So when I came back to my project, I felt it was lacking something. Perhaps my perspective needed to be shifted. And it did.
I realised i’d been focusing on the idea of the creation of this world, this universe, without considering an idea which has recently been raising a lot of uproar in the world of science – the concept of a multiverse.
I was reading an article about a ‘wormhole’, a seemingly empty spot on the edge of the observable universe, which seemed to be emitting some form of energy seemingly from nowhere. This was what led some scientists to the idea that our universe may be one of many which, like connected bubbles, could influence one another, and that phenomenon could be the proof of that theory.
I found this idea fascinating and decided to add the concept of a bubbly multiverse at the very beginning of the animation piece I’m planning. I wanted to see them breathe, shrinking and expanding, moving together, flowing with and according to one another; I wanted to see the multiverse come to life and I started doing some small scale experiments with watercolour.
I thought it would be interesting to see what happens when I use glitch editing, and I’m actually really pleased with the result. Apart from the visual appeal, it could be a reference to the idea of an inter-dimensional distortion. If we come from a universe which is contained within this multiverse – perhaps our idea of the level above (the multiverse) would be distorted by the limits of our cognitive capacity and perception.
Here’s most of what I had in my presentation / mock Viva Voce.
We had to prepare and time it (10 minutes + 5 minutes for comments and questions), which was one of the things I slightly messed up by starting off a bit slow and then having to rush the end. I did a recap of the whole research I’d done and evolution of my ideas though I was meant to be showing mainly developments and actual work. I think my save and trump card was the 3metre-long piece I did instead of thumbnails, as concept artwork for the planned animation (you can see that here).
For the recent formative assessment I wanted to show concept artwork and a storyboard for the animation I’m working on. Instead, I decided to create a continuous drawing which tells the whole story.
It is a mixture of a number of creation myths and my own interpretation of scientific discovery. The story begins with the bubbles of the multiverse, each one its own universe. We then dive into one and witness, bit by bit and as a whole, the creation and development of what we soon realise is our own world.
The image turned out to be 3,33m which I thought quite intriguing. I used pencils, acrylic, gold, silver and white pen, and a bit of gouache.
Any comments, feelings, and generally creative criticism of all kinds would be greatly appreciated :)
Why illustrate creation myths? What is the point if it’s been done so many times? What could there be to it that we don’t already know?
It is truly a challenging task to redefine something anew which has been defined and redefined so many times before – mythologies have been used as a source of inspiration for lots of world famous motion pictures as well as, and especially, books and entire series; by infusing their work with a measured amount of established myth and legend, people like Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis create entire worlds, just as real as (and often based on) the Heaven we so often hear about, or Asgard, or Hades and so many other realms from different mythologies. And yet, we’re not talking about mythology as a whole, this exploration is of the roots of the cultural phenomenon, of Myths of Creation.
“In the enjoyment of a great myth we come nearest to experiencing as a concrete what can otherwise be understood only as an abstraction.” said C. S. Lewis in his essay Myth Became Fact. “Myth is the mountain whence all the different streams arise which become truths down here in the valley; in hac valle abstractionist (5) Or, if you prefer, myth is the isthmus which connects the peninsular world of thought with that vast continent we really belong to. It is not, like truth, abstract; nor is it, like direct experience, bound to the particular.” The ending to his essay is perhaps the most captivating (and relevant to my own studies) part of it, “God is more than a god, not less; Christ is more than Balder, not less. We must not be ashamed of the mythical radiance resting on our theology. We must not be nervous about “parallels” and “pagan Christs”: they ought to be there-it would be a stumbling block if they weren’t. We must not, in false spirituality, withhold our imaginative welcome. […] For this is the marriage of heaven and earth: perfect myth and perfect fact: claiming not only our love and our obedience, but also our wonder and delight, addressed to the savage, the child, and the poet in each one of us no less than to the moralist, the scholar, and the philosopher.”
