Exquisite Corpse - Issue 3
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HERMES, for instance or, the Mythical Underpinning of Bill Gates
by Frank Polite


Gods are a lot like us, some are friendly, some are not. Some aren't very smart, it's not a criterion. Like us, all gods are thieves, but only one god is the god of thieves, and that god is Hermes.

What a god steals attaches to the god's name, a lot of titles, which is to say, the more Boards one sits on the better, the more famous. In this way, the gods order things out of Chaos, they tame the wild for us.

Hermes, for instance. Of all the Olympians, Hermes is by far the strangest and most interesting. He has more titles than any other god, which means, more than messages and flowers, Hermes tracks the wildest of the Wilds. As Perseus, he slew the gruesome Medusa, Fear itself, and Argus, Thousand-eyed Monster of Night.

Thief, Healer, Trickster, Giver of Gifts, quicksilvermessenger, Guide of Souls, Hermes-at-the-Crossroads, 'Hermes, Hermes, Lord of Changes and of Journeys, an ancient invocation. The list goes on and on, Hermes this and Hermes that - an inventory in fact of all the traits and attributes and treasure Hermes has stolen.

We know that Hermes stole silver, all silvering, as in chrome, mercury, freshly minted coins, and mirrors (hence, all reflection); and green, as in emeralds and Spring (long before St. Patrick, Hermes stole Ireland); and silver-green, the way the leaves of olive trees glitter in the wind. And mint, the taste of mint, is Hermes' also, its refreshment and sting. And wintergreen.

Winged at helmet and foot, Hermes steals swiftness, all speed, until he seems to exist, like a 4th-dimensional being, in every direction at once - which is why the Ancients devised this curious thought about Hermes: Unlike the other gods, Hermes rules his own world.

Dreams, magic, trickery - that is Hermes' realm. He is Lord of Exchange, what takes place at borders and gates, barter and trade, give and take, all crossings over. Transformer, Shapeshifter, Joker - when Hermes' card is played no position is safe. Hierarchies and Establishments tremble. Hermes steals whatever is nailed down, to effect change.

Master of crafts and skills, trickery to Hermes is craftiness - the wily and crafty ways we connect one thing to another, shaping Nature to our will. Stringing up a tortoise shell, Hermes invented the lyre.

If a thief appears in our dreams, if something disappears, lost or stolen, that is an omen of Hermes. It means there is change afoot, winged and swift; or, since all change is theft, the shift has already occurred. In other words, what we don't know, we don't know, yet.

Fastening his wings to Viking helmets, those thieving marauders, Hermes rules all sudden and awesome arrivals. Hence, his most fearsome (and beautiful) name, Storm-footed Hermes.

There is reason to think that Hermes will eventually steal everything. As god of wealth, invention, commerce, all communication and delivery systems, and instantaneous connection - the Internet, the World Wide Web is catching up with Hermes, and when it does Hermes will steal that also. In fact, since the thought occurs, he already has.

The gods differ from us in this: they are guiltless. Whatever is stolen has, suddenly, always belonged to the god - the history of the thing, right through to its genetic coding, bears the god's imprint. In this way the gods and their possessions are infinite. In effect, Homer says this about Hermes: all his thievery and all his tricks, in the end, seem to favor us.

Hermes, for instance, within the flow of this poem - how he arrives, how restless he is, how he moves on. . .



Books by Frank Polite available at Amazon.com (click on title for reviews and ordering information):

HYDE; A Novella Noire


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