Look, this is not a good country for gods. My people figured that out early on. There are creator spirits who made the earth and so we say thank you. But we never built churches. The land was our church. It gave us salmon and corn and buffalo, and wild rice. You follow that river for a way, you’ll get to the lakes where the wild rice grows. You go far enough south, there are orange trees, lemon trees, and those squishy green things… avocados. What I’m saying is that America is like that. It’s not good growing country for gods. They’re like avocados trying to grow in wild rice country.
It’s a strange paradox that a country with a strong fundamentalist movement would not be fertile ground for gods. To me it seems more like we choose to collectively idolize the wrong things, or choose our gods for the wrong reasons. We love our distractions, we love our teams, we want to be a part of a community, we want to be freed from our guilt and shame, and so on. America is a country of “God, Guns, and Guts.” Personally, I have a difficult time reconciling those three things in my life.
There is a palpable feeling that we are on the cusp of a major global shift, that this is the “moment of the storm.” It will be curious to see how things play out in the next few years.
I didn’t write about the last couple issues, not because they weren’t great (they were!), but because they didn’t include any quotes that I thought were worth looking at more closely. But this one certainly did.
Early in this issue, Shadow is entering the realm of the dead, after being sacrificed on the World Tree. He meets a cat woman, who seems to be some sort of spirit guide in the underworld. When Shadow inquires about her nature, her response is very intriguing.
Shadow: What are you? Who are you people?
Cat-woman: Think of us as symbols — we’re the dream humanity creates to make sense of the shadows on the cave wall.
This immediately made me think of Plato’s allegory of the cave from The Republic. Everything we perceive in this reality is but a shadow of a form that exists in another plane of existence. And we cannot comprehend the forms in their true essence, so we must approach them through the use of symbolism, which allows our subconscious mind fleeting glimpses of understanding, impressions of what thrives beyond our limited scope of awareness.
I know this is heavy stuff, and Gaiman’s work is very complex. But that said, he is a master storyteller, so he presents heady material within the structure of fun and imaginative tales.
That’s all I have to share for today. Thanks for stopping by.
Starting to catch up on my backlog of reading. This arc is already on issue #4, so I’m a little behind, but that’s OK.
This new arc in the American Gods saga continues where “My Ainsel” left off, and is classic Gaiman, steeped in mythology. I only need one example to sum up the gist of this issue.
In the god business, it’s not death that matters, it’s the opportunity for resurrection.
The death of a god is required for the renewal of the cycle. Osiris, Jesus, Mithras, the list goes on. One need only refer back to Frazer to understand that this is a dominant trope in mythology.
Not much else to share on this. Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading cool stuff.
Even though Neil Gaiman is not writing the several offshoot arcs in the Sandman saga, I figured I would read them. So far, they are holding my interest, but still not up to Gaiman’s caliber. I haven’t felt the need to write about the other arcs/issues I have read, but there was a quote in this one that I felt was worth sharing.
Magic is neither good nor bad. Only its use determines its character. There are always consequences for its use.
The quote echoes Hamlet: “Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” It also hints toward the concept of karma, where all our thoughts and actions—good, bad, or indifferent—have an effect on our selves and the universe around us. Nothing that we do happens within a vacuum. There are consequences for every action we take, regardless of how trivial it may appear to be at the time. It’s the butterfly effect.
So far, the jury is still out regarding these offshoot comics. I’ll keep reading them for now and see where they go. Cheers!
This has been sitting in my to-be-read pile for a little while, since I wanted to finish up all the other Sandman stuff before delving in to the new arc. This first issue, like all of Gaiman’s work, is excellent storytelling. It seems that Gaiman will be weaving a series of arcs spinning off from this main arc, kind of a fabric of stories, with each one focusing on a particular area of the Dreaming and featuring characters from the Sandman mythology. I have to say, I’m really excited about this. I have two other issues waiting to be read, so expect some thoughts soon.
I am going to keep this short, since I assume I will have a lot to say about the subsequent installments, but I do want to share a quote that was particularly interesting for me, which draws on the Pandora myth:
“You think hope may free us from a bind? It is the cruelest prison YAHWEH built, for from it there is almost no escape. Where you go, you must take no hope. No hope.”