Category Archives: Logos

Importance of Myths in 2021

For those who don’t know me personally, I am a speech-language pathologist who specializes in working with medically-complex adults.

“But, I thought speech therapists just worked with kids who have lisps, though,” you may be thinking.

SLPs actually have many tools in their belt, to rehabilitate disorders related to speech, language, cognitive-communication, and feeding/swallowing across the lifespan. To the surprise of many, a Master’s degree is required to get certified to be an SLP.

I brag, to help explain my vast knowledge of language. Lately, I’ve become fascinated by what we can learn from it.

If you read my last blog post, you may have learned a new word: etymology. Maybe you looked up a few words on etymonline.com

Etymology is the study of the origin of words. Etymologies are not definitions; they are explanations of what modern words meant and sounded like hundreds of thousands of years ago. A word’s etymology can help make sense of invasions, migrations, and popular culture over time.

If there’s interest, I will explain this in further detail in an upcoming blog post, but I’ll try to, quickly, give you the main idea.

It turns out, most of our modern words can be traced to a theorized common ancestor—the Proto-Indo Europeans. The picture below, obtained from the Guardian, maps how languages have become, overtime. Just like humans, language is constantly changing and evolving.

Map of world languages, compiled by The Guardian

Almost all common English words stem from the European branch of the “Proto-Indo European tree.” This group has the prefix, “Proto-,“ because they are literally a prototype; a reasoned hypothesis of the language spoke between 4500 BC to 2500 BC.

The history of words can give us an unprecedented look into history throughout time, as they are, maybe, as close as you can get to a first-hand, un-biased historical account. It can also help us reinterpret the words of our ancient, intellectual fore founders.

Okay… time for what you came for.

Let’s talk about myths!

Etymology of myth, from Etsy online.com

The word, myth, is one that is difficult for us to define; probably because the word itself is a mystery, even to linguists and historians. It doesn’t have a proto-European root. It can’t be traced back; but experts believe that it may have been coined before the Intellects of Ancient Greece.

The word myth, just like the idea of it, mystically graced human-kind—through music.

Homer and Hesiod were ancient poets, who wrote ‘epic poetry.’ They travelled around Europe and the Middle East in ~700 B.C, sharing their stories with ‘hoi polloi,’ or ignorant masses. Homer and Hesiod called themselves ‘aodoi,’ a word that meant singer or bard. The word myth was first found written down in Homer’s work.

I like to think of Homer and Hesiod as modern day pop stars.

Like modern day pop stars, they were… worshipped, almost like false gods. Plato documented in his book, Republic, that Homer and the aodois knew “all the arts and all things pertaining to virtue, vice, and all things divine.” Their word, to Plato, was very close to the word of the gods.

Most of their poems, or songs, were long, winding narratives about heroes and war. Looking closer, you can see that their work articulated in writing, for the first time, a physical and moral/social order of the universe. Their work heavily influenced ancient philosophers and intellects.

Since the mid-1800’s, however, myth began to carry a connotation of “untrue,” “a rumor,” “fiction.” People began to prefer true stories, first hand accounts, stories about real lives. People began looking at myths with disdain. They became banned from schools.

And along the way, myths lost their magic.

No longer do children gather together to hear stories about courageous kings, scary monsters, beautiful but jealous gods and intelligent but promiscuous goddesses.

Myths, however, still are important.

Myths have such a deep history, they lie at the very foundation of Western thought.

Myths are something that helped our intellectual forefathers, like Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, interpret the world around them. Myths may also be how they passed on life lessons. Ancient philosophers, such as Parmenides (the father of deductive logic), understood myth (along with ‘logos,’ rational discourse) as crucial to his understanding (and potential mastering) of the universe.

Myths can’t be explained.

Like a joke, once you try to explain or prove a myth, you destroy it. Myth-telling is diametrically opposed from explanatory thinking or “science.” Still, if you look, you find them to be omnipresent—in literature, film, art, music and playing out in real life.

Myths are functional and attempt to explain.

Carl Jung believed that our psychological archetypes could be found in the fabrics of myths. Many have considered myths to be styles of existence. You study myths to recognize them, but you’ll never catch one in your net.

Myths can teach us lessons.

A return to Greek myths, in particular, help us understand the three high points in human cultural existence; the Romans, the Reinessance and the Romantic Periods. They may even be able to help us understand how (and if) human-kind has gone astray.

Myths are almost synonymous with language.

Plato understood myth to be synonymous with “oral literature.” For an ethnologist, myth is a “message or set of messages that a social group thinks it has received from its ancestors and that it transmits orally from generation to generation.”

It sounds like the ancients’ definition of ‘myth’ is kind of like… our modern definition for ‘folkore,’ doesn’t it?

