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BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales

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CapriUni 11 Apr 11 - 06:58 PM
gnu 12 Apr 11 - 05:38 AM
Jack Campin 12 Apr 11 - 06:23 AM
maeve 12 Apr 11 - 07:18 AM
GUEST,Eliza 12 Apr 11 - 08:05 AM
Penny S. 12 Apr 11 - 08:09 AM
GUEST,Eliza 12 Apr 11 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,Eliza 12 Apr 11 - 08:15 AM
CapriUni 12 Apr 11 - 12:46 PM
CapriUni 12 Apr 11 - 12:51 PM
Penny S. 12 Apr 11 - 02:07 PM
Jack Campin 12 Apr 11 - 02:17 PM
Penny S. 12 Apr 11 - 02:17 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 12 Apr 11 - 03:11 PM
CapriUni 12 Apr 11 - 03:15 PM
CapriUni 12 Apr 11 - 03:21 PM
Mysha 12 Apr 11 - 03:48 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Apr 11 - 03:24 PM
CapriUni 13 Apr 11 - 05:18 PM
CapriUni 13 Apr 11 - 05:35 PM
CapriUni 13 Apr 11 - 05:53 PM
Leadfingers 13 Apr 11 - 07:45 PM
CapriUni 13 Apr 11 - 08:03 PM
Jack Campin 13 Apr 11 - 08:05 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 11 - 12:14 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 11 - 01:03 PM
Penny S. 14 Apr 11 - 01:08 PM
CapriUni 14 Apr 11 - 02:14 PM
Penny S. 14 Apr 11 - 03:42 PM
Mysha 14 Apr 11 - 05:51 PM
CapriUni 14 Apr 11 - 06:37 PM
The Fooles Troupe 14 Apr 11 - 08:13 PM
CapriUni 14 Apr 11 - 09:09 PM
katlaughing 14 Apr 11 - 10:30 PM
CapriUni 15 Apr 11 - 12:57 AM
katlaughing 15 Apr 11 - 01:23 AM
CapriUni 15 Apr 11 - 02:01 AM
Penny S. 15 Apr 11 - 04:52 AM
GUEST,Patsy 15 Apr 11 - 06:25 AM
Jack Campin 15 Apr 11 - 06:34 AM
Mysha 15 Apr 11 - 11:48 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Apr 11 - 12:42 PM
Penny S. 15 Apr 11 - 12:52 PM
Penny S. 15 Apr 11 - 12:59 PM
Penny S. 15 Apr 11 - 01:14 PM
Penny S. 15 Apr 11 - 01:30 PM
Jack Campin 15 Apr 11 - 05:08 PM
Mysha 16 Apr 11 - 01:43 PM
CapriUni 16 Apr 11 - 07:28 PM
LadyJean 16 Apr 11 - 09:20 PM

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Subject: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 11 Apr 11 - 06:58 PM

I've been lurking and/or "away" for a while now, I know. But I thought some folks here might be interested in a new blog I've started at blogspot.com: Plato's Nightmare / Aesop's Dream (Discovering images of disability in folklore and classics of literature)

There's just one entry up, so far, but I've got a few more in the brain attic, and will definitely be posting something for Blogging Against Disablism Day on May 1 (this is a link to last year's announcement).

Here's the first post of mine: Wherein I introduce myself and this blog


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: gnu
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 05:38 AM

Interesting. I don't know why this is in the BS section though.


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 06:23 AM

It's common for shamans and other people acting as intermediaries to the spirit world to be disabled. Carlo Ginzburg's "Ecstasies" has something on this.


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: maeve
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 07:18 AM

That's a promising first entry, CapriUni! I'll look forward to reading your future entries.

Maeve


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 08:05 AM

Daniel Quelp and Rumpelstiltskin. Also blind Bertha in The Cricket on the Hearth. What about Quasimodo? Captain Hook and Long John Silver? Are these the sort of things you mean CapriUni?


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Penny S.
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 08:09 AM

Interesting idea. And how often disability of the body is linked with a supposed disability of the mind in fiction - Eliza's ideas are mostly not folk. I wouldn't have thought of Rumpelstiltskin as disabled, but as a different sort of being, and, having found out that the name has a meaning, and what that meaning is, I wouldn't really want to enquire more about him.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 08:12 AM

It did say 'and classics of literature', but Penny, do do tell!! WHAT does Rumpelstiltskin's name mean??


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 08:15 AM

Okay, how about Seven Dwarfs?


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 12:46 PM

Gnu -- I stuck it in this section to be on the safe side; I imagine I'll be writing more about the political and social prejudices the stories reveal about their cultures of origin, and the continuing impact they have today than actually tracing motifs or themes the way a folklorist or ethnologist would.