It is what I want to bring out to the public – a manifested personal experience of that which is only existent in the mind and soul. Even a trace of that scale of awareness of the world, not at a personal, familial, communal or national level, beyond even a planetary level can hint at our insignificance and through it unify us. When one is taken back to the beginning of time and space, one cannot help but experience something. And it is that something (which can most closely be regarded as a sense of awe), which is the same in everyone, which is the physical manifestation of a mutual connection, an understanding of a higher level, a unifying factor if you will between all of us on earth. Perspective, Empathy, those words become amplified by their own resonance – your viewpoint is exalted, you observe a creator in action, THE Creator in action… when one has transcended the barrier of mundane thought, of the opaque fog that is the material world and the “normalities” of day-to-day life, that is when one truly starts becoming aware of the world they are a part of… together, side by side with everyone and everything else. By putting things in perspective, we may come to realize that our personal problems become insignificant in the wake of wars, destruction and terrorism fuelled by the greed, blind hatred and petty differences of a certain few. It is the larger part of humanity that craves a peaceful life of love and cooperation, and to get there I hope my work to be a peaceful catalyst.
One People. One Planet. One Life. One Love.
Mythology is fascinating. I’ve believed that my whole life without anyone having to push me towards it. There is something so interesting about how people used to explain the workings of the world, and how each culture had its own set of tales, passed down generation after generation. Those stories are so different from one another despite the fact they address similar, if not the same, topics of life, death, love, war, parenting, kinship…
So why choose such a vast subject? The truth is I’m not. Despite the differences there is one thing that all cultures and mythologies have in common – stories with similar narrative and identical purpose – Creation myths. No matter which mythology I choose to explore, there will always be a story to explain how the world came to be.
With time, our cultures have changed, moulded by the influence of other cultures. When you look at our world nowadays there’s barely a trace of the ancient world, all we have is the great ruins and archaeological sites to remind us. But it’s not just that – ancient philosophers and mathematicians and poets, and their ideas and knowledge have become the earliest basis for scientific discovery, and even though science as an autonomous subject had a slow and rough start because of the austere nature of religion and its influence over the population, it has gone as far as the edges of space and time. Faith, what we believe in, is one of the most integral building blocks of us as individuals and as a collective and yet religion has somehow always been a dividing factor. Why is that? If all religions teach us to love one another and cooperate, then at some point we must’ve gone off by quite the margin in our understanding of them. Let’s not falsely convince ourselves that it’s human nature to be in conflict, we’ve gone way past the age of battling for territorial influence by sending armies to slaughter each other, we are in the 21st century, a time of supposed intelligence and scientific/technological advancement beyond that of every previous age. And still there is mistrust, hatred and petty differences which lead up to intense cultural and political conflicts – the atrocities in Syria being just another drop in the glass which is full to the brim.
Can we claim that we’ve been conditioned by our cultures to be hostile towards those who are different? Led to believe that this is how things are, and there’s nothing we can do about it? Well, if there is one thing which is universally true, it’s that we can question everything. And I am questioning the lessons our institutionalised faiths have groomed us into over countless generations.
I’m going back to the very start, to the point where faith was about understanding rather than judging. When people told stories about how their world was created, in an attempt to understand it better. Because it was at that point, that we weren’t focusing on cultural specificities and how we should live our lives. Because it is those stories which best depict the human psyche and how it works – can anyone explain why creation myths are so similar to one another? Could it be that we’re not that different after all? And if so… why is there so much conflict, hatred, cruelty and destruction in the world?
Creation Myths and the Hint of Higher Understanding
Creation Myths are the explanations of the origins of our world/universe, and no matter where or when, they have existed since the dawn of Reason.
In creation myths, there are ideas explored through the imagination of our ancestors thousands of years ago, and through the logic and facts of science nowadays,
which ideas, strangely enough, are strikingly similar to one another.
Is it crazy to think that there may have been some higher knowledge involved, a collective consciousness?
In terms of space and time, myths and the people who told them had little if not nothing in common, and often didn’t interact as they developed separately, on different continents, divided by vast impassable oceans.
