D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths

D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths is meant for children around 9 to 12 years of age, and both of my kids absolutely loved it when they were about that age (and younger). It’s not meant for highschoolers. But it offers such a wonderful, comprehensive review of all of the major players in Greek Mythology that it made a worthwhile review for literary purposes.

It covers all of the major gods, most of the minor gods, the “clever and vainglorious kings”, Zeus’ off-spring, and the major Greek heroes.  The stories are straightforward enough that you can still make out who is sleeping with who despite the fact that it’s written for children.

I love the introduction…

     In olden times, when men still worshiped ugly idols, there lived in the land of Greece a folk of shepherds and herdsmen who cherished light and beauty.  They did not worship dark idols like their neighbors, but created instead their own beautiful, radiant gods. The Greek gods looked much like people and acted like them, too, only they were taller, handsomer and could do no wrong.  Fire-breathing monsters and beasts with many heads stood for all that was dark and wicked.  They were for gods and great heroes to conquer.

     The gods lived on top of Olympus, a mountain so high and steep that no man could climb it and see them in their shining palace.  But they often descended to earth, sometimes in their own shapes, sometimes disguised as humans or animals. Mortals worshiped the gods and the gods honored Mother Earth.  They had all sprung from her, for she was the beginning of all life.

What made people finally stop worshiping the Greek Gods?  I’m not sure we have.

Dionysus, the god of wine and one of the favored gods among the Romans, is the only god on Mt. Olympus that is part mortal.  Is it any coincidence that Jesus, the fully human, fully divine “God” of Christianity is partaken of through the eating of bread and drinking of wine in Roman Catholicism?  Me thinks not.

To Concretize or Not to Concretize

concretize – to make concrete, specific, or definite

This is from the Joseph Campbell Mythos series (the one with the irritating cuts to Susan Sarandon!)

In the 1900s, there was an important world traveler and German Anthropologist named Adolf Bastian who recognized that in the mythologies and religions of the world, there were certain themes and motifs that recurred everywhere.  He called these elementary ideas: Elementargedanken.  In various provinces and in various centuries, these elementary ideas appeared in different costumes and different forms with different applications and associated with totally different social situations  He called these local variations Volkergadanken (ethnic/folk ideas).

The distinction between what is universal in mythology and religion (elementargedanken) and what is provincial and separate (volkergadanken) is VERY important. Why universal myths occur everywhere, in every culture and in every century is a psychological problem. Carl Jung calls the universal myths “archetypes of the unconscious”.

Campbell drew a picture of a circle which represents the soul/psyche.  At the center is a dot which represents the self.  There is a line drawn just above the dot which represents the self.  This is the threshold of consciousness   Above the line is a mental, waking consciousness.  Below the line is the consciousness of the body, itself.  Jung uses the term for the totality, “the Self”.  This is not the same thing as the Hindu Atman (undifferentiated consciousness).  Jung is talking about consciousness enclosed in a specific human body which is conditioned by the body in which it resides (male, female, old, young, healthy, decrepit.)  This is the reality in which we have to reside. There is no use wishing we resided elsewhere. The center of consciousness is the “ego”.  The “I”.  It’s mode of judgment is not in accord with that of the body/nature.

Culture is a cooperation between the self (below the threshold of consciousness) and the ego (above the threshold of consciousness).  Mythology is the language of the Self speaking to the ego system. The ego system has to learn how to read it. This is something we have forgotten.

The shadow (below the threshold of consciousness) is the blind spot of the ego – the part of which our ego has no consciousness whatsoever.  This could be equated to the Freudian unconscious. The shadow is the order of the personal unconscious.

The Self is a function of the biology of the body.  So we have a basic human biology and a system of individual experience. Both exist in the unconscious realm as far as our ego knowledge is concerned.  It is out of these centers which dreams come.   Dreams are primarily, personally oriented from the shadow system.  The imagery of myths, on the other hand, is out of the general system.  There are dreams that can be interpreted through personal association, but others have to be interpreted strictly mythologically.

At the level above the ego is the Persona/Personae. This is the mask that we wear.  Each society has its wardrobe of Personae for its individuals to wear. These are the volkergadanken and they differ from one society to another.

Take India for example. The individual is meant to identify with the Persona.  He is to live in terms of the dharma – the duty system put upon him. He IS a Brahman. He IS a Warrior. He IS a Merchant.  He isn’t just playing the role. He IS the role.

Compare this to our modern Western society which has much more respect for individuality.  If a person identifies with his role, we call him a “stuffed shirt”.  Imagine an executive coming home in the evening who is met by the executive’s wife.  From the Hindu perspective, he would be an executive sleeping with the executive’s wife.  This doesn’t fly at all in the west!  If you can’t take-off and put-on your roles, there is something wrong with you.  We don’t identify with the Persona in that way. Not only are we expected to put-on and take-off our roles, we’re expected to develop our critical faculties.

So all this set up to get to this point…

Developing critical faculties is something that those in the East know nothing about. The whole character of Eastern thinking is the elimination of ego. By annihilating the critical factory, you identify with the role that society has put upon you. This creates a problem for a Western person who goes to an Eastern guru to become illuminated. The Eastern person has a relatively fragile ego.  But the Western person has a very strong developed, evaluating ego.  It’s rock solid. The guru has a hammer to break egos and the Western person comes to the guru with a rock of an ego and the guru hammers away, but nothing happens. The Westerner thinks there is something wrong with him.  But it’s not him. What works in the East doesn’t necessarily work in the West!

In the East, deities are understood as personifications of the transcendent energies that informs life. The transcendent energies are human (elementargedanken) while the personification of the transcendent energies is based on the cultural and historical circumstances (volkergadanken).  In the East, it is understood that deities proceed from the transcendent energies and are messengers and vehicles of the these energies. In the West, however, we think of deity as fact and it is from this fact that the energies proceed. This understanding creates a huge difference between how we view both God and consciousness.

The Western notion is that the brain is the source of consciousness.  The traditional idea is that the brain is a function of consciousness.  The brain is first and consciousness arises out of the brain.  But in traditional Eastern views, consciousness is first and the brain is an organ that encapsulates consciousness and focuses it in the direction of time and space knowledge. Time and space knowledge is secondary knowledge, not primary. The notion that we are all manifestations of the transcendent consciousness that goes beyond all our powers to think and to name is the basic idea behind the traditional Eastern view.

In our Western thinking, there have been moments when this has made its way in.  It shows up first through Dionysius the Aeropagite – a mystical philosopher before 532 ACE.  His philosophies were picked up by Scotus Eriugena from Ireland in the 800s (gnostic philosppher with magnificent concepts).  Meister Eckhart, a German theologian in the early 1300s, uses the language of Christianity but blows it apart to show the relationship of the deity to the “knower of the deity”.  Bruno was burned in the 1600s for suggesting such thing. But then in Renaissance, Italy.  Medici invited Marsilio Ficino to translate a text that came from Byzantium by way of a Byzantine monk.  This was the Greek text of the Corpus Hermeticum which was contemporary with early Christianity but explained in pagan terminology.  Much of the art of the Renaissance comes out of the ideas presented in this translation.

In later times, there is the philosophy of Emmanuel Kant.  What Kant recognized was that all of our knowledge, all of our experience, is conditioned by the organs of knowledge and experience.  A priori, primary and antecedent to our experience of anything is time and space.  Everything comes to us in a field of time and space.  In “The Foundation of Metaphysics”, Kant asks, “How is it we can make determinations for relationships for space here, and know that these will work in space there?”  He says its because the laws of space are in our mind.  But what is the thing we are coming to know through time and space?  Is it a thing?  No.  Things are in time and space.

The laws of your thinking are what determine what it is you can think. These are the laws of logic. You can’t even think of anything that doesn’t fit within the laws of logic. This is what is known in the East as “Maya”.  It was Schopenhauer who first recognized that the Indian concept of Maya and Kant’s concept of the forms of sensibility and categories of logic are equivalent. Schopenhauer brought the concepts of Western thought and Eastern thought together.  Nietzsche picked them up and a whole new thrust in the school of Western philosophy began.

We have a tendency in the West to concretize our signs and symbols, which, of course, is idol worship.

My thoughts…

This is why Nietzsche wanted us to take a hammer to all of our previous notions and smash them.  Do they hold?   Some do, most don’t.  It seems obvious now that a concretized God is going to break.  But many Christians still claim that Eastern religions involve idol worship.  But the East does not have the same tendency to concretize signs and symbols as does the West because they have a completely different notion of deity and consciousness.

