First thoughts on the Chimera as an embodiment story

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Chimera figure 350-340 BC (Louvre)

In Greek mythology the Chimera is a formidable (and likely female) beast–part lion, goat, and serpent–bred by a Lycian king to terrify his enemies.

Over time, the term chimera has come to mean any mash-up of seemingly impossible intentions, components, or beings. Star Trek’s Universal Translator is a chimera, as is a Rube Goldberg Machine, or a performance by MOMIX.

Chimeras are ingenious, awe-inspiring, fantastic, grotesque.

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“Mermaid” chimera displayed in a Victorian-era carnival. (Chambers, Book of Days, vol. 2, 1864)

Sideshow curiosities from the Elizabethan Era freak show to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not franchise confront visitors with chimeric bodies–fabricated or not–and compel us to acknowledge their reality. We are drawn to them not because they are unbelievable but because they are believable–perhaps enough to recognize some version of ourselves.

In the field of genetics, a human chimera is someone with more than one set of DNA.

In all these cases, being a chimera is involuntary. But what if it were intentional? What if we had the ability to make our diverse attributes–our multiple intelligences, orientations, capacities, and such–visible, corporeal, at will? What if, like the goddess Durga, we could display our many powers at once, to others and to ourselves?

What if we could look into the mirror each day and see our potential in all its terrible and wonderful forms?

 

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