Nyogtha Volume II, Issue XIV

Well, as I type this it’s 12:09pm CST here in Minneapolis on Nov 13th and I was awakened about 30 minutes ago by a call from one of my friends in the WWE that Eddie Guerrero passed away about 2-3 miles from my home. I usually don’t break my own personal kayfabe re: my friendship with people in the Sports Entertainment industry since I started writing for 411mania and Inside Pulse back in 2002 as it puts me in a weird situation considering all the people we have here covering that industry. All I’m going say is that I didn’t know Eddie very well or at all really, but the 1-2 times I got to hang out with Eddie for brief periods of time, he was a very funny stand up guy. I’m sure you’ll see the IP Wrestling crew covering him and writing tributes to Latino Heat all week, so stick with those guys, as they’ll do it better than I ever could. I’ll probably provide the spoilers for Raw and SD this week, as hey…what other IP staffer will be their live? 😛

But hey, let’s talk folklore, eh?

This week will be a short column if only because I have about 4 hours before I have to go somewhere, so pardon the brevity.

This week I thought I’d quickly talk about what folklore is. I mean, I’ve been doing essays for all of you for 16 or so months now, and yet I don’t think I’ve ever explained what folklore is as a definition.

The term, “folklore,” which means, “the learning of the people,” was established in 1846 by a man named W. J. Thoms to replace the earlier term used for this form of study. That original terminology was “Popular Antiquities.” Yeah, see why we changed it? Folklore has become a rather generic term encompassing they myths, taboos, customs, tales, songs, sayings, religions, and belief patterns that were one considered fact or believed quite seriously, but have now passed into the realm of myth, superstition, and the like. Common aspects of folklore include man’s relationship with the earth, animals, the dead (which I specialize in), God or Gods, and how all interact with each other. Some of the more uncouth in the industry might call it “the study of backwards/uncultured people” but those are the people that are thankfully ignored by the rest of us who study folklore. After all, everything eventually becomes folklore. In 1000 years from now concepts like pop culture and the major religions of our time will be dissected like we do the Greek Pantheon or whether or not Druids engaged in sacrifice.

Folklore could also be described as post-cognitive psychology. After all, folklore comes down to a bunch of people sitting around doing things like “Well, what was the basis for the Egyptians deciding that the Gods of their pantheon had animal heads.” Things like that. You’re taking a look at a way of life that no longer exists. The medicine, the philosophy, the religion, the politics, and the general day to day living and see what about their time and environment caused them to create the belief patterns they established for themselves.

There’s a nice little outline of what all falls into Folklore originally made by Charlotte Sophia Burke (I’d avoid using her for anything else besides this though. Awful writer.) that I’ve modified and used for about 13 years now that I want to share with you. And no, not to take up space considering all that’s happened today, but it’ll give you an idea of what encompasses the actual study and what falls outside it.

I. Belief and Practices
A. The Earth & Sky
B. The Plant Kingdom
C. Animals
D. Human Beings
E. Things created by Man
F. The Spirit & Afterlife
G. Divinity/Pantheons & Gods
H. Omens and Divinations
I. Magic
J. Disease and Death
II. Customs
A. Social Customs
B. Political Customs
C. Occupations
D. Industries
E. Calendar Dates
F. Festivals & Fasting
G. Games & Sports
H. Traditions Inherited From Other Cultures
III. Stories, Songs, & Sayings
A. Stories
1. Told as truth
2. Told for amusement
3. Told for lessons/morality plays
B. Songs & Ballads
C. Proverbs & Riddles
D. Local sayings

Since I specialize in the dead and undead, you can see where a lot of my writing falls into various folkloric categories.

The origin of folklore as a study are hard to pin down, but is a safe bet to say it began being recorded and monitored in the late 18th century. In the 19th century, the Brothers Grimm (yes, they were real people) began recording German folk tales that had before then only been passed through the generations orally. They took the tales and reshaped them into stories that would be more applicable to (then) modern ethics and societal beliefs. Then they published these modified tales as “Kinder und Hausmarchen.” In English this is translated into “Children and Household Tales.”

It wasn’t until the 20th century when folklorists began to record and study the subject objectively. Before then every folklorists judged a previous culture by modern standards and particular their own culture and belief system. This led to some pretty poor publications and a mindset that the ancient cultures are automatically primitive, barbaric and wrong. Sadly this still occurs today, where you will see some modern folklorists studying African and South American tribes and treat their way of life and thinking as stupid or beneath “modern” 21st century civilization. Thankfully these folklorists are in a distinct minority.

Although most folklore studies the cultures of the past that have long since become treated as myth and legends, there still is an aspect of modern society study by folklorists. You’ll notice I have done this from time to time. There are things like Urban Legends, Conspiracy Theories, UFO Abductions, Bigfoot sightings and the like. In fact, it’s becoming more and more common to see folklorists dissect Christianity, Judaism, and other modern religions in the same way, especially thanks to the writings of people like Joseph Campbell, who have dissected “modern” religions and how they are heavily based in the very same extinct religions that are treated as myth and fallacies today.

There you go. A very quick and simple introduction to what the generalities of folklore is. Under normal circumstances, I’d go into a bit more detail, but hey, it’s an odd day here for me, and I’d rather give you a decent column that’s a nip short rather than none at all.

Cooking

Considering this is very much a “Lucard rushes through shit” edition of Nyogtha, I’m going with a nice quick simple (but yummy) Chinese dish.

Spicy Szechuan Noodles

Ingredients

12 ounce thick noodles
6 ounces cooked chicken, shredded (A George Foreman grill works wonders here)
2 ounces roasted cashews
4 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce (For you Brits, use medium Peri-Peri if you prefer)
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chicken broth
10 toasted peppercorns. (Grind these up after toasting. No one wants to eat a whole peppercorn.)
1. Cook the noodles in a saucepan of boiling water until just tender. Basically follow the instructions on the package here people. Drain the noodles, then rinse under cold running water, and drain again.

2. While the noodles are cooking, combine all the ingredients save the chicken and cashews (and noodles obviously) in a large bowl and whisk them together.

3. Add the noodles, shredded chicken and cashews to the sauce you just made. Toss gently to coat the food. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve immediately.

Closing

Like I said, fast column this week. Sorry about that, as it’s a rushed Sunday for me. I suggest reading either my review of Taito Legends for the Xbox, or my review of the Bauhaus Concert I went to last month.

See you next week people.