Monday, 28 October 2013

Radio Straka - Transmission Four

The fourth broadcast from Radio Straka has begun.

The initial subject appears to be Hermes and this picture was tweeted by @RadioStraka shortly after the broadcast begun.

More updates when we can and a transcription of the broadcast as fast as we can type.

These second two pictures are of Theseus and Ariadne and then Theseus slaying the Minotaur.

Now there is talk of the African Anansi spider god, and we have had some spider music which is actually quite creepy.

The overriding theme of todays transmission seems to be mythology across cultures.

There appeared to be a glitch with the live show today, however the fourth broadcast is already up on

Radio Straka Show 4 28.10.13

bizarre echoing, eh, eh, eh, slow rpm

Ah, hello again, so, every stories have a little truth in it, every story comes from somewhere. Today’s show is about stories, myths and legends. It’s about tales (tails). About stories. ah “We create stories to help us shape a chaotic world to navigate inequalities of power, to accept out lack of control over nature, over others, over ourselves.” “Ship of Theseus” page 146, hundred and forty six. 

Now, Hermes, Hermes the ancient Greek trickster, was Hermes, that’s what he was.  He was the god of travelers, herdsmen, thieves, orators, and wit, literature and poets, athletics, sports, invention and trade, He is well known for his winged shoes, which obviously is a reference used by Straka in his 17th novel,“The Winged Shoes of Amedo Avert” (can someone please try and identify the title of this book).

Hermes can be considered to be the god of commerce as well as the god of writers.  But, um, there’s a contradiction. Hermes tricks Straka by supporting both writing and business. But for Straka economics form was an objective of his, his writing. Commerce and writing did not have the same god. “Principles of political and economic reform that were the foundation of his writing, his acts of resistance and his revolutionary spirit.” That’s F X Caldera in a footnote in “Ship of Theseus” page two hundred and nineteen, 2 1 9.

Now, Hermes, well, he was the message of the gods and a guide of dead souls to the underworld. He was a prankster and an inventive genius from birth, he aided the heroes Odysseus and Perseus in their quests. He was at the son of Zeus and a mountain nymph. As a newborn he was remarkably precocious. For instance, on the very first day of life he found a tortoise and perceived it’s utility as a sounding chamber. He strung some sort of sinus across it and in doing so he created the first lyre, … ancient harp, really. now, Hermes was known for his helpfulness to mankind. This was both in the capacity of immortal herald and on his own initiative. Now when Perseus set out to face the gorgon, Medusa, Medusa, Hermes aided him in his quest. Now, according to one version of the myth, he loaned the hero his own magic sandals which confirmed upon the wearer the ability to fly, of course, they were winged, winged sandals. now some say that Hermes loaned Perseus a helmet of invisibility as well, Now this is also known as the Helmet of Darkness and it was the same gear that Hermes himself had worn when he vanquished the giant Hippolytus this was on the occasion the gargantuan sons of Earth rose in revolt up against the gods of Olympus.

Now Hermes’ symbol of office as Divine Messenger was staff or caduceus. Now this was originally a willow wand with entwined ribbons, traditional badge of the herald. But the ribbons were eventually depicted as snakes. Now to support this mythology, a story evolved that Hermes used the caduceus to separate two fighting snakes which forthwith twined themselves together in peace. It was also Hermes’ job to convey dead souls to the underworld and as patron of travellers he was often show in a wide-brimmed sun hat made of straw, actually, straw. Now, he was to the Romans, of course, known as Mercury, not Hermes, that is the Greek, His most famous depiction is a statue by Bellini and it shows him sort of alight on one foot, and wings on his heels, these snaky caduceus in hand, and on his head a rather stylized combination Helmet of Darkness and sun hat combined. So, uh, yes, “We create stories to help us shape a chaotic world to navigate inequalities of power, to accept out lack of control over nature, over others, over ourselves.” “Ship of Theseus” page 146, hundred and forty six. 

