Pan

Posted by Madam Bubby

 

We’ve been seeing the word pandemic as we encounter at varying levels one throughout the world. A Greek root in the word, “pan,” means all.

It’s interesting how we have created many words with this root. The most famous example is pandemonium, a word the poet John Milton created in his epic Paradise Lost. It is the name of Lucifer’s city in Hell:

“Pandemonium, the palace of Satan rises, suddenly built of the deep: the infernal peers there sit in council.”

 

Pandemonium, Illustration by Gustav Dore for Paradise Lost
Pandemonium - Source: Gustav Dore, illustrations for Paradise Lost

 

Based on its characteristics, one of its definitions has evolved into meaning a noisy cacophony, or an overall chaotic situation or experience, even though, analyzing the Greek, it literally means something like “all or every little demon.” Whose idea was it to build the city? In Milton’s universe, the figure of Mammon, who represents the greedy pursuit of material gain.

Geologists named the original supercontinent on Earth before it split up Pangaea, and related to the above, specifically, Mammon, a notoriously corrupt real estate company in Chicago is called Pangea (go to Yelp to find out more).

 

Pangaea
Pangaea - Source: http://www.geologyin.com/2018/02/facts-about-pangaea- most-recent.html

 

The word pansexual has become popular in today’s nomenclature as cultural norms about sexuality become more flexible, and some have even defined it as being attracted to the personality of a partner rather than that person’s gender identiity.

But there’s another Pan, and his name doesn’t literally correspond to the root discussed above. He’s that Greek god everyone recognized as a goat man who plays pipes.

But there’s more to him than the clichéd figure of the satyr. I found out via Wikepedia that, according to some myths, his father Hermes (associated with large phalluses), taught him how to masturbate. Pan liked to “chase girls” (yes, he was definitely a predator), but women devotees of his cult were sometimes called “pan girls.”

 

The god Pan
Pan - Source:
http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/pansatyr.htm

 

I don’t know if he had sexual encounters with males, but adding to the sexual elements of his personality and cult, his half-brother was Hermaphroditus, the intersex son of his father Hermes and the goddess Aphrodite.

The word panic actually comes from the story that Pan, possessed of a deep, authoritative voice, could create fear among humans by shouting, and he even was able to control a horde of giants attacking the gods by shouting. I assume he made a sound like that during his frequent sexual encounters.

Going back to the first meaning of pan, I like to think of what we sell at Bijou Video as “pan-porn.” Yes, the content is primarily gay male, but our products reveal a variety of bodies, personalities, identities, sexualities.

I think we need to remember that the “all” of human experience isn’t monolithic; many parts interact within that all; thus every day, if we keep our minds and hearts open, we discover what we thought was the “all” is something new and, in these days of fear, a matter of preserving life.

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