Jack Campin -- Yes, indeed, shamans (and their counterparts in other cultures) are often disabled. There's also blind Homer,* and one of the women put forth as "The Real Mother Goose" is said, according to legend, to have gotten the nickname because of a deformed foot that looked like a goose's foot.

Maeve -- Thank you! I look forward to writing more. Right now, I'm trying to decide which of several ideas should I have for my second entry.

Eliza -- maybe in the future. I'm going to start out with folktales, the first ones that came to mind are:

(start list)
  • Hans my Hedgehog (parental response to a deformed baby)
  • Bearskin (allegory for PTSD)
  • The boy who left home to get the shivers (Asperger's)
  • One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes
  • The Goose Girl at the Spring (for the elderly witch who looks after her)
  • Rapunsel (the long version of the story has the prince blinded)
  • The Girl without Hands
  • Tom Thumb (when you're an adult who's two inches tall, there's going to be accessibility issues)
  • The Two Travelers (blindness)
  • The Hunchback and the Fairies
  • Seven who Made their Way in the World (Seven traveling companions, each of whom is a physical "freak" in some way)

(end list)

The Dwarves in Snow White (In the original stories, their number varies) are actually supernatural beings -- Earth spirits, after which the human condition of dwarfism is named. But I will probably retell the Romance of Aesop who was said to be dwarfish. And I may write a bit about vampire legends from certain parts of Eastern Europe, that describe what a child born from a human/vampire union is like.

And then, there are the gods of mythology -- Hephaestos, the lame, Odin, with one eye, Tyr with one hand, et alia.
*(I thought about naming my blog "Plato's Nightmare / Homer's Dream," But Aesop is more associated with folktales, and is more likely to let folks interested in folklore find this blog than, say, high school student doing research for their Odessey report...


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 12:51 PM

Penny S. -- And in real life, too. Here's what it says on WebMd.com (a major site for medical information in the States) about Cerebral Palsy (just grabbed this today, so it's "up to date" information, according to the experts):

(begin quote) Between 35% and 50% of all children with CP will have an accompanying seizure disorder and some level of mental retardation. (end quote)


And I'm coming to the conclusion that this within a hair's breadth of an outright lie. Having CP myself, I've gotten a chance to get to know, through my life, many other folks with CP, since we often need the same sorts of treatments, and therapies. I was trying to work out how many, just this morning. And it's got to be somewhere around several dozen.

You'd think, if up to half of them are mentally retarded, at least one of those people I've met would be.

Nope. Not one. In fact, every single person with CP I've met has been exceptionally bright (not to boast about my own accutity). What I have seen, though, is: therapists, psychologists, teachers, (and the parents who accept their authority) treat folks with CP as if they're retarded, and not bother to educate, or even talk with, them to the full level of their ability. If my own mother had accepted the diagnosis of the doctor who did my first psychological evaluation, when I was two, I would have been labeled "Severely Mentally Retarded." Instead, that was crossed out, and my mother was put down as "Hostile and manipulative"

(wide, evil, grin).


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Penny S.
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 02:07 PM

I wasn't thinking about "retardation" but moral disability, which is pretty appalling. Have you seen the autism thread on changelings?

As for Rumpelstiltskin, I find I was wrong. And Eliza was right.


The hidden name

I was given duff information from a Freudian source.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 02:17 PM

I've no idea what the actual figure is, but that argument doesn't work.

The people you've met are those who can manage some sort of social life. The very severely retarded can't, so you won't have met them.

I am an opportunity for bad statistics myself. I have a cleft palate. That is strongly correlated with a whole lot of genetic disasters including mental retardation. BUT I have a cleft lip along with it. That combination is a distinct syndrome, a developmental error in the embryo, which has no links to anything much else at all. It's only cleft palate WITHOUT cleft lip that significantly increases your chance of being more generally physically and mentally fucked up.


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Penny S.
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 02:17 PM

Like this.


More hidden...perhaps it should stay so

Because sometimes a cigar is only a cigar. Play with the ideas here a bit...


See how they did it

And here it is in clear


I really must be more sceptical.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 03:11 PM

After a memorable Storytelling gig at a venue that will remain nameless, I was accosted by the gig organiser as to why so many of my stories involved disabled characters. Did I do The Leeching of Kayn's Leg on that occasion? Maybe not but the intro as given by Jacob's is a classic in this respect! Anyway, as I was muttering on about my ideas as to why this should be (which I won't bore you with here) this very lovely lady proceeded to remove her lower leg and hand it to me, much to the general befuddlement of ther hapless storyteller and hilarity of the amputee.
'I don't give my leg to just anyone,' she said, as a mark of approval.


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 03:15 PM

Jack -- Yes, I know, and that's why I've given the 35-50% statistic the benefit of the doubt for most of my life, and it certainly remains a significant statisitic filter for those people I've met in social and accademic settings.