Music: “Plastics Nevermore” by Aphrodite’s Child

For the myth of Theseus there is a connection between the ship Ariadne in “Miracle at Belexenholm,”  the catacomb mazes in “Coriolis,” and the ship in “Ship of Theseus.“ The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur has a Minoan princess, Ariadne, helping Theseus, ah, with a sword and a ball of thread to kill the Minotaur and escape from the Labyrinth, the catacombs. Theseus famously escapes Minos, Crete, with Ariadne, the spider, but leaves her on an island leading to a curse from the gods that actually causes him to forget to raise the black sails on his ship and so the suicide of his father. Ah, now, Theseus was the King of Athens and was famous for many exploits and appearing in works by many authors, actually, and, of course, countless vases, vases. There is some confusion about Theseus’ parentage. Somebody feels the son Aegeus and Aethra and others the son of Poseidon and Aethra. So, A? say that Aethra waded out to Sphairia after sleeping with Aegeus and lay there with Poseidon. So trouble stirs and blood flows between the houses of Aegeus in Athens and Minos, his brother in Crete. Ah, war and drought issues and an oracles demands that recompense be made to Minos, So, um, Minos demands that seven maidens and seven youths are to be sacrificed to the Minotaur even nine (9) years. Theseus is among the chosen victims and he sails off to Crete promising to Aegeus that his ships black flag would be replaced with a white flag if Theseus is victorious. So, Ariadne, the young women in Crete, already betrothed to Dionysus, actually, falls in love with Theseus and helps him defeat the Minotaur. She gives him a sword and a ball of thread to track his route out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth. Now, Theseus slays the bull headed beast and the tread back out of the inescapable maze. And, together with Ariadne, Theseus leaves Crete behind. But when they rest on an island for supplies, the Athena prince leaves the maiden with the tread and sword sleeping a long, quiet a alone, on her own, so. In returning to Athens, Theseus forgets to switch the black sail with the white one, so, of course, his waiting father, Aegeus, consequently, watching from a far believes that his son to be dead and hurls himself into the sea tragically which, of course, is names the Aegean, after Aegeus, after him.

Ah, Ariadne in Greek legend, is the spider. So is brother Ananzi in African myth, the trickster god who is carried into Afro-American folklore where he joins the first nations concept of coyote, the trickster, So, now some spider music.


Now stories about the spider god, Ananzi, were first told in Ghana by the Ashanti people. They were not written down but recounted from generation to generation. Gradually these stories grew and spread across Ghani and then all around West Africa. In Ghana, they are called Anansesem, meaning “spider tales” tales, tales, (echo).

Music: “Shemonmuanaye” by Hailu Mergia

Now as the stories spread across the seas, the tales became Ananzi stories and then became Aunt Nancy in the southern United States. Aunt Nancy, half-spider, half-woman, who had power over the other creatures. What sort of character is this Anansi? Well, ah, she or he, is a spider, but also a person. Sometimes he is seen as wise and even thoughtful to humans and he is said to have persuaded Nyame to give rain and night to the people. He is certainly, generally, portrayed as clever with words as well as deeds. However, he is more often a trickster with very few scruples who uses his wit and cunning to get an advantage over animals who are bigger and stronger than himself. His stories show him as quiet often selfish and, well, even cruel. Sometimes he would help other creatures, but only when it suits his own purposes. Now, he generally uses his victims habits and ways of life to trick them into situations in which he is able to achieve what he wants. His stories are popular despite this doubtful character because ofter he outwits creatures who are larger or stronger than he is. So people like to identify with these stories like these where the little person defeats the big person, defeats the power and the might. Well, um, now, David and Goliath, I mean, just think of the popularity of this story in which they are shown the skills they need to survive in a hostile world.

Now, Anansi, creates a wooden doll and covers it over with gum and puts a plate of yams in its lap in order to capture the she fairy, Mmoatia, sometimes described as an elephant or a dwarf. Mmoatia takes the bait and eats the yams, but she grows angry when the dolls does not respond and strikes it becoming stuck in the process. Now, in America, this is known as Brother [Uncle] Remus’ tale of Bre’r Rabbit and Bre’r Fox.

Music: “Who’s Gonna Be Your Man” by John Lee Ziegler

Ah, now, do trickster appear in other myths and legends. Well, the trickster character appears in myths and legends all over the world. They generally create mischievous, cunning, funny, and can often switch between human and animal form. Within Africa there are wondering trickster spirits who bring change and quarrels. Also, many animal tricksters who, a bit like Aanazi, who are small and relatively helpless, hares and tortoises are often popular trickster characters who outwit bigger, fiercer animals to get what they want as a very well loved story tells of the hare tricking an elephant and a hippopotamus into clearing a field for him.  In Japan, Japan, Tengu, are mischeivous trickster spirits sort of half-human, half-bird with these long beaks, you see. That comes from Tengu itself means long nose. Ah, what else? Ah, Hawaii, Hawaii, Hawaiian mythology’s trickster, Iwa, who owns a magical paddle that only took four strokes to get him from one end of Hawaii to the other, it’s not a big place is it? Anyway, the Polynesian hero and trickster is Maui who, like Anansi helps humankind. He uses a magic hook to fish the islands of Polynesia from the bottom of the sea.

