Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Some thoughts on Hephaestus…

The process of creating tools to study a user group with that particular group could be considered a “Hephaestic” or “Hephaestenumic” approach. Hephaestus was the god of fire and was the patron of all smiths. He was the supreme craftsman who fashioned Zeus’s lightning bolts. He may also be the ideal emissary between the pantheon of researchers and the real world of participants.

Soon after his birth, Hepaestus was thrown off Mount Olympus (by either his mother Hera or his father Zeus) and landed in the sea. Deformed by his fall, Hephaestus made his home among the mortals despite the pleas of his fellow gods to return. Among mortals he was feared; among the gods, however, he was reviled due to his ugliness and deformity. He returned to Mount Olympus only after being drugged by Dionysus and thrown over the back of a donkey. His wife was Athena: the goddess of reason, intelligent activity, arts, and leisure. By some accounts, she emerged from Zeus’s head only after Hephaestus split it with an axe. Aphrodite, however, was unfaithful and had an affair with Ares, the god of war. Hephaestus later assisted Zeus in his plot against Prometheus by crafting Pandora. It’s unclear whether he fashioned her jar or not.

Hephaestus seems like the ideal social researcher: shunned by his fellows; deformed; cast out of the pantheon; a creator of great things; a challenger of great entities; married to intelligence, reason, and intelligent activity (and also cuckolded by them!); hated by authority (i.e., Ares); and possibly the source of all evil in the world.

Sign me up.

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