But then I think about all those with cerebral palsy who shared space with me on children's hospitals wards (where we were grouped together according to which orthopedic surgery we needed, which was totally independent of mental capability), or at the summer camp I went to, which served both severely mentally and physically disabled people. And then, there are other clients of my aide who happen to have cerebral palsy, and with whom I have no other social interaction in common, and some of whom have been homeschooled because their level of physical disability is too severe for the public school to handle.

And then, there are news stories I come across that happen to feature someone with cerebral palsy -- stories of the sort where, if the person being written about were intellectually impaired, that would certainly be mentioned to heighten the "specialness" factor of the story.

And in all my 40 years of having a social life independent of my nuclear family, I have only heard of one person with CP who was, in fact, mentally handicapped.

And while I grant that there is a higher risk of cognitive impairment in all children born premature, or with other neonatal risk factors, and that includes people with CP, I do know that I've seen more people labeled as mentally retarded than actually are so I am skeptical that the corelation is as high as sites like the WebMD claim.


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 03:21 PM

Suibhne --

But did she cry "Aha!" as she waved her leg aloft?


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Mysha
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 03:48 PM

Hi,

Well, Snow White, or at least the current version, is suspected to be the life of Margarete von Waldeck, who could well have encountered miners of small stature as children were employed in the town's mines. Not to say you're wrong regarding the fact, but maybe about being so certain about it.

Before you start with the gods, remember that the gods do not only have a mythical history, but also a human one. Their characteristics may be part of how they came to their status.

If the human mind is capable of overcoming problems, and overcoming problems does indeed train it: Lacking proof of a connection between a handicap and intelligence, what would one expect about the intelligence of the handicapped?

Bye,
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 03:24 PM

Blindness and hunchchbacked are probably the two most common forms of disability in formal folktales.
Scots travellers had 'The King's Scabby Heid (head)' where the palace offered a pot of gold to find a cure, which finally entailed cutting the head off, dipping it first in hot water, then in cold and finally scrubbing it with a scrubbing brush and lye soap.
Irish tale of the tailor with no legs taking a bet that he could sit all night on top of a tomb in a reputedly haunted graveyard. Is scared by two orchard robbers stealing and sharing apples ("One for you, one for me") which he believes to be two devils dividing out souls. He somehow makes it back home in record time, overtaking a hare on the way.
Probably most unusual (not really disability); Scots fisherman falls asleep in his boat and wakes up to find he has drifted to a remote island and has turned into a woman. Stays on island, marries a local man and raises a family.
Years later, is walking on the beach and finds his/her old boat; climbs in and falls asleep.
Is washed out to sea by the tide and wakes up to find the boat has drifted back to his original home and he has turned back into the original man.
One used by Chaucer but now solidly in tradition - blind man is told by unfaithful wife that he will find a cure for blindness by climbing to top of a tree and waiting until a cure comes along. Does so and hears wife and lover making love under the tree. Climbs down and is hit in face by branch, regaining his sight. Catching lovers at it he is told that what they are doing is a ritual to restore his sight.
Mermaid deliberately disabled by removal of tail which turns her into ordinary woman. Marries fisherman who caught her and raises family.
Cleaning the attic room one day she finds her tail, puts it back on and returns to sea, cursing the fisherman and everybody bearing his name.
Where do you stop.... hundreds of tales like this; three blind giant brothers sharing one eye; five adventurers each missing the use of one of his senses, so join forces to make up for the missing sense.
My own personal favourite.
Man is punished for having impure thoughts by waking up one morning to find his penis miraculously missing.
Goes to clergyman for help, but is told he deserves his punishment and is driven away by stick weilding minister.
Goes to local wise-woman for advice and is instructed to meet her under an oak tree on Midsummer's eve.
Is instructed by her to climb tree where he will find a rooks nest containng the missing artical. Finds a nest full of penises, so takes the largest and climbs down tree, only to be told to put it back where he found it as "That one belongs to the minister".
And there's more when they came from..... fascinating subject!
im C


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 05:18 PM

Mysha --

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "our current version." Do you mean the version as retold by Walt Disney in 1937? The story I'm referring to appeared in the first edition of the Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmärchen, and had several small changes to the story between that edition, and the final one in 1857.

I do know that dwarves, in general, are classified as type of elf of the Earthen element, protecting mountains and the treasures within (the folk tradition has many stories of human miners' encounters with them, and of the rituals and taboos involved in avoiding their wrath), and in the Grimms's version of the story, the dwarves are portrayed as guardians of their own particular mountain, which is why I interpreted them as primarily supernatural beings.

However, I am always eager to learn of historical links to fantastical tales, so if you could point me to a source about Margarete von Waldeck, I'd love to follow up.