A concretized God, one that comes out of fact, is a dead God. How could it be otherwise? The Celts were hesitant to write down their myths because they thought that once the myths were written, they were dead. In a sense, isn’t this absolutely true? As soon as we put our stories into writing, we’ve concretized them. They are no longer living, as they were when they were handed down through oral tradition. So to base your beliefs on a written text is basically to base your beliefs on something that is already long gone. It’s dead.

Do You Believe in God?

I LOVE this story…

One day, when Joseph Campbell was on his way to lunch in mid-town Manhattan, he was stopped on the street by a man handing out religious pamphlets.  The man asked suddenly, “Do you believe in God?”   Stepping back to consider his questioner, Campbell responded, “I don’t think you have time for my answer.”

To reduce the idea of God to a question of belief is to miss the point.  The monotheistic God of the Abrahamic faiths and the many gods within polytheism are personifications of transcendent energy consciousness.

Amen to that!

Evolution, Creationism, and Other Modern Myths: A Critical Inquiry

I watched a show from NOVA about the battle between Intelligent Design and Evolution. Evolution won, which is good.  We really don’t want to go back to the dark ages as far as science goes. Creation Science isn’t science. But at the same time, the battle between Evolution and Creationism always troubles me, a bit.  We always want stories about how we originated, but what if we’re looking at it all wrong? Many Buddhists, for instance, don’t have a problem with Evolution. If we are evolving, we might as well affect that evolution as beneficially as possible. But I have also heard many Buddhists claim that evolution is still just a story we tell ourselves about ourselves. That’s not to say they believe in Intelligent Design, but simply that we are only viewing the surface of our existence when we talk about Evolution.

I have long been a proponent of Evolution and first came across the idea that Evolution is a modern myth in a Shambhala Sun magazine. I don’t remember wrote the article now. I wish I had kept it because it was another one of those punches in the stomach. The author of the article wasn’t trying to discredit Evolution, he/she was simply trying to put evolution into perspective.

There are certain levels where science and rationalism are absolutely spot on. But there are other levels that science and rationalism cannot claim. These levels are not irrational, they are transrational.

I’ve had a book by Vine Deloria Jr. for years and finally got around to reading it after watching the NOVA film:  Evolution, Creationism, and Other Modern Myths. He has a knack for busting American prejudices and I think he may be right that the current battle between Creationism and Evolution exists because of something most of us have failed to notice:  both are based on the exact same cultural bias.

I think this is exactly what Nietzsche was calling our attention to over 150 years ago. The Western notion of an abstract God/Reality is dead, yet no one has noticed!   Not the fundamentalist theist nor the atheistic scientist. Both are still stuck in the same mindset that was handed down to us through medieval Christianity and that mindset no longer serves us!  Deloria says the following set of absolute beliefs have been uncritically accepted by science and that they have reistricted our intellectual horizons for over a century:

  • Monogenesis – the idea that all life must come from one source, held to be a creator in religion, determined to be an arbitrary, unseen process in science.
  • Time as real and linear – derived from Christian theology and uncritically accepted by science as the uniformitarian, homogenous passage of time.
  • Binary thinking – derived from Aristotlean logic (either/or) and Christian missionary zeal (“those not for us are against us”)
  • Stability of the solar system – nothing has changed in our solar system since god created it or produced our sun.
  • Homogeneity and interchangeability of individuals – we allege to believe that all atoms and particles are the same, and that all humans are equal – derived from Christian theology and Greek philosophy.  (Read any popular article on science today, and you will find these assumptions taken for granted – without the slightest hint that perhaps they are mistaken.)

Deloria goes on to say, “It may be possible to formulate a new understanding of the world that is not Darwinian, but to do so we must move from these pointless confrontations and let the data speak for itself. We already have a massive amount of data on how things act. Do we need to have a story on how they became what they are? Deep down, since we have no way of knowing, could we not simply admit that the question itself is impossible and invalid?…Do we need a beginning to make sense of the world?”

That is an excellent question. It is only Western society that insists we have a beginning to our story. When the Evolutionists are asked about a beginning on the witness stand, they claim they aren’t interested in the beginning, only about how things have changed. Deloria claims this is a bogus claim. The entire premise of Evolution requires a beginning and a linear progression of time.

