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The Cosmological Origins of Myth and Symbol
The Cosmological Origins of Myth and Symbol: From the Dogon and Ancient Egypt to India, Tibet, and China
Author: Laird Scranton
Published 2010 by Inner Traditions
Paperback, 208 pages
View this Book on Amazon
Reviewer: Mike Gleason
This is the third book in a series relating to the concept of ancient cosmologies, and the first of the series that I have read. It arrived unexpectedly in my mailbox one day, and having no other books on hand to review, it found its way into my rotation. I have enjoyed books on assorted mythological themes over the years and, while not terribly familiar with cosmological works, could appreciate the inter- relatedness of the topics. Even though reading this work would mean that I would need to open my mind to new concepts (not something which is necessarily easy to do as I approach my 60th year), it presented me with an opportunity to avoid falling into a rut as far as my review topics went, and thus it was welcomed.
Over the years I have been exposed to certain cultures which lie well outside my own experience – Tibetan, West African, Egyptian, Meso- American and others – and that may have made my acceptance of Mr. Scranton's propositions easier. His mention of Buddhist stupas (and their correlation to the Dogon granary) did not send me scrambling to determine their significance. His proposed correlations made a great deal of sense to me from the very outset. While this may present a difficulty to some readers, all I can say is that it is necessary to approach the topic with an open mind. The scientific mindset can be EM-powering, but it can also be OVER-powering. A certain latitude in thinking may make it easier to see potential similarities.
This work ties together three concepts - of which I am only reasonably familiar with one (Egyptian mythology). The other two components - string (or torsion) theory and Dogon mythology - are terra incognita to me. Added to that is a heavy reliance on the translations of Egyptian hieroglyphics by Sir E. A. Wallis Budge, which is also not a strong suit of mine. All of that increased the difficulty I had in following a number of the author's allegations.
I suppose if I had read the two preceding works in this series (The Science of the Dogon and Sacred Symbols of the Dogon) I would have been able to do a better job of deciphering the threads of his arguments. So, therefore, I feel constrained to offer a warning to potential readers that they need to be conversant with such topics if they hope to be able to read this book without reference materials close at hand. It is not impossible to make sense of the premise without such background or materials, but it is certainly more difficult.
The difficulties I had with this material make it hard to offer a valid consideration. If I were more familiar with the concepts, I might find them extremely basic. As the hypothetical "average reader" I felt I was out of my depth much of the time.
I am sure that "experts" in each of the respective fields could, and probably would, find inconsistencies and "errors" (i.e., things they personally disagreed with). But, by bringing together a number of disparate fields of study, the author is sure to stir up discussion (if not controversy), and that is almost always a good thing.
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