Lacking proof of a connection between a handicap and intelligence, what would one expect about the intelligence of the handicapped?

Again, I'm not sure what it is you're asking. I do know that people tend to live up (or down) to expectations, and if someone has a physical difficulty in speaking, I have witnessed others assume that this someone has a mental difficulty in understanding.


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 05:35 PM

Jim C -- Yes indeed. I was just thinking, last night, about how thick on the ground hunchbacks are in folktales, and how rarely they're encountered today. So I looked up the term on Wikipedia (a flimsy source on its own, but it's good for learning basic terminology, and potential search terms for later reference). Apparently, malnution during pregnancy and early childhood is one of the main causes. So it's easy to see how this would be a more common affliction in the Days of Yore, before refrigeration.

It is a fascinating subject. Though, if you are disabled, it is rarely encouraging, since the stories often go right to the root of all the bigotry and exclusion we face every day.

However, if the Brothers Grimm could fine-tune the stories to inspire political and social change in their own society, I have equal right to do so in my own time and place. And closely examining the knot may make it possible for me to undo it, without destroying it completely.


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 05:53 PM

And now, my second entry is up: Monsters: a key motif, and a symbol of disability. I was originally planning on discussing The Romance of Aesop, but then I realized I needed to lay the foundation for why his monstrous looks (famous in legend) is significant.

So monsters came first.


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Leadfingers
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 07:45 PM

Good Luck with all of that Anne - Dont think I can add to your blog though !


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 08:03 PM

Thanks, Terry!

(you know, I'd be just as tickled if you simply read along).


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 08:05 PM

Another major cause of hunch back not seen so often these days is Potts' disease. Do a Google Images search and one of the pictures you get is an ancient Egyptian tomb drawing.


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 12:14 PM

"However, if the Brothers Grimm could fine-tune the stories to inspire political and social change in their own society...."
We do have to be careful of distinguishing between the 'folktales' that have passed through the hands of collectors and anthologists and those that have come untouched straight from the communities that fostered them - while we have a large collection of the former, our experience over the last thirty years has been with live stortellers from rural area.
Details that appear insignificant have quite often been passed over and even omitted from published collections, while the tellers have often held these details as crucial to the plots - references to the weather or the terrain are an example of this.
I'm pretty certain the in communities that rely on people's abilities to move freely, with a full use of their faculties, disabilities would not just be a plot incidental, but a life-and-death issue to a narrator.
One teller gave us a whole load of tales which began "a man from my own quater (a specific measure of land) and then told us a traditional tale which had become totally localised to his area.
These tales, as fantastical as they are, were direct reflections of the lives of the people who used them.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 01:03 PM

"a man from my own quater"
That should read "quarter"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Penny S.
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 01:08 PM

Vulcan/Hephaestos/Wayland, th divine but lame smiths, may reflect reality. Wayland was supposed to have been deliberately lamed to keep him serving the king, but I have seen a suggestion that it was a side effect of the work.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 02:14 PM

Penny -- Yes, actually, I plan on writing about Hephaestus, himself, for B.A.D.D. (mentioned in the first post to this thread), and I've read that same suggestion about the side effects of being a smith in the olden days -- most notably, using mercury as a substitute in making bronze when copper wasn't available.

However, one of the Homeric poets (I think of "Homer" as a collective noun) actually gave Heph. the line of dialog: "I was born lame in both legs."

It's my own private notion (not evolved enough to be a theory) that living with a physical disability actually leads you into thinking up new technology, to help you get around your physical limitations. And so the gods of clever technology tend to reflect that reality.

Jim --

Re: reshaping stories. What you say is true. However, the Grimm brothers did collect "their" tales, and continually refined and edited their collection (between 1812 and 1858) in order to advance the political cause they believed in. They were not the nineteenth century German version of Alan Lomax and they didn't pretend to be. It's our own romantic revisionism that sticks them in the role of "authentic folklorists."

When I retell a story, I do my best to: a) note my source, and b) point out what changes I have made, and why (usually, it's because my experience causes me to notice details that the author/translator skims over, or seems to miss entirely -- the: "hm. If I were this character, here, I would've felt X instead of Y" reaction. Because, frankly, I believe my lived experience today is just as "valid" as that of a ploughman who lived 200 years ago.

Re: the "experts" missing the point entirely. Psychological interpreters are the worst of the bunch. Just last night, a friend of mine send me a link to this essay about women's heroic journeys: The Armless Maiden and the Hero's Journey. It's all very pretty and intellectual, but, as my friend pointed out, the author assumes that living without hands can only be a metaphor -- there's no way it could ever have been a lived experience of actual people.

