Journeys into the ancient world : classical studies in New Zealand : new directions along ancient paths : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English at Massey University
The post-X generation, bribed by the cool of hot branding, gives its lifeblood in sacrificial tribute to the global tycoon. Its ambassadors are compulsorily released into a labyrinth engineered by a corporate Daedalus, and stalked by a minotaur machined and designed by unit-production architects. Now however the children of post-X are mapping the co-ordinates and confronting the minotaur, finding ways to manipulate the maze and get through it, coming back to the light a transformed stronger human being. But the way is fraught. In my twenty-three years as a full-time performance storyteller, I have walked the mythologic path. I tell epics, drawing members of the audience into the story to become goddesses, heroes and lovers. During that time the subject Classical Studies has undergone a phenomenal ascendancy in secondary schools and universities, amounting to a red shift : a windfall for an epic teller. Why has it become so magnetic to so many young people, when alongside is the technocyber utilitarian culture they are expected to be expert in, a culture which can exert control at the expense of individual freedoms. The ancient world is simply hot. Reasons: it offers an iconography, self-insight, big ideas. In the Odyssey, passion and empowering experience through contact with men and women of strength and creative action. But there are further and swiftly-flowing undercurrents. I argue that by treading the stones of the ancient world, the youth generation is accessing an ancient, alternative universe. The Lord of the Rings and the Matrix movies both use mythic framework. Are the eighteen year olds of 2003 seeking a way through a socio-psychological matrix-labyrinth by using keys and threads gifted from the ancient world? Philosophers and kings and daring women from those times are causing excitement and expansion of consciousness amongst the young and their mentors. That world has perhaps provided them with magic talismans, translated into thought and inscribed on thread around a spool, and as we unwind this clew we are weaving a way through demons and labyrinth, also knowing love and rapture. These thoughts form the focus of this thesis.