If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Tag: Myth

Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan – Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1992)

An early Algerian myth held that long ago apes could talk, but were rendered mute for their transgressions by the gods. There are many similar stories in Africa and elsewhere. In another widespread African story, apes can talk, but prudently refuse to do so–because talking apes, their intelligence in this way made manifest, will be put to work by humans. Their silence is proof of their intelligence.


National Geographic (Oct. 2017)

“There’s this glamorous young girl out in the jungle with potentially dangerous animals. People like romanticizing, and people were looking at me as though I was that myth that they had created in their mind. …

“There was nothing I could do about it because as far as they knew, it was me. And there was no way I could be portrayed differently. It wasn’t inaccurate. It’s just that people take the facts and weave stories around them.”

Jane Goodall, quoted in “Becoming Jane”

Neil Gaiman – Norse Mythology (2017)

At this the gods all nodded and grunted and looked impressed. All of them except for Freya, and she looked angry. “You are fools,” she said. “Especially you, Loki, because you think yourself clever.”

Neil Gaiman – Norse Mythology (2017)

So now you know: that is how the gods got their greatest treasures. It was Loki’s fault. Even Thor’s hammer was Loki’s fault. That was the thing about Loki. You resented him even when you were at your most grateful, and you were grateful to him even when you hated him the most.

Neil Gaiman – Norse Mythology (2017)

If we win this contest, we get your head, Loki. There’s lots of things going on in that head of yours, and I have no doubt that Eitri could make a wonderful device out of it. A thinking machine, perhaps. Or an inkwell.

Neil Gaiman – Anansi Boys (2005)

Maybe Anansi’s just some guy from a story, made up back in Africa in the dawn days of the world by some boy with blackfly on his leg, pushing his crutch in the dirt, making up some goofy story about a man made of tar. Does that change anything? People respond to the stories. They tell them themselves. The stories spread, and as people tell them, the stories change the tellers. Because now the folk who never had any thought in their head but how to run from lions and keep far enough away from rivers that crocodiles don’t get an easy meal, now they’re starting to dream about a whole new place to live.

Daniel Dennett – “Thank Goodness!” (2006)

…For another, we now have quite solid grounds (e.g., the recently released Benson study at Harvard) for believing that intercessory prayer simply doesn’t work. Anybody whose practice shrugs off that research is subtly undermining respect for the very goodness I am thanking. If you insist on keeping the myth of the effectiveness of prayer alive, you owe the rest of us a justification in the face of the evidence.

(quoted in The Portable Atheist)