*sigh*
*grumble*


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Penny S.
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 03:42 PM

The version I read was that standing with one side to the fire, and one towards the cold outdoors would have an effect - rheumatism, I suppose. Was mercury used in bronze? If it was, I would have thought it would be substituting for the tin, since the proportions are 9 parts copper, 1 part tin. Also, I would expect descriptions of madness in the smiths, as in hatters, because of the fumes, which would have ben much worse than for the milliners. Also, I think the source for mercury ore, cinnabar, is South Spain, where there was also cassiterite, for the tin. I'm going to look this one up...

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Mysha
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 05:51 PM

Hi Capri,

I don't see her make the direct assumption that one can not live without hands, but I expect the reason why Midori Snyder treats the maiden sans arms in the story as metaphorical would be that in real life people usually don't regrow arms.

I myself don't really like meta-interpretation of stories much, as such interpreters always seem to assume someone wrote the stories with that purpose. Maybe that writer would be related to that infamous 18th century songwright who created all that folk music? Still, they may have a point in that those stories and elements survive that carry a certain message. But somewhen, when this story much younger, I expect there really was a woman whose use of her hands was limited, and who eventually overcame that. Even more than with folksongs, the problem is that we don't know what the original events were, and how they were changed.


And that's basically the answer to your question about my mention of a current version of Snow White. Most likely, the life of Margarete von Waldeck did not involve talking mirrors, magic apples or glass coffins. So either these have all been separately introduced into her story, or it's she who has been overlain over an older story. That older story may well have had her live with other guardians; robbers for example are quite common providers of refuge in fairy tales, and have the same habit of leaving the camp unguarded but for the girl, the occasional woodsman will also leave his dwelling in her care. Yes, maybe Snow White's guardians were dwarfs even before 1500, and maybe they were nature spirits when they were introduced into the story. But in the version of the last centuries, they may be children miners. I guess that's a problem you have to find a solution for: Will you take the story at face value, in which case they are less-tall human-likes, without any supernatural powers, or will you interpret, in which case there will be layers of story all the way back past the unknown point where the story of the girl in the woods merged with the story of the girl who wasn't dead.

Don't have the literature handy, but searching on the two names will probably give internet results. (The "dwarves", BTW, are Tolkien's approach to a race of smaller stature, whereas the "dwarfs" of folklore can be so mighty that four of them carry the sky.)


And interpretation, but of our own lives, is also what lead us to your "living with a physical disability actually leads you into thinking up new technology, to help you get around your physical limitations." and my "If the human mind is capable of overcoming problems, and overcoming problems does indeed train it". Now, there probably are a few physical disabilities that by their nature are connected to a mental problem, which cause someone to be both severely less agile and less intelligent, but only a few. But generally, we are "Lacking proof of a connection between a handicap and intelligence". So, when there's no proof of any specific connection, all we have left is our approach that a handicap will challenge us to think our way around the problem. Based on that, "what would one expect about the intelligence of the handicapped? " Certainly not that it is generally less than that of less-handicapped, as diagnoses seem to suggest so often. Rather the opposite.


Mercury poisoning is what made hatters mad. I'm not sure it could cripple a grown-up, though it can cripple when it occurs at a very young age. But ignoring the smith's profession: Why would a Greek god ever have a marred body? The Iliad disagrees about how he came to be crippled, which suggests the explanations are a later addition. His birthright isn't certain either, but the stories seem to agree on the fact that he came to the Olympus as an adult. Could the reason the Greek writers accepted a marred god have to do with the fact that he was, to them, an outsider? I know, just speculation.

Come to think of it, Loki, also a god of fire, was an outsider too. Are we seeing two versions of the same pantheon, or two versions of the same development?

Bye,
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 06:37 PM

Penny S -- I wonder if, 2,500 years from now, historians and mythologists will propose hypotheses for how singing the blues could cause blindness.

...just a thought. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 08:13 PM

QUOTE
if up to half of them are mentally retarded, at least one of those people I've met would be.

Nope. Not one. In fact, every single person with CP I've met has been exceptionally bright
UNQUOTE

I was constantly told how stupid I was. At age 40 I was then tested to be a SD+5 (3 in 100,000). I had been told I was stupid by those who were at best 'Average IQ'. I suspect that such claims as you mention are made for generations by those too stupid to understand those far more clever than they are themselves. The immediate response to my test result being revealed was that "I must have somehow faked the test to pretend that I was more clever than I really was"!!!! Don't think too long about that, you'll only hurt your head!

My tests also revealed that I have some serious micro-motor skills damage - this shows as bad handwriting etc.


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 09:09 PM

(Quote) My tests also revealed that I have some serious micro-motor skills damage (unquote)

Interesting, Fooles... 'cause I've found that people, in general, tend to make the equation that "ease of Movement" = "quickness of Thought." After all, they just have a thought, and their follows, no problem. If someone's body doesn't follow, it must be because the thoughts are incomplete, or slow.