Folklore album primer; the highlighted section reads: “A tale that becomes folklore is one that is passed down and whispered around. Sometimes even sung about. The lines between fantasy and reality blur and the boundaries between truth and fiction become almost indiscernible. Speculation, over time, becomes fact. Myths, ghost stories, and fables. Fairytales and parables. Gossip and lend. Someone’s secrets written in the sky for all to behold.” rights belong to Taylor Swift

We can think of folklore as a modern take on mythology. Folklore recognizes that good stories are added to and changed over time, but still have an important message. The core of every good story is transcendent. It doesn’t matter who tells it, the message is the same.

Why should we study myths?

It is not about learning all of the details, understanding the conflicting family trees and who defeated who… It is important to learn to think mythically. If you do, and study the Greek myths, they will open you wider. Myths can humble the ego. They teach us that injustice will always be met, in some way or another. They can consciously and subconsciously influence your perception of what is real and what is true.

Myths are stories of the collective unconscious playing out. However, the story-teller will never be able to tell you what the story means. You have to abduct it, yourself. A curious mind, is often an intelligent one.

I’ll leave you with these beautiful Barbara Streisand lyrics, from one of my favorite musicals. Into the Woods.

Children Will Listen

How do you say to your child in the night

Nothing is all black but then nothing is all white?

How do you say it will all be alright

When you know that it mightn’t be true?

What do you do?

Careful the things you say

Children will listen

Careful the things you do

Children will see

And learn

Children may not obey

But children will listen

Children will look to you

For which way to turn

To learn what to be

Careful before you say

“Listen to me”

Children will listen

Careful the wish you make

Wishes are children

Careful the path they take

Wishes come true

Not free

Careful the spell you cast

Not just on children

Sometimes the spell may last

Past what you can see

And turn against you

Careful the tale you tell

That is the spell

Children will listen

How can you say to a child who’s in flight

Don’t slip away and I won’t hold so tight?

What can you say that no matter how slight won’t be misunderstood?

What do you leave to your child when you’re dead

Only what ever you put in its head

Things that your mother and father had said

Which were left to them too

Careful what you say, children will listen

Careful you do it too, children will see and learn, oh

Guide them but step away

Children will glisten

Temper with what is true

And children will turn

If just to be free

Careful before you say

“Listen to me”

Children will listen

Children will listen

Children will listen

Welcome to Logos!

Hey, I’m Kristina Parro. Welcome to Logos.

My debut novel, Lucky, is coming soon.

Lucky is a modern-day allegory; an epic juxtaposition of glitter and tragedy, told through the eyes of two women who are connected through the transcendental nature of time and space. The women are connected through the unlikely coincidences that make up our human experience.

Both have extremely unique perspectives on the world. That was, originally, what piqued my attention.

Lucky tells both women’s stories, as well as my own journey through history, philosophy, math, music and time.

One is the story of an unlikely heiress, who stole away with today’s equivalent of ~$2 billion and proceeded to burn it all, in an epic fulfillment of her familial proverb, ‘shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves.’

The other story begins with a young girl who just wants to make music and be loved. In a curious chain of events, she becomes an international superstar. Her rational outlook on the world, which in large part helped her rise to that level of success, ultimately is her downfall. She gets to the top, looks around, and wonders,”is this it? Is this really what all of that was for?”

Lucky cover mock up; photos by Aleen Olivares

Rationality can get in the way of good fun. Sometimes, when you mix rationality with a good story, it becomes impossible to unsee the truth.

Writing a book is a funny thing. Some days it seems like an impossible feat, like if I tried to run a marathon or ski Mt. Everest. At the end of the day though, a book is just a bunch of words. You string the words together and, suddenly, you have a story.

As a speech-language pathologist, I’ve always been fascinated by the way words work; their history, their deep meaning, and how they can be broken into smaller parts. A single word can help you understand invasions, migrations, and popular culture throughout time. A single word can teach you things that school books never would.

Words are little symbols that can help us puzzle together a rational view of the inexplicable things that makes us human. Without the right story teller, however, at the end of the day, words are just that.

Here’s a key lesson that I’ve learned this past year: a story is greater than its string of individual words. The whole has always been greater than the sum of its parts.

Logos’ logo; the butterfly effect of reason

So to properly introduce my new endeavor, Logos Books, let’s start with a story.

Close your eyes and go back in time, to maybe mid-February 2020, pre-pandemic. Our story is set in a neighborhood bar, one of my old haunts on Division St., in Wicker Park, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Outside, the world is turning white. A flurry of snowflakes, no two alike, fall on late-comers, waiting in line outside of the bar. A giant black SUV, an Uber, pulls up to the curb, dirtying the fresh white carpet of snow.

