Monday, October 20, 2014

The Simpsons Universe Zoom

This is an awesome looping animated GIF, made from one of the opening sequences from The Simpsons.
It playfully suggest the infinite, fractal nature of our own Universe.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"The Monkey Buddha" on Facebook

 I've started a Facebook page for The Monkey Buddha blog.

If you are on Facebook, please 'Like' the page, to get the latest posts in your Newsfeed.

I'll also put a link on my profile info, on the side of this page.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Civilization: Beyond Earth" Trailer

 I used to play the original "Civilization" game when I was a kid. You used strategy & resource allocation to build up cities and control areas of a map. It was very addicting & was a fun way to simulate the evolution of nation states.

A few years ago I bought my brother Civ IV for his birthday, since he also used to love the game when we were younger. Even though the core gameplay was similar, the graphics were light years better & the game was much more sophisticated, overall. He says he's spent many hours building nations & empires, so apparently it's just as engrossing as the original.

I recently saw a trailer for the latest installment of the series created by Sid Meier. This game moves off our home planet, among the stars.

The trailer for the new Civilization is cinematic & doesn't show any of the gameplay. However, it is a thought-provoking look at man's destiny to leave the planetary womb of Earth, to find other inhabitable worlds throughout the infinite expanse of interstellar space.

I've posted here many times about the importance on space travel for the survival of the human species.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Besides the technological hurdles that must be overcome, we tend to forget the emotional dimension that will inevitably accompany humanity's migration off-planet. The trailer very effectively conveyed the deep emotional experience that will be felt by our descendants when this journey begins. It also shows the influence of ancient institutions, such as religion & politics, will have on the endeavor.

Ultimately, human beings must break out of this tiny speck in the Universe if we are to continue our genetic & memetic evolution. If we have a destiny, it is among the stars. The time to start reaching for them is now...

The Monkey Buddha:

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Greatest (Worst) Optical Illusions

• Did you stare at the picture above for 5 minutes, looking for the shark?

• Does the inability to see the number "82," in the picture below, upset you?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you fell for some of the world's worst optical illusions!

I saw these, and some other hilariously fake optical illusions, here:

Sad &Useless

To make up for those trick illusions, here is a cool video by Young Rival that is a motion stereograph. When you re-focus your eyes, as shown in the beginning of the video, a 3D image appears within the seemingly random visual noise. These autostereogram images were popularized in the 90's, in Magic Eye posters & books.

Young Rival also made this entertaining video that I came across awhile back, featuring the amazing face-painting skills of James Kuhn:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meditating on Death & Impermanence

I've posted this picture before, but found a better quality image. It is a picture of an enlightened being meditating on Death.

"Of All Mindfulness Meditations, 
That on Impermanence and Death 
is Supreme."

Although it seems macabre to think about dying, I deeply love Life & the incomprehensible miracle of being alive. One thing that keeps me fully aware and appreciative of the experience of living is the awareness of my own mortality.

The realization that, one day, I will no longer be in this world helps me to live with a greater sense of immediacy in the present moment.

The Buddha taught that meditating on the inevitable death, decay, & dissolution of one's own body was a way to overcome the ego & delusional sense of "self" that is an illusion of our limited perceptions.

Only by accepting and contemplating the idea that our bodies will soon cease to exist, can we overcome the fear of death and truly awaken to the rare treasure of being alive.

“This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. 

To watch the birth and death of beings 
is like looking at the movements of a dance. 
A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky,
rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain.” 

-Guatama Buddha

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Ape Brain & Risk

On Boingboing I saw this funny & accurate comic, from the Tom the Dancing Bug strip by Ruben Bolling.

It looks at how the primitive monkey mind of a human being evaluates the risks associated with different threats.

People tend to conveniently ignore overwhelmingly evident dangers- such as those presented by climate change, or disease due to poor diet & lack of exercise.

However, mention the statistically-unlikely threats of terrorists or the ebola virus, and people go, well, ape shit...

The fake Daily Mail headline below is also funny & relevant. This is how anyone with a certain level of awareness sees the news media, which grabs our attention by blatantly appealing to the primitive fear & conflict responses in the brain:

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Oculus Rift & Virtual Space

I've been closely following the development of the Oculus Rift, the virtual reality hardware at the forefront of popular VR technology.