Not being inside their heads, I can only guess. But I think their logic is something like this: It takes me longer to walk down the hall from Room A to Room B than it takes them. Therefore, I must somehow not understand the concept of "hallway" as well as they do... Or something.

And then, of course, when something gets written down in medical textbooks as a statistical fact, all future generations of doctors will look for evidence of that, and then, their preconceived bias skews their perceptions, and it turns into a vicious cycle.


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: katlaughing
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 10:30 PM

Reading along, finding this incredibly interesting. Thanks! I did leave a comment having been reminded of the opera Amahl and the Night Visitors. Having a "hidden" disablity can be quite interesting, too, in how people regard one parking in a handicapped space, and instant judgement that one must've been a smoker to have to be on O2 now.

I'll have a look through some of my dad's old books and refresh my memory about some of the stories.

CU, thank heavens for your mom and dad!! I've had to go to bat for each of my kids, at one time or another, in schools which wanted to label them. As in Fooles case, it was usually because the kids were more intelligent than the agents and completely bored with the slow curricula.

Are temporary disorders acceptable for inclusion at some point?

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 12:57 AM

Kat -- Yes, thanks for your comment!

(and sure, temporary disability is certainly included, at least in my mind).


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 01:23 AM

Thanks! At least in my mind, I like to think of the myriad of diagnoses as temporary!

I do have a little story I made up for my grandson about a snake with a sneezing disorder. It was solved, though, when he got brave and went over the mountain to new terrain.

There is also a neat story by the cowboy author and artist, Will James, about a rancher who was blind and rode a horse which was trained by his sons to walk the fenceline with him, stop for strays, etc. so he would still feel useful and not be depressed. He had a sudden fright one day in which the horse rightly refused to do what he asked. Supposedly he regained his sight from the shock. It's in Horses I Have Known. If you are interested, I'll dig it out and scan it in. James is quite dramatic in the written telling.


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 02:01 AM

Kat -- I know one novel by James: Smokey the Cowhorse, and it was always one of my favorites.

Of course, James' work sprouts from a fork of the Narrative Tree than Folktales, Myths, and literary wondertales...


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Penny S.
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 04:52 AM

I think Loki is more related to Prometheus than Hephaestos. He opposes the leader of the pantheon, and ends up bound and tormented. He is quite interesting. Odin, by the way, who is cognate with Mercury/Hermes as god of the dying, and a trickster himself, shouldn't be the major god. Thor should be, and did survive in pagan belief much longer as the god of farmers, and I gather that the change was due to the relative power of the worshippers - the devotees of Odin having the weapons and the authority in society. One strand of evidence about Loki not being well regarded was that he had no temples, but I spotted that he was in all the temples, all having fires. I was then told by an Indian that Agni has no temples, because he is in all temples.
I found once on the internet that until quite recently, when the fire crackled, people would say that Loki was punishing his children, and offer the skin of the milk as a libation on the fire. The writer had the idea that this was a worthless offering, but I would have felt hard done by without the opportunity to have the stuff on my cereal as a child. We had no fridge, and Mum would scald the milk to ensure it lasted overnight. The skin was like clotted cream. You don't offer that to someone you don't respect.
Hephaestos was one of the few in the Greek pantheon who was concerned for humanity, and worked with Athena, Hermes and Prometheus for our good. All outsiders. Two concerned with crafts and two tricksters. Does Hermes son Pan count as disabled?
(Did you see Percy Jackson - where two characters were hiding their differentness as disability? Before I realised that was what was going on I thought it was pretty positive, but when they turned out not to be disabled at all, it was a bit of a let down.)
Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 06:25 AM

In nursery rhyme form 'Simple Simon met a pieman' written back in a time of ignorance about learning difficulties. Was it banned for children in schools or do children continue to recite it today? It has taken such a long time for Mental Health issues to be understood over the years that I wondered if rhymes and stories with characters like this still exist in schools now or discussed because of the content?


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 06:34 AM

My tests also revealed that I have some serious micro-motor skills damage - this shows as bad handwriting etc.

Yeah right. I had godawful handwriting when I was in primary schol. Their initial diagnosis/assumption was the same - they thought I had mild cerebral palsy (a conclusion probably motivated by the assumption that somebody with a cleft lip and palate has to have something else wrong). Then a different teacher suggested I try writing in a completely different way (an Arabic-looking style with each letter linked to the next by a long horizontal line). I didn't stick with it very long, but it made me think about what I was doing when I wrote, and solved the problem without any need for repetitive drills. I now have far more elegant handwriting than most and have used calligraphy as part of my job for years.