You can’t see all of this from inside the bar, of course. The windows are frosted and cloudy. The heat, inside, is turned on high. Your coat, which had been hanging on the back of the bar stool, has fallen to the ground. You reach down to pick it up.

Minor characters mill about—a teetering 19-year old, trying to get past the security guard in front; the horny college girls hanging on the bar top, searching for a sense of belonging; the tired bartender with his eyes glued to the clock, yearning for 3am.

The main characters in this story are pictured above.

Paired Pathos, we’ll consider them to be intertwined as one character for purposes of this story, Cool Ethos, and Logical Logos are integral to any story. It’s fitting then, that they have leading roles in this one. Of course, there is another important character in today’s story—you.

You’re sitting alone at you favorite spot at the bar, a few stools away from the door, nursing a $13 hand-crafted cocktail. It’s happy hour. For the past five minutes, you’ve stared at the cup, pondering the perfectly spiraled lemon peel balancing on top of the golden liquid inside.

As if an answer to your dreams, Paired Pathos appears next to you; a giggling, shiny mirage.

You look at them and smile. Accepting your smile as an invitation, they begin to speak

“Let me tell you a story,” they say, in perfect, disturbing unison. They, then, begin to speak. Pathos’ goal? To convince you of something.

Pathos’ story might play at your heartstrings, invoke pity or outrage, or tickle your imagination. But whatever it is, it ignites a fire inside of you. It makes you feel something.

Still, you aren’t convinced. Your emotions can’t be explained. They are irrational. You make a deduction. Pathos must be irrational. They can’t be trusted.

You send Pathos away.

A few minutes later, Cool Ethos grabs the seat next to you at the bar. “Whiskey, on the rocks,” he tells the bar tender, with a million dollar grin.

You find yourself in a similar situation as the one before.

With Ethos, however, you start with a great sense of trust. You believe what he has to say from the get-go.

Ethos’ reputation proceeds him; his outside appearance matches the rumors. When Ethos begins to speak, you become even more impressed by how articulate he is.

But, as impressed as you are with Ethos’ street cred, you realize that his words are empty. You aren’t convinced.

You send Ethos away, too.

Finally, Logical Logos arrives. She begins to speak, in a clear, rational tone.

“I’m going to tell you a story, about an old man you may remember from math class or philosophy—Pythagoras of Samos.”

Pythagoras (Art by J. Augustus Knapp, circa 1926)

She continues, “…and yes, I’m talking about the same Pythagoras responsible for the Pythagorean theorem. Calculating the sides of a right triangle.

“Now, I must start with a warning.

“Do not believe everything I’m about to tell you. Some of it may be true, some might not. But always remember this: details are not what is important in a story.

“The story I’m about to tell you reads more like a riddle. It may seem silly, on the surface.

“The purpose of stories like these, however, are to help you understand some greater truths about yourself and the world around you. Anyways, let’s get to it.

“Pythagoras was an ancient philosopher, mathematician, educator, musician and astronomer. He was one of history’s main men of logic. His way of thinking lies at the foundation of the way modern humans, especially in Western cultures, think about the world.

“Pythagoras believed that “reality” is mathematical and that numbers have abstract, but significant, attributes that explain how our universe operates. Pythagoras is known for this quote, “all is number.”

“Keep in mind, Pythagoras lived long ago; a time when the world was largely thought of as flat and long before Boston Market began selling $3.14 pies on Pi Day… Every number was thought to be rational. Just like man.

“It was extremely important to Pythagoras that man is clear in his thinking. He was confident that reality was understandable to humans via reason. Through rationality, humans could find ultimate truth. Through rationality, humans could experience their optimal levels of well-being.

“Legend has it, Pythagoras was quite the clever philosopher. He never wrote his teachings down, but he went around telling people what he knew. He developed a group of followers. They called themselves the Pythagoreans.

“Pretty soon, however, a Pythagorean, named Hubble, made a horrible discovery.

“Hubble and some other Pythagoreans were sailing, out at sea, probably making idle chitchat about mathematics and the stars. Talk turned to the theorem.

“Hubble said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about Pythagoras’ theorem, late at night, while looking at the sky and I’ve identified something truly horrifying. When you take a look at the theorem backwards, you must take the square root of some numbers. Let’s use the number 2, for example. The square root of 2 is an incommensurable number. It isn’t whole. It isn’t rational. In fact, I’d say that the number that is computed is, in fact, irrational!”

“Excited murmurs flew about on the small boat. A consensus was reached. “You should tell Pythagoras about this!”

“The next week, Hubble took Pythagoras out to sea and told him his discovery. It was a sunny day and the water was blue. One the boat, was just the two of them.

