Contrary to the Common Wisdom

Contrary to the common wisdom, Zeus did not invent thunder, nor was he responsible in any way for lightning, rainstorms, and the fierce tornadic winds that destroyed entire villages in a matter of seconds. No, Zeus was simply a better salesman than Gideon Grace, the actual creator of those expressions of Natural anger and depression.  Zeus felt no compunction about taking credit for the work of Gideon Grace, nor stealing the accolades due others. Zeus did not always take personal credit, either. Sometimes, he delighted simply in snatching credit away from those who deserved it and placing it squarely in the hands of those who did not. For example, Zeus was the first plagiarist, having taken words penned by a Greek fiction writer and planting them in the notebook of Moses, credited with writing the Book of Genesis. Though Zeus did not take credit for writing the book himself, he mentioned casually, to his friends, that he could have written a more convincing story.

In light of all of Zeus’s thievery of credit from others’ work and his remarkable skills at self-aggrandizement, one might wonder why we do not worship him today. We have Gideon Grace to thank for that. You see, though Gideon was robbed of credit for inventing thunder, lightning, rainstorms, and tornadoes, among other awe-inspiring forces of Nature, he had the last word. Gideon virtually managed, during his last days, to land a proverbial body blow from which Zeus never recovered. I could give you details, but frankly they are rather mundane and might detract from the impact this knowledge has on you today. There’s more about Gideon that would be news to you, I’m sure. But I’ll leave it, at least some of it, to your imagination.


Gideon Grace and Aphrodite were unlikely lovers. Gideon was far older than she, for one thing. Her marriage to Hephaestus, Gideon assumed, made her unavailable to him. He initially did not know, though, that the marriage was rocky, at best. So, he assumed his innocent flirtations would amount to nothing. Their periodic messages to one another, carried back and forth by Hermes and Iris, carried only hints of the budding enchantment they felt for one another.  For quite some time, they danced around their growing mutual attraction, never daring to admit to something so utterly out of the ordinary and socially unacceptable. They had never met, yet there was something powerful between them, something magnetic. The emotion was a hybrid between physical and emotional and sexual attraction, tempered by their adherence to social mores and by each of their mutual assumptions that they, alone, had those deep feelings of attraction. But when Aphrodite crossed the threshold of Gideon’s house to meet him the first time, ostensibly on a purely platonic visit to lay plans for the upcoming Aphrodisia Festival, the walls of pent-up desire came crashing down. It was then that Gideon revealed that he sometimes used an alias: Ares. And thus began a tryst of epic proportions. But the stories about Gideon and Aphrodite have been bent and twisted so completely by the hands of history that their reality is no longer recognizable. So we do not know what really happened between them. In fact, they hid their relationship so completely that we can rely only on innuendo as the source of our knowledge about it. Even the rumors have been mangled so badly we cannot even be sure Gideon and Aphrodite existed. We must rely on our imaginations, then, if we are to know the whole story. The only thing about which we can be certain is that we can be sure of nothing.


We watched an excellent documentary last night, entitled Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind. I have been a fan of Lightfoot and his music for as long as I can remember; certainly since the mid-to-late-sixties. The story of his evolution from a talented but rather unsophisticated young man to an extraordinary singer/songwriter was fascinating. I did not know about his self-destructive behaviors in his earlier years, up to and including the times when he released some of this best-known music. The documentary revealed the complexity of the man’s life, both personally and musically. And it documented the high regard he inspired in many other musicians with whom he engaged. The film, released in 2020, showed him as a 80-year-old man whose physical appearance has changed dramatically (and, in my opinion, for the worse) since his heyday. When I went to see him in concert in Houston, probably around 1982 or so, he was at or near the peak of his popularity. I still like his music as much now as I did then. His ballads are incredibly rich with emotion and they draw out those emotions in the listener, in me at least. I’m glad we stumbled upon the film on Amazon Prime. I haven’t watched much on Amazon Prime, but looking at my Prime “wish list” this morning, I saw that another film I want to watch is now available as part of my subscription: A French Village. I’ll have to make a point of watching that soon.


I called my brother yesterday, the one who’s in a medical rehab facility, but when he answered he said he could not speak to me. His voice sounded raspy and weak and he seemed out of breath. I worry about him and wonder about his progress; whether he is getting any stronger. Ever since my late wife went into a rehab facility locally, my opinion of such facilities has declined dramatically. I am of the opinion that for-profit hospitals and rehabilitation facilities should either be prohibited or subject to extremely intense and constant scrutiny. Capitalism and medical care are at odds with one another, just as capitalism and compassion cannot exist comfortably in the presence of the other. I am opinionated. I know it. No one has to tell me that.


Apparently, there was a big hubbub about the Dallas Cowboys’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers yesterday. I will never understand why people can get so enthusiastic about watching a bunch of overpaid men play a violence-prone game but cannot seem to generate as much enthusiasm about voting in presidential elections.


I am hungry for pancakes. Unfortunately, I expect that hunger will not be satiated.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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