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Gilgamesh Notes

Relates to the Monomyth

  • Enkidu's arrival is the disruption of stasis
  • Call to action is when Enkidu is made
  • Threshold is when Humbaba dies
  • Enkidu as a companion would be the supernatural aid
  • There are possibly two heroes: Enkidu and Gilgamesh
  • Bottom of the hero's journey is when Enkidu dies
  • Because Enkidu was created supernaturally, he might be the supernatural aid
  • Also might be Gilgamesh's mother (supernatural aid)

How it really relates to the Monomyth

  • Starts at stasis
  • Enkidu meets Gilgamesh (disruption of stasis)
  • Enkidu/Ninsun (supernatural aid)
  • Ninsun is the one who gave the aid and Enkidu is the aid
  • Humbaba dies (first threshold)
  • Enkdu dies (acquisition of boon)
  • The crisis moment is immediately followed by the acquisition of the boon
  • Whatever the hero has brought back, the hero has to give it to the society and that brings the society back to stasis. In this case, the boon might be the immortal Gilgamesh.

Speciel Memory Cultural Memory

  • Every culture that has ever existed on this planet has a story where the gods got mad and decide that they were going to destroy humanity and they flood the planet and a man or a woman make a boat and they are saved and then they continue on humanity.
  • These are really interesting things because they are really old
  • This finds its manifestation in the three primal fears as well. All humans are born with three fears. We originally lived on the savanna and we tried twice to immigrate twice out of Africa nad none of htose things actually worked. The third great migration is when humans began to spread across the globe.
  • Falling
  • Darkness
  • Snakes
  • As a species, we are really very pathetic.
  • The only thing we have is a forebrain because our intelligence
  • We are very easy prey.
  • In the African Savanna, we slept in trees because that is the safest place to sleep
  • The fastest way to die when you sleep in a tree is to fall and that is why we are afraid of it.
  • You would fall off of a branch and then you would hit a lot of other branches on the way down and then you die so it really was not pleasant.
  • Snakes are the one predator that can get us regardless of where we are and we cannot hear them at all and so that is why we are afraid of snakes
  • Lions hunt at dawn and dusk and they tend to scavenge and they are really lazy hunters
  • Big snakes - we are not afraid of the small ones, we are only afraid of the big ones because those are the ones that can kill us
  • Everyone is afraid of the dark. When we turn off the lights in our room, we do not think about it
  • We have learned that we cannot see anything in the dark and that is why we are afraid of it
  • When things are dark, almost any predator can get us. We cannot see them going, we cannot smell, or hear them coming.
  • Most animals are scared of light at night - we tamed fire so that we could feel safer
  • We can compensate or conditioned to overcome the fears
  • If we are not afraid of snakes, we are a little bit creeped out by them sometimes
  • The flood story is thought to be a special memory - there was thought to be a near extinction event and the flood memory is a memory of that event. It would be easy for there to be a near extinction event because there were only 20k of us and that is really not very many. In southern FL there are 7 million people.
  • 1/20 people in the US gets sick, that would shut the entire nation down
  • It is basically a domino effect because then people stop working and there would be no income and therefore you would have to save everything you have for essentials and therefore people who work in the service industry would be out of a job and that would destroy the entire country via the domino effect.
  • The Black Death killed one out of every three people
  • All the epidemic has to do is to keep people at home
  • Before Katrina, the population of New Orleans was 1.4 million and 1800 people died and that is less than .3% and the city is still not recovered, but that was mostly becuase of the fact that Katrina destroyed the infrastructure as well.
  • For the early humans, there infrastrucutre was the place where they were living and that would make a near-extinction event really easy because people lived really close together.
  • The flood myth is probably a near-extinction event that occurred prior to the last great migration.
  • We do not know why the three great migrations occured and we do not know why the third one took hold and the first two did not
  • We took the memory of the flood myth with us when humans scattered across the planet and we encoded it into religion and into our myths and into our identity
  • We have a common ancestor was less than 30,000 years ago. The last common relative of humanity was only 2,00 years ago. A last common relative means that we are all blood related to an individual.
  • That means that we are all technically all blood relatives
  • We all descended from a single individual that scientists call the Mitochondrial Eve
  • We are all descended from one women but we could but descendent from multiple man. They used mitochondrial DNA drift in order to track this. There is no way to know where she lived other than that she probably lived in Africa.
  • If we look at creation stories, there is always something that leads to everyone being descendent from one woman.
  • Taking representatives from every single species on the planet is a metaphor
  • Cosmogony is the way that a particular group views the universe
  • The Sumarians thought that the universe was flat. They also thought that the sky was a solid object over the flat earth and that it was kind of like a dome. *They believed the priests because they gave them respect, kind of like we give intelligent people respect now and we believe what they tell us.
  • We think of the Big Bang Theory
  • We teach children lies so they will believe the big lies when they grow up
  • Homo sapien sapien is roughly 200000 years old
  • Before the first great migration, there were roughly 20k human beings (100k or so years ago).
  • Now, there are roughly 7.2 billion of us

