The Return of Hephaistos:
Reconstructing the Fragmented Mythos of the Makers
Cheryl De Ciantis.
Hephaistos the blacksmith is the Greek god of art and technology. Homer says he is the only Olympian god to suffer “mortal pain.” Born to walk crookedly, he is rejected by his mother, Hera, who throws the infant from Mount Olympus into the sea. There he is fostered by sea-nymphs, daughters of primordial Ocean. Returned by order of Zeus, who has need of his skills, Hephaistos is said to be the only Olympian who works. Hephaistos is paradigmatically representative of the mythic Maker archetype. When cultural attitudes toward this archetype’s manifestations are tracked through history, two themes emerge. One, the notion of “Wounded Artist,” pathologizes Hephaistos as emblematic of the mother-wounded and thus psychically impaired creative masculine. Another, “Monstrous Technology,” conflates the Hephaistean archetype with human technological hubris culminating in the military-industrial complex. These ideas still hold sway, and influence how we see Makers and their works. We tend to think of the artist and technologist as having divergent aims and values. But Greek and other mythic texts/images and key etymologies show they were anciently revered, and seen as aspects of the same archetype, not only in Greek but in mythologies worldwide. This book is intended to inform Makers about their mythic lineage, giving them a map to ethically navigate the twisting channels of possibility open to those who claim their gifts. This book is also for those who are fascinated by or who manage Makers.