (where reality loses its shit and starts to break down), so scientists are forevermore doomed to say something which sounds like a bad eighties action film whenever they talk about this phenomenon.

Aren’t you glad I skipped over Gliese 436 to bring you all this other stuff?

There are a lot of myths about both fire and ice which are as fascinating for me as anything that reality throws at us – the phoenix, rising from the flames is an image not easily forgotten, and places such as Niflheimr (literally a land of ice) are as potent as any Greek He-Man wannabe. I spent rather too long a while back hunting down the origins of a rather more modern myth, concerning a Russian submarine which picked up a “corpse” on a chunk of ice only to find that the body (when defrosted) wasn’t as dead as imagined. The various tellings differ slightly, though the impossibilities of the repeated information make me think that somewhere along the line someone was having waaay too much fun propagating this piece of cold war nonsense – the life span of an iceberg isn’t that long, and to believe that the woman was recovered in 1988 and nobody has spoken about being on the sub which pulled her in beggars even the most credulous mind.

Those of you who know of my slightly (snerk) obsessive nature will no doubt be wondering when I’m gonna break out the inevitable reference to Fire and Ice from the Justice league, but… that would be too easy. And boring. Lets try something a little more highbrow.

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Browning, 1920.

It is interesting that fire is linked to hate there. Written before the horrors of World War II, he couldn’t have imagined just how potent it would become for future generations. The notion of repeated apocalypses – apocalii? – has been a staple of myth for probably as long as there have been people. the Hopi believed that there have been three apocalypse events already. Handily, they occurred in the order of fire, ice, then the flood… I find this endlessly fascinating. Firstly, how the hell did they work all this out, and (more importantly) how did they come to that order? it fits with the scientific knowledge that a planet smashed into the earth, turning the surface into a molten goo. Then the massive ice ages (of which we are currently in the middle of a rather minor one), and… Hell, they nailed the fact that the last major ice age was followed by flooding when the sheets of ice covering giant chunks of the planet thawed. It is eerie. And that’s before we get into what the Mayans came up with, in between games of soccer with the heads of their enemies. It seems that no matter where you turn, there is another apocalyptic myth which begs investigation.

For everyone who knows anything about the universe, this is gonna be boring as hell, but for those of you who didn’t pay attention in school, it is important – there are currently two ways the universe is going to end. Go on – take a wild guess as to what those two ways are… Yup. Fire and ice. Again. Shit, it is almost as if the universe likes deliberately messing with us. Either everything spreads out to the extent that the skies will turn dark, and the end comes in a slow, freezing nothingness, or the universe pulls back on itself like a giant rubber band and contracts into a fiery point of everything, where the next universe will be born from a big bang. Like hitting reboot on your computer, though without any of the information being saved. Kind of a bummer. And don’t fret – mankind will be long, long gone by that point. Oooh – we might all be ghosts, watching as the shit hits the fan. That would actually be kinda awesome.

Aaaand that’s as far as I thought ahead for this. I suck, I know. I’ll leave you with a suitable song.











If you are wondering how the hell I got through this entire post without mentioning George R.R. Martin, then join the club.

Posted in Misc., Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Incident At An Overlook

Posted by BigWords on June 25, 2010

by Gary James

The cliffs. Cast in glittering white, now tarnished, the cliffs are where she stands. Alone, and wondering. Lost. Looking out to sea, hoping for the moment. But there is nothing. No answers to her call, no breath of the divine. No salve for the emptiness, no warmth for her soul. She grasps the rail, shoulders hunched, peering over the edge. The drop. Waves rise, fall, surrender to their nature. Erin sighs, fingers tapping. Her ring clanking on the metal rail. Seagulls laugh, flying overhead, tormenting her. Salt air invading her lungs. Standing on the cliffs. Erin, a cipher to herself, mysterious. Who am I?

The sea. Shimmering in repose, it calls to her. Home. Erin leans to it. Fingers stretched on roughly painted metal. Tapping. Clouds roll languidly in the air, playing. Erin still has not found herself. So she waits. Watching the sea, she waits. And beyond, barely visible, is France. A slice of gray resting ghostly on the light blue sea, past the sea, beyond the sea. And of Erin… A bob of black hair framing delicate white skin. Ghostly, sharp features. Beautiful, her mind preoccupied. Tormented. Impatient at the wait. The endless wait. Shifting on her feet, she leans. The railing holds. Erin breathes, and thinks. Who am I?

A ripple runs through her mind, playing at her wants. Not answered, but acknowledged. She has been seen, but she has not been offered tribute. The breeze catching her blouse, the tip of her shoe scratching at the path beneath. Fingers tapping on the metal rail. Impatience. She is Erin, yes, but she is fury. The wait hurts. Cuts. And her anger grows. The sea calls. There are no answers, only questions. Erin wonders. Who am I?

Solitude is broken. Shattered by quick, eager footsteps. A jogger runs the path. Erin watches. Trainers tapping on concrete, the young woman’s stride, the taut strength. Erin straightens, alert. The young woman moves closer. Erin notices the briefest movement in the trees. A man, masked. The jogger is unaware. She is not like Erin. Erin, fingers tightening on the rail, feet flat against the ground, tensed. The sea crashes against the cliff, crying out. Erin watches. Who am I?

The man moving. Nearing the woman. The jogger interrupted, thrown sideways. Erin watches, fingers straining at the metal of the rail. Fury rising. Hair blowing into her eyes. The call of the sea. The man swipes, hitting the jogger. On the ground now. One hand at her shorts. Erin, tensed and ready. The flat of his hand hitting. Erin approaches. Thoughts swirling in her head. Clouds gather in expectation. Eager anticipation. The jogger is struggling. Bleeding. Who am I?

Erin takes the man. Fingers stretching as she savors the act. Erin breathes. Fury rising. She strikes, tearing, ripping. Her anger divine, Erin screams in rage. The sky darkens. The sea calls. Waves whipping in a frenzy. Erin stretches. Flexes. The wait is over. She is Erin, yes, and her mind is clear. And she is savage. Uncontrolled and uncontrollable, Erin continues, gouging, rending and ravaging. Never ending. The horrors she commits shock her. And she wonders. What am I?

Erin’s call is answered. Her calling confirmed. Nerves tingling, rejoicing. The sea flowing her blood, the sky churning in her stomach. Her past flooding in, drowning her. Erin’s sisters, the wars, the neverending pain. Ten thousand years of loss. The defiler sacrificed to her gods. To her friends. His death a kindly act. Erin, satisfied at last, stops. Still hungry. The sea calling to her. Erin, shocked. Horrified. Stepping back from her act, to the rail. To the rail where she has waited. Fingers grasping for steel. Breathing hard. Her head light, Erin balances herself. What am I?

The sea mocks. The jogger, panting, wriggling back from her attack, rises. Turns. Flees as fast as she can. And Erin watches. Aware. Always aware. She knows that her call has been answered. Her soul lightened. And she knows who she is.

She is Erin, yes, and she is fury.

Posted in Misc., Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »