The New Orleans 7th Biennial Myth and Theatre Festival - July 27 to August 1, 1999
dedicated to
HERMES - Quick, Cool and Crooked

hermes01.jpg (24627 bytes)

This page presents summaries and/or extracts from some of the lectures of the Festival. You can also check the original Editorial, the Schedule and "Stealing the Show" / Performance Evening. Check also Cliff Bostock's article "Psyche on stage - Enrique Pardo's work is revolutionary"


Nor Hall : "Gossips & the God with the Keyhole Aura" - extract

Sonu Shamdasani : "Raising Hermes from the Dead: Psychology and Hermeticism" - description

Charles Boer : "Honey, I Swear I Don't Have Hermes: Is There Hermes After 60?" a note

Jay Livernois : Hermes, Guide of Souls - extract

Nor Hall : "Gossips & the God with the Keyhole Aura" - extract.

In this piece, my plan is to get to the roots of the word gossip -- how women (mostly) talk to each other -- by way of the god whose flashes of communication happen in a non-rational, sort of boundary leaping fashion, connecting people "through the keyhole". Gossip at one point in its history was a contracted spiritual affinity of godparents (God SYbbes)for the newborn which means I am talking about soul- mandated kinship rather relationship by blood-bond. The fact that gossip degenerates into, or is thought of as, idle chatter or malice is related to the 'King Pentheus syndrome,' he being the one who thought that... What women do alone together, especially in clusters after dark, is always suspect. I find two sources especially useful: the second century novel The Golden Ass by Apulieus and Anne Carson's historical material on the uncivilized sound of the female voice.

(begin to build a herm on stage, starting with one flat rock and write:)


Hermes is the god with the keyhole aura.
the Listener In-ner
sound-skimmer, whispering one. Partial to gossips who move the word along at a clip. He occupies

'the blind alley's that run alongside human conversation
like lashes'
(Anne Carson)

On the move, in micro-motion, he's present in the instant of a things trembling. Always mercurial. The herald from the high-gates of the gods to the gravelly mouth of the underworld-- sliding up and down the vocal scale. With something to say.
This is the god alive in the history of talking
one who tells good stories & does traffic in word exchange
the one who takes his message on the road & passes it along the trail of the tongue
Hermes trochis , Zeus' tongue-runner. Aphrodite's tongue-runner & warbler waxing eloquent in praise of her gorgeousness to the unsuspecting man who was about to be taken in by her desire. This is about how a man falls in love with another man's fantasy. n 19 How the telling of someone else's desire paves your own road. Tell me how she is... (Pablo Casales story-- asking Enrique Granadaos, answer music)
Or a woman. What's he like...?
Erica Jong: Men have always detested women's gossip because they suspect the truth-- their measurements are being taken and compared
as in Olive Schreiner's turn of the century speculations on the cervical os-- the original mouth in the cave of all nymphs

Sonu Shamdasani : "Raising Hermes from the Dead: Psychology and Hermeticism" - description:

This talk explored the question of what it could mean to raise a god from the dead, and the implications which ensue when the god becomes a theory. In particular, what happens when a god becomes psychologically interpreted as an archetype in Jungian psychology, and these archetypes are rebaptised as gods by archetypal psychology? How was this accomplished, and what are the effects of this double transformation? Commencing with an overview of the relation between alchemy, Hermeticism, the scientific revolution and the rise of modern psychology, the manner in which scholars, occultists and psychologists attempted to revive or retrieve the true meaning of the Hermetic Art was reconstructed, and in particular, how this culminated in Jung's psychology of alchemy and his understanding of the relation of Hermes to the alchemical Mercurius, and the relation of the latter to the Self, the individuation process and the collective unconscious. The complexities of this project were indicated, and the resulting transformations in Jung's conceptions of language, image, interpretation and the project of psychology were explained. It concluded by reflecting on what the modern day cemetricians of the Hermes preservation society are doing to Hermes.

Charles Boer : "Honey, I Swear I Don't Have Hermes: Is There Hermes After 60?" a note

My paper, "Honey, I Swear I Don't Have Hermes," tried to suggest that the conventional Puer/Senex crisis, as understood by Jungians, isn't the same in America today. I suggest that there is an American Hermes who is very different from his Greek ancestor, and it is this God, whose name is probably not "Hermes," who is causing all the problems, from Littleton to lil ol' me.