So what could have enabled them to have the same ideas if they had nothing in common?
There may be more than a thousand stories about how our world and our universe as well as ourselves came to be, yet they all rely on the same basic principles.
~ At the beginning there’s nothing/darkness/infinite emptiness and chaos. ~ Then the egg cracks/there’s an explosion of light/the emergence of consciousness or the primordial creator god. ~ Then the creation of the heavens and the earth/night and day/celestial bodies. ~ Then the humans, made of clay/mud/dust/washed up wood…
– What was there before the Big Bang? – The Big Bang, the giant explosion, which marked the beginning of time. – Matter takes new shapes and configurations/gas clusters/stars /planets/galaxies. – Humanity as the product of an evolutionary process, moulded throughout time to what we are today, with the same chemical consistency as the earth we live on….
Could we claim that it could be one and the same story seen through a prism? A different language bringing the story down to understandable terms for the different cultures?
Science gives us yet another explanation (this time based on fact and logic, rather than imagination and logic) and that is still almost the same story, excluding the narrative and the humanised creative forces called gods and goddesses.
Can scientists say what was before the Big Bang? They may still speculate but one thing is certain and that is the black void which lies beyond our cosmic horizon. (Not entirely void, as there is still energy emitting from it, so there must be something in that infinite darkness which is believed to have been billions and billions of years ago, before the BB. FYI: TED Talks, Distant Time and the Hint of a Multiverse)
Another interesting comparison:
In Ancient Egypt they had Nut and Geb, the Sky and the Earth, as lovers in a tight embrace until they were separated by Ra, the sun deity.
In Norse mythology after the death of the giant Ymir, his head was separated from his body so his skull could become the dome of the sky and his body the earth, and the skull was held up by four guards – East, South, West and North. Chinese myth tells the story of Pan Gu, the giant who was asleep in an egg shell and once he awoke and the shell broke, heavier bits that came out of it became the earth, the lighter ones became the sky, and fearing that they’d mix once more, he held them apart, growing simultaneously as they continued to separate.
These three bits of the respective creation myths clearly emphasise that the earth and sky were once mixed, or really close together.
As if playing on the idea that at the dawn of time temperatures were much higher, and matter was much denser. Closer together. And that’s scientific fact: The universe is expanding. It’s cooling off. We have scientific studies right here, explaining to us that simple yet fundamental idea which actually existed for thousands of years beforehand.
So when we say “the universe is expanding, it used to be much denser” our ancestors would have said things like “the sky and the earth were once so close together that there was no room for light and air, so [insert name of god here] came between them and pushed them away from one another”.
Of course, when talking about the universe and the creation of the world, we must think in a much larger scale or time frame, which is one of the things that would have been unfathomable for our ancestors.
– Pan Gu held the sky and earth apart for 18,000 years as he grew and matured.
– God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them in 7 days, according to the old Biblical texts.
But what if those are just the understandable measures the concepts had to be translated into?
– The official age of maturity around the world is most often 18.
– A week consists of 7 days (6 to work and one to rest).
So perhaps these creation stories are metaphors for things we are already aware of… but if we’re aware of them already what is the point?
Could we not have discovered some scientific truths much earlier if only we had paid attention? Instead of denying people’s faiths and calling them pagan and their gods false, and burning people at the stake for their radical ideas which could put the authority of the church in jeopardy, where could we have been today if we had been even a little bit more receptive of external knowledge and ideas?
Because of such a violent history between science and faith, it is understandable why these two fields wouldn’t really look for common ground, but as we advance (and at high rates as well) we can start to see how boundaries between spheres of knowledge are merging and producing the most astonishing results which drive us even further on.
So why is it so difficult for science to work together with mythology towards the possibility of a higher understanding of our universe, and perhaps even discoveries waiting to be made?
Pointless? Nothing is pointless if you know how to look at it.