Cultural Memory

  • Sometimes there is an event that is so important, it is burned into the memory of a culture forever.
  • If we want to compare something to evil, we compare it to the Nazis or to Hitler, even though there are worse things that have happened
  • As a culture, our memories of the holocaust are forever ingrained in us.

Serpent

  • Gnosis Bringer - tells humanity something they have to know but not necessarily something they want to know
  • Gilgamesh is immortal in that we still talk about him today and that is why he is immortal but we cannot have immortality
  • The plant is in the bottom of the sea and it has thorns. The text repeats the word hands a lot. The metaphor is that immortality damages and can even destroy that which makes you human.
  • In a lot of cultures, the serpent is usually the Gnosis Bringer
  • The frontal lobe processes hypothesizing and most animals do not have frontal lobes and therefore it is physically impossible for most animals to think of things that they have not yet experienced
  • Most animals do not think about the future. All they can think about is right now and they do not care in the future.
  • Example: if you have a pet and you do not feed it at a certain time, it will go crazy because all they care about is now
  • If all you can think about is now and you are alive right now, you are immortal right now and you do not die until you actually do
  • Just because you do not have a word for something does not mean you cannot conceive of it

example is deja vu

Notes

  • Gilgamesh is two thirds god and one third human
  • Enkidu is one third human and two thirds animal
  • One of the things that make us human is that we are mortal
  • Gods are immortal and so are animals since they can only think in the moment
  • Some type of balance must be found between Enkidu and Gilgamesh
  • The flood mythos is that there is a massive flood and there is a flood and it gets suck on a mountain and there are humans and animals on the boat and they all survive and the people on the boat release birds and such. Usually, the raven is the one that never comes back. This is because a raven symbolized leaving.
  • Babylonians and Sumerians think that the number 6 is a very important number because it represents completeness and a complete cycle.
  • There is a test when Gilgamesh is supposed to not sleep for one week and this is a test for immortality because it is the boredom you get when you live forever and it is against the human nature and so is immortality. In addition, sleep and death are close to each other and that could be important as well.
  • The loaves of bread are used as a timekeeper for proving that Gilamesh had slept. Bread is used because bread is a manmade thing - we cannot pick it off a tree and or kill it with a tool. We have to grow the crop and these required agriculture and it requires a lot of work from humans. This is important because the bread is humanity (civilized) - it is crafted, it is created, it is not natural and it decays, meaning that it returns to nothingness.
  • The gods have decided that they will destroy humanity because it is too loud and this is not a good thing. This is averted because Aaa tells of the incoming disaster to a wall but there is a person on the other side of the wall who happens to hear it.
  • The person who built the boat has to come up with a reason for it. Equivocation is when you tell part of the truth but not the entire truth in order to imply something other than what you are actually saying. - this is sort of like lying by omission - kind of deception.
  • The person then tells the civilization that they will have abundance and a lot of food because the word for abundance is homophobic with the word for destruction and the word for a lot of food is homophobic with the word for the death of your children.
  • The boat was built in a very specific manner - it is a flat square, it is surrounded by water, it has a dome, it has the animals on the inside, it is the cosmology of the sumarians. That is saying that it is basically a new earth.
  • It is unknown why they actually have the pact in the first place.

