Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Phantasmagorical Morphing Phobias -- They're Dreamy

by KAK

Henry Fuesli: The Nightmare
Popular theory holds that we are most vulnerable when we dream, for our minds have forsaken our bodies. Popular theory also says that dreams aren't important, useful, or worth measuring.


Being the Word-Whore that I am, I’d like to introduce you to the three men with whom I spend quite a bit of time…dream-time, that is. Paranormal fans might recognize them as leaders of the Oneiroi. Mythology students might debate them as the sons of Nyx (Goddess of Night) or Hypnos (God of Sleep). They are the brothers and/or nephews of Thanatos (God of Death) and Geras (God of Aging). However the family tree may or may not fork, the mythical masculine Greek deities to whom I am referring are: 

Morpheus, Phantasos, and Phobetor

Morpheus: “Matrix” fans will recognize the name; some may grasp the deeper relevance of Laurence Fishburne’s character. Morpheus is large and dark, faceless and winged. He is the manipulator of humanoids within our dreams. His late-night stories are clear to the dreamer, vivid and comprehensible. He is rumored to visit kings and heroes. (That those we envy and emulate are slow-witted, impatient, or have stifled the art of imagination, is a tragedy to debate some other time.)

Phantasos: Artists, addicts, and inventors rejoice! Phantasos is the dream-god of fantasy. His theatre troop is rife with the inanimate. His landscapes are surreal, his stories highly symbolic. From his name the word “phantasmagorical” is derived. Shrinks may define it as, “a shifting medley of real or imagined figures.” Filmmakers use it to describe, “a sequence of pictures made to vary in size rapidly while remaining in focus.” Folks seeking the “unique” and “unexpected” should feel free to embarrass themselves with the Snoopy Dance or the Cabbage Patch should Phantasos guide their dreams.

Phobetor: If anyone wondered which poor maligned deity gave rise to the term “phobia,” allow me to introduce Phobetor. Strange how a god given to using animals to animate his dreams is also given the duty of delivering nightmares. Those with pet-hair allergies may begin cackling wildly now. 

I subject every story I write to the review of the three brothers, for their influence shapes the tale into a plot arc:
  • Phobetor trains the protagonist to manage fear
  • Morpheus teaches the protagonist to manage success
  • Phantasos guides the protagonist away from all the stresses to escape into pleasures unimaginable
Admittedly, my tales tend to linger under Phobetor’s influence. How about you? Does your heart race when the hero/heroine is fighting the hellish? Do you gloat when the goal is finally achieved or do you fret about how fleeting it may be? Does escaping the constraints of reality hold the greatest appeal?


  1. I knew about Morpheus (not from Matrix, but Sandman I must confess), but the other two are new to me. They are interesting characters.

  2. Wonderful post, KAK! I'd forgotten about these fellows...hmmm....

    I'm with you on Phobetor. I want my protags to suffer a lot. I want them to grow, and I think that the only way that happens is to kick 'em out into my fantasy world and give them obstacles to defeat.

    Sorta like real life.

  3. Hrm...You know, I'm working on a Greek mythology series right now and I haven't had a chance to get to these guys yet. I'd have to say my characters flip-flop between Phobetor's and Phantasos' realms. Morpheus doesn't really make an appearance until late in my stories.

  4. Wow - I'm surprised I've never read up on these guys. Who knew I'd learn so much from my sister Word Whores?? KAK, you've read my stuff so you might better say, but I suspect I have the influence of all three without planning it. I'm definitely about animating animals, however.

  5. Heh. I came across all three of those guys while doing a little research on a certain incubus. (None of which I actually used, LOL). But the ideas it gave me...MMMMM.

  6. Oh, Sullivan, I now have Metallica's "Enter Sandman" stuck in my head! ~headbang~ ~bumbum bwawawah bumbum bwawawah~ ~hair toss~

    Laura, let's hear it for the Phobetor fan club! ~Air guitar stroke~ Jeffe's a card-carrying member too, she just didn't realize her Anh were related to our guy. ;)

    Ya know, Danica, Phantasos could be totally worthy of being tied up with a hippy chick. Iff'in you could get him away from consulting on an incubus's tawdry nighttime happenings.

  7. Loved this KAK! Recenty read a book that talked often of Thanatos and Morpheus and though the rest of the book--well the ending--was kind of a let down, the Thanatos and Morpheus parts were awesome and I've wanted to read up on them a bit.

  8. I didn't know about any of these Greek gods, but what a great way to think about character arc!

  9. Linda, Morpheus seems to have a better PR guy than his brothers. Dude is all over the place in films and novels. Phantasos at least had a magazine in his honor for a while. I reckon Phobetor is too busy doing his damn job to get a swanky mouthpiece. ;)

    Danielle, thanks. It's amazing what three hot gods can do for a plot. ~cough~