The Norman Transcript

April 5, 2013

The darkness and the light


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The excitement is brewing in the realm of archaeology because Pluto’s Gate — Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin — was discovered by Italian archaeologists in southwestern Turkey.

No, this is not the entrance to a new mall or the world of vampires, werewolves, zombies and other denizens of the underworld popularized in movies, television and pulp fiction. Nor is it the societal underbelly wherein the unfortunate among us, by choice or chance, reside.

In Greco-Roman mythology and tradition, this is the gate to the underworld, also known as the gate to Hell. Adding to the authenticity of the place, the opening is filled with mephitic vapors. Unlike the vapors, known as gas, from which ladies in tight-laced gowns used to suffer, these vapors are lethal.

All in all, the place should be a great tourist attraction in the near future, given the proclivity of world-weary travelers for something new and certainly different. The next step will be to get past the lethal vapors and find the River Styx.

What a rush for future river cruisers. Imagine Charon as your dour tour guide. On second thought and upon reading Virgil’s description of the fellow: “a sordid god”; uncombed, unclean beard; and “eyes, like hollow furnaces on fire,” perhaps you should reconsider the entire trip.

Have you ever wondered why the dark side fascinates us? Some believe it is because of the concept that opposites attract, the “yin and yang” wherein the darkness and light make up the whole that is us.

Perhaps this natural duality also will explain why we hope for or seek revenge or yearn for miscreants (also known as pains in the royal rutabaga) to get their comeuppance or “just deserts” (spelled correctly and used since the 13th century to mean things deserved).

Admit it. Unless you claim to be perfect, you may at times wish a small dose of bad luck or punishment on those who tick you off or are, in your eyes, bad.

No?

Let’s take for example the driver who rides your bumper in heavy traffic or in inclement weather and then decides to weave from one lane to another, nearly clipping countless cars, just to gain a miniscule amount of yardage. Or, how about the cretan (as in idiot) who drives on the shoulder of the road to pass all the cars in his important path?

Did you ever wish for a policeman to appear and give either guy his just deserts, as in a whopping ticket? If your answer is no, then there is something seriously wrong with you. A visit to your yin and yang balance shop is highly recommended for emergency re-balancing.

You are in a grocery store waiting patiently in a long line with a cartful of items, or as patiently as your particular personality allows. When it is finally your turn, the checker puts up the chain and directs you to “the next checker.”

Do you meekly stand in the next line? Or, do you dole out a bit of “just deserts” and leave the full cart with the checker? Depending on your choice, you, too, may require re-balancing.

Along with our all too human thirst for what we believe is justice (also known as revenge), we want to be there to see the punishment. Not even in the case of traffic stops and tickets are we allowed to see “our culprit” get his or her punishment. It is always someone else’s culprit.

The uncomfortable aspect of carrying the darkness and the light within us is the inconvenient fact that no one elected us to be god. If they had, our vengeance would be swift and driven by anger, but not always right.

Thank goodness, that particular election has been postponed indefinitely.

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and author. Check out her suspense novel “The Dionysus Connection” on Amazon or ask your bookstore to order it for you. Visit her website www.elizabethcowan.com.

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