All scientific advances have been for the purpose of a higher understanding, but so have creation stories. Just as science works with facts and figures, myths about creation were built on the basis of people’s immediate surroundings, the recognition of possible cause for specific effect. They weren’t ‘foolish’ or ‘crazy’ at all when they talked of giants, gods and magical creatures. They just had different tools to work with, and different terminology, most widely recognised as metaphor.
If you showed an iPhone to someone a thousand years ago, it would have been perceived as magic and you would have been accused of witchcraft and burned. We would call that stupidity and blindness, but magic is just the word for science we don’t have yet. Communicating across oceans was an idea beyond belief and yet today our friends or family on the other side of the world are just a phone call away.
Interestingly enough in Tarot, The Magician card, number I, represents just that: someone who can do what they do so well and with such knowledge, that others believe it is magic. That’s how illusionists work, they keep your attention while they do their tricks without you even realising, until you find yourself amazed and in disbelief.
Yes, there is magic in myth. There are creatures made up of different animals; could that be the first notion of genetic modification?
Yes, there are gods of unimaginable power, but what is the meaning behind? A ‘god’ would be a masculine energy, a physical force, a catalyst for action and often destruction. In the same sense, a ‘goddess’ would represent the feminine energy of creation, a mental force, a representation of connection and protection…
Why is it so strange and hard to remember such simple concepts? We end up taking everything so seriously that we lose sense of that transcendent aspect of what these stories are meant to teach us.
Creation stories are the roots.
They are the beginnings to entire mythologies, which in turn became the foundations of religions and different belief systems today.
Cults, religions, worship are all culture-specific. And cultures more or less differ in accordance with territory and population.
Yes, it is the people that make the culture, and yes, it is the people that choose their faith but it’s actually a mirrored effect – it is the culture hand in hand with the faith that moulds the individual. When you place two mirrors facing each other, you just get an infinite loop, much like this one; we are who we are, thanks to our knowledge and experiences, thanks to the culture we grew up in and what we have faith in on a spiritual level.
But does anyone ask themselves the simple question: What if?
What if I wasn’t born where I was?
What if I was raised by a different family in a different country of different a different culture, with different traditions and faith?
I would have had a different upbringing, different associations to things, perhaps even different views on what’s right and wrong.
And maybe I would’ve been blind enough to think that other places, cultures, peoples, have it all mixed up and don’t know the truth…
“Truth is singular, its versions are mistruths.” –Sonmi-451, Cloud Atlas How can we deny what others believe to be true?
When it comes to the material world, it’s easy, just look at the facts. But when it comes to spiritual understanding, that’s where things get tricky.
Religion is a form of identification, just like nationality and language, but where these are focused on territorial background, religions, or faiths, represent a spiritual kinship, a bond beyond the immediate familiarity. To believe in the same thing as another, creates an unmatched connection which is the foundation for collaboration and advancement. We move forward because we move together for the same purpose, in a sense.
But when we look at religion today, do we just see a set of rules for a ‘sinless’ life? Regulations and commands of what to do and what not to do in order to secure a good afterlife in heaven? In order not to be punished and sent to hell to suffer for an eternity? Really? Is that all it comes down to?
Let’s do good things so we don’t go to hell? How is that moral in any way? Isn’t religion meant to teach morality, compassion, love and acceptance rather than fear?
And what happened to the metaphors? We have people all over the planet, believing that there’s a place in the clouds waiting for them after they die, but what if that, like all religious and mythological teachings, is too a metaphor?
Do good and you’ll go to Heaven.
Sin and you’ll go to Hell.
Do good and good will come to you, and you’ll feel good after.
Do bad things and you’ll feel horrible about it after, not to mention the vengeance and/or justice that would immediately befall you as a result of your actions.
Are those ideas trying to teach us that there’s such a thing as cause and effect? Perhaps this is just the contemporary slang for it, or I’ve gone mad, thinking that there might be a hidden meaning behind religious texts… right.
By saying all of this I don’t deny the existence of a Heaven or Hell, I simply try to understand concepts for which there is no physical proof. Or at least no physical proof on our frequency.