I'm looking forward to experiencing the Oculus one day, but it should be clear to anyone that the possibilities of immersive VR are limitless.

Far from being a useless or escapist distraction from the "real" world, virtual reality is simply a new way to receive novel information & sensory input. It's no different than a movie, TV, a book, fine art, or any other human creation that can stimulate our minds.

Video games are a primitive form of virtual reality, in which you are able to explore situations & worlds that exist only in the human imagination, both individual & collective. Although I like to exist in the physical world, I've always enjoyed video games. They are almost an 'alternate consciousness' consisting of explorations into engaging scenarios & mental states.

By synergizing our brains with electronic media (or other future tech that we can't imagine), perhaps we will eventually create parallel streams of experience. We might also be able to fractalize our minds, creating numerous embedded levels of simultaneous thought.

Below are a few Oculus Rift applications that I think are especially cool-looking. Some of them deal with one of my favorite topics, and the source of humanity's future in the Universe, ...Outer Space.

Being a huge Star Wars fan, the idea of using lightsabers in virtual reality is immediately appealing. This demo looks pretty awesome:

The movie "Interstellar" is using a virtual trip into space as part of their marketing efforts:

Here's a look at some of the latest Oculus Rift software, which shows the vast possibilities inherent in this medium:

I think it's interesting how there are video games in some of these virtual worlds... games within games, realities within realities. Its similar to the idea of fractally embedded consciousness I mentioned before.

Finally, here's a very funny video, showing the reaction of a Ugandan security guard who loses himself within the Oculus VR:

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Emoticons, Emoji, & Visual Communication

In my last post, I talked about the merging of mind & machine, which could result in the evolution of visually telepathic communication.

In fact, this is already occurring, through the increasing use of graphic elements in our day-to-day digital interactions. People use pictures in email, many posts on social media are basically images or video, and text messages are now reliant on emoticons or emoji to accompany their words.

Emoticons are traditional type characters used to create a simple graphic. The most basic & common are the smiley face :) and sad face:( which instantly let the reader know if there's positive or negative connotation to a message. Emoticons can add much-needed emphasis or emotional expression to a message. I saw this video outlining the history of emoticons on Neatorama:

Emoji are a relatively newer phenomenon that originated in Japan, meaning "picture character". They are pictographs that are used in smartphone texts or social media. Unlike emoticons, that rely on existing typefaces, emoji can represent a limitless array of objects & ideas.

Ever since I got an iPhone, I've been using emoji in many of my text messages. I use them mostly when communicating with people I'm close to, in order to convey how I'm feeling, humorous ideas, or just to have fun & make combos of emoji to try to create a mini narrative without using any words at all.

Gawker recently had fun with the idea of telling a story using emoji, by creating headlines for a fake newspaper, The Emoji Tatler:

The ability to convey ideas through pictographs is undoubtedly leading us to a much deeper system of symbolic language.

I think there will be eventually be communication that we can't even conceive right now. Expanded perceptual abilities will lead to directly-shared experiences and conceptual constructs between interconnected, electronically-augmented minds.

Originally, the funny picture below, that I saw awhile back, led me to writing this post. The graphic asks if we're about to come full circle, by mirroring the use of pictorial Egyptian Hieroglyphs through emoji & picture-based language:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Fusion of Mind & Machine

Technology has always been one of my favorite topics. Although, I consider myself to be deeply connected to nature, I am also comfortable with the many powerful uses of computers & the Internet. 

Many people are afraid of the relentless progression of technological development, and worry about the potential loss of "human-ness" that will result from our dependence on tech. I see all technology simply as a set of tools- with the potential for good, bad, & even neutral, consequences.

Humans have always had an integral, & often dependent, relationship with our inventions. There have been countless mind-augmenting technologies over the millenia, in the realm of communication. Spoken language, written symbols, the printing press, and the World Wide Web are all creations that have allowed the human mind to better connect with other minds.

Email, text messaging, social media, and other electronic systems are slightly more advanced steps toward a form of technological telepathy. The fundamental goal of a human being, in relation to other beings, is simply to connect. What digital devices are allowing us to do is make these connections in increasingly novel ways, at instantaneous speeds.


