Sunday, 28 April 2013

Santa and the damage done

Santa comes down the chimney bearing gifts and emerging into the room places them under the tree. Anyone who doesn’t get the catenary of symbolism there from the gross Freudian and the breathy chanteuse “ hurry down the chimney tonight” to the gift and the gift bearer under the evergreen never dying tree needs to turn over a new leaf. Our daughter placed in my wife’s arms for the first time drew from her the words of wonder - “She’s so beautiful”. Unto us a child is given and we emulate that great truth with a myth evoking wonder in the form it can be experienced by the child. It is a balance of gifts which is the source of the need to sacrifice expressed in both the ancient and modern forms of religion.

We philosophers, we worry you know.


ktismatics said...

We empiricists worry. Oh yes, I played along with the charade, though I remained resolutely noncommittal about the ontology. At some point doubt crept into our daughter's mind. I believe in Santa, she told me. That's fine, I replied. Do you? No. But presents from Santa appear under the tree, don't they? Right. What about the milk and cookies we leave out for Santa: they're gone in the morning, aren't they? Yes they are. But you don't believe in Santa? No, I don't. The following Christmas our daughter was able to generate alternative hypotheses accounting for her observations, at which point and through a few iterations we arrived at a meeting of the minds.

ombhurbhuva said...

How could myth be empirically verified as it has no empirical content? Here we are at the disjunction between mythos and logos. Even the ascription of purpose is dubious. My intuition is that the Santa myth serves the rectification of balance which is central to sacrifice. As priests the parents forego the fruits of their action or gratitude for the gifts by being instruments of the bounty of the universe. In a real sense it isn’t even Christian as the Pilgrim fathers realised when they banned Yuletide, it is primal, chthonic.

It is a curious fact that no child that I ever heard of resents the myth or retains the feeling that they were duped.

ktismatics said...

No empirical content? Does Santa come down the chimney or does he not? Does he ride on a flying sleigh or does he not? etc. etc. But no, our daughter harbors no hard feelings at her mother for having been a strong Santa apologist, nor as far as I can tell does she resent my Santastic skepticism.

The article to which you linked focuses on the Genesis creation story. I don't know about your myth-saturated corner of the world, but over here people tend to take things literally...

June 1, 2012
In U.S., 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins
Highly religious Americans most likely to believe in creationism
by Frank Newport

PRINCETON, NJ -- Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God's guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process.

ombhurbhuva said...

A myth is what Plato called ‘a noble lie’, and the meaning within it is released via the internal relationship of the chain of symbols. The poster that I linked to mentioned that in their family they fired Santa on the grounds of promulgating a falsehood.

As for the fundies, they are literalists so myth is not understood by them as it is likewise not understood by other literalists who take the view that there was not a single set of parents of the human race and that therefore the fundies are wrong. By the broader Christian community the Genesis account has always been understood figuratively even in the pre-scientific era.

ktismatics said...

Had my young daughter propounded a mythic interpretation of Santa I would not have disabused her. That she currently reads Paradise Lost with aesthetic zeal and empirical attention to textual details but without religious belief attests to the multivalent robustness of the Judeo-Christian creation story. While the Genesis account has long been interpreted figuratively, the figurative meaning is posed in conjunction with the literal meaning, not in contrast with it. I think we could come up with a fourfold hermeneutic of Santa: literally he does ride the sleigh through the sky on Christmas Eve, allegorically signifying the spirit of giving that comes from on high, morally enjoining us to give freely knowing that it will be returned to us sevenfold, anagogically figuring the son of Man coming on the clouds in Daniel's vision and fulfilled in Christ's coming per His Own testimony in Matthew 26:64.

ombhurbhuva said...

Can I plead the sanity clause on that.

ktismatics said...

Ho ho ho!