Music: “Puna Ku’u Aloha” by Dennis Pavao

Ah what else, er, native Australians have stories about races of tricksters known as the, now this is very difficult, the, er, Nyandjala Nyandjala and Wurulu-Wurulu. Yes? Very difficult to say, who wander through the Western Australia bush sort of doing mischief and, you know, spoiling the cave paintings of ancestoral heroes. Now amongst the native americans, well some of them, the coyote is the great trickster, he is noted for his cleverness, his cheating and his huge appetite, but he very often gets his comeuppance. In South or Central America, the trickster is often a fox or a wolf, similar to parts of Europe actually, a clever fox you know.

Well, ah, now, Norse mythology, yes, Loki, Loki is a god, a trickster god who can sort of shape shift, sometimes helping the other gods, sometimes causing trouble. And, of course, tricksters are abounding, they abound throughout greek mythology. Odysseus was a master trickster, famous for his wooden horse which, of course, tricked the people of Troy into letting the Greeks into the city to destroy it and also for the Cyclops for tricking him and getting his men and himself to safety. Oh, yes, Penelope, his wife, ticked her suitors whilst waiting ten years for him to return. Now, why do we like this? Why do we enjoy this? Don't we? Why, why do we enjoy stories of about a mysterious hero who gets away with causing trouble. Well, I suppose trickster stories make people laugh, and they also appeal to our spirit of rebellion, they are doing things that we are not brave enough to do ourselves, you know, we enjoy watching them do it, we can enjoy the tricksters mischief making whilst feeling quite virtuous yourself (echo distortion).

From the pen of V M Straka, "We create stories to help us shape a chaotic world, to navigate inequalities of power, to accept our lack of control over nature, over others, over ourselves." Ship of Theseus." page 146, one-hundred and forty six.

Tweet me please. @RadioStraka


Ah, similar roles for the trickster can be found in Aesop's Fables, Aesop, where animals frequently have a trickster character. Now Straka loved animals and he used them as motifs in his work especially in "The White Oak." Now, the "Fox and the Stork," let us talk about that. At one time the fox and the stork were on visiting terms and they seemed very good friends and so the fox invited stork to dinner and for a bit of joke didn't give, didn't give her anything apart from some soup in a very shallow dish, you see. now, this is very easy for the fox to drink, to just lap it up, but the stork you see could only wet the end of her long bill in it and left it as hungry as when she arrived, so the fox says, "I am sorry, I am sorry that the soup is not to your linking," and the stork says, "Oh, no, please don't apologies, I hope you will return this visit and come dine with me soon." So they sort out a day when the fox should visit the stork, and they are seated at the table together and all that there was for the dinner was contained in this very, very long necked jar with a very narrow mouth, in which the fox couldn't insert his snout, you know, could not insert his tongue, all he could do was lick the lid of the jar and so the stork says to him, "Well, I am not going to apologize for the dinner, one bad turn deserves another."

There's another tale of the fox, well, with a tail, lost his own tail. This fox is caught in a trap and escapes but in doing so he has lost his tail. See now, after this feeling that his life is a burden on the shame and ridicule to which he was exposed, he schemed to convince all the other foxes that being tailless was more attractive, thus making up for his own deprivation you see, so he assembled as many foxes as he could and publicly advised them to cut off their tails saying that if you cut off your tail not only will you look much better without it but you will have got rid of the weight of the brush so you will be able to move more quickly, you know, it is a great inconvenience having the brush, and one of them interrupted and said, if you had not lost your tail my friend you would thus not council us.

The monkey is a particularly important figure in "Ship of Theseus," and the Chinese stone money god is famous for causing havoc in Heaven, ultimately being bound by Buddha to serve a monk travelling to India to recover ancient Buddhist texts in journey to the west.

Sun Wukong also known as the Monkey King is the main character in the classic Chinese epic novel Journey to The West written by Wu Cheng'en in this novel he is a monkey born from a stone who aquires supernatural powers though Taoist practices, and after rebelling against heaven and being imprisoned under a mountain by a Buddha he later accompanies the monk Xuanzang on a journey to receive Buddhist sutras from India, you see. Now, Sun Wukong possesses an immense amount of strength he is able to lift his staff, this huge huge heavy staff with ease, he is almost, he is extremely fast. Now he is able to travel 54,000 km in one summersault, he knows 72 transformations which allows him to transform into various objects and animals.

