Tag Archives: god

Pele, a randy Volcano goddess

The Curse of Lono by Hunter S. Thompson (author) & Ralph Steadman (illustrator)

The Curse of LonoIf you like out of the box writing styles, political incorrectness, and drug-induced description, you’ll like this book.  (continued from last post)

What makes this book extra special, besides the awesome illustrations by Steadman, is how the story about the murder of Captain Cook is interwoven throughout.  After all that the accomplished explorer went through to get there, things went awry after the Hawaiians mistook him for one of their gods, Lono.  Eventually they figured it out, feelings got hurt, and he was killed in cold blood.

curse5The perfect backdrop for the jarring, harsh “vacation” Thompson was attempting to get when, as a journalist, he accepts a job in Hawaii.  Storms and mayhem ensue when he reaches the Big Island, and he ends up staying 6 months because, well, he can’t get enough of the storms and mayhem.

The book is about his adventures but we learn a few things about the religion of the Hawaiians.  Lono is the god of “excess and abundance” while Pele is a “randy Volcano goddess”:

“When Pele had a party, everybody came; she was a lusty long-haired beauty who danced naked on molten lava with a gourd of gin in each hand, and anybody who didn’t like it was instantly killed.  Pele had her problems – usually with wrong-headed lovers, and occasionally with whole armies – but in the end she always prevailed.  And she still lives, they say, in her cave underneath a volcano on Mt. Kiluea and occasionally comes out to wander around the isalnd in any form she chooses – sometimes as a beautiful young girl on a magic surfboard, sometimes a jaded harlot sitting alone at the bar of the Volcano House; but usually  – for some reason the legends have never made clear – in the form of a wizened old woman who hitchhikes around the island with a pint of gin in her kitbag.”

This kind of writing, the few snippets of Hawaiian religion and  folklore, the accompanying story about Captain Cook, and the amazing illustrations by Ralph Steadman are what make this book memorable.

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Artists & “the god within them” (Le Guin)

To be an atheist is to maintain God.  His existence or his nonexistence, it amounts to much the same, on the plane of proof.

The Left Hand of Darkness, newer printingThis is a quote from The Left Hand of Darkness, a book by Ursula K. Le Guin.  It is one of many profound statements in this book.  We can rely on Le Guin to take us to a new and different place than most sci-fi writers.  She has stated several times in introductions that she is an atheist but that she often speaks of God.  Mostly god with a small g though, like when she said in the introduction to this book that artists feel “the god within them” using their hands, when they are inspired.

I like the idea of the god within us.  I’ve always thought that atheists can still pray, they can pray to themselves.  To some extent, that might even be what believers are doing when they pray.

“The god within us” is a metaphor for tapping into our higher selves, the power we have inside.

As an artist I have felt the “god” working through my hands.  You could call it “flow”, or being in the zone, where your focus is handed over singularly to one project, or one goal.  Time has little meaning, except to return you to your goal, your project.  I remember thinking “I’m really onto something here” but it was more than that.  When you’re in the zone, you don’t over think things, at least I didn’t, but you have a direction.  Your hands know exactly what to do.  All you want is to be allowed to continue in that direction.  I will even go so far as to say that I had “faith” of some sort, in my ability, or that I was being true to myself, or in something else that cannot be described.

That flow will happen again for me, “god” willing.