As the paper will be published in the next issue of SPRING - - I cannot preempt publication here. Many of your web-site visitors, however, are already subscribers to this foremost journal of Jungian thought, and will read it there.

Jay Livernois : Hermes Guide of Souls (extract)

(...) Punks and American youth culture - which is at least a part of American culture, although it permeates everything - is not dominated by Hermes, but by Dionysus and Hades and the cult of the dead. Let me explain how I see this, and differently than Charles Boer. In the ancient world, the secret at the heart of the mysteries of Eleusis, probably the most important mystery cult of the ancient world, was not some Demeter pig goddess mother fertility krone woo-woo mysticism you too can become a god or goddess. And it is not true that no ancient writer ever revealed the secret of the Eleusinian mysteries. Karl Kerenyi, in his book on Eleusis, clearly shows that many ancients blabbed what the secret was, beginning with, I believe, Euripedes in some of his plays. The secret was that Dionysus and Hades are the same. This meant that Dionysus is also the Lord of the Dead, the Lord of the Underworld. I would argue that punks, youth culture, is dominated by Dionysus and Hades and the Dead. The youths in Littleton, dressed in black with death-mask white faces, were the minions of Hades, and they set off an orgy of Dionysian death. Sure, they hated the Apollonian jocks, just as Dionysus and his women tore apart Pentheus, but they also killed the short, black, popular Hermes-type kid who always told jokes and moved between worlds. They looked to get anyone popular- read alive - in their school and culture. They also killed a girl who was one of their gang but became a born-again Christian. They sent her to meet Jesus who is also in their imaginations seemed to be a Dionysus-Hades figure. And they carried it all out as a laughing, mad, Dionysian joke, not a sly, hermetic prank.

The massive copy-catism in schools and among young people (which was greater than the public knows as most of the incidents were suppressed by the police and school authorities to not set off a public panic) points to the fertile, mythological ground for the return of the dead. The blackness of punks, the darkness of their images, their love of death art (from Joe Coleman's blood and guts dead eroticism to Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy's psychopathic clowns to Jack Kervorkian to death row painters - (all which can be bought here at Barrister's in New Orleans), and the number of punk-youth culture suicides (from Nancy and Sid to Wendy O''Williams to Kurt Colbain to G. G. Alin to our own friend Rob MacDonald) speaks to the grip of Dionysus and Hades, powerful archetypes, gods moving through a culture not of hermetic paradox or the straddling of boundaries but of a descent into (as is feared in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes by Hermes when Apollo picks him up) dark Tartaros. American, Dionysian, youth culture with its drugs and guns brings you down and dead. Remember many of the names of rock and punk bands carry momento moris. Just a few examples are the Dead Kennedys, the Velvet Underground, and even the Beatles were named as an ironic death tribute to Buddy Holly and the Crickets.

Yet let us not lay this all on the young. As Charles Boer correctly points out there is a market in cemetery artifacts coming from New Orleans. These artifacts are not sold in New Orleans. They come from New Orleans because more than any American city, New Orleans is dedicated to Dionysus and hence Hades. These artifacts are sold in L.A., the city of eternal youth, of film eternity, a heaven, an idealized place. Why? Because of our Christianism, our belief in everlasting life. Death tries to creep in with cemetery art and artifacts, reminders of our mortality in our American heaven on earth, our city of Angels, the place, the L.A. cosmology of stars.

However, New Orleans is the place, the city ripe with the cult of death. It is filled with ghosts, corruption, putrefaction, Anne Rice, voodoo, hoodoo, alcohol everywhere, the living dead, a continual flow of the most fanatical Christians who believe in a fantasy land of the dead, and tourists who are not really alive otherwise they would never dress that way. New Orleans also has an oppressive, humid heat that needs to so over cool the living, it makes it seem as if everyone is a corpse in need of preservation.

Still I would like to remind everyone that the cult of death is also the cult of life. Cults and celebrations of death flourished in the Italian Renaissance. These reminded people to live life to its fullest with all the beauty and pleasures possible. In fact I believe the Renaissance was not the neo-Platonic world so pushed by academic Renaissance scholars like Paul Kristellar and Eugenio Garin, but an Epicurean world and a hidden philosophy pushed by Marsilio Ficino that hid behind Platonism so as not to be burned because of an indulgence in epicurean heresy.

I hope that this small critique of Charles Boer's brilliant lecture last night will not change the mood of what has been so far an excellent conference. (...)

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