But he has trouble, however, transforming into other people because he is unable to complete the transformation of his tail. See, he is a skilled fighter capable of holding his own against the best generals of Heaven. Each of his hairs possesses magical properties and he is capable of transforming them into a clone of the Monkey King himself or various weapons, animals and other objects. He also knows spells that can command wind, hot water, conjecture protection circles against demons and freeze humans, demons and gods alike. He's one of the most enduring Chinese literary characters. He has a varied background and colorful cultural history. For example, Sun Wukong is considered by some American, Chinese and Indian scholars to be influenced by both the Hindu deity, Hanuman  from the Ramayana and the elements of Chinese folklore.

Music: traditional Chinese music, plays through the background of the story

So here is the story of the Chinese Monkey King, Sun Wukong.

At the Imperial stables of the Jade Emperor a banquet of welcome and congratulations was being held for the new protector of horses. And it just few weeks in Monkey's care, a thousand heavenly corsairs and chargers had begun to grow sleek and muscular. The officials under him liked him as well, so they had gathered in his honour and the Monkey said, "oh, what a wonderful feast," as he was sampling the dishes, "oh, I certainly like this food, here, they have wonderful food." "Oh, it is not so bad, not so bad," says his chief assistants, wistfully. "But, you know, it is nothing compared to the food at the Grand Banquet of Immortal Peaches." The Monkey looks at him. Well, what is that? He explains, each year the Lady Queen Mother holds a banquet at the Pavilion of the Jade Pool and her guests dine on her peaches grown in her orchard. Now, each peach has ripened for 9,000 years and it adds that many years to the life of the one who eats it and for dessert we have pills of immortality made from elixir of life refined by Lord Lao Tzu's eight-way trigram. Now a single pill will guarantee eternal life. Aw, the Monkey jumps up and down. "I can hardly wait, ah, when do we go, when do we go, when is it, when is the banquet?" And the assistant says, "It is today." "Hmmm, but I haven't an invitation," says the Monkey, "and now I'm not invited." "Of course," says the assistant, "you post is too low." "But what do you mean," says the Monkey, "I thought the Protector of Horses was a high ranking position?" "Oh, no, on the contrary," says the assistant, "it is so low that it has no rank at all." Well, the Monkey is stunned by this. "Oh, well, that is what they think of me, is it, well, me the Monkey King? Well, I'm not going to stand for this. I'm going to go the banquet whether they want me to or not." So, he rushes outside and summersaults into a cloud and off he goes.

Now, at the Pavilion of the Jade Pool, the servants are running about busily setting the tables and from where he had landed nearby, this Monkey, he could see the trays loaded with immortal peaches and bowls brimming with pills of immortality. And there are also large pitchers filled with juice of jade and great heaping plates of delicacies like unicorn liver and phoenix marrow and the Monkey's mouth is watering. "Oh, I shan't wait bothering for the other guests" he says, "Change!" (sound effect). And he becomes and exact image of the spirit of the great white planet Venus. OK. So, yes? So, Monkey steps into the pavilion and announces in his chief ministers voice, "A command from the Jade Emperor. You are all to go to the Crown Palace and the Gold Doors for further instructions." And the head steward says, "What can this be about? I don't know? Well, we'd better go, hadn't we. Better not dally about here. Better get off, better go," says all the servants. And they all go off.

And so, as soon as Monkey is alone changes back into himself and starts grabbing all the peaches, right and left and all over the place. "Ah, heavenly, lovely tastes." And he wants to eat all of them, but there are so many, so, you know, he just takes a bite or two from each one. He guzzles all the jade juice and ? plates of delicacies and he pops all the pills of immortality into his mouth, and peanuts, "Ah," he says, "at last, a feast fit for a Monkey King."


So, Hanuman, Hanuman in India itself Hanuman is a Vanara an ape like humanoid, and a crucial ally if Rama, an avatar of Vishnu and he travels to Srilanka to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana, so like the Chinese monkey or the trickster gods around the world and Straka's Monkey in Ship of Theseus Hanuman is both mischievous and extremely powerful.

