I am so thrilled that Martin took the time to read one of my posts here and post his own inspired reply. I had posted a little note about time. So I am going to try to answer some of his questions.
I say try because, well we may have a language barrier of sorts.
First let me try to address the language barrier. Let's take three things written in English. A newspaper article, a poem and an article on astrophysics. They are all written in English...but it feels as if how can that be possible, they seem to have a different language from each other, could this really be the same language? Within one language we can find other dimensions and meanings that interrelate and also mystify. The newspaper article isn't trying to speak to the poet in each of us. And the astrophysicist is writing to other astrophysicists, so she need not concern herself with communicating with the person who wants to read todays New York Times or Toronto Sun. She is using a vocabulary trimmed and expanded and specialized for other physicists. They have spent years organically developing a particular way of speaking about matter, and the nature of reality. So has the poet. But to compare an article on gluons and quarks and mathematical theory of black holes to a sonnet on love or rose...we need to be fluent in two different ways of communicating. And chances are, you will be able to understand what the poet is saying intellectually and emotionally. You've felt and seen a rose and felt and seen love. Poetry is rational and rooted in the real world of dreams and emotions. The astrophysicist is speaking to a struggle for truth, rather than truth. Poetry can nail the concepts of "truth" "justice" and "love" and "honor" but physics always has failed at these concepts because it uses an inappropriate language and approach.
So, Martin, when you begin to read the Rig Veda or Beowulf, it is better to leave the newspaper article and the science article behind you. You need to use a different language to read. It is also helpful to not approach the topics and stories romantically. I find generally, that skeptics and scientists over-roamanticise mythology and sacred stories. They see them as something "other" or "metaphysical". No no, they are not magic. Same brain different language. The author of either of these myths has used their imagination and intellectual and moral aptitude to construct the story. You need to come to it with a clear open mind, rational, not romantic and you don't need to use your imagination. You need to use your minds intellect and let go of your centricity.
The world of Myths is like the world of science articles though...there was an idea that the exact formula and technique did not need to be practiced or understood by everyone. Not everyone wrote the myths, but everyone knew them and shared them and repeated them. You must have encountered people who can tell a joke and people who kill a joke? Same with storytellers. Storyteller was a career just like any other career and some had the talent and inclination, and some didn't.
Martin asked what I meant "As for the idea that mythological texts could function as a "mechanism for memory and celestial events", I don't believe that at all. How would that work?"
I am very surprised to hear that you don't believe that. An example of mythological stories working as recording devices is in their incantatory structure. Pretend the night sky is the visual for a movie. The soundtrack is the Myth. Sitting in the dark, keeping pace with the movement of the sky, the storyteller controls the pace by repetition, like songwriting, repeating verses keeping time with the movements above in sky. The emotional content of the characters engages the audience and helps the memory...Arjuna and Krishna going into battle, fighting Arjuna's parents...( Krishna is associated with particular stars, literally)... Arjuna has to fight the past, his relatives, (other stars). the plot is structured around celestial activity. The Rig Veda is a large mathematical (count the syllables) structure, an abacus of the night sky. Noah's ark is a land structure, could we suggest Mount Arafat, literally, used to mark a consistent place in the night sky...and the animals (contellations) are going into the ark (the mountain sillouette on horizon. As they travel they are memorized to keep track of mating and hunting rules.
There are hundreds of ruins and structures around the world that are memory buildings, tied with stories and have precise astronomical concordance between seasons, precessions, celestial activity. I can list them, but we've all heard of them, Huts with holes in the roof that line up with solstices in South America, the Pyraminds, Stonehenge, Irish mounds for the constellation Cygnet, and myths about swans. I would have thought you would have runa cross these buildings in your studies in archaeology, no? I feel like a bore and unoriginal just typing these well known associations.
Martin asked "I don't know why Candy Minx thinks so. The historical and archaeological record rather suggests that detailed astronomical knowledge was cultivated only within the educated castes of certain highly differentiated civilisations, such as those of Mesopotamia or Greece. Nobody else was very interested since the knowledge wasn't of much practical use and education was a rare luxury. The Greek philosophers prided themselves on performing investigations for their own sake: they certainly didn't want to be seen as engineers."
