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American Gods Interlude: Essie Tregowan 
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Post American Gods Interlude: Essie Tregowan
Synopsis: "In truth the American colonies were as much a dumping ground as an escape, a forgetting place." Essie came from Cornwall, convicted as a thief, her death sentence commuted to transportation. She brings her stories of the piskies into a 'land with no time for magic', and lies her way into a good marriage. pp103-113



Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:29 am
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Post Re: American Gods Interlude: Essie Tregowan
Gaiman as Ibis wrote:
It is a fine fiction…that America was founded by pilgrims, seeking the freedom to believe as they wished, that they came to the Americas, spread and bred and filled the empty land.


Gaiman as Ibis wrote:
In truth the American colonies were as much a dumping ground as an escape, a forgetting place.


Here, Gaiman seems to be debunking the old pilgrim mythology that so many Americans hold dear. So many people seem to focus on Plymouth Rock and forget Georgia (which was originally a convict state. In addition, he is pointing out that the land that the pilgrims took over was not empty land. It was inhabited by Indians and had been for years. Thus, the new Americans took what they had no right to take – the land and the belief systems of the Indians that they displaced.

Gaiman as Ibis wrote:
Nor I [have a quarrel] with you,” said the red-haired fellow, a little sadly, “although it was you that brought me here , you and a few like you, into this land with no time for magic and no place for piksies and such folk.


When America became a dumping ground for the unwanted and a place of religious freedom, many forms of worship of many different gods were brought over with the immigrants. However, American moved so quickly into an Industrial Revolution that the magic people had brought with them was forgotten. America became a land of industry and not magic. Therefore, there was no longer any room for things like piksies to grow and thrive. Culturally, they became all but lost.



Sat Jun 27, 2009 12:15 am
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Krysondra wrote:
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When America became a dumping ground for the unwanted and a place of religious freedom, many forms of worship of many different gods were brought over with the immigrants. However, American moved so quickly into an Industrial Revolution that the magic people had brought with them was forgotten. America became a land of industry and not magic. Therefore, there was no longer any room for things like piksies to grow and thrive. Culturally, they became all but lost.


This is so spot on!

I think many people were rediculed for their beliefs. I once knew a girl from Wales, (I am part Welsh, very spooky people), she absolutely believed in piksies and fairies, she was terrified of them. She even said prayers to them and had idols to protect herself from them. I don't know if she went so far as to lay out millk, but they certainly were a part of her life. We were living in a dorm, and many girls would antagonize her, and I could see the fear in her eyes, real fear!

I tell this story to my kids, and they always respond with, "but Tinker Bell is a fairy, fairies are good". But, they have not read "Peter Pan". No, faires and piksies are not good, it is interesting how folk lore has changed. You can thank Disney for distorting the true identities of not only fairies, but Jin as well. With movies such as "Peter Pan" and "Aladin" the original meaning of these creatures are lost for good I'm afraid. Disney also tinkered with "The Little Mermaid", in Anderson's version, she dies at the end. This was my favorite story when I was little, the original story brings home the point of sacrifice.

On the other hand, technology can be scary. I have a TV and a radio that turn on, all by themselves, every day! Creepy, creepy!



Sat Jun 27, 2009 9:06 am
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Post Re: American Gods Interlude: Essie Tregowan
Krysondra wrote:
America became a land of industry and not magic.
The wealth produced by industry and the knowledge produced by science are seen in the dominant American paradigm as validating this rejection of magic.

A main theme in American Gods is that the material industrial world is bereft of moral value, wealthy but hollow. It is a problematic point, because science is enormously productive, and the rejection of magic has a rational basis in that magic does not work and is a product of imagination.

My view is that the industrial world is far less rational than it claims to be. We rush headlong towards a climatic disaster, while our instincts say consume and our brains say stop. Our brains are less powerful than our instincts, otherwise we would be capable of cooperating on common values.

I think Gaiman is suggesting we need to re-enchant the world in order to save it. Our instinctive expansion of consumption has to be regulated by some sort of higher value system, grounded in a sense of the absolute value of the earth. The Gods he chooses for American Gods are those who are in touch with this sense of the value of the earth, and notably exclude the whole Greco-Roman-Hebraic Pantheon. I think Gaiman blames these dominant western religions for the alienation of humanity from nature, so looks back to forgotten myths for assistance in the redemption of the world.