I'm sure the bozos who came up with the cerebral palsy idea would like to classify me a success story in overcoming a minor disability. I don't believe I ever had one. Trying to medicalize my bad handwriting did no good at all and could have been a disaster if I'd seriously believed it.


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Mysha
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 11:48 AM

Hi Penny,

Loki is related to both, I guess. He gives the people warmth, like Prometheus gives them fire, but he doesn't really have pro-metheus, fore-thought, and as a result the warmth also heats up our summers. (I'm not even sure the fire-giving orignally belongs to Prometheus; forethought would reveal what will happen to you if you steal fire from the gods and give it to mankind.) And their punishment is similar as well. But Prometheus seeks no ties with the Olympians at all, which Loki and Hephaistos do. The combination of the stories is not the same, whatever the human history behind that.

Neither Odin nor Thor should be the leader of the Asen, BTW. Tyr should, and he probably was at some point before the distinction between warrior and farmer cults brought Odin and Thor to the fore. (I would really like to know more about the human history of Odin, to understand how that came to be, but I have difficulty finding out where that aspect is studied. As soon as someone finds out I'm not interested in the (final) mythological history, they at best tell me that's something their U doesn't research.) Tyr/Tywaz/Diva/Dieu/Zeus are all related; a natural deity.

I don't know what people thought of Loki, but to appear in several stories while not even having any temples to keep him in mind, he'd have to be fairly accepted.

Is Pan disabled? Two steps removed he is: Evil in disguise can be recognised by being either blind in one eye (Odin), or cripple, for not having human legs (Pan). Was he himself disabled? Well, it appears he is a demi-human. Whether those themselves stem from disabilities ...?

Bye,
                                                                                                                                 Mysha


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 12:42 PM

Hope I'm not going to tread on anybody's toes on what is an interesting thread, but as there seem to be a number of revival storytellers here....... deep breath,
Back in the eighties, as collectors we became involved to some degree with the then on the rise storytelling scene in London.
We brought a number of our traditional storytellers to the venues and on several occasions gave talks on our work.
The colleges and libraries were fine, received our storytellers enthusiastically and appeared to appreciate what we had to say - good times.
The storytelling venues were a different matter altogether; both we and our storytellers were like fish out of water.
The performers we witnessed were quite often second rate actors rather than traditional storytellers, adopting (often badly) techniques more akin to the stage than the domestic storytelling venues we had been told about.
The storytellers seemed incapable of letting the stories carry the audiences along, preferring rather to use gimmicks, fireworks, smoke producing bombs, gauzy backdrops and weird, often extremely distracting lighting.
They adopted funny voices and acted out their stories, using dynamics gestures and movements that we had never encountered among the older storytellers.
Not only were our storytellers totally out of their depth, but the revival storytellers seemed to have no point of contact with the older ones - the latter exuding an air of cloyey tweeness.
Our contact with the scene ended somewhat abruptly during an interview on the radio programme Woman's Hour when my wife Pat was told by a leading storyteller that "The public were not ready for straight storytelling and had to be given theatricals in order to keep their attention".
This was not our experience in the folk clubs where storytellers like Willie McPhee, The Stewarts, Duncan Williamson and many others received a tremendous welcome for their long and short stories told in a totally straight and uncompromising style.
A slight extention to all this - on a number of occasions we were contacted by people who wished to publish some of te stories we have collected, but wished to re-write them to make them suitable for children; or add (again very twee) illustrations, to what were often stark and extremely adult tales.
While we were happy to have our stories used, we refused to allow them to be tampered with, as we felt, and still feel that this would present an artificial impression of the art of storytelling.
I wonder if things have changed much?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Penny S.
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 12:52 PM

I had read that it was Tyr who should have led the pantheon, with the explanation you give. But, by comparison with all the other pantheons, and the links with the planets, it should be Thor, as he is the one with the thunderbolts, and is related to Jupiter, as was spotted by those who determined the days of the week. Thursday = Jeudi, Jove's day. The planet is definitely the major one visible. Tyr was matched up in ancient times with Mars, though I agree that the name itself links with the deus root. His rune was, I believe, used on swords, so that would tend to suggest a war bias. The Norse/Germanic gods do seem to have had a lot of alteration.
One thing I read way back - don't remember the author - was the way in which both Odin and Freya were regarded as untrustworthy because of their involvement with evil magic, seidr, (that's by their own culture, not later Christians.) This fits with the two planets they represent, which each have a light, morning apparition, and a dark, evening apparition. Mercury in the west is the guide of the dead, in Odin's case with his eight legged horse the four coffin bearers.

In the case of Prometheus foreseeing what would happen if he took fire from the gods, according to one version, Zeus had withheld fire, which men had already had, and Prometheus could see what would happen to us with no fire, and was prepared to put his life on the line. I think it's Aeschylus' play on the subject which presents Zeus in a rather negative light on the subject. (I was quite pleased to find this, because I had done a version of Pandora with a similar attitude, thinking it original!. It is odd how some people seem to think that the ancient pantheons deserve the sort of unquestioning respect expected in the monotheist religions, when they didn't get it back then.)

