TDB&TB Question #5 ~ The Symbolism of Mithra

by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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TDB&TB Question #5 ~ The Symbolism of Mithra

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri May 09, 2008 7:54 am

See tidbit #20:

http://johnnydepp-zone.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=39957

Why do you think Bauby chose the name Mithra-Grandchamp for the horse he and his friends bet on that day at the races?
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Unread postby Parlez » Fri May 09, 2008 9:53 am

What's in a name? I don't know...for me the horse's name in this case is just the horse's name. But it's early - I have all day to dig deeper into the name's hidden symbolism and possibly come up with a pithy metaphor. :eyebrow:

For me at the moment, what's interesting is the context; the picture Jean-Do paints, both of the surroundings and the attitude he and his friend have about being there in the first place. For starters, he can't remember who's idea it was to go to the racetrack. You get the sense that these two guys are living pretty superficial lives in general; they go where they go on a whim. They have the 'tip' on which horse is the odds-on favorite to win but they don't act on it. Instead they linger over lunch, enjoy the scene, make astute obervations about the crowd, and assume they've got all the time in the world to place their bets. Too bad for them! They lose, while the horse wins.

As metaphors go, this seems like a fitting description of how we tend to go through life: easily distracted, overly confident, filled with good intentions, quick to believe we've got time, and always assuming the future will unfold for us just the way we want it to.

But personally, I think Jean-Do was being a little hard on himself in retrospect. He and his friend really were just out for a good time that day. Being mindless and therefore missing the chance to bet on a 'winner' wasn't necessarily indicative of an overall disregard on their part for their karmic well-being. It was only after Jean-Do's accident that the scene took on a bigger meaning for him. Then he saw it as representing every missed opportunity in his whole life. I guess when you get to place of more depth in your life, the mindless stuff you did in the past might weigh a bit heavily...
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Unread postby Liz » Fri May 09, 2008 12:58 pm

Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo came to my mind.

This mindless activity could have made him feel like the precious time he had as a fully functioning human being was wasted. But I'm sure he enjoyed those times with his friend. They were not wasted in the sense that they were enjoying each other's company and doing what they felt like doing at the moment.
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Unread postby nebraska » Fri May 09, 2008 3:39 pm

Parlez, that was a fabulous essay! :bounce: I think you caught the meaning of that story quite well. Impressive!

As to why he would have chosen the name Mithra, I am not sure, but knowing about the history of the diety after reading the tidbit, and knowing that our moderators could not find a real horse with that name, makes me think the name Mithra Grandchamp is a made-up name to symbolize the best and greatest horse of all time. With perhaps a touch of irony. Or humor. The grand dream, the pinnacle of success, the best of all things ever hoped for, the love of a lifetime......lost because he wasn't paying attention. Giving it such a silly grandiose name just adds to the absurdity.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri May 09, 2008 6:21 pm

Since it wasn't a real horse I was trying to figure out his choice of the name Mithra. You know how we like to look for hidden meanings around here (who us? :eyebrow: ) In doing the research on Mithra I was waiting for that :ohyes: moment but my light bulb never went off. I thought some of our clever Noodlemantras might be able to connect the dot.

Then again, maybe it's just a name! :lol:

In tomorrow's question we will dicuss Jean-Do's reminiscences of the day. I was just looking for some ideas on an answer to my Mithra puzzle today.
:perplexed:
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Unread postby Liz » Fri May 09, 2008 10:19 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
In tomorrow's question we will dicuss Jean-Do's reminiscences of the day. I was just looking for some ideas on an answer to my Mithra puzzle today.
:perplexed:


Oops! I forgot I was asking that question tomorrow. :blush:
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Unread postby suec » Sat May 10, 2008 4:55 am

Great points about the choice of deity's name.!
I think the choice of deity probably is significant."The Persians called Mithras 'The Mediator' since he was believed to stand between the light of Ahura-Mazda and the darkness of Ahriman." My guess is that this is relevant. On the day in question, Jean-Do was not only planning to to place a bet himself; he also had a "roll of banknotes the people back at the paper had entrusted to me": a little incidental detail that he hardly develops at all, yet I think it's important that it is mentioned. He let them down after they had trusted him with their money. And Mithras is associated with contracts, with trust and honour, (such as the handshake) as well as mediation. It reminds me of the prayer chapter, where he reports the various attempts people have made to communicate with deities on his behalf, too. Now, at the time of writing the book, he is wholly dependent on mediation. Not in the sense of resolving a dispute, but in the senses of bringing about a result and using an intermediary. He can't produce the book without relying on another to write the words.
I wonder if there is another reason why Mithras is significant, too.
"Mithras was seen as the protector of just souls from demons seeking to drag them down to Hell and the guide of these souls to Paradise." He does describe himself as being in a "hellish trap" at one point.
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Unread postby Parlez » Sat May 10, 2008 9:24 am

Well said, suec! And in addition to all the qualities of Mithra, Jean-Do was at a racetrack that day, which might have brought to mind for him the ancient Romans and their penchant for things like chariot racing at the Colosseum. Perhaps he connected the crowd, the gambling, the festive nature and ambiance of the racetrack with the ancient Roman culture...? It's a long shot, but ya never know. :eyebrow:
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat May 10, 2008 10:52 am

I knew you all would come through! Well said! :cool:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Inthezone » Sat May 10, 2008 11:06 am

“Mithra-Grandchamp was the women we were unable to love, the chances we failed to seize, the moments we allowed to drift away. Today it seems that my whole life was nothing but a string of near miss: a race whose result we knew beforehand, but in which we fail to bet on the winner.”