Sat Jun 27, 2009 4:37 pm
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Post Re: American Gods Interlude: Essie Tregowan
Robert Tulip wrote:
I think Gaiman is suggesting we need to re-enchant the world in order to save it. Our instinctive expansion of consumption has to be regulated by some sort of higher value system, grounded in a sense of the absolute value of the earth. The Gods he chooses for American Gods are those who are in touch with this sense of the value of the earth, and notably exclude the whole Greco-Roman-Hebraic Pantheon. I think Gaiman blames these dominant western religions for the alienation of humanity from nature, so looks back to forgotten myths for assistance in the redemption of the world.


Wouldn’t dominant Eastern religions have done nearly the same things? Religions that require one god seem to take people away from the land and into church to worship. It is as though they lose the ability to worship while the work, to do good works while they play, to grow attached to the land. The further Americans come in society, the less attached to the land that they are. They no longer work the land, for the most part. They no longer know the land as the will of God. Instead, worship is reserved for a set time and place, instead of all the time.

Quote:
"Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

II Thessalonians 5:16-18


Now, I'm no Bible scholar, but it seems like Americans should have stayed more attached to their lands instead of dashing off to catch industry by the tail.

However, perhaps since America was a dumping ground, they quickly lost touch with their roots in the land. Maybe they didn't want to remember.


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Sat Jul 11, 2009 3:03 am
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Post Re: American Gods Interlude: Essie Tregowan
Krysondra wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
I think Gaiman is suggesting we need to re-enchant the world in order to save it. Our instinctive expansion of consumption has to be regulated by some sort of higher value system, grounded in a sense of the absolute value of the earth. The Gods he chooses for American Gods are those who are in touch with this sense of the value of the earth, and notably exclude the whole Greco-Roman-Hebraic Pantheon. I think Gaiman blames these dominant western religions for the alienation of humanity from nature, so looks back to forgotten myths for assistance in the redemption of the world.
Wouldn’t dominant Eastern religions have done nearly the same things? Religions that require one god seem to take people away from the land and into church to worship. It is as though they lose the ability to worship while the work, to do good works while they play, to grow attached to the land. The further Americans come in society, the less attached to the land that they are. They no longer work the land, for the most part. They no longer know the land as the will of God. Instead, worship is reserved for a set time and place, instead of all the time.
Quote:
"Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."II Thessalonians 5:16-18
Now, I'm no Bible scholar, but it seems like Americans should have stayed more attached to their lands instead of dashing off to catch industry by the tail. However, perhaps since America was a dumping ground, they quickly lost touch with their roots in the land. Maybe they didn't want to remember.


Thanks Krysondra. Your comment shows how alienation is a key theme in American Gods. Instead of being part of the land in which they live and move and have their being, the American culture insists that humans are separate from and above nature. This means people consider themselves as aliens whose nature derives from elsewhere, not in the sense of extraterrestrial, but in deriving their sense of meaning and purpose from an imagined higher heavenly source. This alienated worldview is not sustainable.

By separating religion from life and reason, mainstream Christianity produces a perverse and unbiblical theory of salvation as escape. Especially in the insane idea of rapture which is pure magical fantasy and has no empirical possibility, the fundamentalist movement is a deranged and evil distortion of the ideas of the Bible. For example, Jesus says at John 3:17 that he came not to condemn the world but to save it. Such a project of salvation requires forgiveness and understanding of the world, and integration of our lives with nature.

It is possible to maintain an industrial civilization that is in harmony with nature, but as you point out it is difficult. Buddhism, as a representative Eastern religion, presents a more integrated spirituality than mainstream Christianity, but there is also a secret Christianity which has a higher wisdom and explains the nature of time. A key difference between Buddhism and Christianity, in my reading, is over this theme of salvation as escape. Buddhism says the individual can do nothing to reduce suffering except perfecting their own life and escaping from the snares of delusion, while Christianity says that suffering can be ended through the transforming love of the path of the cross, in an identification with the sufferer and a vision of a world free of evil.

My reading of American Gods is that the pagan imagery of Yggdrasil and the forgotten gods is aimed at a reconciliation between humanity and nature. It opens the question of a hidden Christianity that has this same ambition. An example of this counter-cultural Christianity is Apocalypse by DH Lawrence, which examines the Biblical text and shows that the alienated mainstream doctrine is false and unbiblical, whereas the actual bible has much stronger real redemptive content than is generally understood.



Sat Jul 11, 2009 4:43 pm
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