Monday, October 27, 2008

Celtic Myth Podshow - podcast review

The Celtic Myth Podshow is more than just a podcast. Take look at the blog and discover that the makers of CMP are heavily involved in anything related to the heritage of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Brittany and ancient Britons in general. Around the website, the forum and the blog, a community has developed contributing to this ever-growing wealth of material.

The community aspect is one of the strongest points in the podcast and as a matter of fact it is something that works well in any other podcast. Hosts Gary and Ruth create exactly that kind of comfortable, homey atmosphere you need to be drawn in. The point I am getting at is that you will need that, it takes some stamina to take in the core of the show. The larger part of the show is dedicated to the team's very lively reading of the old Celtic myths and legendary tales. This comes with trained voices, well acted play and careful sound mixing.

Nevertheless, even if the tales stem from an oral tradition and as a result of that should be extremely fit for podcast, I find it very hard to follow. I cannot solely contribute this to the difficulty my non-native ear has to take in the Celtic accents, pronunciation and words that mark the reading. The difficulty lies also with the uncommon style in which the tales are constructed. If I have to characterize that, I would say it has much less a narrative line than you would expect. The reading is that of a poem and the lines are more of a declarative nature, stating one fact, one name, one law, one occurrence after another, without much plot.

A case in point is the double feature of the last two episodes (18 and 19) about the story-teller Fintan. This legendary bard lives for over 5500 years, he has even lived through the Great Flood (of Noach) and in the story recounts some of his tales and passes lay and eventually dies a mythic death. There is no plot at all (that I could discover) and some of the entries in the tale seem to be there just to punctuate names and places and to interject Christian elements in an otherwise profoundly pagan epic.

What could help and I find this sorely missing, is a thorough framework to the source Gary, Ruth and the others are reading from. Tangible are the old oral elements, the modification in the writing down and the undeniably forcible insertions of Christianity and established history. We need to understand much more about the reception and development of this material, in order to properly appreciate it. I think CMP is planning to dedicate shows to this task in the future, but frankly, I needed them in advance.

Previously on the Celtic Myth Podshow:
Celtic bloodfine,
Bres the beautiful,
Let Battle Commence!,
The Celtic Myth Podshow.

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Marilyn Crain said...

Thanks for the kind words. Your blog is so excellent. Don't know how I've missed it because I do continually search for great learning resources.

With your permission I shall add a blogroll to Everyday Scholar and Anne is a Man! will be first on the list. Then I'll do a post to draw attention to it.

I try to keep up with and post about university podcasts. My favorites are from UC Berkeley, though they aren't podcasting my favorite professors this semester. I had not found DIY Scholar, so thanks for the info on that.

Great job! All your time and work is appreciated,


Unknown said...

Thank you Marilyn,

I am happy you are pleased with the blog. And certainly, you can add the blogroll and any referring post on Everyday Scholar. I will be honored,