Right now, there is a Occupy Central protest in Hong Kong, advocating for representational democracy. The protesters are using the FireChat app to bypass the Internet & cell coverage, allowing peer-to-peer "mesh networking". This type of connection is extremely difficult for authorities to stop, since it is not reliant on a central or common network that can be blocked.

This demonstrates that technology is a source of evolution, that is every bit as real as biological mutation. Technology is a transformative aspect of the human experience- adapting & changing to fit the situation, and much more rapidly than natural selection.

As much as I truly appreciate the many positive uses for digital tech, there are just as many potentially hazardous outcomes. Unfortunately, I don't think humans will outgrow their capacity for maliciousness & desire for control of others before this technology develops.

In addition to humanity's flaws, perhaps the machines themselves could be a subtly invasive force. Sometimes I imagine electronics as silicone creatures, that are evolving to latch on closer & closer to humans, trying to merge into us like some kind of parasite. Computers are getting smaller, and moving closer to our bodies, via smartphones & wearable devices. Eventually, they will be embedded in our brains and incorporated directly into our biological systems. Then, we will become as dependent on the benefits of our iThink brain implant as we are on our mobile devices today.

If this ultimate symbiosis between mind & machine happens, could it be a source of cognitive liberation, through limitless mind-expansion,... or a virtual trap for our consciousness?

Earth. We are One:

Regardless of the possible consequences, both science & the technologies it produces will continue to ceaselessly advance. This year, scientists have achieved direct brain-to-brain communication, so the era of truly interlinked minds is rapidly approaching. Then, perhaps instead of sending clumsy symbolic communications such as text or even the primitive monkey grunts of our voice, humans will be able to directly share thoughts among minds.

As the late, great philosopher and psychonaut Terence McKenna said,
"It is not what we thought telepathy would be, 
which, I suppose (if you're like me) 
you imagine telepathy would be hearing what other people think... 
It isn't that. 
It's seeing what other people mean."

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Monkey God Gets an Identity Card

I saw this funny story about a biometric identity card that has been issues in India to Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god.


Hanuman is a revered character in the Indian mythological pantheon. I used imagery of Hanuman in my early depictions of The Monkey Buddha, for this blog.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Unmasking the Ape

I saw this funny image on fusion anomalog.

If someone were to try to un-mask The Monkey Buddha, a similar situation would occur. Underneath my "human" face, I am actually just a clever primate.

I did a Google image search & found an image of the full cover, from Strange Adventures Vol. 1, #55

Monday, September 22, 2014

Game Review: Assassin's Creed 3

 I've recently finished another installment of one of my favorite video game series, Assassin's Creed.

Assassin's Creed III is another virtual trip back in time to another era in history. Unlike the previous 3 Assassin's Creed titles, which took place in the "Old World" mainly in Renaissance Italy & Constantinople, this game is set in the American colonies during the Revolutionary War.

You still are playing as Desmond Miles, a modern day Assassin who can virtually tap into his ancestral memories, using Animus technology that unlocks past experiences from the information in one's DNA. The game is basically a virtual reality simulation, experienced by the virtual character within the video game itself. Virtuality within virtuality...

The enigmatic "First Civilization" still plays a role in the series, as a society of advanced humanoids who were destroyed by a catastrophic eruption of solar energy, many thousands of years ago. Their holographic personalities remain embedded in certain locations, to guide the human race toward preventing another mass extinction event like the one they experienced. There are various technological artifacts they left behind, "Pieces of Eden", which grant the user extraordinary powers. The historical conflict between the Templars & the Assassins is a race to find these powerful devices, in order to use them to further their own agendas.

I think this series should really be called "Time Traveler", because the amount of detail put into recreating the look & feel of each time period is nothing less than astounding. My biggest complaint about the game is that I personally find colonial America to be an incredibly dreary time period. Even though there were many pivotal historical event going on, the architecture, dress, and lifestyles of the day were dull & uninspiring.

Despite my personal lack of enthusiasm for the time period, the Ubisoft team did an extraordinary job of capturing the feel of America's early days. You get to experience first-hand the major events of the Revolution- The Boston Massacre, Paul Revere's ride, Lexington & Concord, and The Boston Tea Party.

There are also many locations recreated with meticulous detail- such as, colonial Boston with the famous Green Dragon Inn where the Revolution was planned, British-occupied New York City, the encampment at Valley Forge, and several British forts. There is also an expansive wilderness with seemingly endless areas of forest, streams, mountainous terrain, and wildlife that can be hunted to use for trade items.