The idea that records of detailed astronomical knowledge was cultivated by Greece and Mesopotamia is wrong. That is a poorly researched and highly ethnocentric viewpoint. Also, I might add, those aren't different civilizations, They are both totalitarian agricultural economies:which tend to be ethnocentric in mindset. I am not sure where you trace the idea that " nobody else was interested". People love the story of the princess and swans (flying in the sky), Christ (and the star of bethlehem), Grandmother Spider who grabs the sun (several animals are "flying" in this story) and hides it in a pot. If you look at many different potteries and ceramics, you may see a link. Yin and yang can be found on Southwest American pottery...and the scratches are counted and "woven" into the story of the universe in their figures and designs, in precise configurations. Mathematical.
Martin also said: "Finally, two small corrections. Latin did not grow out of Sanskrit: both descended from a lost Indo-European root language. The names Christ and Krishna are not cognates: christós means "anointed" in Greek and krishna means "black" in Sanskrit."
Well, it feels funny to reply to this seeing as Martin, you basically agreed with me, despite saying you were correcting me. You said, "both descended from a lost Indo-European root language". Latin used Greeks talking about Christianity and other things...is well known and associated with Sanskrit. But listen...I talked a lot here in this post already, and I'm feeling a little guilty about making so many long posts, but I will address this quickly.
You said christos means anointed. Yes, it means anointed in oil. In fact, it means anointed in perfumed oil. It indicates a scent and emanation. Have you ever made an anointment oil? It's quite interesting because the plants used can come out rather dark after processing them, even almost blackish. Depending on the recipe, one's skin can become rather dark after anointing oneself, or others, if we're feeling sexy :) The recipes for making anointing oil include cassia, myrrh, lotus, cinnamon, coming from India. Christ is associated with heat, flame, fire...another kind of emanation.
You said, Krishna means black. Black=to burn. Krishna is also meaning elixer, lotus, butter. The idea of burning and their skin and smell is a critical association between the two men. They burned a fire or energy. It would be very superficial thinking to interpret that as only a literal meaning, when we all use the concepts of "live wire" or "hot" or "on fire" to describe people with intense passion or personality. Fire and burning have long been associated with philosophical and intellectual pursuits. Fire with the life force. Back to latin, we have an old phrase, elan vital which means "vital energy". Both men names are deeply rooted in meaning to burn, to emanate, to send out an aroma or energy through their skin to stand out, and oil and butter can be seen as interchangable even in contemporary meaning.
Again, I don't want to take too much time, but one could be well served to study the word "crisis" in association with the etymology of Krishna and Christ. Off the top of my head, crisis has sources in a "turnpoint of dis-ease"...and oils and herbs are ancient symbols and practical objects associated with disease and treatment, both spiritual, philosophical and physical. (It would be a great stepping stone for a college paper or dissertation)
Martin, I could go on endlessly on this topic, but I had intented to keep this short. Oops. I think I will wind down with a comment left at your blog in response to your post replying to me.
Henrik said "Concerning the written/oral memory discussion I would like to point to the 'ars memoria' or art of memory practised by the greeks (and the romans and the swiss, of course!).
That way of storing information as non-written memory might be as, if not more, precise than written information."
I really believe Martin you would find the Art of Memory an incredible source of answers to your very excellent questions. As you may know from visiting my blog, I am really into the history of memoy and the old art of memory. We can trace back easily this history by beginning with Shakespeare and his Globe Theatre. Actors had all kinds of wonderful ways to remember their lines and entire plays. And Giordano Bruno is a must read if you are interested in memory, memory chambers (myths) and history and science. I appreciate your honesty in telling me you have your doubts. So, I would suggest going to the professionals, my peeps: Ancient buildings, Rig Veda, Giordano Bruno, Mayan calendar, winter solstice stories, southwest american soltice rock art and, I realize this might take you a bit of time, okay ten twenty years, but it's worth it to find out how ignorant and behind the times especially European and the scientific community really is, it's a real trip down the rabbit hole, and the matrix. You won't be able to look at your life the same way, yes, it's a little scary but it's super fun. Look at my blog as a cosmic hand ready to hold yours as we all jump.