Beyond Good and Evil

Joseph Campbell

When you get down into the depths of mythology, [mythic] forms are beyond good and evil. With the Indian deities—this is the wonderful thing about them—the upper right hand will say. “Fear not” and below it is the boon-bestowing hand; and the upper left will have a sword, and in the lower a recently amputated head. These are the two aspects of power, the two aspects of being. in our traditions—and this is true even all the way back to the Greeks—the beneficent and the malfeasant aspects of power tend to be separated and contrary entities.

Is that when trouble arises?

No, not necessarily—provided the two are in play with each other. But when one is impugned, as in our tradition where the powers of the deep are consigned to Hell … It’s interesting that the symbols of Shiva and of Poseidon are exactly those that are given to the Devil in Christian mythology—the bull’s foot and the tridents. So the power which is symbolized in those forms has been pushed aside as though it should not be admitted.—Joseph Campbell, An Open Life

 

Muscle Beach Party

Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello Hit the Beach

After lunch today, Martine suggested we take a walk. I suggested something that would include part of the Venice Boardwalk heading north along the beach to the Santa Monica Pier. As beach parking costs $9.00, we took the bus and got off at Brooks Avenue in Venice.

Martine does not much care for the Boardwalk because of the smells (burning sage and incense), anarchic bicyclists who brush back pedestrians, and crowds. Of course, there were the usual bums, drugged-out hobags, and crazies with Tourette Syndrome carrying on intense conversations with the Void

But, after about a half mile, we were able to pretty much shake the more picturesque denizens of Venice and walk along the beach at Ocean Park and Santa Monica. Along the way, we stopped briefly at the original Muscle Beach, just south of the Santa Monica Pier, to see a lithe young blonde maneuver back and forth on the rings. She was surrounded by tourists and picture-takers. (I would have been one of the latter had I remembered to bring my camera.)

There are now two Muscle Beaches, the original one, and another one about a mile and a half south, between where Windward Avenue and Venice Boulevard meet the ocean. The new one is enclosed and has a lot of weights and exercise machines, unlike the original site which is decidedly low tech.

It is pretty inconceivable today to imagine anything as wholesome as a 1950s beach movie taking place in Santa Monica or Venice. It might, for all I know, still be happening at places like Zuma Beach in Malibu or Huntington or Newport Beaches in Orange County. Santa Monica and Venice Beaches are a bit too downmarket for Frankie and Annette.

This afternoon was beautiful. The sun was out, but it wasn’t over 80° Fahrenheit (27° Celsius) with just a slight breeze. On the bus on the way back, we sat behind another Tourette crazy and just smiled.