The Ancient Greeks don’t claim a beginning. Their story is one of constant creation – societies coming into and going out of being. Perhaps there is a sort of evolution going on, but there isn’t an end. Once we finally make it to the golden age, we are destined to make our way through the darker ages again. That’s Nietzsche’s three stages (camel, lion, child).  The stages never actually begin nor do they conclude. It’s an ongoing process of becoming.

Deloria says we need to ask ourselves: “What is the nature of our ability to understand the natural world?”  He sites three levels (which reminds me of how Huston Smith has dealt with this subject).  At the micro level, Western science has had the most spectacular success.  This is all of the stuff that is smaller than us – the atoms, DNA, RNA, etc.  At the micro level,  scientific formulas work because we have so much control over the data. The macro level comprises everything larger than us: space, weather patterns, continental plates. This is the opposite of the subatomic level because, unlike the micro level, we have no control over the data we are observing and have to accept what it is the universe gives us.

At both levels, time and space have little meaning.  They are just handy mathematical devices we use to describe what is otherwise completely meaningless to us. It is the meso level that is the most difficult to comprehend. This is the level where everything is “man-sized” and where the critical element is participation. Participation necessarily alters experimentation and Deloria says we should  honestly admit that we have virtually no objectivity at the meso level because our participation in the experiment alters the outcome. Everything we say or think about the meso level is therefore subject to cultural blinders. We should not assume science has the same success on the meso level as it does on the micro and macro levels. That science refuses to recognize its blinders at this level has made it the reigning religion of today. Its basis is belief, not unbiased empirical data.

Heisenberg warned: “When we speak of the picture of nature in the exact science of our age, we do not mean a picture so much as a picture of our relationship with nature.  We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning.”  Deloria says that much of what passes for scientific certainty is simply the personal belief that entities exist because they help explain mathematical equations. And what we Westerners call religions in other cultures (Buddhism, Shinto, Native American spirituality) is often far more empirically based and less biased than is Western science. We Westerners, on the other hand, were converted to monotheism by force and coercion which required a manipulation of belief and we have yet to let that manipulated belief go – even within science.

It’s a very interesting argument!

Infinity in the Palm of Her Hand

I  finished reading Infinity in the Palm of Her Hand by Gioconda Belli, a retelling of the Creation Myth. I appreciated it but can’t say I particularly liked it. Occasionally I put it down in exasperation. Not because Belli’s ideas are bad, but simply because some of them don’t mesh with mine at all.

I was hoping for an insightful new look into the creation myth but get the feeling this was a completely poetic endeavor on Belli’s part and not a scholarly one because she maintained the modern “fallen man” theory in her interpretation.  She tweaked it by doing away with the duality of good and evil, but it was still alive and well in terms of the attitude Belli’s characters take toward their suffering and the idea that atonement is in some separate time or place.

Some of it just plain irritated me – especially Eve’s attitude toward the growth within her, the actual pain of childbirth (especially that she was reluctant to pass the “knowledge” of that pain on to her daughters), and that she didn’t know to put her baby to her breast after the birth. Having gone through natural childbirth and fighting the powers that be to breast feed, I have no doubt that the first woman knew what those gorging, painful breasts were for the moment that child came out of her stomach and probably long before. Several times Belli refers to how pale Eve looks to Adam which is akin to those who portray Jesus as having blue eyes and looking European.

She ends the myth where Cain and Luluwa run off to create a family, has Aklia become Jane Goodall, and doesn’t mention Seth. Interesting read, but not what I was hoping for.

Do we seek meaning? Or do we seek the experience of being alive?

The following is primarily a personal musing and attempt to pull together a bunch of what I’ve been thinking about the past year. It’s both messy and sketchy…

Tribal man didn’t seek meaning. He thought the transcendent existed in nature so the focus was on unity with nature. There was no outer focus so no need for meaning. The focus was on the experience of being alive. So how is it modern man has come to ask questions about the value of life? Why are there so many suicides and so many depressed individuals? What are the stories we have told ourselves that have taken us from the desire to be alive to wondering if life has any worth at all?

