Saturday, April 09, 2011

the body of myth

Video - Thinking Allowed interview of J. Nigro Sansonese

GoogleBook | The thesis of this book is that the "body of myth" is the physical body as perceived by yogis during yogic trance (samadhi). Proprioception (the "white noise" of the senses idling in the absence of external sensory input) on various anatomical regions, including the senses themselves or other bodily regions, gave rise to an esoteric body of description of interior states experienced during samadhi. These descriptions constitute the stuff of mythology. Thus, the Greek assault upon the very door of Troy represents proprioception on the skull's fissure located at the position of the third eye, the assault being the yogi's breath internally stimulating the fissure during pranayama. The work is interesting, extremely well-grounded in its familiarity with Greek mythology and Patanjali yoga, and is exemplary in its lived scholarship. Like Mircea Eliade, the author is no mere book-bound "scholar" but lives and breathes in these topics. Examples abound--but that is part of the problem. First, although all the myths discussed are capitalized (e.g., the ASSAULT ON TROY), there is nowhere a glossary summarizing these tales for the mythologically challenged. Second, like Darwin, the author argues geologically, adducing scores of examples, layer piled upon layer, that not so much convince as cause conformity from sheer pressure and the weight of example. The thesis would gain empirical support were it discovered that the ancient Greeks were familiar with yogic practices. But nothing like that is known (and is certainly unlikely prior to Alexander's 4th c. BCE Indian campaign). And the Eleusian Mysteries--the major Greek esoteric tradition--remain just that, mysteries. True, it is difficult to prove *any* thesis in *any* literary criticism, because ancient texts do not fully speak to the praxis (which was trasmitted experientially) and because texts, like the gods, are multivalent. Still, an interesting read....