mister_crocuta (mister_crocuta) wrote in aztecmythology,

Another thought on contexts

I'm sure this has been remarked on before somewhere, but when we talk about bringing old gods into the present world we are also working within dual aspects of what has been called "cultural relativism"

We are at the same time increasing this relativism...and being acted upon by it.

Increasing it by manifesting another interpretation and more awareness of that god.

Being acted upon because our base of knowledge about other history and culture is what has "created" cultural relativism...and this is the environment in which our effort exists. I wrote before that a ritual to the moon can't mean the same to us because we know what the moon really is and the ancients didn't. In the same way our 'relatively' vast knowledge of all these other cultures and religions makes it impossible to relate to these gods in the same way. That hypothetical Aztec priest from 1500 wouldn't have to relate his experience of Tezcatlipoca to other completely different traditions...(either in synthesis or confrontation). He didn't know about Odin, Zeus, Allah, Buddha, or Jesus (although Jesus would soon be forced on him!)

So when we conjure that old god into the modern context part of that context includes a relativism the likes of which no other time has ever contended with.

I'll requote what wrote a few days ago since that is part of the 'context' of my thought:

>By coincidence I came across a quote by Slavoj Zizek...who seems to be the "hot" philosopher of the moment:

"Apropos of an intense religious ritual, it is commonplace to claim that we, outside observers, can never interpret it properly, since only those who are directly immersed in the life-world of which this ritual is a part can grasp its meaning (or, more accurately, they do not reflexively understand it, they directly 'live' in its meaning)."

We always have to think about it...we always are attempting some sort of restoration. But I'm not claiming that these restorations have no link with the original, or that nothing original survives in someone's restoration whether it be intellectual or spiritual.

There seems to be dual aspects to bringing old gods into the modern world...a consistent and a contingent aspect.

Maybe I could compare a deity, an "archetype", to an emotion. We could make a reasonable claim that love, hate, fear, joy, etc. are consistently part of the human experience. This 21st century guy sitting at his computer experiences them and so did an Aztec priest in 1500. But these emotions manifest in a context that makes them partly contingent. Each place and time has "rules" about how emotions can be expressed, which are good or bad, who has more right to express each emotion, and so on.

Even though the core emotion is the same its manifestation can be governed by very different "rules" determined by context. This would also be the same in regards to intellectually or ritually bringing a deity into our here and now. Different understandings will automatically be in play. This does not mean the original is ignored...but there is this major aspect of (re)creation. Yet there must also be something in the original that attracts us in the first place...something that makes us want to restore it. There is always a "there" there. The (re)creation is not out of nothing.
(Although one of Tezcatlipoca's names, Moyocoyani, has been translated as "The Lord who thinks himself up" or "Maker of himself"!)
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