When tribal lifestyles gave way to civilized cities, ethics became necessary. It’s not that tribal people weren’t moral, they just didn’t need ethical systems to handle their issues because the issues were handled according to tribal traditions. But when the cities were developed, there were all kinds of different tribes of people living and working closely together who had drastically different ways of dealing with moral issues. It was a logical transition that supreme beings/high gods became important for the same reason kingships developed. There had to be a way to coordinate all of the disparate tribes and their tribal laws. So you end up with Brahma, Zeus, Re. In early Judaism, even God (El/Yahweh) had tribal gods under Him. (According to many scholars, it wasn’t until 500 BCE that the Jewish God said that there were to be no other gods besides God.)

If you read Genesis, you will notice two creation stories. The first is in Genesis 1 where the creator God is called Elohim/El so we know this is a very early creation story. It basically says God created everything, all of nature and man and woman and it was good. The second story is in Genesis 2 and the creator God is called Yahweh Elohim and says man was formed from the dust of the earth and that Eve was formed from Adams rib. This story likewise contains the story of the Garden of Eden.

El/Elohim was the ancient high god of the Canannites (Abraham’s God and that of the Northern Tribes). Yahweh (also known as Jehovah) was the warrior God of the Southern Tribes. These two Gods were combined to make the creator God of the second Genesis Story in the 4th Century BCE when the Jewish priests had returned home from Babylonian exile. They discovered that their fellow Jews had given up their religion in the absence of the priests and were practicing Babylonian polytheism. The Jewish priests knew a reform was necessary if they were to save Judaism so came up with the Omnipotent, Omniscient God that says “You shall have no other Gods before me.” They merge the God of the northern tribes with that of the southern tribes and call it Yahweh-Elohim. This is the only theistic god in all of the major world mythologies that claims to have dominance over everything in the universe and gave the Semitics the right to say their God was superior to that of all others. It is likely that if the Jews had not done this, Judaism would have been wiped out. So it was successful although there have been some horrible repercussions that have gone along with this idea! And it is this God that creates Eden and sends Adam and Eve away from Eden for eating the apple.

The idea of the One Forbidden Act is a common mythological theme that shows up all over the world and it typically involves a snake as initiator of the eating a forbidden fruit. The god knows man will take a bite of the fruit and when the fruit is eaten, man becomes the initiator of his own life. The snake, which has the ability to shed his skin, is used as initiator because this represents being able to throw off the past and move on. The snake is typically viewed as positive, not negative.

The Babylonians had a similar myth of the One Forbidden Act in the Enuma Elish. The Babylonian myth was fairly optimistic. The world was created perfect although it became less perfect over time. Ningishzida is a serpant-god and friend of mankind who helps a human called Adapa search for his immortality.

Instead of this myth being retold in the Jewish texts as the Babylonians told it, the story got turned on it’s head as a rejection of the Babylonian myth to show the might of Yahweh-Elohim. In the Jewish text, the serpent is not a friend of man helping him find immortality but a trickster who talks Eve into eating the forbidden apple. For this trick, Yahweh-Elohim punishes the serpent to crawl on his belly and eat dust all the days of his life and puts enmity between the woman and her offspring and the serpent. He punishes Eve with pain in childbirth and subjects her to the rule of her husband. He punishes Adam to a life of toil until death. (You have to admit, it was a pretty ingenious political move.)

Although the Jewish myth has turned the optimistic Babylonian myth into a far more pessimistic one (which is no wonder, the Jews had been conquered by the Babylonians), nature (which includes man) is not yet viewed as evil, bad, or fallen. Meaning is not yet experienced as some sort of ultimate truth that exists “out there”. But that thinking is on it’s way and takes a firm hold about 800 years later when the myth is reinterpreted in terms of Greek rationalism by Augustine.

Christianity was hugely diverse in it’s beginnings and was spreading like wildfire. By the mid 300s CE, Constantine had managed to gain control of the entire Roman Empire and he did not tolerate diversity. In order to rule effectively, he insisted that there be only one Empire, one Emperor, One Religion, One Church, and One Teaching within that Church. He made use of a group that had been successfully organizing according to the Roman governmental hierarchy structure since the 100s. This was the beginnings of Catholicism, before it split into Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox. It was another quite ingenious political move.

