January 26, 2011

A demon-haunted world

Back in the 1990s, Carl Sagan wrote a book titled The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. The theme here lately is Beowulf and Sagan's title--minus the science--is a pretty good description of the world of the poem.

The seas literally teem with monsters, as is related in the story of a swimming match between Beowulf and his friend Brecca where the former, swimming for days with sword and armor, has to overcome nine sea beasts.

The land isn't much better. All kinds of nasty creatures, such as Grendel and his mother, prowl the lonely areas and attack humans and animals at will. Such monsters, which are said to be the offspring of the children of Cain, the primal murderer. Grendel, the poet says, he

haunted the moors, the wild Marshes, and made his home in a hell.
Not hell but hell on earth. He was spawned in that slime
Of Cain, murderous creatures banished
By God, punished forever for the crime of Abel's death.

The haunted mere or swamp (lake?) where Grendel and his mother live is likewise full of monsters and nasty giant water snakes.

Then there are dragons, irritable fire-breathing monsters with venomous bites who dwell on hoarded gold and don't take kindly to being disturbed.

As noted in yesterday's post, the human world wasn't a whole lot nicer. All of which makes for a pretty good story, if not a very nice place to live.

STATE OF THE UNION. It would probably be trite beyond words to say that the state of the union address seemed political to me but there you have it. There were things to like and not to like. I am concerned that the proposed freeze in federal spending could have a recessionary effect. More on that to come.

WHAT HE SAID. Here's NY Times columnist Bob Herbert talking sense on Social Security and the real cause of budget deficits.

HEALTH CARE REFORM seems to be moving ahead in West Virginia.

GENGHIS KHAN left a greener world behind him. His methods, however, are not recommended for emulation.

TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE to remember.

URGENT DINOSAUR UPDATE here. This newly discovered one had just one finger. I could think of things to say but will spare the reader.


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