Writing Notes

  • If you are writing a paper, the first think you have to do is establish what you are trying to prove. This is usually a theme in literature and you are trying to prove it.
  • An example of a theme would be that it is human nature to put everything aside in order to be with the one you love.
  • Another example of a theme is that redemption will not achieve happiness (those two terms are not synonamous)
  • A theme is never a single word and it cannot be a single word. We could not say that the theme of the work was redemption. We have to describe how redemption actually relates to the work at hand.
  • Gilgamesh themes would be something like:
  • Humanity is not supposed to be immortal

metaphor/symbolism - bread metaphor/symbolism (aging and decay), snake, plant, forest

  • Example of brain dump for bread: cracked, earth, decay, agin, civilization (all you do is you come up with as many ideas as you possibly can relating to another idea)
  • Example of brain dump for plant: thorn, pain, natural, sea, renewal, baptism,
  • Example of brain dump for snake: Gnosis bringer, natural, shedding the skin
    • we want to stay away from characterization and plot because those are supports. We do not want to use those for our primary arguments.
    • imagery - hands, bread (the image of the bread and how moldy it got), Enkidu's death and Gilgamesh's description of it, darkness
    • archetypes is not really a literary or a poetic technique, we could probably use archetypes in our support though
    • irony - gilgamesh went all the way to get immortality and has it stolen in the last few lines (situational irony).
    • Other types of irony are verbal and dramatic
  • GOOD Thesis - In the epic of Gilgamesh, the poet's use of both natural and crafted symbols, as well as both concrete and abstracted imagery, displays the ultimate futility of humanity's desire for physical immortality. specific - what kind of symbols? what kind of imagery?
    • it uses high-order vocabulary
    • it is complex
    • it is dense - you have a lot meaning packed into a few words
  • BAD THESIS EXAMPLE: In gilgamesh, the writer uses symbolism and imagery to show that immortality is not for humanity.
    • The two theses are the same argument but one of them uses good vocabulary and is very specific

Civilization conquers nature

  • Affection causes you to rethink priorities
  • Humans should live in harmony with nature
  • You should come up with a few things that you think you can argue and that actually have some support behind them.
  • Then you should figure out how you can support the theme - what are the literary or poetic devices that are used prove this?
  • You want to see what you can successfully argue
  • An allegory is a story where the characters represent abstract concepts
  • You want three of four techniques and you want a lot of examples and then you are going to pick the strongest one
  • The thesis goes at the first sentence of the essay
  • You should spent 10 minutes planning and then 30 minutes writing.
  • You should have between two and four points in an essay (inclusive)
  • You do not want to have anything that is weak in your writing
  • If you do not have two or more points that are strong, then your argument needs to be rewritten
  • Do not put something weak into your paper ever
  • You then do a brain dump (you write down everything you could possibly have to do with the idea at hand)
  • Writing everything down makes everything a lot easier because the transitions are then a lot easier and that makes writing the essay a lot easier and that is why you should do it
  • If something is weak, then you have to get rid of it because you can never have something weak in your paper
  • Please note that it is acceptable to have only two points in your essay if they are strong points.
  • If you use the web created by the brain dump, you can then cross off your ideas as you use them and that makes it easier because it helps to eliminate any transition errors and make everything easier. It also helps to make sure that you get everything.
  • You do not want to use plot or characterization as your support because you will be talking about those anyway
  • It is like branching out: on the top is theme, then device one and two, then examples 1 and 2 for each device, then two details for each example. Please note that you can use more then two details or examples
  • You need to demonstrate that you know about what you are talking about in the first sentence.
  • Your thesis needs to be the first sentence in your essay and you want to grab the reader's attention.
  • You end the first paragraph with a transition into your first argument
  • In the first paragraph, you have a thesis, a little more detail, and then a transition into your first paragraph
  • You always assume that your audience has read the work you are writing about
    • NOTE: there is a school of thought that says the author does not matter. All that matters is what the reader gets out of it as long as it is logical consistent and supported by the text. This school of thought is called post structuralist

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