One of the things that makes the dragon (yes, the dragon) such compelling mythology is the fact that so many of the world’s cultures—isolated both geographically and chronologically—have conceived of the same creature: a flying, fire-breathing reptile. Indeed, various civilizations throughout history, amongst which interaction was likely impossible, saw fit to describe in written literature and art this beastly foe.
Of course, I can practically feel you fidgeting in your seat with your grimy dick-skinner thrust into the air, waiting for your chance to blather out your sophomoric riposte: “But shipbuilding has existed for millennia; these cultures could have interacted!” Naturally, it’s possible but this line of thinking runs you smack into an even stickier wicket: Why risk life and limb sailing into the great unknown (for indeed it was unknown), to drop anchor in an alien port you presume exists, inhabited by people that you presume are anything remotely like you in sophistication, whom you then expect to take you in, and believe your silly stories (assuming they can translate) and not tear your heart out in sacrifice to their deity, to spread the word about the mythical dragon? It doesn’t pass muster. Unless—[gasp]—the dragon is real.
Now, I am not of the belief that dragons have ever existed. From an a posteriori perspective, dragons are like Russian collusion—there’s simply no evidence. From an a priori perspective, (the vastly preferred perspective of yours unruly,) it simply doesn’t make sense. Evolution does not bestow upon a creature the kind of apex preeminence that a dragon would possess. Usually you get claws and flight, as is the case of the Peregrine Falcon. Or you get tough scales and fangs like the Nile Crocodile, or in the most extreme cases of the awe-inspiring Kodiak, you get claws, fangs, and sheer, abominable mass. This combination of talents are enough to make the great bears the absolute, inimitable Jägermeister. The selective pressures for a beast to emerge from the ether that is possessed of claws, fangs, flight, mass, rugged exterior, and of course, fire-breath are simply not there.
So what to make of this wholly fabricated, yet culturally ubiquitous myth? Well it is of course a brilliant example of co-genesis, a well-studied [by me] phenomenon whereby the same or extremely similar concepts organically spring up in the minds of two different people often simultaneously, but always independently. This example of co-genesis reveals something primordial about the human condition. It reveals a commonality between us as to what we can all agree is fucking scary. Reptiles (particularly snakes) have been the symbol of evil long before Christ. Fire has bedeviled man since it’s inception. And even a child, beset upon by a swarm of bees, will instinctively comprehend the game-changing, havoc-wreaking advantage of flight. Combine these characteristics and it is no wonder that they would create a kind of trifecta of terror.
All of this is to say, if you read something of mine and think perhaps you may have read it somewheres else, think upon the dragon and its fear inspired co-genesis. Then smartly about-face and return whence you came to commence the salt-pounding, for I am a genius, and I write my own shit.