Now, "orange" has always meant "orange" and coming from Sanskrit would pretty much explain why it doesn't rhyme with anything else. "Rook", on the other hand, has nothing to do with chess or castles and "nirvana" has as much to do with spiritual paradise as "avatar" does with virtual reality.
"Avatar" means "to cross-over down" or "to come down", specifically in reference to a god. What we usually seem to have is some deity who has decided that some situation in the mortal realm requires more direct intervention than sending a convenient storm, talented hero or even a specially crafted demigod to deal with things. No, some complex issue that's important to this particular god has prompted a descent from existence as energy and will to dwell in the material world and take care of business personally. Now, don't ask me what motivated this because I'm not one of those people who walks around claiming to know what any god wants. If a deity is all "we" think a deity is, then it's probably more than we could honestly conceive. Hell, I've woken up from dreams I could barely explain to people, so I doubt I could wrap my mind around the whole of a multi-dimensional cosmic being anymore than a goldfish in a glass bowl could explain the ocean.
|Shhh...we're talking about black holes next.|
If you want things done a certain way, sometimes you have to handle them yourself. Zeus was a big fan of slumming from Olympus, frequently taking a hands-on approach to matters that interested him. Those matters usually involved having some mortal bear him a child, but where better to skip delegation and opt for a personal touch? Despite his arrogance and wrathfulness, this probably made him seem very relatable to his followers, especially the guys.
Other gods were also said to manifest their incarnations in many different forms, under different names. Maybe running around down here is their version of virtual reality and they just come down from the heavens to play around. Are they scoring points? Are we non-player characters in their World of Warcraft? City of Heroes? Mass Effect? Maybe that's what happened to all the god sightings and mythologic interactions: they got bored and moved on to another game server...I mean, planet. They could be out there screwing around with the lives of...fifteen-foot-tall blue people halfway across the galaxy.
Hey, don't look at me like that. It's a big, weird universe. It could happen.
As we get better at fine-tuning technology and robotics, cybernetics and genetic engineering become more adaptable tools, ideas like those proposed in "Gamer" and "Surrogates"--running about with your consciousness projected into another body, natural or not--may find their way into our own spectrum of entertainment and daily living. Rising from the dead could be as simple as respawning in a new avatar. That might have a profound impact on the lives of anyone watching who's not in on the game, but I suppose pulling out the grown-up tools and attempting to emulate what we thought we saw in those we once worshipped is going to come with some risks.
If we make a mess, it's just a game, right?