I hadn't thought of Odin's eye as being a disability. How blind can one be?

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Penny S.
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 12:59 PM

There's some interesting stuff on Odin's name in Wikipedia, involving "fury" and "mantic poetry". That would link with his berserker followers, I suppose.

The wild master of stirring strife at Things

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Penny S.
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 01:14 PM

Going back to Percy Jackson, the plot seemed to have been lifted from Norse myth rather than Greek, with the theft of the lightning being like the giants' theft of Thor's hammer. The name of Hermes' son, Luke is reminiscent of Loki, certainly in Diana Wynne Jones' book "Eight Days of Luke", and his behaviour in trying ot change the gods to have more concern for their children and their world is like Prometheus. Don't know why they had a daughter for Athens, though...Parthenongenesis?

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Penny S.
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 01:30 PM

Sorry for hijacking the thread, so here is a step back on stream. Tyr was onehanded because of Fenris Wolf, and Nuada of the Silver Hand was one handed, but I can't remember why. Both lose dominance because of it. Balor had only one eye, from birth, I assume, and had it put out by Lugh's spear. Was Polyphemus disabled as a Cyclops, before Odysseus blinded him? He obviously was afterwards. Thersites, who badmouthed the kings at Troy, was noted for being ugly. (Which obscured the fact that he was right.)

And don't these plots and characters get about.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 05:08 PM

Egil Skallagrimsson probably had Paget's disease:

http://www.viking.ucla.edu/Scientific_American/Egils_Bones.htm

http://www.oocities.org/igdrasilas/egils-sa.txt


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: Mysha
Date: 16 Apr 11 - 01:43 PM

Hi Penny,

The etymology was just about Tyr probably being the leader of the gods in the past. The reasons for considering him the right man for the job are that he is the god of single-handed combat, which is somewhat confusing but here means that only two people are fighting. Thus, he is the gods of the bravest, the champions, the leaders, judgement. He is not as strong as Thor, but stronger than any other (except for Thor's strength personified as his son.) He may not be as wise as Odin, though even that's not explicit, but is certainly held to be wiser than any of the others. He seems the only god willing to make a personal sacrifice for the good of all, by putting his hand between Fenrir's teeth, and in fact makes that sacrifice. I don't think there's a single story about Tyr, but from the stories about other gods, Tyr seems the worthiest of all.

Indeed, Zeus is the one hurling lightning bolts. He also was the god of the dead, until Hades (personified?) was introduced into the pantheon. So was Odin in one of his aspects. Such specifics on their own may not be enough to prove they have the same function. On the other hand, I'm not so sure that the translations from one pantheon to the other are all that trustworthy. They seem to stem from a time when the cultures met again, rather then from before the split of the cultures long before that. Thus, they connect gods that at that time have some common characteristic. This then combines Ares, god of Battle, with Mars, god of Agriculture, and with Tyr, god of Justice. Or Hermes, god of Cattle, with Mercury, god of Cereals, with Odin, god of Gods.

Nuada lost his original hand in battle. Because of his one-handedness he was dethroned. After his missing hand was replaced with a silver hand, he was acceptable to his people again (and for some reason he didn't tell them to go tell that to the Formoire).
He was eventually killed by Balor's evil eye. In some stories that seems to be Balor's only eye, in other it's an additional one, in the back of his head. Either way, that would mean he only had one eye in his forehead.

Bye
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: CapriUni
Date: 16 Apr 11 - 07:28 PM

And then, there were three: The "Aesop Romance," the Blogger, and the Internet


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Subject: RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales
From: LadyJean
Date: 16 Apr 11 - 09:20 PM

There is a French folk tale of a family in which one of the sons is only half a man. (It's not impossible for a child to be born that way.) The young man gets on the good side of the fairies, and attains magical powers, so he can change himself into various things, make his parents rich, and make the local princess pregnant without having sex with her. (So, of course, she has to marry him.)

A Breton story tells of Ugly Jan, who is also remarkably unintelligent, but can, by saying "By the grace of God, may such and such happen." Make anything happen. But he's so dumb he never uses his power until a load of wood gets too heavy, then he says, "By the grace of God, may the load of wood carry me." When the local princess sees him going by being carried by a load of wood and laughs he says, "By the Grace of God, may the princess get pregnant." They also wind up married. When she finds out about his gift, the princess suggests Jan wish himself intelligent and handsome, so he does.

There's a Japanese version of the hunchbak and the fairies, that involves the Japanese ogres, called Oni, and two old men with cysts on their cheeks.


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