The wilderness is also the location of a Native American village, which is the home to the main character, Connor. His real name is Ratonhnhaké:ton, and is half-European & half-Iroquois. He got the name Connor from the old Assassin, Achilles, who trained him at the Davenport Homestead- which becomes like a home base during the game.

You actually start out playing the game as Connor's father Haytham Kenway, a British Templar. As Haytham, you travel by sailing ship to America, to start the journey that will lead to Conner's birth and eventually reunite father & son later in the game. The way in which the game has you travel to the colonies by ship & makes you feel like you are en route to the new land is a very immersive way to introduce the game.

Besides the main characters, you also interact with some of the famous figures in early American history- including a raunchy Ben Franklin, Paul Revere, Sam Adams, Marquis de Lafayette, and even George Washington, who is shown as the powerfully charismatic (yet flawed) human being he undoubtedly was in real life.

The gameplay is very much in the tradition of the other AC games, with stealth elements, easier free-running (with the ability to travel through the treetops), an array of weapons from the period including the customary Assassin's blade, and improved combat mechanics- which makes taking on large groups of enemies very fluid.

There is also the added element of naval missions, in which you take the wheel of a large sailing ship to steer it and direct cannons at enemy vessels. At first I wasn't too impressed with the naval aspect, but as I played through more of the missions I really got into captaining the ship & sailing into the intense battles at sea.

The main campaign of the game is characteristically expansive. Due the limited amount of time I devote to video games nowadays, it took me a couple months of sporadic playing to complete the main sequences. Unfortunately, instead of feeling a sense of wonder at exploring, as in Renaissance Rome & other locations like in previous episodes, I mostly wanted to just get through this game & finish it- so I could get the hell out of the dismal Colonial experience.

This was probably my least favorite Assassin's Creed so far, for the reasons I stated above, but that doesn't take away from the monumental achievement that the production of this game represents. If you want to get a taste of the events & life in America during the Revolutionary War, there is no better way than Assassin's Creed 3.

• Official Monkey Buddha Rating: 8.0

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Size Comparison of Science Fiction Spacecraft

In my last post, I explored the unimaginably vast distances of outer space. The question facing us mere mortals is, "How do we travel across these seemingly impossible distances?"

In the past I've posted the awesome charts, made by DeviantART user DirkLoechel, that compare the size of fictional spacecraft from a wide number of sources- such as the popular movies Star Wars & Star Trek, and video games such as Starcraft & one of my favorite games, Mass Effect

On Gizmodo, I saw (what he claims to be) the last update to this awe-inspiring collection of fictional space vehicles. They include ships of mind-boggling size, up to 24,000 meters, or almost 15 miles long! The beauty of building in space is that there really is no size limitation due to gravity fields or restrictions on the area that a vessel can take up.

by DirkLoechel

(click for larger image)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Known Universe

I love any visualization that helps me try to grasp the vast scales that exist in our Universe, from the atomic to the cosmic.

This mind-expanding animation from the American Museum of Natural History is a virtual trip from the surface of Earth outward though the known outer limits of space.

Consequently, it is also a trip back through time- to the earliest perceived period of our Universe's history. The farther "out" into the cosmos we look, the farther back in time we are seeing, as light takes time to travel thee vast distances.

It is both humbling & awe-inspiring to consider that we are such a tiny, yet integral, node within the sea of infinity.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

3D Printing for Stone Age Tools

In my last post, I talked about using the relatively new technology of 3D printing to create abstract, fractal objects.

The beauty of this emerging technology, though, is that it can be used to produce any form that the mind can imagine. In addition to new, cutting edge applications, it can also be used to harken back to the 'cutting edges' of our prehistoric past.

On Neatorama, I saw this interesting fusion of past & future, where designers have created implements to aid the use of ancient stone tools.

In creating these modern additions to ancient technologies, the artists were able to better understand the sophisticated techniques our ancestors used to create these stone tools & weapons.

Friday, September 12, 2014

3D Printed Fractal Sculptures

In my last post, I wrote about the profound effects digital technology has had on communication.

Art & design is another area where innovation in computers has led to the possibility of previously unimaginable creations.

I've always had a deep interest in fractals. I think they are fundamental in understanding the nature of reality.