A few decades later, Augustine, who lived in present day Algiers, had converted to Christianity and was re-interpreting the Bible in terms of Platonism. He formulates the concepts of the Original Sin which takes the story of Adam and Eve and turns the serpent (who had been a friend of man in Babylonian mythology and a trickster in Jewish mythology) into an evil seducer. This is where we see the first major attempt to negate the affirmation of life for life’s sake. Man is born into sin and condemned to the natural world which is corrupt and has to be corrected. He is punished to a life of toil and in order to rise above this futility, must enter into the spiritual City of God which is the Catholic Church. (The City of God is distinguished from the Material City of Man.) This is the first time there was any suggestion that the material and the spiritual are not interconnected. What is material is viewed as evil and can only be given value through obedience to what is spiritual (the Church). The experience of being alive is no longer valued. What is valued is doing the right things in order to achieve a spiritual life which is understood as separate from material life. Augustine thought that even babies who had never done anything to be sinful were born sinful. Prior to this idea, Christians weren’t baptised until they were on their death bed.

Augustine’s idea of Original Sin became extremely popular after Rome’s fall when Christian faith was badly shaken. And it marked the beginning of the the Medieval World View which managed to turn multilingual, multicultural, multi-religious peoples of Europe into a single people by teaching that every natural impulse is sinful unless you have been baptized into the Church. And parents, you have to get those babies baptised into the church, too. Everyone, no matter how small or seemingly innocent, must be baptised into the Church lest they burn in Hell. Creating a common religion for everyone and a common language (Latin) was the glue that allowed European people to think of themselves as a single culture that could be defined against other cultures. You have to admit, it’s another ingenious political move.

By the 17th Century, Protestantism got a hold of the idea of Original Sin and added to it the idea of total depravity. We are totally alienated from God by our nature and can only be saved by divine Grace.

Around the same time, Descartes created a metaphysics that is largely based on a secularization of Augustinian ideas and this introduced the Enlightenment. He came up with the view that the body is nothing more than a machine that is operated by the mind. As with Original Sin, the body and it’s sensual desires are viewed as trivial and that which is non-physical (the mind) all important. He contemplates why a baby would be born into Original Sin and decides it is because when a baby is born, he doesn’t have rational abilities and is completely driven by passions. Rationalism is everything and the passions and desires of the body are nothing but distractions. To seek the experience of being alive would be a distraction to our ability to seek knowledge and justification through reason.

The Existentialists were anti-Descartes taking his “I think therefore I am” and showing how it isn’t tenable – instead existence precedes essence. Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Dostoevsky all thought the Enlightenment (which began with Descartes) was coming to and end and when it did, it would be cataclysmic. According to Nietzsche, we had become meaning junkies and our addiction would eventually lead us to nihilism. He said the time was on it’s way that man would no longer tolerate being a master or slave, even to reason. Those not yet strong enough to realize that it is man that creates meaning would create nihilistic meaning. Camus asks the question in 1940: in a meaningless world, should we commit suicide and he says this is the most urgent of philosophical questions. While he goes back to an early tribal mindset to show how we can make our lives meaningful in a meaningless world, Nietzsche suggests we quit focusing upon finding meaning and place our focus instead on constant overcoming which requires the realization that we are always redefining ourselves so will always have definitions to overcome.

In 2008, Camus’ question remains urgent and nihilism seems to be the name of the game which is ironic since the Existentialists, Buddhists, and others who had similar ideas were labeled nihilistic because their ideas were misunderstood. (Meaning junkies do not want to give up their precious meaning!!)

Joseph Campbell asks: What’s the meaning of a flower? Nothing. It’s just there. That’s it. Your own meaning is that you are there.We are so engaged in doing things to achieve outer value that we forget the inner value – the rapture. What we seek isn’t meaning. What we really seek is the experience of being alive.

Beowulf (2007)

My daughter and I saw Beowulf in the movie theater yesterday. It was co-written for screen by Neil Gaiman who also co-wrote "Mirror Mask", one of my favorite films.

I’ve read several translations of Beowful, but that was long ago in my high school, college days and teaching days. What is significant about Beowulf (and why everyone has to read it in English lit.) is that it is the oldest surviving English manuscript we have. It dates back to 1010 and probably has its basis on the much older oral tradition.

I’m not sure how true to the story Gaiman stays, but I think he does a wonderful job of maintaining the depth of Beowulf’s character. My daughter and I enjoyed it.