Pythagoras quickly dispelled Hubble’s notion of irrationality. “Nonsense!” he cried.

“Then, according to legend, Hubble slipped off the boat and drowned.

“The End.”

As Logos finishes her story, despite the answers not being crystal clear, you realize that somewhere deep in your brain, her words are ones you already knew.

You decide to keep logos around.

Logos, pathos, and ethos have long been considered “the argument’s best friend.” Coined by Aristotle, these words describe three modes of persuasion that have been used to convince audiences across centuries.

For a more modern interpretation, I’d also argue that logos, pathos, and ethos explain how we story and interpret the world around us. A simple diagram is helpful here.

Logos + Pathos + Ethos = how we story and interpret life

Now of course, most of the time, we don’t use any one of these methods in isolation. We constantly integrate emotions, logic, and surface-level perceptions, consciously or subconsciously, into the very essence of who we are and the way we think. Logos, pathos, and ethos are woven in the golden threads that make up our view of reality.

Over time, however, the idea of logos became understood in a way juxtaposed from Aristotle’s original meaning. Now, logos is synonymous with the idea of rationality. Rationality has facts and evidence to back it up. Rationality can be physically proven.

But here’s the thing, rationality itself is inherently irrational. Thus, it is irrational to believe that our perception of reality is the ultimate truth.

Let’s bring your attention back to me for a second; I’ve had many interesting and life-changing professional experiences since graduating from Rush University with my Masters of Science.

One of those experiences was under the instruction of Holly Shapiro, Ph.D., a real-life linguistics queen.

She developed a revolutionary method of teaching kids (from as early as kindergarten, and even those with dyslexia) how to read, using a “whole language approach” to learning. She taught me to truly discover words. Holly believes if someone truly understands a word’s structure, parts, uses through time, and history, they won’t misuse it and will always be able to read it.

Her methods are revolutionary to me, as I become more mindful of the shortcomings of my own perception of reality. So much of my reality is made of the language, the words, around me; language we’re taught, language we perceive, language we understand, and language we don’t.

So, to learn more about the idea of logos, I turned to etymonline.com, an online etymology dictionary. Etymology the study of the origin of words and the way their meanings have changed throughout time.

History of the word, logos, from etymonline.com

The word logos came from Ancient Greece. It connotes the same ideas as “word, speech, statement, discourse, computation, account, and reason.” It comes from a word used by the Proto-Indo Europeans (PIE), leg-, which meant, “to collect or gather;” with derivatives meaning “to speak,” or “pick out words.”

I hear something, like the voice of Aristotle, whispering softly in my ear. “Tell stories.”

Logos is far more than just the ability to make private feelings public. Logos makes it possible for humans to do what no other animal can. Logos conveys truth and wisdom. Logos helps us puzzle together a factual, more true, understanding of reality.

Logos is reasoned discourse about the correct order of the world. It is the collective “why” behind a meaningful life. Logos is anchored in the unknown, yet mysteriously gives us words to express the beauty of the human experience.

Logos, according to Dr. Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto, is the idea that will transcend all truth.

He believes that Western civilization will die without rebirth of the logos. And he gives quite a convincing, rational argument. If you think about it, even our economic theories are described as tragedies. Why wouldn’t the story of Western civilization end in a tragedy?

Still—what is to be, hasn’t happened yet. I believe we have the power to write our own stories and control our own destinies.

The word logos, and the importance of it’s fundamental meaning, needs to be reimagined for the 21st century and beyond. Logos can be a new way of thinking about the most fundamental questions of human nature and the universe.

2020 was a year characterized by polarization, division, fake news, and overwhelmingly, collective tragedy. Despite this, I believe our logos has remained, buried; simply lost in metaphor.

If you look hard enough, logos can be found in art, music, drama, literature and tragedy. Logos can be found in the works of Bach, Leonardo Da’ Vinci, Salvador Dali, and Taylor Swift.

If we have the power to write our own stories, I choose to write this one.

“The year was 2021. It was impossible to know at the time, as it inevitably is when one is zoomed in and focused on the details, but human kind was on the cusp of a Renaissance.

This new-fangled age of Enlightenment was one in which logos helped them understand, in an articulate manner, the purpose of human kind in this infinite, irrational universe. It was the year that humans discovered the way to move forward, is through harmony and love.

Plato once said, “all learning is, is remembering something you already know.”

Logos leads us, as individuals, to a harmonious state of being that is no longer rife with contradictions. I believe the answers to our ultimate truths lie somewhere around there, as well.

Welcome to Logos! From my journey, this is what I give you:

Reality is the ocean, our laws are the ship.

Many have never left the ship, jumped into the sea.

Jump in with me.