Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mythical Interviews: Hermes

GINX: With me today is Hermes, the messenger of the Gods.

HERMES: [sigh]

GINX: Is there a problem?

HERMES: Oh, nothing. My achievements include giving mankind writing, inventing the lyre on the very day I was born, not to mention on my first night stealing the cattle of my older brother, the all-seeing sun. I am the patron god of shepherds, poets, orators, sports, science, travel, merchants and thieves, though the last two are basically one in the same.

GINX: I’m sorry.

HERMES: It’s just… you do one job as an intern and you meet a lot of people while doing it… and they all associate you with that forever. I’m so much more than my father’s errand boy.

GINX: I didn’t mean to insult you.

HERMES: You know, I also escort souls to Hades. I meet everyone at least that one time.

GINX: Hopefully I survive the interview then.

HERMES: It hasn’t been an auspicious start.

GINX: Right. Well… I decided to interview you next because I’ve had a bit of writer’s block.

HERMES: Oh, I see. You didn’t want to bother going through one of the muses, so you figured talking to me might cure your creative constipation. You need a linguistic laxative, so you call on a god.


HERMES: I love how you people only pay attention to us when you need something.

GINX: Human nature, I guess.

HERMES: You don’t have to explain it to me. I was the one who had to explain to your race the concept of exchange.


HERMES: I am the founder of commerce, as well as thievery. I pretty much oversee all exchanges of goods. The French still honor me in this fashion, with the word, “merci,” which derives from my Latin name, Mercury. It usually translates as “thank you,” but it literally means, “paid.”

GINX: Huh, I didn’t realize.

HERMES: I started out a thief, founded commerce, and now I am a socialist. I went from mercenary, to merchant, to merciful, all cognates of my name.

GINX: Plus you have a line of cars named after you.

HERMES: [sigh]

GINX: And a planet.

HERMES: A scorched rock? Thanks.

GINX: Oh, and an element on the periodic table.

HERMES: You named a poisonous substance after me.

GINX: Okay, fine. We as human beings have failed to recognize you and the accomplishments you gave mankind. Happy?

HERMES: I would be, if you lost the attitude.

GINX: You’re an all-powerful god, what do you care what I think?

HERMES: I’m not all-powerful. I can’t even get you to be polite.

GINX: Fine. How do I know you did all of these things?

HERMES: And now the accusations begin.

GINX: Am I to take you at your word, or do you have some sort of proof?

HERMES: What proof do you require? It’s not as though I had a camcorder. I was there, I did great things for mankind, and by Jove I deserve a little respect.

GINX: Okay, when did you teach man to write?

HERMES: A long time ago.

GINX: Let me guess, “… in a galaxy far, far away?” What is this, Star Wars? Give me some dates.

HERMES: We gods do not experience time as you do. I recall it was in the autumn.

GINX: Uh huh. You realize this is not a very compelling argument, right?

HERMES: Let’s put it this way: I have something you want, and you have something I want. We can trade and we can both be happy. Sure, we’re both taking a risk that one may be duping the other, but the mutual trust between us will facilitate the transaction.

GINX: Wait… what do you have that I want?

HERMES: How soon you forget… inspiration. Haven’t you been looking for something to write about? I can give you all that you need if you show me a little appreciation.

GINX: What am I supposed to do, get down on my knees and bow before you?

HERMES: I’d settle for a literary reward. Make your next mythical interview about me.

GINX: Metahumor, very amusing. How could it not be about you?

HERMES: You could be like one of the monotheists, and claim it was an angel or Yahweh. You could neglect to give me credit.

GINX: Well, if I’m going to interview you, I should ask some questions.

HERMES: Go ahead.

GINX: How about… why do the gods eat humans?

HERMES: Well, actually we subsist on human experience. We don’t exactly “consume” you, nor do we obliterate your soul in the process. Though to be fair, you are never the same again. As for “why” we do this… what would you have us do? Would you prefer we all die out?

GINX: Perhaps.

HERMES: Look, I know you think you have to disgrace the divine at every turn, but the truth is that the gods are at the core of human knowledge. Your ability to conceive of our existence indicates you are creatures capable of abstract thought. You are also the only earthly beings capable of sustaining the deities.

GINX: Can we cease to… “sustain” you?

HERMES: It is in our nature to reveal ourselves again and again, often taking new forms, new names. I am fairly certain that the only world without gods is a world without humans.

GINX: Okay. I have a final question, this one ethical. Is it better to do good works or to avoid evil deeds?

HERMES: To be perfectly honest, there is no good or bad. I interpret what you say to mean, “Is it better to actively comfort others or attempt to abstain from causing suffering?” Does this seem accurate?

GINX: Sure.

HERMES: In that case, it is far greater to strive “to do good” rather than “to avoid evil.” Though it is good to minimize the suffering you cause to the best of your ability, it is also impossible to live without inflicting some suffering upon others. However, the comfort one can provide others is limitless. Therefore, I advise one to give freely and encourage people to busy themselves with good deeds, which will in itself prevent one from doing harm.

GINX: I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me, Hermes.

HERMES: I hope your… blog… thing… goes well.

GINX: Thanks.

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