Indian Music

So let us talk about the birth of Hanuman, the story of the birth of Hanuman was thus, Vrihaspati had an attendant called Punjikasthala was cursed to assume the form of a female money, this was a curse could only be nullified if she gave birth to an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Born as Anjana she performed intense austerities to please Shiva who finally granted her the boon that would cure her of the curse. So when Agni the god of fire gave Dasharath the kling of Ayodhya a bowl of sacred desert to share among his wives so that they may have divine children, an eagle snatched a part of the pudding and dropped it where Anjana was meditating and Pavana the god of wind delivered the drop to her outstretched hands and so after she took this divine desert she gave birth to Hanuman thus Lord Shiva incarnated as a Monkey and was born as Hanuman to Anjana by the blessings of Pavana and became Hanuman's godfather

Now, so his childhood, the birth of Hanuman released Anjana from the curse. Before she returned to heaven, Hanuman asked his mother about his life ahead. and you know she assured him that he would never die, and said that fruits as ripe as the rising sun would be his food, and mistaking the glowing sun as his food, the divine baby leapt for it. Indra struck him with his thunderbolt and hurled him down to earth. But Hanuman's godfather, Pavana carried him to the nether world or 'Patala'. As he departed from the earth, all life panted for air, and Brahma had to beg him to return. In order to appease him they conferred a lot of boons and blessings on his foster child that made Hanuman invisible, immortal and super powerful.

So his education, Hanuman selected Surya, the sun god as his preceptor, and approached him with the request to teach the scriptures. Surya agreed and Hanuman became his disciple, but had to face his constantly moving guru by traversing the sky backwards at equal pace, while taking his lessons. Hanuman's phenomenal concentration took him only 60 hours to master the scriptures. Surya considered the manner in which Hanuman accomplished his studies as his tuition fees, but when Hanuman requested him to accept something more than that, the sun god asked Hanuman to assist his son Sugriva, by being his minister and compatriot.

So then he meets Rama, so he meets Rama and his brother Lakshmana while Rama was in exile in the jungle, and searching for his wife Sita who was abducted by Ravana. So their quest brings them near Pampa Lake at the foot of Mount Risyamukha, where the monkey king Sugriva and his ministers were hiding. Sugriva, who was being persecuted by his brother Bali, suspected that Rama and Lakshmana might have been sent by Bali to slay him. so to find out the facts, Hanuman approached them in the guise of a Brahmin.

So Hanuman's initial words highly impressed Rama, and made him comment in this way "None can talk this way without mastering the Vedas. He has such a flawless countenance, a wonderful accent, and a captivating way of speaking. He has the ability to move even an enemy..." So after he revealed his identity as the prince of Ayodhya, Hanuman fell prostrate before him in respect of the Lord. Rama picked him up and embraced him.

Now Straka himself knew the power of the monkey and he used it as a messenger a first signal of his political voice. Now the note pinned to the Monkey's jacket an accusation that the Bouchard family had routinely arranged for the murders of syndi... syndicalist agitators in order to protect their vast and varied business interests and in fact orchestrated the brutal massacre of striking factory workers in Calais in early 1912, I was reading, ah yes, Ship of Theseus that is from Chapter 1, footnote 2 page 8.

Background music volume increases

Birdsong played in the background

All know that Straka loved birds, birds were a frequent metaphor in his work and detailed bird references are one of my favourite thing about his books actually. And this makes me think of that terrible story of the rare swift killed recently by a wind turbine, around 40 people were watching the white throated needle tail the worlds fastest flying bird on the Isle of Harris when the tragedy happened. Sightings of the bird have only been recorded 8 times in the UK in nearly 170 years, most recently in 1991 prompting around 80 ish ornithologists to visit the island in the hope of catching a glimpse. Now experts said that they thought the brown, blue and black plumed bird got lost migrating from Siberia and should have been as far away as Australia or Japan instead of Tarbert on the Isle of Harris. Straka itself is Czech for Magpie, ok, "Birds sing and can fly, writers tell stories, there is much comfort and strength to be found in birds" - Ship of Theseus page 165.

But animals are also a big theme in Strakas work, not just in The White Oak, but all the way through and this got me thinking about the animal and bird connections in Strakas oeuvre Now here's one that people might not think about the Winged Shoes of Amedo Avert, winged shoes ? winged shoes ?


Straka's last book, Ship of Theseus, was published by winged Shoes Press instead of by Straka's usual publisher Carston so what is it with this winged shoes ? Have you noticed at all, that they have become fashionable recently, this era, the connection, a Straka connection, could the links between Herbert List and Straka that I discussed in my first show be carrying on through the fashion world today ? Could they hmm ?


Animal and bird sounds

Thankyou for listening to this remote broadcast from


  1. I've found the original text for part of the discussion on Hanuman -

    Saved me a lot of typing !

  2. There is at least one word - Invisible instead of Invincible - that is different on the site and which is spoken.


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