Is it possible that our world functions like a radio or a TV? With radios you get different frequencies or different stations – when you change the frequency from A to B, A doesn’t disappear, but we simply stop hearing it. Instead we can only hear station B. It’s the same for channels on TV, they don’t stop existing just because we’re not watching them. And we can’t watch or listen to one channel/station while we’re occupied with another.
In this sense, could our world be a layer of such frequencies, with us only existing on a specific one? Could those notions of Heaven and Hell and other realms actually be scientifically plausible if they existed on a different frequency?
Another example could be light. A light spectrum is the many different wavelengths of energy produced by a light source. Light is measured in nanometers (nm), where each nanometer represents a wavelength of light or band of light energy. Visible light is the part of the spectrum from 380nm to 780nm, which make up a tiny fraction of the spectrum – we can’t physically perceive ultraviolet, x- and gamma rays, which are lower than 380nm, and neither can we see infrared, radar, FM, TV or AM waves (above 780nm). Sound is almost exactly the same – we simply can’t hear anything outside of the sonic range, anything below is infrasonic, and anything above is ultrasonic or even hypersonic.
And yet we are aware of these wavelengths, there is proof of them even though they are unperceivable. Can we become aware of new frequencies of existence in the same way with the right tools?
What if right now we are simply blind to something which is right in front of us, right under our noses, that we just haven’t realised we can perceive?
What if we are able to transcend the barriers of our physical bodies and consciousness by simply changing our own frequency? Our way of thinking? Our mindset?
Could we be truly unified? Cooperating, understanding, caring, and loving? Working together towards a higher purpose, a higher knowledge, a transcendence of sorts?
Try and imagine what we could achieve if we only stopped dividing ourselves – gender, race, nationality, language,… religion? How come religion, which is meant to be the most unifying factor of all end up as one of the most severely dividing one? And this isn’t even about the mistrust and downright hatred between different religions and faiths, this is about the subdivisions within a single faith such as Christianity – it is not just that anymore, you have to be specific when you refer to this religion as there are so many ‘denominations’ of it…
There’s Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Restorationist, Nontrinitarian… It’s like each one is its own different religion. How can we say we’ve changed so much since ancient times, when, really, we haven’t changed one bit – everyone still believes whatever suits them best, with major disregard and/or denial of everyone else’s belief systems. “My Truth is the only Truth, and everyone else is just wrong”, is this what we truly believe?
How crazy is it that all those different religions and faiths are just the different sides to the same pyramid, all leading up to the same Truth? The Truth which is transcendent of all else?
In order to get where you want to go, you need to know where you are. There are countless ways to get to London for example but depending on where you are, those can vary drastically. In the same sense, religions and such could just be the different paths to the ultimate Truth that we are all aiming for. Why would we deny or accuse a path of being wrong, if it leads to the same place?
Mythologies nowadays are widely regarded as outdated, as ancient stories and fables with some moral value. They are in fact the results of cultural particularities; different territories, languages, population, habits, etc. Our ancestors told the stories in understandable terms, they made do with what they had in front of them to go by, what they knew from their own experience and surroundings. That makes general myths difficult to compare (although the well known Ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, is told in almost the same form in Japan where it’s about the creators of the world, Izanami and Izanagi). This makes Creation stories much more appropriate for such an attempt of pointing out similarities hiding in plain sight for thousands of years.
No matter who you are, where you’re from, how you live your life and whom/what you worship, you have come across or pondered at some point the notion of how everything began. Where did we come from, what made us exist, what made or world the way it is? It’s the type of story we should expect to hear most answers to, and yet as many Creation Myths and Stories of Genesis there are, they all build on the same basic concepts, regardless of where or when they were told.
The matter of Creation is probably one of the most significant questions contemplated, and further studied by scientists, since the dawn of humanity, and it may just be one of the most important things we have not yet fully understood.
“He who thinks he knows, doesn’t know. He who knows that he doesn’t know, knows. For in this context, to know is not to know. And not to know is to know.”
—Power of Myth , p.55