Through iterative fractal software, it is possible to generate visual forms that would be impossible to render otherwise. With improvements in software & computing power, it's now also possible to create videos of these extraordinary fractal structures in motion.

The very recent phenomenon of 3D printing now allows us to bring these impossible objects into the physical domain.

Here are some "Fabergé Fractal Sculptures" created by artist Tom Beddard on his website subblue. Tom is also the creator of the awesome fractal app that I downloaded & explore frequently, called Frax.

These intricate sculptures are reminiscent of the kaleidoscopic, hyper-dimensional forms described by the late, great Terence McKenna.

Monkey Buddha Archives:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Technology & Social Interaction

One topic that always seems to come up nowadays when I'm talking to people is the effect of technology, like cell phones & social media, on human interaction.

I see these things as a tool that can be abused or used for meaning purposes. What is really happening is a form of virtual telepathy- where people are silently transmitting thoughts & ideas to each other immediately, across the entire world. It's simply a different form of communication, like vocalizing noises through the air, or exchanging ideas through writing. 

However, there is no denying that the ability to mentally engage with cyberspace is changing the way people socialize in "meatspace," or what we understand to be the "real" world. I've definitely noticed the tendency for kids (& adults) to become fixated on their mobile devices, as soon as there is any lack of immediate stimulation.

However, I saw this funny comparison below, that suggests that maybe people have always been prone to distraction. Only now, it's easier with our gadgets to shift our awareness to something else.

I also came across this funny comic below from the Bizarro Blog!, that shows the dichotomy of people's fear & love of the ever more ubiquitous cameras- that are uploading all aspects of the human experience to the hive mind that we call The Internet.

Most people are still resistant to the idea of relinquishing their privacy, but as social creatures we feel the need to share our lives & experiences with the rest of the world.

 click to enlarge

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Spiritual Evolution of Man

 click to enlarge

I like this version of the traditional depiction of man's evolution. It shows our ascension from monkey to a spiritual being of conscious energy.

Perhaps the next stage of our evolution is becoming entities of pure light, either through technological or currently unimaginable means...

On a related note- I depicted the metaphorical ascent through the chakra energy centers, shown in the final image above of the spiritually evolved man, through this series I posted recently:

The Monkey Buddha Archives:
by Paul Micarelli

Friday, September 05, 2014

Mayan Pyramid of Kukulkan

In 2006, My family went on a vacation to the Riviera Maya in the Yucatan, Mexico.

While we were there, we visited the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and saw the amazing art & architecture that the Maya produced.

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I took some pictures of the main pyramid at the Chichen Itza ruins, the Temple of Kukulkan. This was the feather serpent god, who was known as Quetzalcoatl to the Aztecs.

During the Spring equinox, the shadow of the pyramid stairs creates the illusion of a serpent descending the temple.

Also, when you clap your hands in front of the stairs, the echo sounds like the chirps of the sacred quetzal bird. It is truly an awe-inspiring piece of monumental architecture.

I added one of the photos of this magnificent temple to my Cafepress shop, in the Photography section. You can order prints, posters & other items with this beautiful, mysterious building on it.

The Monkey Buddha Bazaar:

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Evolvefest 2014

 On Saturday, I took my girlfriend to Evolvefest for her birthday. It is a festival of music & consciousness-raising activities, held in Pottstown, PA at Fellowship Farm.

It was a very interesting experience, & we both really enjoyed it. The atmosphere reminded me of a 60's hippie commune, with many unique artistic & spiritually-minded people there. It's definitely not for everyone, but we found it to be an enriching experience, overall.

There was a main stage with music playing throughout the day. At night, the stage set was lit up with projections.

We participated in several activities, such as group yoga classes & Native American medicine wheel ceremonies.

Much of the day was spent wandering around the grounds, checking out the various tents with vendors or services.

There were tents with healing services, natural therapies, and even the Tesla Science Foundation- promoting the legacy of the great genius of the 20th century, Nikola Tesla.

Much of the promotional material for the event, like the banner above, used The Flower of Life symbol in the design. This is the pattern of interlocking circles that symbolizes consciousness. I used this pattern for the game board in "Da Vinci's Challenge," the game I created.

