Here There Be Dragons – The Symbolism Of Dragon Lore In Western HistoryWritten by Faith Harper
The first appearance of dragons in Western mythology was Norse “worm,” a large scaled creature that was able to breathe fire and regenerate itself if vivisected. It didn’t have arms, legs, or wings of later dragon stories, but was often pictured as an enormous snake. Because these multihued dragons were often seen streaking across sky, many of these worm dragons sightings have been attributed to natural ball lightening phenomena that occurs during some thunderstorms.
In Bible, serpent is creature most often used to symbolize evil, so it makes sense that these early serpent-like dragons were incorporated into legends of early Christianity. Dragon lore became parables of triumph of Christianity over Paganism in early church lore.
One of most famous stories of St. Peter (although story originates in 12th century, long after his death) was that of him slaying a dragon. Legend has it, that during Peter’s travels in Libya, a terrible dragon was terrorizing a small village, which had offered up a princess to appease beast. St. Peter fought dragon and saved princess from her fate. During battle, Peter was able to take respite under an enchanted orange tree that dragon’s poison could not touch. The orange tree in story is also very symbolically similar to Tree Of Life lore from pagan tradition and Garden of Eden lore from early bible.
Many other legends of saints include slaying of dragons. St. Sampson (the Archbishop Of Dol) is told to have led a dragon out of his cave and over a cliff to his death. St. Philip is credited with slaying of a dragon in Hierapolis in Phygia. St. Martha fell a dragon known as Tarasque at Aix, while St. Romain performed same feat with dragon known as La Gargouille.
St. Florent, St. Cado, St. Paul, St. Keyne, St. Michael, St. George, St. Clement, St. Margaret, Pope Sylvester, and St. Serf have all been documented as having slain dragons. Two gentler legends find saints Petroc and Carantoc leading dragons off to unpopulated areas, assuring safety of villages these dragons had originally overtook.
Dragons are replete in other early Western literature. Spencer’s epic poem, The Faerie Queen, features a dragon slain by Redcrosse knight. Scholars believe that dragon in this story has a two-fold symbolism. Besides representing Satan himself (in form of dragon-like beast from Revelations), as well as corruption of Catholic church as seen from point of view of a 16th century Protestant.
Genetic, Robotic And NanotechWritten by Robert Baird
Decision Time: Genetic, Robotic and Nano-Opportunities:
There is an abundance of technological threats and/or opportunities that mankind has before him. Whether or not there is an ethical basis upon which we might effectively utilize these technologies is something that worries many serious students of our species. The head of Club of Rome says we do not even have terminologies for common concepts or words that cross ethnic and cultural borders. (1) Hobbes and other Platonic hierarchy types throughout history would argue that there is no good reason to think mankind can be responsible enough to get over ‘beating his chest’ in headlong pursuit of his ego driven or Machiavellian ‘appeals to base human urges’. (Il Principe)
We can wirehead masses and make them all quite happy but we seem more interested in giving them pharmacological lobotomies according to Breggins and Cohen. We could do what movie The Day The Earth Stood Still showed alien species had done with robots to enforce peace. We could ensure free access to gene therapy and extend life of all people till they can live to be as old as nine hundred years without parts replacement. According to some researchers this goal will be achieved by year 2070 but it would necessitate changes in reproductive rights unless we are to make a concerted effort to start colonizing space soon. The decisions carry many downsides as well as upsides but discussions don’t seem to be happening and we continue to train people for harmful or soon to be outmoded jobs. This article cannot address all facts or factors but we must start process.
Bill Joy Killjoy:
The March/April 2000 issue of Wired Magazine article by noted expert in technology who developed Java and was a founder of Sun Microsystems made more than a little impact in editorial coverage for a few weeks in my local newspaper. He warned us about genetic engineering that could end life on earth without pointing out that Israelis are trying to target their enemies with a genetic ethnic bomb. Perhaps he was not aware they are working on that but he was a part of SALT talks. The most important thing he brought to attention of readers was prediction that by 2035 humanity will be redundant in performance of most jobs.
He quoted experts in many fields of endeavor and I agreed with him that dumping of human memory into sentient robots will not include soul as people like Gary Hillis think. His sometimes debating partner Ray Kurzweil goes further (2) and speaks of even more rapid acceleration of technology. Not long after Joy’s article hit stands we had NEC labs in Princeton, N. J. tell us they measured 300X light speed in a cesium chamber. Then came US Army letting out faster than light information transfer contracts through Mr. Everitt in Durham, N. C. by November of that year. (3) The European attempt to reach Mars includes Ion Propulsion which can accelerate infinitely past speed of light. Quantum Teleporting was a cover story in Scientific American around same time and yet uninformed so-called ‘experts’ often deny many possibilities that relate thereto. I personally believe that a combination of Virtual Reality technology, Holography and nanotechnology will allow a form of time travel for complex systems despite what Hawking said. Hawking said they know time travel exists in small particles.
There are many exciting potentials just around corner in many diverse fields that Joy and Kurzweil are not even expert in. Neurotechnology and implants or prosthetics heads list of my personal concerns. When I was an active participant on a Neuroscience forum recently I discovered these people have no moral idea of implications of their work. Transhumanism (4) and Bostrom’s association that is relatively new already is fraught with fraud charges by other directors. Many of these people actually think it would serve universe best if robots replace humans entirely. I can’t argue logic against that perspective when I look at power-mongering and mud-slinging in bureaucracies called democratic in media owned by Synarchists. But I implore people to wake up before it is too late. We must participate and insist technologies and future use of them are done for Greater Good of all life on earth.