Jean-Do created the name of the horse that implies in four syllables that the beast would be a winner. It must have not been important enough for them to stop gorging themselves on food, drink and cigars in time to place a bet on it.

IMO he is using that day as a metaphor for lost chances, taking things for granted and allowing life to pass you by without taking notice.

I believe it's that simple.

(Again, how do we know the horse was invented? He segues into the recollection of the day by "recalling" the name of the horse ... perhaps It's something I just missed.)
"For certain you must be lost to find the place what can't be found. Elseways everyone would know where it was." ~ Hector Barbossa

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Unread postby Liz » Sat May 10, 2008 11:40 am

suec wrote:Great points about the choice of deity's name.!
I think the choice of deity probably is significant."The Persians called Mithras 'The Mediator' since he was believed to stand between the light of Ahura-Mazda and the darkness of Ahriman." My guess is that this is relevant. On the day in question, Jean-Do was not only planning to to place a bet himself; he also had a "roll of banknotes the people back at the paper had entrusted to me": a little incidental detail that he hardly develops at all, yet I think it's important that it is mentioned. He let them down after they had trusted him with their money. And Mithras is associated with contracts, with trust and honour, (such as the handshake) as well as mediation. It reminds me of the prayer chapter, where he reports the various attempts people have made to communicate with deities on his behalf, too. Now, at the time of writing the book, he is wholly dependent on mediation. Not in the sense of resolving a dispute, but in the senses of bringing about a result and using an intermediary. He can't produce the book without relying on another to write the words.
I wonder if there is another reason why Mithras is significant, too.
"Mithras was seen as the protector of just souls from demons seeking to drag them down to Hell and the guide of these souls to Paradise." He does describe himself as being in a "hellish trap" at one point.

Wow! I’m impressed. I knew the little mention about letting down his co-workers was mentioned for some reason.

Parlez wrote:Well said, suec! And in addition to all the qualities of Mithra, Jean-Do was at a racetrack that day, which might have brought to mind for him the ancient Romans and their penchant for things like chariot racing at the Colosseum. Perhaps he connected the crowd, the gambling, the festive nature and ambiance of the racetrack with the ancient Roman culture...? It's a long shot, but ya never know.

Interesting you should mention that. Harness racing (the type done at that race track) is a little like chariot racing.

Inthezone wrote:(Again, how do we know the horse was invented? He segues into the recollection of the day by "recalling" the name of the horse ... perhaps It's something I just missed.)

I did a search of the horses that won races at Vincennes. No Mithra-Grandchamp.
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Unread postby Endora » Sat May 10, 2008 11:58 am

Parlez wrote:But personally, I think Jean-Do was being a little hard on himself in retrospect. He and his friend really were just out for a good time that day. Being mindless and therefore missing the chance to bet on a 'winner' wasn't necessarily indicative of an overall disregard on their part for their karmic well-being. It was only after Jean-Do's accident that the scene took on a bigger meaning for him. Then he saw it as representing every missed opportunity in his whole life. I guess when you get to place of more depth in your life, the mindless stuff you did in the past might weigh a bit heavily...


Yes. Most of the time most of us can shrug off bad luck by just thinking "s*** happens". And that's what it mostly is, just bad luck. Funny that afterwards he dwelled on it so much though. Perhaps in his isolation certain days were given great emphasis, somehow he remembered them more vividly than others. Just by chance certain events got remembered like this, or by some reason of blame or guilt? I'm almost thinking of Alzheimer's sufferers who seem to get fixated by little events way back in the past.

Parlez, I hope that when most of us get near death, we can look back on the mindless stuff and say it was worth it for the sheer enjoyment it brought.
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Unread postby nebraska » Sat May 10, 2008 12:31 pm

Youse guys are making my head hurt! :dunce:

I suppose it would make a difference how much Jean-Do actually knew about Minthra and all its history and shades of meaning. While he was preparing his dictation he certainly had plenty of time to think and come up with complicated hidden meanings!

But I tend to believe it was just a name, like we might say "In walked Joe Cool........or Mr. Right." Maybe I am just having a shallow moment.

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Unread postby Parlez » Sat May 10, 2008 1:32 pm

Endora, one of my other beloved teachers - the guy who literally wrote the book* on 'conscious aging' and founded the 'spiritual eldering' movement in this country - says it's essential to do a Life Review; to actually look back and take stock of our lives with honesty and candor, and to make amends (which he claims is always possible). It's the extent to which we are able to make peace with the roads we didn't take, the opportunites we ignored, the love we took for granted, and all the seemingly insignificant, mindless moments in our lives that pile up like so much existential rubbish that makes all the difference. :chill:

*From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older, by Zalman Schacter-Shalomi
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa

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