Interestingly, I met a few people who were familiar with the game or had it themselves, including Adam Scott Miller, the artist who designed the promotional artwork for Evolvefest 2014. I purchased this signed poster from him, while I was visiting his booth of amazing visionary artwork:

Behind the main stage, there was a giant Seed of Life symbol, which is the basis for the larger Flower of Life pattern. It was lit up, & cycled through different colors.

It was a long, but very memorable day, & we are planning on going back next year to "evolve" a little bit more...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Monkey Buddha Chalk Art

Last week I was on my 2nd family vacation, at Slaughter Beach, Delaware.
My family is a bunch of beach bums & we had a great time relaxing, eating, spending time in the sun, having drinks & making fires at night, and just generally enjoying ourselves.

After we left the house on Saturday, my girlfriend & I went with my brother & his girlfriend to a few different places on the way home.

Our first stop was the Dogfish Head brewery, which was really cool. They offer free tasting of their excellent craft beers & a tour of their newly-upgraded facilities.

 After that we went to a place for lunch that the tour guide from the brewery recommended. She said their employees go to the Backyard restaurant for lunch, so we tried it out.

The food was awesome & they have a backyard with cornhole games & a chalkboard for people to use.

Of course, I had to use the chalkboard to put up a drawing of The Monkey Buddha. My brother drew a crazy devil character. 

Here's a pic of the whole board with other fun drawings.

The final place we went to was a winery. However, I didn't like their wine at all, so I'm not even going to recommend it.

It was an awesome day to end an awesome week, & I was wiped out by Sunday from having so much fun! Summer is almost over, but I feel like I've definitely made the most of it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Life is Absurd

Whenever things seem serious & overwhelming, we should maintain our sense of humor with a deep realization of the absurdity of our situation.

This graphic I saw on FFFFOUND! states it very simply:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: "War God" by Graham Hancock

 On vacation this year, my summer reading of choice was "War God: Nights of the Witch".

Author's Website:
"War God", by Graham Hancock

I've also read Graham Hancock's excellent book about lost civilizations, "Fingerprints of the Gods". That book was a non-fiction investigation of ancient history, but "War God" is a novel, set in Mexico during the Spanish conquest of the Americas.

I am very interested in Mesoamerica cultures, such as the Aztecs, Maya, and Inca, and have studied them for many years. Before starting "War God," I read a book about the writing system of the Maya and how it related to their rulers. "A Forest of Kings" by David Freidel & Linda Schele was a scholarly read that was very detailed with archaeological  & ethnographic information.

Despite all the knowledge you may gain about a given culture, nothing helps you understand the lives of the people of the time like a good narrative or story. A character-driven story puts you mentally into the experience of the culture, like a virtual trip into another time & place. I believe video games can do the same thing- more so than movies or TV, in which you are a passive observer. The Mel Gibson movie about the Mayan culture "Apocalypto," however, is an example of a movie that effectively puts you into the setting of a certain time period. "War God" would also lend itself to an awesome cinematic rendition of a historical culture.

Anyway, "War God" is definitely a good story, and is engaging from the first chapter. Although I took periodic breaks from reading it over the last month or two, I was always looking forward to picking it back up & continuing the trip back to the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

Although I was very familiar with the history of the Aztecs (or as they called themselves, the Mexica) and the conquistadors, Graham Hancock has presented their story in a way that kept me wondering what would happen next.

The book takes place from the perspective of many different characters, including major historical figures such as the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, and the Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés. These powerful personalities are joined by the experiences of more "common" characters- such as Tozi, a young girl who has magical powers, or Pepillo an innocent boy who joins the expedition as a page for a sadistic Inquisitor priest. Despite the number of characters, their various perspectives are integrated very well, and give a sense of an all-encompassing view of the story's events.

There are many deep questions Hancock addresses in this novel- including the opposing human characteristics of brutality & compassion, the influence of religious ideology on people's thinking, the dynamic between two clashing cultures, the nature of the visionary experience, and the effects of the individual upon human history.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading "War God" and found myself looking up much of the historical information presented in the book, to gain a better understanding of this era.

This is the first book of a trilogy, and I look forward to reading the sequel, "War God II: Return of the Plumed Serpent", a reference to the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, or Kukulkan to the Maya.

If you have any interest in Mesoamerican cultures (especially the Aztecs or Maya), American or world history, or just an enthralling narrative, I would highly recommend "War God" by Graham Hancock.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014